Happy Buphonia

Today is the day to sacrifice a working ox to Zeus, protector of cities (since most of us live in cities …).
 
I’m not sure where I’d get a working ox or 5, but this is how it is supposed to work:
 
A group of oxen was driven forward to the altar at the highest point of the Acropolis. On the altar a sacrifice of grain had been spread by members of the family of the Kentriadae, on whom this duty devolved hereditarily. When one of the oxen began to eat, thus selecting itself for sacrifice,[1] one of the family of the Thaulonidae advanced with an axe, slew the ox, then immediately threw aside the axe and fled the scene of his guilt-laden crime.
 
The slaughter of a laboring ox was forbidden; it was excused in these exceptional circumstances; nonetheless it was regarded as a murder. The axe, therefore, as being polluted by murder, was immediately afterward carried before the court of the Prytaneum, which tried the inanimate object for murder, and, after the water-bearers who lustrated the axe, the sharpeners who sharpened it, the axe-bearer who carried it, each denied in turn responsibility for the deed, the guilty axe or knife was there charged with having caused the death of the ox, for which the axe was acquitted (Pausanias) or the sacrificial knife was thrown into the sea (Porphyry). Apparently this is an early instance analogous to deodand. In the enactment of this comedy of innocence, and the joint feasting of all who participated save the slayer himself, individual consciences were assuaged and the polis was reaffirmed.
 
New words: lustrate and deodand
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