An alternative conception of divine reciprocity

Divine (left) and mortal (right) libation scenes on the same krater

I have a new post up at Humanistic Paganism entitled, “‘As the gods pour, so do mortals’: An alternative conception of divine reciprocity”.  Come over and check it out.

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  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    The gods make sacrifices to each other all the time in Hinduism; and in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, Hermes makes a sacrifice to the Olympians, and to himself and his mother, of Apollon’s cattle. In the face of evidence such as this–even though it is mythic narrative rather than cultic practice–I think it’s pretty hard to suggest that deities “don’t need” offerings, especially if they are giving them to themselves. Why doesn’t Hermes just eat the meat from the cattle he killed, rather than offering it to the gods and himself as a sacrifice?

    You are free to believe/not believe whatever you like, of course, and I have no quarrel with the “why” of your own libation practices; but, given the evidence of the krater you illustrated in your entries, and these sorts of stories, how else do you explain what was going on there for the cultures that were the most deeply involved in these practices?

    • I’ve never heard that interpretation of the Hymn of Hermes. It doesn’t seem obvious from the text.

      Can you point me to a Hindu source for this practice?

      I agree that it’s clear that the ancients believed the gods needed sacrifice.

      It seems to me that there is often a discrepancy between the visual/plastic arts and the poems/plays in antiquity. I’m still not sure what was meant by the artists in this case.