AskDefine | Define auspices

Dictionary Definition

auspices (See auspex)
n : (ancient Rome) a religious official who interpreted omens to guide public policy [syn: augur] [also: auspices (pl)]auspices n : kindly endorsement and guidance; "the tournament was held under the auspices of the city council" [syn: protection, aegis]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Plural of auspice
under the auspices
  1. Being protected, supported or patronized by.

Extensive Definition

thumb|280px|A confident rider, surrounded by birds of good omen is approached by a [[Nike (mythology)|Nike bearing victor's wreaths on this Laconian black-figured kylix, ca. 550–530 BCE]] An auspice (Latin: auspicium from auspex, literally "one who looks at birds") is a type of omen already familiar to the king of Alasia in Cyprus who, in the Amarna correspondence (fourteenth century BCE) has need of an 'eagle diviner' to be sent from Egypt. The earlier, indigenous practice of divining by bird signs, familiar in the figure of Calchas, the bird-diviner to Agamemnon, who has led the army (Iliad I.69) was largely replaced by sacrifice-divination through inspection of the sacrificial victim's liver— haruspices— during the Orientalizing period. "From Plato we learn that hepatoscopy enjoyed greater prestige than bird augury"
In ancient Rome, an auspice was a sign from the gods, as interpreted by an augur. An augur would perform a ceremony (known as "taking the auspices") and would read patterns of birds in the sky. Depending upon the birds, the auspices from the gods could be favorable or unfavorable (auspicious or inauspicious). Sometimes bribed or politically motivated augurs would fabricate unfavorable auspices in order to delay certain state functions, such as elections. Pliny the Younger attributes the invention of auspicy to Tiresias the seer of Thebes, the generic model of a seer in the Greco-Roman literary culture.
One of the most famous auspices is the one which is connected with the founding of Rome. Once the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, arrived at the Palatine Hill, the two argued over where the exact position of the city should be. Romulus was set on building the city upon the Palatine, but Remus wanted to build the city on the strategic and easily fortified Aventine Hill. The two agreed to settle their argument by testing their abilities as augurs and by the will of the gods. Each took a seat on the ground apart from one another, and, according to Plutarch, Remus saw six vultures, while Romulus saw twelve.

Modern application of the term

In the vocational education sector of Australia, auspicing is where a registered training organization enters a partnership arrangement with another organisation that undertakes training or assessment on their behalf. The original training organization is still responsible for the quality of that training and assessment. The word is also used when a larger organization, such as local government, accepts and manages grant money, on behalf of a smaller community group, which does not have the necessary financial arrangements in place.



auspices in Danish: Auspicier
auspices in Persian: شُگون

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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