Later in the dialogue, Octavius, the defender of Christianity, refutes this slander. 6 ), 60–8) seems to attribute to him, nor is it necessarily the case that he recounted them in a speech . There are certain hints in this essay that Plutarch, like Mela and Cicero, tended to think of foreign religious practices as essentially superstitious.
The alleged crime, he argues, is so terrible that ‘no one could believe it except the sort of person who would attempt it’. But in most of the stories I shall discuss this distinction does not seem to have been significant. For example, in an earlier passage he quotes Euripides ( 764), ‘O Greeks, who have learned the wicked ways of barbarians’, and adds himself, ‘through superstition’. The charge of human sacrifice, as a magic rite, is attributed to a whole series of ‘bad’ emperors, beginning with Didius Julianus (Dio LXXXIII. II; SHA The translation is apparently inaccurate: the New English Bible renders the passage ‘For the gods of the nations are idols every one’.
While there is substantial variation in the methods and motivations for human sacrifice across cultures, there is often a link between human sacrifice and social hierarchy. Of course the choice of the gods to instantiate is not free: one can only sacrifice to the gods that correspond to one’s hierarchical position in society.
For example, the archaeological records of early Chinese and Egyptian cultures show that the graves of rulers were often accompanied by pits containing hundreds of human bodies. Social stratification refers to the division of a society into groups of unequal wealth and status (social classes), membership in which is hereditary. “We think some of these immigrants might have been warrior-cultists dedicated to gods of the Tezcatlipoca-Xipe Totec complex, with human sacrifice and cannibalism. “Curiously, at some of these ceremonies of massive human sacrifice, the kings and lords from allied and enemy city-states were invited to the ceremonial centre to witness the spectacular festival… Thus sacrifice ensures that the hierarchy of the gods is translated into a social hierarchy and reproduces it.” “Having the role of supreme sacrifice, the king must consecrate the supreme sacrifice, human sacrifice.
In these cases human sacrifice wasn’t necessarily used as a punishment, but still functioned to display the ultimate power of social elites. Wasn’t it usually those of high status that became the victims of human sacrifice? This popular misconception may have come from the references to human sacrifice in the Bible, such as when Abraham prepares to sacrifice his son Isaac.
While those of high social status, including their children, were sometimes the victims of human sacrifice this was uncommon in Austronesian cultures. While ritualised cannibalism is known to have occurred in conjunction with human sacrifice in some societies, human sacrifice need not necessarily involve cannibalism. However, in cultures such as Hawaii there were a wide range of events that called for human sacrifice, including annual fishing and horticulture rites, the felling of a tree for the carving of a god, the consecration of a temple, and the violation of important social rules. Are there countries that still practice human sacrifice today? Human sacrifice is sometimes claimed to still be practiced in remote regions of Africa and South America, though these claims are hard to substantiate. The Aztec civilization was a very complex society that was feared and known well for their various gory sacrifices done to please their many gods in their polytheistic religion. In the mid-fourteenth century, the Aztecs used the method of human sacrifices to uphold fear in their neighbors by using the method year round to please the gods and ensure their survival. According to Aztec legend, the first world was created by a dual god- meaning that it was both a female and male- called Ometeotl. Culture, and Daily Life.” Early Civilizations in the Americas: Almanac Vol.2. Once these social systems developed, the practice was replaced by more formal methods of social control. The cultures used in this study are part of the Pulotu database, which is freely available to the public at Do these findings apply more generally than Austronesian cultures? The Social Control Hypothesis arose from descriptions of human sacrifice in early American cultures (see Additional Materials below). “Under very serious circumstances, probably in times of emergency or on the occasion of an important ceremony, Makemake asked for human sacrifices.Our study shows that human sacrifice also functioned as a means of social control in traditional Austronesian cultures. The victims were children kidnapped by the priests, prisoners, or persons who had incurred the displeasure of the king.” “the gods are hierarchized, so that by performing a sacrifice – this is, by instantiating a given god – one puts oneself in a given hierarchical category.In ancient Aztec culture social elite orchestrated human sacrifices to terrorise populations and justify their authority. Before around 12,000 years ago humans lived in largely egalitarian groups of hunter-gatherers. The parallel here is that the death penalty and human sacrifice may both function to demonstrate the power of rulers and to deter rebellion. What other regions of the world were human sacrifices performed? Humans sacrifice is known to have occurred in early Germanic, Arab, Turkic, Inuit, Austronesian, African, Chinese, Japanese as well as South, Central and North American cultures. What does this study tell us about religion in general? Religion is popularly claimed to provide moral foundations to society. Man Corn Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American Southwest. We propose that in the Chaco area, some such groups of Mexicans was able to use these practices for social control, terrorizing the local populace into submission and developing the hierarchical social system we see reflected in the regions architecture.” David Carrasco. City of Sacrifice: The Aztec Empire and the Role of Violence in Civilization. The ritual extravaganza was carried out with maximum theatrical tension, paraphernalia, and terror in order to amaze and intimidate the visiting dignitaries who returned to their kingdoms trembling with fear and convinced that cooperation and no rebellion was the best response to Aztec imperialism.” Alfred Métraux. It is this privilege/duty, rather than a special title, that sets him apart from the rest of nobility” “The transgressor of royal taboos or of taboos on which all of society is based does not recognize them because he does not respect them (it matters little whether this is intentional); consequently he does not recognize the hierarchical difference between himself and the king (as a representative of the society) and thus the latter’s legitimacy.This suggests that our findings may apply across a wide range of early human societies. Social stratification was one of the first stable social hierarchies to develop in human history and gave rise to formal political systems such as chiefdoms, kingdoms, and the complex polities we live in today. Why did you use phylogenetic methods, rather than just standard correlational methods? Standard correlational methods assume that cultures are statistically independent from one another, and cannot get at the direction of causality. Yet throughout human history religion has also been used by social elites to establish and maintain social control – the use of human sacrifice as a tool for social control shows just how far this can go. From this standpoint he is in a position similar to that of the enemy.Those who were out of favour with social elites often became the victims of human sacrifice.Human sacrifice may have been a particularly effective means of social control because it provided a supernatural justification for punishment, its graphic and painful nature served as a deterrent to others, and because it demonstrated the ultimate power of elites.