The Orphic position on animal sacrifice

Apollonios Rhodios, Argonautika 1.1132–1141
Jason supplicated Rheia with many prayers to turn away the tempest, as he poured libations on the blazing sacrifices. At the same time, upon Orpheus’ command, the young men leapt as they danced the dance-in-armor and beat their shields with their swords, so that any ill-omened cry of grief, which the people were still sending up in lament for their king, would be lost in the air. Since then, the Phrygians have always propitiated Rheia with rhombus and tambourine. The amenable goddess evidently paid heed to their holy sacrifices, for fitting signs appeared.

Derveni Papyrus col. 3 & 6
…Erinyes…of the Erinyes…they honour…are so[uls]…funeral libations in droplets…brings honour…for each receives a bird and…fitted to the music…
… prayers and sacrifices appease the souls, and the enchanting song of the magi is able to remove the daimones when they impede. Impeding daimones are avenging souls. This is why the magi perform the sacrifice, as if they were paying a penalty. On the offerings they pour water and milk, from which they make the libations, too. They sacrifice innumerable and many-knobbed cakes, because the souls, too, are innumerable. Initiates make the preliminary sacrifice to the Eumenides, in the same way as the magi. On account of these, he who is going to sacrifice to the gods, first offers a bird… and the… (they) are… as many as…

Diogenes Laertios, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 8.19-21
Above all, he forbade as food red mullet and blacktail, and he enjoined abstinence from the hearts of animals and from beans, and sometimes, according to Aristotle, even from paunch and gurnard. Some say that he contented himself with just some honey or a honeycomb or bread, never touching wine in the daytime, and with greens boiled or raw for dainties, and fish but rarely. His robe was white and spotless, his quilts of white wool, for linen had not yet reached those parts. He was never known to over-eat, to behave loosely, or to be drunk. He would avoid laughter and all pandering to tastes such as insulting jests and vulgar tales. He would punish neither slave nor free man in anger. Admonition he used to call “setting right.” He used to practise divination by sounds or voices and by auguries, never by burnt-offerings, beyond frankincense. The offerings he made were always inanimate; though some say that he would offer cocks, sucking goats and porkers, as they are called, but lambs never.

Euripides, Cretans fragment 472
Son of the Phoenician princess, child of Tyrian Europa and great Zeus, ruler over hundred-fortressed Crete—here am I, come from the sanctity of temples roofed with cut beam of our native wood, its true joints of cypress welded together with Chalybean axe and cement from the bull. Pure has my life been since the day when I became an initiate of Idaean Zeus. Where midnight Zagreus roves, I rove; I have endured his thunder-cry; fulfilled his red and bleeding feasts; held the Great Mother’s mountain flame; I am set free and named by name a Bakchos of the Mailed Priests. Having all-white garments, I flee the birth of mortals and, not nearing the place of corpses, I guard myself against the eating of ensouled flesh.

The Gurôb Papyrus
Accept ye my great offering as the payment for my lawless fathers.
Save me, great Brimo …
and Demeter and Rhea …
and the armed Kouretes: let us … and we will make fine sacrifices.
A ram and a he-goat … boundless gifts.
… and by the law of the river …
Taking of the goat … let him eat the rest of the meat …
Let no uninitiated look on!

Hyginus, Astronomica 1.2
While sacrificing to the gods, Orpheus overlooked Liber just as Oeneus had Diana.

ISmyrna 2.1.728
The theophantes … son of Menandros dedicated this stele. All who enter the temenos and temples of Bromios: avoid for forty days after the exposure of a newborn child, so that divine wrath does not occur; after the miscarriage of a woman for the same amount of days. If he conceals the death and fate of a relative, keep away from the propylon for the third of a month. If impurity occurs from other houses, remain for three days after the departure of the dead. No one wearing black clothes may approach the altar of the king, nor lay hands on things not sacrificed from sacrificial animals, nor place an egg as food at the Bacchic feast, nor sacrifice a heart on the holy altars … keep away from the smell, which … the most hateful root of beans from seed … proclaim to the mystai of the Titans … and it is improper to rattle with reeds … on the days when the mystai sacrifice……, nor bring …

Orphic Argonautika
After I came to the enclosures and the sacred place, I dug a three-sided pit in some flat ground. I quickly brought some trunks of juniper, dry cedar, prickly boxthorn and weeping black poplars, and in the pit I made a pyre of them. Skilled Medea brought to me many drugs, taking them from the innermost part of a chest smelling of incense. At once, I fashioned certain images from barley-meal [the text is corrupt here]. I threw them onto the pyre, and as a sacrifice to honor the dead, I killed three black puppies. I mixed with their blood copper sulfate, soapwort, a sprig of safflower, and in addition odorless fleawort, red alkanet, and bronze-plant. After this, I filled the bellies of the puppies with this mixture and placed them on the wood. Then I mixed the bowels with water and poured the mixture around the pit. Dressed in a black mantle, I sounded bronze cymbals and made my prayer to the Furies.

Orphic Argonautika
When the Sun had severed the sky with his swift horses and the dark Night stretched out, indecision stirred the breast of Aeson’s son about whether he should impose an oath of loyalty upon the heroes to seal their faith in him. And I say to you, beloved Musaeus, son of Antiophemus, he ordered me to prepare quickly for an appropriate sacrifice. And so I built an altar of excellent oak on the shore, and putting on a robe, I offered service to the gods on behalf of the men. And then I slit the throat of an enormous bull, bending back the head to the gods, cutting up the fresh meat and pouring the blood around the fire. After I laid the heart on broken cakes, I made a libation of oil and sheep’s milk. I then ordered the heroes to spread round the victim, thrusting their spears and their swords furnished with handles into the victim, and into the hide and the viscera shining in my hands. And I set up in the middle a vessel containing kykeon, the sacred drink of water and barley, which I carefully mixed, the first nourishing offering to Demeter. Then came the blood of the bull, and salty sea-water. I ordered the crew wreathed with crowns of olive leaves. Then filling up a golden vessel with kykeon by my hands, I divided it by rank so that every man could have a sip of the powerful drink. I asked Jason to order a dry pine torch to be placed beneath, and with swift motion the divine flame ascended.

Pindar, fragment 128c 11-12
…and the son of Oeagrus, Orpheus of the golden sword.

Porphyry, On Abstinence From Animal Food 4.16
The initiated are ordered to abstain from domestic birds, from fishes and beans, pomegranates and apples, which fruits are as equally defiling to the touch as a woman recently delivered, and a dead body. But whoever is acquainted with the nature of divinely-luminous appearances knows also on what account it is requisite to abstain from all birds, and especially for him who hastens to be liberated from terrestrial concerns, and to be established with the celestial gods.

Vergil’s 4th Georgic
Pick out four choice bulls, of surpassing form, that now graze among your herds on the heights of green Lycaeus, and as many heifers of unyoked neck. For these set up four altars by the stately shrines of the nymph-goddesses, and drain the sacrificial blood from their throats, but leave the bodies of the steers within the leafy grove. Later, when the ninth Dawn displays her rising beams, you must offer to Orpheus funeral dues of Lethe’s poppies, slay a black ewe, and revisit the grove.

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