Tuesday, January 21, 2020


Bloodless Offerings

Calpurnius Siculus 2.64-67 (tr. J. Wight Duff and Arnold M. Duff):
I too have been wont to offer first-fruits to the gods who protect my apple-orchard and to mould for Priapus cakes of sacrifice. Dripping combs of trickling honey I present — nor think they shall be less acceptable to heaven than a goat's blood staining the altar.

non quoque pomiferi laribus consuevimus horti
mittere primitias et fingere liba Priapo,
rorantesque favos damus et liquentia mella;
nec fore grata minus, quam si caper imbuat aras.
Cyril Bailey, Phases in the Religion of Ancient Rome (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1932 = Sather Classical Lectures, 10), pp. 77-78 (note omitted):
The offerings in the household cult and in the majority of the sacrificia in the fields were in the early days bloodless. They consisted mostly in cereals, and particularly in spelt (far) — the staple crop before wheat was introduced. Often this was made into meal (puls) or cakes (strues, fertum, liba) or, when salt was added, it became the mola salsa, the salt meal, so famous in Roman ritual. These simple offerings were felt to be all that the god needed, and Horace is speaking in the spirit of the old religion, when he says that "if a pure hand has touched the altar, it will not be more persuasive with a rich victim than with the gift of spelt and the little cake leaping in the flame."

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