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On this page: Sacrifices (continued)

SACRIFICES.

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many sacrifices women were excluded, from others men, from many slaves and freedmen. At Borne, in early times, all plebeians were excluded by the patricians.

The victims were generally decked out with ribbons and wreaths, and sometimes the cattle had their horns gilded. If the creature voluntarily followed to the altar or even bowed its head, this was considered as a favourable sign; it was an unfavour­able sign if it offered resistance or tried to escape. In that case, with the Romans, the object of the sacrifice was deemed to be frustrated. Among the Qreeks those who took part in the sacrifice wore wreaths; a firebrand from the altar was dipped in water, and with the water thus consecrated they sprinkled themselves and the altar. They then strewed the head of the victim with baked barley-grains, and cast some hairs cut from its head into the sacrificial fire. After those present had been called upon to ob­serve a devout silence, and avoid everything that might mar the solemnity of the occasion, the gods were invited, amidst the sound of flutes or hymns sung to the lyre and dancing, to accept the sacrifice propitiously. The hands of the worshippers were raised, or extended, or pointed downwards, ac­cording as the prayer was made to a god of heaven, of the sea, or of the lower world respectively. The victim was then felled to the ground with a mace or a hatchet, and its throat cut with the sacrificial knife. During this operation the animal's head •was held up, if the sacrifice belonged to the upper gods, and bowed down if it belonged to those of the lower world or the dead. The blood caught from it was, in the former case, poured round the altar, in the latter, into a ditch. In the case just mentioned the sacrifice was entirely burned (and this was also the rule with animals which were not edible), and the ashes were poured into the ditch. In sacrifices to the gods of the upper world, only certain portions were burned to the gods, such as thigh-bones or chine-bones cut off the victim, some of the entrails, or some pieces of flesh with a layer of fat, rolled round the whole, together with libations of wine and oil, frankincense, and sacrificial cakes. The remainder, after re­moving the god's portion, as it was called, for the priests engaged in the sacrifice, was either roasted at once for the sacrificial banquet and so consumed, or taken home. Festal sacrifices at the public expense were often combined with a public meal. Sacri­fice was made to the gods of the upper air

in the morning; to those of the lower world in the evening.

Among the Romans, as among the Greeks, reverent silence prevailed during the sacri-1 ficial operations; in case a careless word should become an evil omen, and to prevent any disturbance by external surroundings, a flute-player played and the offerer of the sacrifice himself veiled his head during the rite. The prayer, formulated by the pontifices, and unintelligible to the priests themselves from its archaic language, was repeated by the votary after the priest, who read it from a written form, as any i deviation from the exact words made the whole sacrifice of no avail. As a rule, the worshipper turned his face to the east, or, if the ceremony took place before I the temple, to the image of the divinity, grasping the altar with his hands; and, when the prayer was ended, laid his 1 hands on his lips, and turned himself from left to right (in many cults from right to I left), or, again, walked round the altar and i then seated himself. Then the victim, se-j lected as being without blemish, was conse­crated, the priest sprinkling salted grains of dried and pounded spelt (mold salsa) and pouring wine from a cup upon its head, and also in certain sacrifices cutting some of the hairs off its head, and finally making a stroke with his knife along the back of the crea­ture, from its head to its tail. Cattle were killed with the mace, calves with the ham­mer, small animals with the knife, by the priest's attendants appointed for the pur­pose, to whom also the dissection of the victims was assigned. If the inspectors of | sacrifice (see haruspex) declared that the I entrails (exta), cut out with the knife, were not normal, this was a sign that the offering was not pleasing to the divinity ; and if it [ was a male animal which had been previously slaughtered, a female was now killed. If , the entrails again proved unfavourable, the I sacrifice was regarded as of no avail. On ; the other hand, in the case of prodigies, sacrifices were offered until favourable signs appeared. In other sin-offerings there was no inspection of entrails. Sin-offerings were either entirely burned or given to the priests. Otherwise the flesh was eaten by the offerers, and only the entrails, which were roasted on spits, or boiled, were offered up, together with particular portions of the meat, in the proper way, and placed in a dish upon the altar, after being sprinkled with viola salsa and wine. The slaughter of the victim took ' place in the morning, whilst the rxta were

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