How Were People Sacrificed in Ancient Greece?

How Were People Sacrificed in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, sacrifices were an integral part of religious rituals and ceremonies. These sacrifices were made to appease the gods and seek their favor and protection. The Greeks believed that by offering various gifts to the gods, they could ensure their blessings and avoid divine wrath.

The Different Types of Sacrifices

There were several ways in which people were sacrificed in ancient Greece. Let’s explore some of the most common methods:

Animal Sacrifices

Animal sacrifices were the most prevalent form of sacrifice in ancient Greece. The Greeks believed that by offering animals to the gods, they could establish a connection between the mortal world and the divine realm.

The Ritual:

  • The animal chosen for sacrifice was typically a bull, goat, or sheep.
  • The animal was adorned with garlands and led to the altar.
  • A priest would then perform various rituals, including prayers and libations.
  • The animal’s throat was slit, and its blood was collected in a vessel.
  • Finally, the animal was butchered, cooked, and shared among the participants as a communal meal.

Human Sacrifices

Note: Human sacrifices were rare in ancient Greece and were usually reserved for extreme circumstances or emergencies. They were not part of regular religious practices like animal sacrifices.

The Ritual:

  • In cases where human sacrifices were deemed necessary, criminals or prisoners of war were often chosen as offerings.
  • The person selected for sacrifice would be dressed as a god or goddess and treated with great reverence.
  • They would be taken to a sacred place, such as a temple or altar.
  • The priest would then perform the necessary rituals, which included prayers and offerings.
  • After the rituals, the person would be killed, typically through methods like hanging or stabbing.

The Significance of Sacrifices

Sacrifices held immense importance in ancient Greek society. They were seen as a means to establish a reciprocal relationship with the gods. By offering gifts and sacrifices, the Greeks believed that they could gain favor from the gods and ensure their protection and blessings.

Furthermore, sacrifices were also viewed as a way to communicate with the divine. Through these rituals, people sought guidance, prophecies, and answers to their questions from the gods.


In ancient Greece, sacrifices played a vital role in religious practices. Animal sacrifices were more common than human sacrifices and involved various rituals performed by priests.

These acts were seen as a way to connect with the gods and receive their favor and protection. While human sacrifices were rare, they were reserved for exceptional circumstances.

Sacrifices allowed the ancient Greeks to establish a bond with their deities and seek divine guidance in their lives. The use of sacrifices was an integral part of their religious beliefs and practices.