Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Ancient "Fun" Fact of the Day: Ancient Romans Performed Human Sacrifice
The Romans also sacrificed young women during times of crisis (though they didn't think of them as "sacrifices."). These were the Vestal Virgins--young women whose states of virginity somehow protected Rome from all manner of evil and mayhem. Several Vestal Virgins were accused of being unchaste during the wars with Hannibal as well as during other crises and periods of unrest. Many were put to death for these "crimes" (buried alive in a special chamber just for that purpose). The aim was to appease the gods and restore balance and protection to Rome.
The Greeks also sacrificed people (think of poor Iphigenia). Plutarch tells us that Themistocles had three Persian young men sacrificed before battle against Xerxes because a prophet told him he should. And besides, "a man sneezed on the right, which was an intimation of a fortunate event."
I guess the lesson is, don't sneeze on someone's right!