- Paperback: 360 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press (November 20, 1986)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520058755
- ISBN-13: 978-0520058750
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #748,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth
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From the Inside Flap
"This book is a professional classic, an absolute must for any serious student of Greek religion."Albert Henrichs, Harvard University
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Top Customer Reviews
Man's biological evolution was accomplished during the age of the hunter. His terrifying violence is a derivation of the behaviour of the predatory animal. `A male community is biologically analogous to a pack of wolves.' The only groups able to assert themselves were those held together by collective killing in the hunt and by an inviolable social order.
Human aggression and violence have marked the progress of our civilization. One can even say that `all orders and forms of authority in human society are founded on institutional violence.'
Religion is a stabilizing factor of the first order in society. But, blood and violence lurk fascinatingly at its very heart. Christianity is confronted with murder at its very core.
In ancient times, the sacred act done at the sacred place by the consecrating actor consisted in slaughtering sacrificial animals. The act of piety is `bloodshed, slaughter and eating.'
Sacrificial rituals were all about encountering death and affirmed life (food). `The gruesome evil at work in the rituals fulfilled a function, i.e., to preserve a social structure over the course of generations.' The bull to be slaughtered reflects the ancestral king or the universal father; a young animal, a child or a maiden.
Myths frequently explain and justify social orders and establishments. Their most exciting themes come from the realm of sexuality and aggression, the perils of death and destruction. They have their counterpart in sacrificial killings.
The Korè myth describes the sacrifice of a maiden transformed in agrarian terms. It is a description of the agricultural cycle. The Korè is the grain that must go under earth so that, from this seeming death, the new fruit can appear. `Hunger threatens when the Korè disappears, but to the delight of gods and men, she returns, and with her blessing of grain from Demeter.'
Based on an enormous amount of bibliographical material, Walter Burkert delved deeply into and exposes the hidden meaning and functions of ancient, sometimes secret, rites. He unmasks the dark side of man and human civilization.
This book is a must read for all Greek scholars and for all those interested in the history of mankind.