Honoring the Dead with the Dead

Euripides, Hecuba 303-316

“I will not deny what I said to everyone:
Now that Troy has been taken we should give your child
To be sacrificed to the first man of the army when he asks it.

Here is where many cities start to stumble—
When there is some excellent and willing man
Who earns no greater than the lesser mob.
Achilles is worthy of our honor, Ma’am,
Because he died most nobly for Greece.

Wouldn’t it be shameful if we used him as a friend
When he was watching but stopped when he was dead?
What would someone say if there was some new reason
To gather an army and lead it against an enemy?
Will we fight or will we worry about our lives
Once we see that the dead are not honored?”

ἃ δ᾿ εἶπον εἰς ἅπαντας οὐκ ἀρνήσομαι,
Τροίας ἁλούσης ἀνδρὶ τῷ πρώτῳ στρατοῦ
σὴν παῖδα δοῦναι σφάγιον ἐξαιτουμένῳ.
ἐν τῷδε γὰρ κάμνουσιν αἱ πολλαὶ πόλεις,
ὅταν τις ἐσθλὸς καὶ πρόθυμος ὢν ἀνὴρ
μηδὲν φέρηται τῶν κακιόνων πλέον.
ἡμῖν δ᾿ Ἀχιλλεὺς ἄξιος τιμῆς, γύναι,
θανὼν ὑπὲρ γῆς Ἑλλάδος κάλλιστ᾿ ἀνήρ.
οὔκουν τόδ᾿ αἰσχρόν, εἰ βλέποντι μὲν φίλῳ
χρώμεσθ᾿, ἐπεὶ δ᾿ ὄλωλε μὴ χρώμεσθ᾿ ἔτι;
εἶἑν· τί δῆτ᾿ ἐρεῖ τις, ἤν τις αὖ φανῇ
στρατοῦ τ᾿ ἄθροισις πολεμίων τ᾿ ἀγωνία;
πότερα μαχούμεθ᾿ ἢ φιλοψυχήσομεν,
τὸν κατθανόνθ᾿ ὁρῶντες οὐ τιμώμενον;

Sebastiano Ricci (Belluno 1659-Venice 1734) – The Sacrifice of Polyxena –

A Brutal End to a Plague

Ps.-Plutarch, Parallela minora 19A, 310B-C

“Kuanippos, a Syracusan by birth, did not sacrifice to Dionysus alone. In rage over this, the god caused him to become drunk and then he raped his daughter Kuanê in some shadowy place. She took his ring and gave it to her nurse as to be proof of what had happened in the future.

When they were later struck by a plague and Pythian Apollo said that they had to sacrifice the impious person to the Gods-who-Protect, everyone else was uncertain about the oracle. Kuanê understood it. She grabbed her father by the hair and sacrificed herself over him once she’d butchered him on the altar.

That’s the story Dositheos tells in the third book of his Sicilian Tales.

Κυάνιππος γένει Συρακούσιος μόνωι Διονύσωι οὐκ ἔθυεν· ὁ δὲ θεὸς ὀργισθεὶς μέθην ἐνέσκηψε, καὶ ἐν τόπωι σκοτεινῶι τὴν θυγατέρα ἐβιάσατο Κυάνην· ἡ δὲ τὸν δακτύλιον περιελομένη ἔδωκε τῆι τροφῶι ἐσόμενον ἀναγνώρισμα. λοιμωξάντων δὲ, καὶ τοῦ Πυθίου εἰπόντος μὲν δεῖν τὸν ἀσεβῆ <᾽Απο>τροπαίοις θεοῖς σφαγιάσαι, τῶν δ᾽ ἄλλων ἀγνοούντων τὸν χρησμόν, γνοῦσα ἡ Κυάνη καὶ ἐπιλαβομένη τῶν τριχῶν εἷλκε, καὶ αὐτὴ κατασφάξασα τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτὴν ἐπέσφαξε, καθάπερ Δοσίθεος ἐν τῶι τρίτωι Σικελικῶν.

 Archaeological Museum of Herakleion. Sarcophagus of Agia Triada 

Augustus Caesar, Maybe Not the Nicest Guy

Suetonius, Divus Augustus 15

“Following the capture of Perusia, [Augustus] turned his mind to vengeance on many people—facing those who were trying to beg forgiveness or make an excuse with one response: “you must die.”

Some authors record that three hundred people from both orders were picked out from the war-prisoners and slaughtered like sacrificial animals at the altar built to Divine Julius on the Ides of March. There are those who report that he turned to war with a specific plan, namely to trap his secret adversaries and those whom fear rather than willingness constrain and, once the model of Lucius Antonius* was offered, to pay the bonuses promised to veterans once he had conquered his enemies and liquidated their assets.”

Perusia capta in plurimos animadvertit, orare veniam vel excusare se conantibus una voce occurrens “moriendum esse.” Scribunt quidam trecentos ex dediticiis electos utriusque ordinis ad aram Divo Iulio exstructam Idibus Martiis hostiarum more mactatos. Exstiterunt qui traderent conpecto eum ad arma isse, ut occulti adversarii et quos metus magis quam voluntas contineret, facultate L. Antoni ducis praebita, detegerentur devictisque iis et confiscatis promissa veteranis praemia solverentur.

*Lucius (Marcus Antonius’ brother) had been a target of the siege at Perusia. Octavian [Augustus] let him live and sent him to serve as governor in what is now Spain.

Image result for ancient roman augustus perugia
Augustus as Pontifex Maximus, A Righteous and Religious Man

Augustus Caesar, Maybe Not the Nicest Guy

Suetonius, Divus Augustus 15

“Following the capture of Perusia, [Augustus] turned his mind to vengeance on many people—facing those who were trying to beg forgiveness or make an excuse with one response: “you must die.”

Some authors record that three hundred people from both orders were picked out from the war-prisoners and slaughtered like sacrificial animals at the altar built to Divine Julius on the Ides of March. There are those who report that he turned to war with a specific plan, namely to trap his secret adversaries and those whom fear rather than willingness constrain and, once the model of Lucius Antonius* was offered, to pay the bonuses promised to veterans once he had conquered his enemies and liquidated their assets.”

Perusia capta in plurimos animadvertit, orare veniam vel excusare se conantibus una voce occurrens “moriendum esse.” Scribunt quidam trecentos ex dediticiis electos utriusque ordinis ad aram Divo Iulio exstructam Idibus Martiis hostiarum more mactatos. Exstiterunt qui traderent conpecto eum ad arma isse, ut occulti adversarii et quos metus magis quam voluntas contineret, facultate L. Antoni ducis praebita, detegerentur devictisque iis et confiscatis promissa veteranis praemia solverentur.

*Lucius (Marcus Antonius’ brother) had been a target of the siege at Perusia. Octavian [Augustus] let him live and sent him to serve as governor in what is now Spain.

Image result for ancient roman augustus perugia
Augustus as Pontifex Maximus, A Righteous and Religious Man

The Sacrifice of the Lokrian Maidens: Four Sources

Aelian, fr. 47 on the Locrian Women (cf. Apd. E. 6.20-22 below)

De virginibus Locrensibus ob stupratam Cassandram Troiam missis.

“Apollo told the Locrians that the horror would not stop for them unless they sent two maidens to Troy every year as recompense to Athena for Kasandra, “until you have fully propitiated the goddess.”

And the maidens who were sent would grow old in Troy unless replacements came.

[Meanwhile] the women were giving birth to cripples and monsters. Those who had suffered forgetfulness of the outrages done sent [representatives] to Delphi. Then the oracle did not receive them, because the god was angry with them. When they managed to learn the cause of the anger, the oracle prophesied. And it told them what was required concerning the virgins.

And they, since they could not deny the command, submitted the issue for judgment to Antigonus, concerning which Locrian city should send the payment. And the king decreed that the very thing which was entrusted to him for judgment would be decided by vote.”

ὁ ᾿Απόλλων φησὶ πρὸς Λοκροὺς μὴ ἂν αὐτοῖς τὸ δεινὸν λωφῆσαι, εἰ μὴ πέμποιεν ἀνὰ πᾶν ἔτος δύο παρθένους ἐς τὴν ῎Ιλιον τῇ ᾿Αθηνᾷ, Κασάνδρας ποινήν, ‘ἕως ἂν ἱλεώσητε τὴν θεόν.’
καὶ αἵ γε πεμφθεῖσαι κατεγήρασαν ἐν τῇ Τροίᾳ, τῶν διαδόχων μὴ ἀφικνουμένων.
αἱ δὲ γυναῖκες ἔτικτον ἔμπηρα καὶ τέρατα· οἳ δὲ τῶν τετολμημένων σφίσι λήθην καταχέαντες ἧκον ἐς Δελφούς.οὔκ ουν ἐδέχετο αὐτοὺς τὸ μαντεῖον, τοῦ θεοῦ μηνίοντος αὐτοῖς. καὶ λιπαρούντων μαθεῖν τὴν αἰτίαν τοῦ κότου, ὀψέ ποτε χρῆσαι.
καὶ τὸ ἐλλειφθὲν κατὰ τὰς παρθένους προφέρει αὐτοῖς.
οἳ δὲ (οὐδὲ γὰρ ἔσχον ἀνήνασθαι τὸ πρόσταγμα) ἐπ’ ᾿Αντιγόνῳ τίθενται τὴν κρίσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ τίνα χρὴ Λοκρικὴν πόλιν πέμπειν δασμόν.
ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς ᾿Αντίγονος, ἐφεθέν οἱ δικάσαι προσέταξε κλήρῳ διακριθῆναι.

Plutarch, De Sera Numinis Vindicta 557c-d

“And, truly, it has not been so long since the Lokrians stopped sending their virgins to Troy, “the girls who like the lowest slaves, with naked feet / sweep Athena’s temple around the altar / and come to great old age without a veil”—for the crime of Ajax!”

καὶ μὴν οὐ πολὺς χρόνος ἀφ’ οὗ Λοκροὶ πέμποντες εἰς Τροίαν πέπαυν-
ται τὰς παρθένους,

‘αἳ καὶ ἀναμπέχονοι γυμνοῖς ποσὶν ἠύτε δοῦλαι
ἠοῖαι σαίρεσκον ᾿Αθηναίης περὶ βωμόν,
νόσφι κρηδέμνοιο, καὶ εἰ βαθὺ γῆρας ἱκάνοι,’

διὰ τὴν Αἴαντος ἀκολασίαν.

Timaios, FrGrH 555 F146b (=Schol. to Lyk. 1141)

“After Ajax of Lokros was shipwrecked near Guraia and buried in Tremont, in the land of Delos, the Locrians who were saved, barely, returned home. A plague and famine gripped Lokris for tree years because of Ajax’s lawless act against Kasandra. The god prophesied that they needed to propitiate the goddess Athena in Troy each year by sending two virgins by lot and vote. The Trojans who went out to meet the women who were sent, if they caught them, they would kill them, and they would burn their bones with wild, unfruited wood from the Traronian mountain near Troy and then through the ash into the sea. And the Lokrians would have to send other women. If any of them fled, once they returned secretly into Athena’s temple, they would sweep and clean it and they would not approach the goddess or exit the shrine unless if was night. They were shaven, wearing a single tunic, and barefoot.

The first of the Lokrian maidens were Periboia and Kleopatra. First they sent virgins, then the Locrians sent year-old infants with their nurses. When one thousand years had past, after the Phocian War, they stopped that type of sacrifice. This is according to the Sicilian, Timaios. The Cyrenian Kallimakhos also mentions this story.”

TZETZ. LYKOPHR. Al. 1141: Αἴαντος τοῦ Λοκροῦ περὶ τὰς Γυραίας ναυαγήσαντος καὶ ταφέντος ἐν Τρέμοντι χώραι τῆς Δήλου, οἱ Λοκροὶ μόλις σωθέντες ἦλθον εἰς τὴν οἰκείαν. φθορὰ δὲ καὶ λοιμὸς μετὰ τρίτον ἔτος ἔσχε τὴν Λοκρίδα διὰ τὴν εἰς Κασάνδραν ἀθέμιτον πρᾶξιν τοῦ Αἴαντος. ἔχρησε δὲ ὁ θεὸς ἱλάσκεσθαι τὴν θεὰν ᾿Αθηνᾶν τὴν ἐν ᾿Ιλίωι ἐπ’ ἔτη α, β παρθένους πέμποντας κλήρωι καὶ λαχήσει. πεμπομένας δὲ αὐτὰς προυπαντῶντες οἱ Τρῶες εἰ κατέσχον, ἀνήιρουν, καὶ καίοντες ἀκάρποις καὶ ἀγρίοις ξύλοις τὰ ὀστᾶ αὐτῶν ἀπὸ Τράρωνος ὄρους τῆς Τροίας τὴν σποδὸν εἰς θάλασσαν ἔρριπτον· καὶ πάλιν οἱ Λοκροὶ ἑτέρας ἔστελλον. εἰ δέ τινες ἐκφύγοιεν, ἀνελθοῦσαι λάθρα εἰς τὸ τῆς ᾿Αθηνᾶς ἱερόν, ἔσαιρον αὐτὸ καὶ ἔραινον, τῆι δὲ θεῶι οὐ προσήρχοντο οὔτε τοῦ ἱεροῦ ἐξήρχοντο, εἰ μὴ νύκτωρ. ἦσαν δὲ κεκαρμέναι, μονοχίτωνες καὶ ἀνυπόδητοι. πρῶται δὲ τῶν Λοκρίδων παρθένων Περίβοια καὶ Κλεοπάτρα ἀφίκοντο. καὶ πρῶτον μὲν τὰς παρθένους, εἶτα τὰ βρέφη ἐνιαύσια μετὰ τῶν τροφῶν αὐτῶν ἔπεμπον οἱ Λοκροί· χιλίων δ’ ἐτῶν παρελθόντων, μετὰ τὸν Φωκικὸν πόλεμον, ἐπαύσαντο τῆς τοιαύτης θυσίας 〚ὥς φησι Τίμαιος ὁ Σικελός〛. μέμνηται δὲ τῆς ἱστορίας καὶ ὁ Κυρηναῖος Καλλίμαχος (F 13d Schn = F 35 Pf).

Apollodorus 6.20–22

“The Lokrians barely made it back to their own land; three years later, a plague struck Lokris and they obtained an oracle to propitiate Athena in Troy by sending two maidens there for one thousand years. Periboia and Kleopatra were the first selected by lot.

But when they went to Troy, they were pursued by the local inhabitants until they entered the shrine. They did not approach the goddess, but they swept and sprinkled water on the temple. They did not exit the temple; their hair was cut, they wore single-tunics and no shoes.

When they died, the Lokrians sent others and they entered the city at night so that they would not be murdered if seen outside the precinct. Later, the Lokrians started sending infants with nurses. When one thousand years had passed, they stopped sening suppliants after the Phocian War.”

Λοκροὶ δὲ μόλις τὴν ἑαυτῶν καταλαβόντες, ἐπεὶ μετὰ τρίτον ἔτος τὴν Λοκρίδα κατέσχε φθορά, δέχονται χρησμὸν ἐξιλάσασθαι τὴν ἐν Ἰλίῳ Ἀθηνᾶν καὶ δύο παρθένους πέμπειν ἱκέτιδας ἐπὶ ἔτη χίλια. καὶ λαγχάνουσι πρῶται Περίβοια καὶ Κλεοπάτρα.

αὗται δὲ εἰς Τροίαν ἀφικόμεναι, διωκόμεναι παρὰ τῶν ἐγχωρίων εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν κατέρχονται: καὶ τῇ μὲν θεᾷ οὐ προσήρχοντο, τὸ δὲ ἱερὸν ἔσαιρόν τε καὶ ἔρραινον: ἐκτὸς δὲ τοῦ νεὼ οὐκ ἐξῄεσαν, κεκαρμέναι δὲ ἦσαν καὶ μονοχίτωνες καὶ ἀνυπόδετοι.

τῶν δὲ πρώτων ἀποθανουσῶν ἄλλας ἔπεμπον: εἰσῄεσαν δὲ εἰς τὴν πόλιν νύκτωρ, ἵνα μὴ φανεῖσαι τοῦ τεμένους ἔξω φονευθῶσι: μετέπειτα δὲ βρέφη μετὰ τροφῶν ἔπεμπον. χιλίων δὲ ἐτῶν παρελθόντων μετὰ τὸν Φωκικὸν πόλεμον ἱκέτιδας ἐπαύσαντο πέμποντες.

There is actually an inscription from the historical period making arrangements for this sacrifice.

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