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Hittite Texts and Greek ReligionContact, Interaction, and Comparison$
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Ian Rutherford

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780199593279

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199593279.001.0001

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Animal Sacrifice

Animal Sacrifice

Understanding Differences

(p.247) 12 Animal Sacrifice
Hittite Texts and Greek Religion

Ian Rutherford

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at animal sacrifice in the two cultures. In Greece, animal sacrifice is often presented as the single most important religious ritual and an action of great political symbolism, which can define a social group. In Hittite Anatolia, animal sacrifice was regarded as one of three types of offering, alongside libation and bread, the latter being less stressed in Greece; and there is much less emphasis on social significance, though there is some. Hittite texts are unusual in the detail with which they describe animal sacrifice, and this gives us lots of opportunities to compare and contrast it with Greek practice. Some things seem very similar, such as the distinction between modes of offering aimed at upper and lower deities. But there are also differences; for example, the form of offering with the highest prestige is not aninaml sacrifice at all, but ‘god drinking’, a form of libation in which the participants imbibed the spirit of the deity by drinking from a vessel that was supposed in some way to embody him.

Keywords:   Sacrifice, bread, libation,offering, pits, commensality

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