Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth

Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth

Language: English

Pages: 360

ISBN: 0520058755

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Blood sacrifice, the ritual slaughter of animals, has been basic to religion through history, so that it survives in spiritualized form even in Christianity. How did this violent phenomenon achieve the status of the sacred? This question is examined in Walter Burkert's famous study.











w h o w ere m aintained by the outside world's consciousness of sin, are d yin g out today. If, however, prac­ tically all hum an cultures are shaped by religion, this indicates that religious ritual is advantageous in the process of selection, if not for j the individual, then at least for the continuance of group identity.9Re­ ligion outlives all non-religious com m unities; and sacrificial ritual plays a special role in this process. \ Furtherm ore, those rituals w hich are not innate can

as a jjoai'ov, see Apollod. 3 .14 4 -4 5. PR I I 12 76 -7 9 ; Ibykos fr. 307 Page; Sim onides fr. 557 Page; Sophocles fr. 52 2 -28 Pear­ son; Eur. Hec. 10 7 -5 8 2 (ve.otvlai 525); Brommer (i960) 298-99. ^Ahm ad ibn Fodlan, quoted by Jaqut, English transl. in Antiquity 8 (1934), 58-62. noAOfewji <>£

stage (83-86). One does well to remember that in spite of their tremendous honor for the mother of god, both Eastern and Western forms of Catholicism are purely male organizations. 80 FATH ER GOD A N D G REAT GODDESS It is the hunter's job to support the family. He acts for the sake of his w ife and his mother. W hen this m erges with feelings o f anxiety and guilt, it is com forting to shift responsibility to another, higher will- The hunter sets out to do his d eadly w ork "fo r the sake of

of Z eu s w as quick to follow, even though there is lit­ tle agreem ent as to the form it took. In an y case, Pelops' limbs w ere put back together in the sacrificial kettle and he w as brought to life once m ore; only the m issing shoulder had to be replaced by a piece of ivory.32 A fter Pindar, the G reeks often changed the setting of this can­ nibalistic banquet of the gods to Sipylos in A sia M inor.33 M odern m ythologists think that the m yths of Tantalos and Lykaon m ust have influenced

perhaps both aspects of sacrifice, the dread of death and the certainty of life, are subject to the sam e god. 19Od. 20.276; cf. 18.600, 20.156, 250, 21.2 58 -5 9 ; Wilamowitz, Homerische Untersuchungen (n.10 above), 1 1 1 - 1 4 . x Hermes 30 (1895), 263-70; E. Wust, RE XVII 1 9 10 - 12 . Cf. PR II 1050 -59 . For the horses of O dysseus at Pheneos see Paus. 8.14.5, and cf. 8.44.4; 'n addition see the strange genealogy of Penelope-Pan in Pind. fr. 100. 21For the m yth of Thelpusa see Paus. 8.2 5.4

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