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Mikey Ritualistic Sacrifice in Ancient Greek Mythology The ritual of sacrifice in Greek literature played a prominent role in societal influence, defining many aspects of their culture. Sacrifice was the foundation of moral concern, as well as an effective means of narrative development in Greek tragedy. The thematic reoccurrence of sacrifice in Greek literature reveals its symbolic importance. At a time when politics and religion were one in the same, sacrifice was crucial in regulating governmental issues. Tragedies manipulate rituals in order to portray a community’s current sense of order or disorder. The pattern of sacrifice typically entails conflict between the needs of an individual and those of a community in crisis, ultimately resolved in favor of the community through willing participation of the sacrificial victim (Easterling 188). Rites of sacrifice serve to rectify corrupted relations, and maintain moral balance. The social order of Greek life is constructed, by sacrifice, through irrevocable acts; religion and political existence were thoroughly integrated forcing all other life functions to reflect this foundation. In Greek literature, the role of sacrifice served many functions. The literal meaning of sacrifice, in most instances, juxtaposes the consequences of its perpetrations, ultimately establishing beneficial results. Most importantly, sacrifice was the basis of the relations maintained between men and gods, establishing a means of contact and interaction. Additionally, the practice of ritual sacrifice helped to classify the gods, and differentiate them from one another: double aspects of a single deity, hierarchical relations between two dietes, or the outstanding nature of one particular deity. And finally, sacrifice functions directly to clarify the political rights of each individual and reveal the structures of their social body (Sissa and Marcel). However, various implementations of sacrifice can possibly induce different results depending on the direction of the interaction. For example, sacrifice can take place between a god and animals, humans, or another god thus revealing rites both of, and to mythological gods. Mortals made sacrifices at any time, to any god during the occurrence of something that fell with that deity’s’ jurisdiction, or as a payment of a vow (Sissa and Marcel). Rites of sacrifice were also the focus of many cultural festivals in which additional purposes were combined, such as rites of initiation, purification, fire, blood and oath. These rites presented themselves in all facets of Greek culture, producing ritualistic transfers of virtue, possessions, and power seeking to redress past injustices or to return existence to the status quo.
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