Sacrificing to the Gods: Ancient Evidence and Modern Interpretations

Jan N. Bremmer and Andrew Erskine

in The Gods of Ancient Greece

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780748637980
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670758 | DOI:
Sacrificing to the Gods: Ancient Evidence and Modern Interpretations

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This chapter examines the nature of ancient Greek sacrifice. After reviewing some of the theses defended by scholars about Greek sacrifice, it re-examines particularly: a) the theory that Greek sacrifice was based on the motif of the “non-violence”, in order to disclaim any “guilt of murder”; and b) the statement that the consent of the victim (by a sign of the head) was a very essential modality of the sacrificial ritual. It then discusses the relations between gods and sacrificial animals, taking as example the association between Zeus and the piglet. Finally, it reconsiders the problem of Greek gods as “receivers” of “human victims”.

Keywords: Victim; Sacrifice; Zeus; Piglets; Ritual

Chapter.  6364 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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