E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Divination by a cock. Draw a circle, and write in succession round it the letters of the alphabet, on each of which lay a grain of corn. Then put a cock in the centre of the circle, and watch what grains he eats. The letters will prognosticate the answer. Libanius and Jamblicus thus discovered who was to succeed the emperor Valens. The cock ate the grains over the letters t, h, e, o, d = Theod [orus]. Greek alector, cock; manteia, divination.