Ancient Greek and Zulu Sacrificial Ritual a Comparative Analysis

in Numen
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?



Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Help

Have Institutional Access?



Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Connect

Abstract

In this paper, ancient Greek and Zulu sacrificial ritual are compared in order to test the validity of Burkert's hypothesis about the origins and function of sacrifice. Similarities and differences between the two ritual systems are analysed. The Zulus do not clearly differentiate between Olympian and chthonic deities and sacrifices and seem to sacrifice exclusively to or for the shades or ancestors. The absence of a fully-developed ancestor cult in ancient Greek religion (the cult of heroes and the cult of the dead bear some resemblance to one) seems to reflect the nature of a pólis culture which cuts across the boundaries of tribes and phratries: no such culture is evident amongst the Zulus and ancestor cult thus reflects the lineage and kinship system characterising Zulu life. Burkert believes that sacrifice has its origins in the ritualisation of the palaeolithic hunt. Crucial aspects of the theory do not seem to be validated by Zulu thought-patterns: e.g. there is little or no trace of guilt or anxiety at ritual killings, a guilt which might be expected from a people deeply attached to their animals, often personified in praises addressed to them. Following G.S. Kirk, this paper attempts to illustrate that composite accounts of both ancient Greek and Zulu sacrifice acquire misleading emotional resonances which individual sacrifices might not have. This comparative study does not disprove Burkert's theory, but attempts to demonstrate that explanations offered in terms of origins or formative antecedents are fraught with speculative problems and throw no light on the motivation for sacrifice.

Ancient Greek and Zulu Sacrificial Ritual a Comparative Analysis

in Numen

Sections

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 46 46 11
Full Text Views 103 103 0
PDF Downloads 8 8 0
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0