Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies

CAMS 160: Sacrifice in the Ancient World

CAMS 160: Sacrifice in the Ancient World


Holm, Tawny Lee


Tues, Thurs


4:35 - 5:50 P.M.


Willard Bldg 371


Sacrifice (from Latin sacer “holy + facere “to make”) is one of the most prevalent yet troubling aspects of religion. Its destruction and violence is often at odds with other rituals and core understandings within a religion, so why is it done and what good does it do? For the sacrificer, does it represent a gift to the gods, a renunciation, an exchange, a surrogate, or something else? This course will examine some competing definitions and theories of sacrifice, as well as its manifestations in the cultures and religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, especially those of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Hatti, Israel, and Phoenicia. A brief look at religious sacrifice elsewhere, such as ancient Mesoamerica and India, will conclude the course.