Chapter

A Satirist’s Sacrifices

Fritz Graf

in Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738960
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918676 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738960.003.0010
A Satirist’s Sacrifices

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Fritz Graf considers the criticism of sacrifice by the Syrian Greek satirist, Lucian of Samosata. He argues that sacrifice, in Lucian as in other writers, is never contested by itself; rather, these discussions are always developed as part of a larger rethinking of religious traditions, which aimed at emphasizing the goodness of the divine. As a satire, Lucian’s text does not aim at providing a positive theological alternative to imperial Greek sacrificial practice, but it fits well with other second-century ethical discussions about the subject, such as those of Philostratus or Maximus of Tyre, and the increased interest in theological discussion among the educated elite of the empire at this time. Lucian’s diatribe, just as those other writings, did not aspire to intercept current sacrificial practices; instead they sought to articulate and spread a view of higher philosophical theology which nevertheless allowed them to participate in sacrifice, along with other ritual practices, through distinctive and “higher” standards of their own.

Keywords: sacrifice; critique; Lucian of Samosata; Philostratus; Maximus of Tyre; ethics

Chapter.  5436 words. 

Subjects: History of Religion

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