sphagia

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sphagia

in ancient Greek religion, a propitiatory sacrifice made to the chthonic (underworld) deities and forces (including the winds and the spirits of the dead). Unlike the joyful sacrifices to the celestial gods, there was no sharing of the oblation by the worshippers of the sphagia. The victim, either a human being or an animal substitute, was cut to pieces and burned, buried, or cast into a river. The sphagia was performed primarily before battles and at funerals.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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