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Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice$
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Jennifer Wright Knust and Zsuzsanna Varhelyi

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199738960

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738960.001.0001

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A Satirist’s Sacrifices

A Satirist’s Sacrifices

Lucian’s On Sacrifices and the Contestation of Religious Traditions

Chapter:
(p.203) 10 A Satirist’s Sacrifices
Source:
Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice
Author(s):

Fritz Graf

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738960.003.0010

Fritz Graf considers the criticism of sacrifice by the Syrian Greek satirist, Lucian of Samosata. He argues that sacrifice, in Lucian as in other writers, is never contested by itself; rather, these discussions are always developed as part of a larger rethinking of religious traditions, which aimed at emphasizing the goodness of the divine. As a satire, Lucian’s text does not aim at providing a positive theological alternative to imperial Greek sacrificial practice, but it fits well with other second-century ethical discussions about the subject, such as those of Philostratus or Maximus of Tyre, and the increased interest in theological discussion among the educated elite of the empire at this time. Lucian’s diatribe, just as those other writings, did not aspire to intercept current sacrificial practices; instead they sought to articulate and spread a view of higher philosophical theology which nevertheless allowed them to participate in sacrifice, along with other ritual practices, through distinctive and “higher” standards of their own.

Keywords:   sacrifice, critique, Lucian of Samosata, Philostratus, Maximus of Tyre, ethics

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