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Hepatoscopy is divination by means of the examination of the entrails of sacrificed animals, usually with special emphasis on the animal's liver, which afterwards were burnt in a sacrificial fire. Sometimes the observation of how the flame burnt the sacrifice was also necessary for the prognostication.

Hepatoscopy's underlying theory was that when an animal — usually a sheep or an ox — was sacrificed, it was absorbed by the god to which it had been offered, creating a direct channel to the deity. By opening the carcass, the diviner presumed to peek inside the god's mind and watch the future being created.

The liver was regarded much as the heart is today, as the seat of emotions, especially desire, and even life and the soul, and so received particular emphasis in auguries. Moreover, although anything animate or inanimate could be used by the gods to express their will or cosmic truths, the stars and the liver were thought of as particularly favored media.