Ancient Greek Religion

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In the ancient Greek world, religion was personal, direct, and present in all areas of life. With formal rituals of animal sacrifices and libations, myths to explain the origins of mankind and to give the gods a face, temples which dominated the landscape, city festivals and national sporting and arts tournaments, religion was never far in the minds of the ancient Greek. Whilst every individual had their own mindset on their personal religious beliefs, there were three factors that were fundamental in religion: the gods existed, they could influence human affairs, and they welcomed and responded greatly to acts of piety and worship. The Ancient ritual of animal sacrifices permitted greeks to have a deeper connection into the core religious…show more content…
Most often the animals sacrificed were oxen, goats, bulls and sheep, however, some gods were thought to prefer certain animals and if the followers of the religion were sacrificed to a specific God in the hope of something in return, they would often use that god or goddesses preferred animal for example Athena was thought to have preferred cows as sacrifices. These sacrifices usually took place during a festival in honour of the god. During the ritual the Greeks also stood up, unlike in other religions where followers worshipped on the ground, they did this as it was their belief that they were not quite as equal to the gods, but more equal and similar than one normally encounters. When the ritual began the animal would have already been prepared for its sacrifice, a priest would then begin the ritual, it was important for a priest to perform the ritual as it was thought that they had a stronger spiritual connection with the divines and would be able to connect everyone participating to the divines if they accepted the sacrifice. The priest then would stun the animal before slitting its throat, allowing the animal to bleed out. The entrails, especially the liver, would then be extracted and examined to see if the gods had accepted this sacrifice. If so, then the ritual would proceed…show more content…
In preparation for the ritual a young and healthy animal would be chosen to participate if an ill animal was sacrificed the gods would take offence and instead of rewarding you for your sacrifice they would punish you. A priest would then pour water on the animals head to force it to “nod” in agreement to the sacrifice, this is because the Ancient Greeks and their divines believed that the sacrifice, not be treated as an act of violence; instead, it had to be an act in which everyone was a willing participant: mortals, immortals and animals. Barley seeds would also be thrown onto the animal by people not directly responsible for killing the animal, ensuring their direct participation rather than observer status, this was vital as the barley seeds represent their sacrifice to the gods. The ceremony following the ritual included the animal being cooked over open flames on the altar and the pieces were then distributed. To the gods went the bones, fat, spices and wine, these would be tossed in the fire and continue to be burned so that the smoke would rise up to the gods and goddesses above. The smoke would then read for omens that the gods sent down to earth as a reward. It was normal for the ancient Greeks to only eat meat during a sacrificial ritual as

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