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 the setting which shows a vigorous paganism as the environment in which Christianity developed.

Thus, the nature of the evidence and the need to meet the initial aims of this chapter oblige us to follow two stages in this study. At the

44 Unlike ¿vayilw, the verb Kadayilw is used more broadly of both animal and vegetable offerings. See e.g. Paus. Corinth, X.5, Elis II, XX.3, Arcadia, II.3, Boeotia, III.8 (bis).

first stage (section i), we need to prove that animal sacrificial practice was characterized by continuity, even if its presence in the sources is detected at different points in time. So, at the second stage, I shall present evidence showing the great vitality of animal sacrifice (section ii), extending from absolute harmony (section iii) to possible dissension (section iv), the latter being the case when conformity to community rules or to an established practice is questioned by a new religion entering the field. In no way is the evidence in each section intended to be complete, but is rather chosen as being explicit, and bearing fruitfully on the question.

For the original version of the Greek passages which in the main text are quoted in English, the reader may consult Appendix II (hereafter App. II + number of passage).

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