18 votes
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Why would slaves be sacrificed after their master's death?

Although slaves aren't specifically mentioned, Odin's burial laws tell us that "every one will come to Valhalla with the riches he had with him upon the pile": Odin established the same law in ...
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  • 16.7k
15 votes
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What myth explains animal sacrifices to the Olympian gods?

The myth you're looking for is first outlined in Hesiod's Theogony. Theogony 535-558: [535] For when the gods and mortal men had a dispute at Mecone, even then Prometheus was forward to cut up a ...
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  • 6,739
10 votes

Was Hermes originally mortal?

Probably not. According to Apollodorus, [VI. ZEUS CONFIRMS THE DIVINE PRIVILEGES OF HERMES.] And Zeus made Hermes his personal herald and messenger of the gods beneath the earth." It says that ...
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  • 6,679
8 votes
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What kind of offerings did worshipers make to Thor?

Blood and poetry. Before I go any deeper, I want to clear up a misconception: Thor is not really a god of thunder. Yes, he does generate it, but his main function is as guardian against the forces of ...
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  • 5,986
8 votes

Is Odin the only being who gained knowledge of the runes?

I think it's safe to say that at least the Norns knew the language of the runes from the Völuspá: There stands an ash called Yggdrasil, A mighty tree showered in white hail. From there come ...
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8 votes
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Is there a specific term in Norse mythology for Odin's self-sacrifice?

Nope. The story is known only through Hávamál, a piece of poetry from the poetic Edda, in which it takes up two stanzas. The relevant here is stanza 138: Veit ek, at ek hekk vindga meiði á ...
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  • 5,986
6 votes

Why thank the person who is cutting out your heart?

This falls under the idea that it is an honor to be a sacrifice for the gods. On film that may be worth looking at is Pasolini's 1969 film Medea. The film opens with Medea's royal family sacrificing ...
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6 votes

Is Odin the only being who gained knowledge of the runes?

There's also an interesting Eddic poem called Sigrdrífumál in which the valkyrie Sigrdrifa instructs the hero Sigurd in runic magic. (Sigrdrifa, Victory-Bringer, is often identified with Brynhild, so ...
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  • 5,818
5 votes

Why did the gods demand Iphigenia's sacrifice?

I've always thought it falls under Frazer's concept of Sympathetic Magic. In Ancient Greek, the idea of the lifeforce is bound with words related to breath or wind: ψυχή (psuke) and πνεῦμα (pneuma), ...
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5 votes
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Is there any evidence of the Ancient Greeks worshipping Zeus's daughter Helen?

We first a crown of low-growing lotus having woven will place it on a shady plane-tree. First from a silver oil-flask soft oil drawing we will let it drip beneath the shady plane-tree. Letters will be ...
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  • 5,286
5 votes
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Why did Odysseus not sacrifice poultry?

According to this article by Lee Perry-Gal et al.: The arrival of chickens in Greece likely postdates Homer (around the eighth century B.C.E.), because the Greek poet does not mention this bird, but ...
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  • 1,624
3 votes
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Source for claim that white animals were sacrificed to Olympian gods?

Those two sentences are based on the differences that scholars have observed in the ritual practices associated to Olympian and Chthonic gods, i.e. respectively the sky and earth deities. Indeed, ...
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  • 1,624
3 votes

Why did the gods demand Iphigenia's sacrifice?

Homer nowhere mentions any sacrifice of Iphigenia, and debate is ancient on whether the “Iphianassa” whom Agamemnon offers as a potential bride to Achilles, at Iliad 9.145 & 9.287, is ...
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3 votes

Any examples of dying and resurrecting gods that exist only in heaven, not earth?

Given the amount of influence both ways, I'm surprised you didn't include Norse/Germanic mythology as "near enough" in your question. Within it, there are two stories of sacrifice that contain ...
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  • 179
3 votes
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Which ancient cults would cut out the hearts of live animals and offer them as sacrifices?

Out of interest of spreading information, I'm copying here the answer I wrote yesterday to this question on Judaism.SE, with a few alterations: A possible answer: Maimonides on the mishnah states that ...
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  • 922
3 votes

Did a pagan cult remove the gallbladder of animals before sacrificing them?

My esteemed brother-in-law just emailed me an answer. He wrote: Shalsheleth Haqabbalah may not be as good as a bona fide dead clock which (assuming it is analog) is exactly correct twice a day, ...
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3 votes

Is there a specific term in Norse mythology for Odin's self-sacrifice?

Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but it looked promising. "Odinn and His Cosmic Cross" (pdf) https://skemman.is/bitstream/1946/27093/1/Thesis%20Final%20Draft%20pdf.pdf The term used ...
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  • 709
2 votes

Was Hermes originally mortal?

I'm not finding any ancient sources that explicitly mention the issue, but there is a mediaeval text called the Third Vatican Mythographer, written in Latin, and using the Roman names of the gods, ...
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  • 9,374
2 votes

Is there any evidence of the Ancient Greeks worshipping Zeus's daughter Helen?

Herodotus, in his Histories, recounts the story of how Ariston took his third wife, the most beautiful woman in Sparta, from his friend Agetus, and says that she had been an ugly baby, but her nurse's ...
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  • 769
1 vote

Source for claim that white animals were sacrificed to Olympian gods?

The "white" probably comes from Hesiod's Theogony 557 about Prometheus tricking Zeus: So said Zeus whose wisdom is everlasting, rebuking him. But wily Prometheus answered him, smiling ...
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  • 5,286
1 vote

Why did the gods demand Iphigenia's sacrifice?

Going from a non-literary standpoint and into a metaphorical one, one could figure it was like the gods' version of making someone walk "barefoot on broken glass" to get what they want. A lot of them ...
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