The theory underlying hepatoscopy therefore consists of these two factors: the belief (I) that the liver is the seat of life, or, to put it more succinctly, what was currently regarded as the soul of the animal; and (2) that the liver of the sacrificial animal, by virtue of its acceptance on the part of the god, took on the same character as the soul of the god to whom it was offered.
It is well known that the Romans borrowed their methods of hepatoscopy from the Etruscans, and, apart from the direct evidence for this in Latin writings, we have, in the case of the bronze model of a liver found near Piacenza in 1877, and of Etruscan origin, the unmistakable proof that among the Etruscans the examination of the liver was the basis of animal divination.
In any case, since the Eastern origin of the Etruscans is now generally admitted, we may temporarily, at least, accept the conclusion that hepatoscopy as a method of divination owes its survival in advanced forms of culture to the elaborate system devised in the course of centuries by the Babylonian priests, and to the influence, direct and indirect, exerted by this system in the ancient world.
As for the Greeks, it is still an open question whether they perfected their method of hepatoscopy under Etruscan influence or through the Babylonians.
The inspection of the liver for purposes of divination led to the study of the anatomy of the liver, and there are indeed good reasons for believing that hepatoscopy represents the startingpoint for the study of animal anatomy in general.