The Theology of Animal Sacrifice in the Ancient Greek World

James B. Rives

in Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738960
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918676 | DOI:
The Theology of Animal Sacrifice in the Ancient Greek World

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James Rives addresses the monolithic theological role attributed to animal sacrifice in modern accounts of ancient Greek religion. Emphasizing the importance of a careful chronological perspective, he suggests that it was only in the philosophers of the imperial era that philosophers developed an actual pagan theology of sacrifice—likely in the Neopythagorean circles of the first century CE. It was likely the new importance of animal sacrifice in the imperial cult and in the rituals associated with euergetism that required those who did not wish to participate in civic worship to develop a more sophisticated reasoning for their rejection of sacrificial ritual: Rives especially points at the works of Porphyry of Tyre (3rd c. CE) as an example of such a critique. He also underscores that such developments confirm that the cultural meaning of ancient sacrifice did not remain stable throughout the ancient world.

Keywords: animal sacrifice; theology; Roman religion; Neopythagoreans; Porphyry

Chapter.  8665 words. 

Subjects: History of Religion

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