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 between the author's past and his present (i.a). The link is mostly made by means of the ritual itself, namely, when the author says that a sacrificial rite established in the mythical or Classical past is still practised in his own lifetime. This is the case where the author is most prone to comment on any differences between 'past' and 'present', since, in the case of ritual, conspicuous characteristics are at issue.

At a second stage (i.b), I shall consider the way in which omens taken from animal sacrifice practised in the past are presented by Greek authors in our period. If animal sacrifice, or some aspects of it, was something extremely alien to the reader whom the author addressed, I suggest that the author, when talking about the past, could either have omitted the relevant section, or have inserted some comments warning the reader about the difference.

A further point to make concerns animal sacriWce practised in oracles (i.c). I suggest that the much-quoted decline of the Delphic oracle should not make us assume that animal sacriWce ceased to accompany oracular consultation. Finally, we shall discuss the issue of continuity in Greek religion in general (i.d).

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