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The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/lucian-of-samosata-concerning-sacrifices-11/

The altar dressed, the public call complete, the lustration done, they begin to present the sacrifices. A farmer brings a plough-ox, the shepherd a sheep, the goatherd a goat; someone brings frankincense or a honey cake. A poor man makes propitiation to the god by kissing his right hand. – But I am most concerned with the sacrificers.

Having garlanded the animal, which beforehand had been carefully examined to see if it was in fact completely perfect (who wants to slaughter that which can’t help), they lead up the beast and kill it straight before the god; while the animal dolefully moans and the flute plays lovely semi-tones.

Who could possibly suppose the gods are not delighted looking down upon such a scene?


Greek Text & Notes:


[12] θέμενοι δὲ βωμοὺς καὶ προρρήσεις καὶ περιρραντήρια προσάγουσι τὰς θυσίας, βοῦν μὲν ἀροτῆρα ὁ γεωργός, ἄρνα δὲ ὁ ποιμὴν καὶ αἶγα ὁ αἰπόλος, ὁ δέ τις λιβανωτὸν ἢ πόπανον, ὁ δὲ πένης ἱλάσατο τὸν θεὸν κύσας μόνον τὴν ἑαυτοῦ δεξιάν. ἀλλʼ οἵ γε θύοντες — ἐπʼ ἐκείνους γὰρ ἐπάνειμι — στεφανώσαντες τὸ ζῷον καὶ πολύ γε πρότερον ἐξετάσαντες ειʼ ἐντελὲς εἴη, ἵνα μηδὲ τῶν ἀχρήστων τι κατασφάττωσιν, προσάγουσι τῷ βωμῷ καὶ φονεύουσιν ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς τοῦ θεοῦ γοερόν τι μυκώμενον καὶ ὡς τὸ εἰκὸς εὐφημοῦν καὶ ἡμίφωνον ἤδη τῇ θυσίᾳ ἐπαυλοῦν. τίς οὐκ ἂν εἰκάσειεν ἥδεσθαι ταῦτα ὁρῶντας τοὺς θεούς;



θέμενοι δὲ βωμοὺς

Having dressed the altar


The participle thithemi, to set, thus would be in its most basic sense placing; however, since it is an altar the sense would be dressing. The aorist would indicate the dressing had been completed.


καὶ προρρήσεις καὶ περιρραντήρια

and the public pronouncement and the lustration


The verb completed/performed is assumed from the context. Both nouns are in the accusative as direct objects of the assumed verb.


προσάγουσι τὰς θυσίας,

They present, bring forward the sacrifices



βοῦν μὲν ἀροτῆρα ὁ γεωργός,

a plough-ox the farmer


The plough is a noun, not an adjective. The article means the farmer is a representative of the class; No specific farmer is in view.


ἄρνα δὲ ὁ ποιμὴν

a sheep the shepherd


καὶ αἶγα ὁ αἰπόλος,

and a goat the goatherder


The kai coordinate the phrases as equivalent.



ὁ δέ τις λιβανωτὸν ἢ πόπανον,

yet another frankencense or a sacred cake


πόπᾰνον, τό, (πέπτω) like πέμμα, a round cake, used at sacrifices, Ar.


H.G. Liddell, A Lexicon: Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996), 661.



ὁ δὲ πένης ἱλάσατο τὸν θεὸν

perhaps a poor propitiates/concilates the god


κύσας μόνον τὴν ἑαυτοῦ δεξιάν.

Kissing only his own right [hand]


The participle shows the means of the propitiation.



ἀλλʼ οἵ γε θύοντες —

but those sacrificing


Here is a shift in subject – but about those making sacrifice

The ge marks emphasize: them.




ἐπʼ ἐκείνους γὰρ ἐπάνειμι —

For about them I am writing



στεφανώσαντες τὸ ζῷον

having crowned the beast



καὶ πολύ γε πρότερον ἐξετάσαντες

for much indeed beforehand they carefully examined



ειʼ ἐντελὲς εἴη,

if perfect it might be


The sacrificial animals are carefully examined beforehand to confirm perfection.



ἵνα μηδὲ τῶν ἀχρήστων τι κατασφάττωσιν,

in order that not unprofitable (graceless, in a theological sense) they are slaughtering


κατασφάζω , later κατασυν-σφάττω Luc.Sacr.12 (Pass. –

A.“σφάττεσθαι” Jul. Or.5.174a): fut. -ξω LXX Ez.16.40:—slaughter, murder, Hdt.6.23, 8.127, LXX l.c., al., Ev.Luc.19.27, D.C.40.48: freq. in aor. Pass. κατεσφάγην [α^] A.Eu.102, S.OT730, X. An.4.1.17, etc.



προσάγουσι τῷ βωμῷ

They proceed to the ox


The verb is almost a technical term in this context.



καὶ φονεύουσιν ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς τοῦ θεοῦ

They kill in the eyes of the god


The kill in the presence of the god/while the god watches.

The verb for kill is often translated murder, although it can be used of killing animals. Lucian seems to indicate the pointlessness and the cruelty of the death by means of the verb.


γοερόν τι μυκώμενον

mournful/doleful it bellows


καὶ ὡς τὸ εἰκὸς εὐφημοῦν καὶ ἡμίφωνον

and as the probable good sound and half-pronounced/semi-tones


ἤδη τῇ θυσίᾳ ἐπαυλοῦν.

a pleasure for/by the sacrifice played by a flute


Tooke, translates this sentence, The doleful noises which the poor dying animal utters are, as is perfectly natural, interpreted as sounds of good omen, and it seems, as his whining becomes weaker with his expiring breath, to blow the semitones of the flute for the sacrifice. Fowler has, to the broken accompaniment of his own sanctimonious bellowings, most musical, most melancholy.


τίς οὐκ ἂν εἰκάσειεν ἥδεσθαι ταῦτα ὁρῶντας τοὺς θεούς;

But who could even suppose that not delighted these things seeing the gods


An optative completed by an infinitive. The participle describes the basis and place of the delight.