Offerings to the Gods in Ancient Hellas

In this article are presented the kinds and types of offerings in ancient Hellas.

People at the very beginning used to offer greens and flowers and libation with water only. Kekrops, the king of Athens, ordered not to offer inspirited but cooked food and sweets (πέμματα). They were offering salted flour with fruits of earth, honey, olive oil and wine. They were also offering from what they were eating. Triptolemus prohibited by law the animal sacrifice in Athens. In later year people did the terrible action of sacrificing animals.

Τhere were sacred trees and plants that offered to each god. Pine for Cyvelle, oak for Zeus, kermes oak for Rhea, olive tree for Athena, bay for Apollo, calamus for Pan, lotus and myrtle for Apollo and Aphrodite, cypress for Plouton, narcissus and adiantum for Persephone, apple tree and agrostis for Ares, populous for Hermes, poppy and myrtle for Demeter, vine and cissus for Dionysos, garlic for patron and natal gods, phoenix for Muses etc. From these holy trees and plants for each god they were burning the appropriate part of the plant and the decorated the altars with twigs. 

There were four kinds of offerings: 

  • Τhe desirable offerings which they did when people wanted to receive a good outcome from something they asked.
  • The gratuitous offerings which they did after the successful outcome of their request.
  • The propitiatory offerings which they did when they wanted to ease and ally the gods.
  • The honorary offerings which they did for no reason, just to honor the gods.

And there were three ways of doing it:

  • burnt offering
  • libation
  • offer

Theophrastus from Eresos has written a work, Peri Efseveias, from which we learn a lot about offerings and there is also information in this article.

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