I’m listening to the Librivox version of “On Architecture” by Marcus Virtuvius Pollio. I’ll note anything interesting (beyond, by the way, a very detailed guide on how to design Roman and Greek rooms, which are fun for people who like high-detail sagas.)
I knew, and I presume we all knew, that Romans, before founding a town, killed cattle and had a quick look at their livers, to see what the omens were. What I did not know is that architects like Pollio used to insist on this, and it had nothing to do with gods.
The point was to look for irregularities in the liver because the cattle used were those which had lived in the area where the new city was to go. If the livers were black, or otherwise unhealthy, people waited a couple of years and tried again, and if the livers were always bad, they adjudged that there was something unhealthy in the physical environment of the area, and would not settle there. He gives a couple of excellent examples of this process in action, including one town where the cattle didn’t have spleens, which was traced back to a herb of medicial use for inflamation of the spleen.
Next time: a tree to resist Flambeau magi with.