Augury v haruspicy

Claire Trevett reports at NZ Herald:

Labour MP David Cunliffe returned from a five-week trip around Europe like some new-age Arnold Schwarzenegger, fizzing at the bung with his dimpled chin as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

The freshly shaved chin set MPs humming the Jaws theme music under their breath.

Cunliffe had grown the beard last summer after losing the leadership contest to David Shearer.

It came to be viewed as a portent – Prime Minister John Key was among the augurs who studied the beard’s progress as intently as the ancient Romans inspected bird entrails, before he intoned, Confucius-like, that Shearer should beware if Cunliffe came at him with naked chin.

I always enjoy references to roman traditions, but being pedantic feel obliged to point out that augury has been confused with haruspicy.

Augurs do not look at the entrails of birds, but pronounce divine meaning from flights of birds. A haruspex inspects the entrails of sacrificed animals to divine the will of the gods.

Now who knew that before this post? 🙂