The Prominent Character of Animal Sacrifice in Greek Religion

As I have stated, I am dealing with religious acts involving the use of animals, and not other kinds of material. The limitation of my research to animal sacrifice means that, in the case of Greek religion, I shall not deal systematically with libations or vegetable offerings, so I first have to justify the marginal treatment of these two areas of non-animal offerings. Libation, that is the ritual pouring of a liquid (usually wine), seems to be the most problematic of Greek non-animal...

Typical Description of Greek Animal Sacrifice from Our Period

An important gap in our evidence for the period 100 bc-ad 200 is that nowhere are we provided with a detailed description of the sacrificial procedure, similar to the Homeric descriptions. The only passage referring to the order followed in the sacrificiaI procedure comes from a critic of animal sacrifices, namely Lucian. This passage has concerned us earlier, but in a different context (pp. 38-9 above). To make his sarcasm at the sacrificial scene more acute, Lucian made use of a colourful...

Animal Sacrifice in Our Period Past and Present

In this section I shall verify whether writers in our period saw any difference between their contemporary and earlier (or much earlier, or mythical) animal sacrificial rites. I shall also compare attestations of animal sacrifice coming from different dates. Having demonstrated that the discontinuous character of our evidence does not imply discontinuity in Greek sacrificial practice in our period, it is easier to move onto further aspects of our theme. I shall first present the relation...

Thematic Presentation Of The Evidence For Greek Sacrifice In The Period Covered

As I have said, two main axes form the background of this chapter the refutation ofNilsson's view that people abandoned the practice of animal sacrifice because they thought it to be inappropriate and the aim to make more conspicuous the uneasy encounter of pagans with Christianity. Given the fact that there is no perfect way to divide up the evidence, I have deliberately chosen to approach the question of Greek animal sacrifice in a way which both smooth the gaps in the evidence, and provides...

Sacrifice in general

SacriWce belongs to the sphere of religious practices, and as such it initially concerned those scholars who Wrst dealt with religion, namely anthropologists. The Wrst anthropologists were nineteenth-century Europeans who were dealing with non-European cultures colonial expansion was a great stimulus for the erudite who were interested in exploring the particularities of the foreign societies they came across. In theory, anthropologists were not supposed to be exclusively engaged in the study...

P Stengel and M Nilsson on Greek sacrifice The importance ofNilssons work for the purposes of this book

In the bibliography on religions, there are also some predominantly historical approaches, but these do not have sacrifice as their main subject, nor do they provide a theoretical interpretation of it. In some of these approaches, however, one can find references to, or sections on, animal sacrifice in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, which is the time-span of the present book. P. Stengel and M. Nilsson were the main representatives of the shift towards ritual in German scholarship on...

Preface

As a Greek born in Athens, during my childhood I often came across the spectacle of tourists, who were swarming around the temples of Attica in order to admire the artistic miracles of ancient Greece. At the same time, being born a Christian in a big modern city, I had the experience of a cult that had nothing to do with animal sacrifice. My knowledge of animal sacrifice at that time was limited to stories from the Old Testament, which, as I was taught, referred to an old cultic reality finally...