The Tripod’s Prophecy And The Death Of The Emperor Valens

On the subject of prophecies, men are accustomed to take differing viewpoints.  Some say that the predictions of oracles and diviners mean nothing at all, and should be counted as so much nonsense:  any “true” predictions they make are solely the result of blind coincidence.  Others say that they have independent value as evidence of our imaginative capacity; and that prophecies are, more or less, records of our psychological projections and subconscious desires.  Still others believe that they should be seen more as predictions of what might happen, rather than statements of what will happen.  As in so many other things, it will be the responsibility of each reader to decide for himself.  But it seems to me that we should at least acknowledge that such practices have been around for millennia, and that they are found across the globe within nearly every society and culture.

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Horace’s Prophecy

(To find the book, click on the image above)


I came across a startling prophecy in Horace (Odes 16):

Altera iam teritur bellis civilibus aetas,

suis et ipsa Roma viribus ruit


Impia perdemus devoti sanguinis aetas,

ferisque rursus occupabitur solum.

Barbarus heu cineres insistet victor et Urbem

eques sonante verberabit ungula…

I render these lines this way:

Now another age is destroyed by civil war,

Rome itself falls by the hand of its own men…

We destroy ourselves, a profane age consecrated in blood,

The ground will once again be occupied by wild beasts.

Lo! A barbarian victor will stand on the ashes,

The hooves of a horseman resounding in the city.

Make of this what you will.  Our own age, profane in its own way, may yet pave the way for a conqueror who will tread on the cinders of our own civilization.

And the the hooves of his horse will clatter amidst the ruins.

Read More:  The Need For Adventure