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Pozo Moro, child sacrifice, and the Greek legendary tradition
Journal of Biblical Literature. 123.3 (Fall 2004): p425+.
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I. The Pozo Moro Relief

Since antiquity, references in the Hebrew scriptures and remarks in ancient Greek and Roman authors have been cited to prove that various Northwest Semitic peoples practiced child sacrifice. (1) These include the population whom the Hebrew Scriptures call Canaanites; the people whom modern scholars, following the Greeks, call Phoenicians; and the Phoenicians who settled in the western Mediterranean and whom modern scholars, following the Romans, call Punic. In fact, at the sites of Punic settlements have been found burial grounds that contain the cremated remains only of young children and animals. Archaeologists call such burial grounds tophets after the Hebrew term for the place where children were sacrificed. (2) Shelby Brown, who sums up the evidence, believes that these tophets house the remains of sacrificed children and thereby support literary testimony of child sacrifice. (3)

In 1971, one enigmatic piece of evidence, a relief that probably illustrates the practice, was unearthed at Pozo Moro, Spain. It is carved on a stone funerary monument that dates to approximately 500-490 B.C.E. and is currently housed in the Museo Arqueologico Nacional in Madrid (figs. 1 and 2). The relief (fig. 3) depicts a banquet prepared for a monster that sits, facing right, in the left part of the image. The monster has a human body and two heads, one above the other. The heads have open mouths with lolling tongues. In its left hand it holds the rear leg of a supine pig lying on a banquet table in front of it. In its right hand, it holds a bowl. Just over the rim of the bowl can be seen the head and feet of a small person. In the background, a figure in a long garment raises a bowl in a gesture of offering. Opposite the monster is the mutilated image of a third figure. It is standing and raising in its right hand a sword with a curved blade. Its head is in the shape of a bull or horse. Its left hand is touching the head of a second small person in a bowl on a second table or a tripod near the banquet table. (4) The funerary tower on which this relief is carved comes from an area that, in the period of its construction, was clearly subject to Punic or Phoenician influence and resembles monuments from Achaemenid western Asia. (5) The relief itself resembles eastern Mediterranean depictions of offerings or sacrifices, and the sword with the curved blade, associated with sacrifice, supports the resemblance. (6) It appears that the small figures, most likely children, are being offered in bowls to the two-headed monster. Accordingly, it is reasonable to believe that the relief, however imaginatively, represents Northwest Semitic child sacrifice. (7)



The relief is mysterious. In her study of Carthaginian child sacrifice, Brown wrote that "the scene is more provocative than helpful." (8) The excavator of Pozo Moro, Martin Almagro-Gorbea, wrote that its interpretation is enormously complex. (9) Lamentably, it is locally unique and not associated with any written text. In order to make sense of it, we must look at phenomena often equally obscure and quite distant in time and place from the milieu of Pozo Moro in the early fifth century B.C.E. This is a hazardous undertaking; if an investigator claims that the relief repeats a motif found elsewhere in the Mediterranean cultural tradition, each may be used to support the interpretation of the other, and it becomes possible to construct invalid interpretations relying solely on circular argumentation. The relief, however, presents such powerful imagery that it automatically stimulates speculation. As I hope to demonstrate in this article, a Hellenist may see in it eerie echoes of Greek legendary tradition.

The body of this article will explore these possible connections between the Pozo Moro relief and the Greek legendary tradition. Section II will explore the possibility that the animal-headed figure on the right of the relief is an image associated with the Minotaur of Greek folklore. Section III will suggest a connection between the grisly feast of the monstrous creature on the left of the relief and a motif from Greek legend. In the motif, a father unknowingly is served his own children as a meal and eats them only to recognize he has done so when he sees their uneaten head, hands, and feet. Three Greek legendary figures suffer such a grotesque fate: Thyestes, Tereus, and Harpagus.

II. The Pozo Moro Relief and the Minotaur

According to standard accounts of their legendary past, the Athenians, as punishment for their killing of King Minos's son Androgeus, periodically sent groups of young men and women to Minos in Crete, where they were turned over to the Minotaur, a creature with the body of a man and the head of bull, to be devoured. (10) It has long been conjectured that the legend of the Minotaur reflects Semitic child sacrifice. (11) This is not unreasonable. Certainly, Crete was under Northwest Semitic influence from the Bronze Age into the Iron Age.12 Minos's story itself connects him with the Phoenicians; legend has him the son of Europa, daughter of the Phoenician king Agenor. Crete, then, might well be a place where Northwest Semitic rituals were practiced. Furthermore, the pre-adult status of the victims sent to the Minotaur recalls the young age of the children sacrificed in Semitic rites.


But the connection between the Minotaur and Semitic child sacrifice does not end there. The Hebrew and Christian Scriptures speak of Molech (or Moloch), who has been erroneously thought to be a god to whom children were sacrificed. (13) Interestingly, medieval and modern sources represent Molech as a calf-headed, human-bodied bronze or copper idol in whose hands children were placed and then roasted or pitched into a brazier below. This tradition has no foundation in extant ancient Jewish or Hebrew sources; George Foot Moore traced it back only as far as medieval Jewish commentaries. In his view, this portrayal of Molech derives from classical sources like Diodorus Siculus 20.14, which describes a bronze idol of Cronus at which children were sacrificed in Carthage. Placed on the idol's extended hands, which were tilted toward the ground, the children rolled off into a pit of fire. (14) We are not told that Cronus's head was bovine. Moore suggested that Molech's calf-head derives from the Minotaur of Greek legend. (15) It is true that the Minotaur had a bull's head while Molech had a calf's head, but this apparent discrepancy is less relevant than it appears. (16)

In fact, the medieval figure of Molech probably derives from a tradition that intermingles not only Cronus of Carthage and the Minotaur but at least two other sources. (17) One is the legend of Talos, a creature with multiple connections to the tradition of Semitic child sacrifice. (18) His is a complicated tale with many variants. He is associated with Crete and Sardinia, both likely loca for Semitic child sacrifice. (19) He is said to be made of bronze or copper (Apollodorus Bibliotheca 1.9.26; Apollonius of Rhodes Argon. 4.1638-72; scholia at Plato Resp. 337a); in this he resembles the Carthaginian Cronus. He is also portrayed as hugging people in his brazen grip and killing them by jumping into a fire reminiscent of the Carthaginian Cronus's fiery pit (scholia at Plato Resp. 337a, Suda, s.v. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The figure of Talos also has connections with that of the Minotaur, who is associated with child sacrifice. (20) We are told on one occasion that Talos is a bull (Apollodorus Bibliotheca 1.9.26). On Crete, the home of the Minotaur, Talos is said to make three trips around the island a day to guard against strangers, at whom he is portrayed as throwing stones. (21) The Minotaur is often in art depicted throwing stones. (22)

The other obvious tradition that feeds into the image of Molech comes from the Greek city of Acragas in Sicily. Acragas lay close to Sicilian and North African Punic settlements, where it is likely that child sacrifices occurred. A notoriously cruel tyrant, Phalaris, ruled Acragas in the sixth century B.C.E. According to one tradition, Phalaris roasted his enemies alive in a bronze bull (Pindar Pyth. 1.95; scholia in Pindarum Pyth. 1.95; Lucian Phal. 1, 2; Diodorus Siculus 9.18-20, 13.90, 19.108, 20.71). Its bronze material appears connected with the bronze Talos and the bronze Carthaginian Cronus, and its bull shape recalls the Minotaur's bull head. It has therefore been conjectured that this story recalls Semitic child sacrifice, perhaps practiced by Phalaris or Semitic inhabitants of his city. (23) An odd detail supports this notion. Clearchus, cited at Athenaeus 9.396e, claimed that Phalaris dined on suckling children. In the Greek tradition of sacrificial slaughter, humans were generally not sacrificed. (24) Rather, the Greeks sacrificed animals alone and usually ate their meat--in fact, the Greek tradition fails to make a clear distinction between sacrifice and slaughter of an animal for food. (25) From a Greek perspective, then, sacrifice of children might well be assumed to be followed by their consumption, and a tradition that Phalaris sacrificed children could easily be extended to assert that he ate infants. Accordingly, the tradition around Phalaris confirms a connection between bull imagery like that of the Minotaur and child sacrifice. (26)

The particular association of the Minotaur with child sacrifice gets further support from evidence involving rites on ancient Cyprus in the second and first millennia B.C.E. There, Shawn O'Bryhim has argued, bull-masked priests sacrificed children. In his view, a vague memory of this practice is present in Ovid's account of the Cypriot Cerastae, a horned people whom Venus, outraged over their practice of human sacrifice, turned into bulls (Metamorphoses 10.220-37). The existence of bull-mask-wearing Cypriot priests is indicated by occasional Roman and Greek references and, most convincingly, by archaeological finds. In Cyprus, first-millennium B.C.E. representations of people wearing bull masks have been found as well as actual bull crania that were altered to serve as masks. The creators of these artifacts were within the cultural sphere of the Northwest Semites. Archaeology indicates that the use of bull masks was Levantine in origin: An eighth-century B.C.E. bull skull, altered for use as a mask, has been found at Megiddo, and a seventh-century B.C.E. terra-cotta figurine depicting a man wearing a bull mask has been discovered near Sidon. (27) Some have seen signs of bull-masked Semitic priests in the tradition that Moses had horns. (28)

It is tempting to speculate why bull imagery might play such a prominent role in child sacrifice. Unfortunately, bull iconography is so common in ancient Near Eastern religion that false hypotheses can easily find support in the large, confused mass of evidence handed down in texts or unearthed by archaeology. One possible path for exploration has been opened by Jon Levenson, who has tried to recover the ideology behind child sacrifice. He suggests that the practice is associated with a Canaanite mythological narrative pattern in which the chief god, El, in a moment of crisis, hands over one of his children for enslavement or death; in the end, El rejoices when his child is freed or resurrected. The pattern is present in the fragmentary Ugaritic text usually called Baal. In it, El turns his son Baal first over to the sea god Yamm as a slave, but Baal defeats Yamm and is saved; later in the text, Baal, defeated by Mot (that is, Death) dies and is then resurrected when his sister, Anat, rescues him. (29) Levenson believes that Baal's enslavement and death are equivalent actions, both of which involve the temporary loss of a son who will later be restored. He furthermore believes that West Semitic child sacrifice was viewed as an imitation of El's gesture in turning over his child. (30)

Interestingly, there is some evidence for the representation of El as a bull. In Ugaritic mythological texts, in fact, El is often given the epithet "bull." This imagery may be picked up in a Ras Shamra relief, where an apparent representation of El has him wearing horns. (31) The Scriptures of the Hebrews, cultural and linguistic relatives of the people of Ugarit, present Yahweh as the true name, revealed to Moses, of the God whom the patriarchs worshiped as El. (32) Indeed, it has been argued that Yahweh is a cultic name of El, perhaps as patron deity of the Midianites. (33) It therefore is significant that the Hebrew Scriptures call the God of the patriarchs the Bull of Jacob (often translated into English as the Mighty One of Jacob) (Gen 49:24). Exodus 32 is relevant here. In that passage, while Moses receives instruction from Yahweh on Mount Sinai, under pressure from the people, Aaron has a golden calf made, really a young bull. (34) In 1 Kgs 12:28-29, Jeroboam I enshrines two golden calves, that is, young bulls, one at Bethel and one at Dan. These bulls in Exodus and in 1 Kings are identified as the gods who led the Israelites out of Egypt (Exod 32:4; 1 Kgs 12:29). Could these bulls have been images of Yahweh? These narratives, as we have received them, reflect a hostile tradition that accuses the Israelites at Sinai and King Jeroboam of apostasy. That may not be how everyone would have seen these events, which may reflect a tradition of Yahweh worship that involved images of bulls that later redactors of the Hebrew Scriptures opposed. (35) If El is indeed represented as a bull and is, as Levenson maintains, a god associated with child sacrifice, it explains the bull imagery found in connection with child sacrifice.

Accordingly, bull-masked priests who conducted child sacrifice were probably representing El in his primordial sacrifice of his son Baal, and this is more or less what we see in the Pozo Moro relief. Charles Kennedy has clearly demonstrated that its two-headed monster represents Death. He points out that multiheaded creatures, such as the Greek Cerberus, the Canaanite Leviathan, and the Egyptian Seth-Horus, are associated with chaos and death. Furthermore, the gaping mouths of Pozo Moro's two-headed monster call to mind representations of Death as insatiable. The pig on which the monster dines can be connected with Eastern Mediterranean use of pigs for funerary banquets. (36) All in all, it appears as if the little people in the relief were being given over to Death, just as Baal was. And what of the sword-wielding, animal- headed figure on the right? Could it represent a bull-headed El or a bull-masked priest imitating him in the act of child sacrifice? Unfortunately, the relief is too mutilated to allow a definite characterization of the animal head. With some hesitation, Martin Almagro-Gorbea believes that it is equine. (37) In this, he is guided by his belief that horses had particular connections with the netherworld in pre-Roman Iberia. (38) Other scholars, however, are more interested in interpreting the relief in a Semitic rather than an Iberian cultural context; granted the Eastern Mediterranean style of its architecture and the known Phoenician influences on Spain, it is reasonable to examine it from this perspective. If we do so, it is a very attractive hypothesis that the head is taurine because that would fit with the association of bulls, bull-masked priests, and child sacrifice. Kennedy suggests the possibility that the head is that of a bull, and Shawn O'Bryhim claims that it is indeed a bull head. (39)

If the figure is bull-headed or bull-masked, its connection to the Minotaur is obvious. There is necessarily a certain circularity of argumentation here, however. The Pozo Moro relief and the legend of the Minotaur fit together rather like two matching pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that mutually confirm each other's position when they are put together. The relief's animal-headed figure, which is engaged in child sacrifice and resembles the Minotaur, helps to confirm the Minotaur's connection with Northwest Semitic child sacrifice on Crete. The Minotaur's connection with child sacrifice in turn helps to confirm that the figure on the Pozo Moro relief is bull-headed. Taken together, the Minotaur legend and the relief begin to form a coherent picture of child sacrifice just as a coherent image begins to emerge when the two matching puzzle pieces are joined together. The Pozo Moro relief imaginatively represents the ritual of child sacrifice. The legend of the Minotaur presents a memory of the same or a similar ritual. The memory has apparently been distorted, however, through the vagaries of the folk tradition. In the relief, which is the more direct testimonial of child sacrifice, the bull-headed creature serves as what the Greeks would call a [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (sacrificial butcher and cook) for the creature to the left, who does the actual eating. In Greek legend, however, the Minotaur himself eats the killed youth. Moreover, the Athenian young men and women consumed by the Minotaur are generally envisioned as considerably older than the young children and infants typically sacrificed in Northwest Semitic ritual.

III. Pozo Moro and the Motif of the Cannibalistic feast

The legend of the Minotaur is not the only place where the Pozo Moro relief has possible connections with the Greek legendary tradition. The relief also seems to reflect a motif present in the legends of Thyestes, Tereus, and Harpagus. A well-known story from Herodotus narrates how Harpagus was tricked into eating his son (Hist. 1.107-19). Astyages was the king of the Medes. It had been predicted that his daughter's child would rule in his place. Accordingly, when she bore a son, Astyages instructed his trusted kinsman Harpagus to kill him. Harpagus, however, was afraid to carry out the act himself--the child was a relative, and his mother, being heir to the power of Astyages, who had no male children, was potentially dangerous. Accordingly, Harpagus did not personally oversee the child's murder, but rather turned him over to a herdsman of Astyages to be exposed. Instead of exposing the child, however, the herdsman covertly raised the child as his own. Eventually, Astyages discovered that the grandchild whom he had ordered killed had survived. Astyages' vengeance for Harpagus's negligence was gruesome. He summoned Harpagus's only son to his house and invited Harpagus to a banquet and then, in Herodotus's words:

When Harpagus' son arrived at his place, Astyages slaughtered and dismembered him. He roasted some parts of the flesh and boiled others, and, preparing it well, held it ready. Dinnertime came, and Harpagus and the rest of the banqueters were in attendance. Tables covered with mutton were laid out for Astyages himself and everyone except Harpagus, who was served all the flesh of his child except for the head, the hands, and the feet. These had been hidden in a basket and laid aside. When Harpagus thought he had had enough to eat, Astyages asked him whether he had enjoyed the feast at all. When Harpagus said that he had enjoyed it greatly, the servants whose job it was brought the child's head, hands, and feet, which were hidden, over to him, stood before him, and told him to open the basket up and take what he wanted of them. When Harpagus complied and opened it, he saw the remains of his son. He did not recoil at the sight but stayed in control of himself. Astyages asked him if he knew what animal's meat he had eaten. He said he knew and that whatever the King did was best. (Hist. 1.119)

This passage has an obvious parallel in the Greek tales of Tereus and Thyestes. In the Thyestes tale, Atreus exiles his brother Thyestes after winning a dispute with him over the kingship of Mycenae. Pretending to want to reconcile, he invites Thyestes to a feast. At the feast, Atreus, who has secretly butchered Thyestes' children, serves them to him. According to some versions of the story, the children's hands, feet, and heads have been laid aside, and Thyestes, like Harpagus, realizes what he has eaten when they are shown to him after the meal. According to the story of Tereus, Tereus secretly rapes and maims Philomela, the sister of Procne, his wife. Procne eventually discovers this. To take vengeance on her husband, she kills their son, Itys, whose flesh she cooks and serves to her husband. After he has eaten his meal, he realizes what he has done when the boy's extremities are revealed, and he attacks Procne and Philomela with a sword. The gods intervene, however, and turn Tereus, Procne, and Philomela into birds.

It is unclear when the Greek tradition first expressed the motif of a father's recognition, upon his enemy's revelation of his offspring's head, hands, and feet, that he has eaten his own progeny. Only in late sources is it clearly attested for Thyestes, and the same is true for Tereus.41 The first unambiguous extant example of it is in Herodotus's fifth-century B.C.E. story of Harpagus, and that could be the archetype. However, in view of Herodotus's adoption of literary themes in his histories, he probably borrowed it from earlier but no longer extant sources. Vague references to elements of the Tereus story appear as early as Homer and Hesiod, (42) and vase paintings depict recognizable versions of the events by the early fifth century B.C.E. (43) It is true that Homer's early representation of Thyestes leaves no room for the motif--Atreus and Thyestes are on good terms in the Iliad (2.100-108)--but conflict between the two is attested already in the seventh- or sixth-century B.C.E. epic poem Alcmeonis and becomes a pervasive theme in tragedy. (44)

Indeed, the motif of a father's recognition of his children after he has consumed them prospered in fifth-century B.C.E. tragedy. Certainly, the motif jibes well with its narrative conventions, which favor recognitions of identity and reversals of fortune. (45) Aeschylus's Agamemnon, dating to 458 B.C.E., probably did feature the motif. (46) There, however, it is conveyed only in a narrative summary by Atreus; it is not part of the play's action. (47) This implies that it was already familiar to tragic audiences. A play by Sophocles, if we are to believe Statilius Flaccus, certainly dealt with the feast of Thyestes. (48) We cannot be sure, however, that it used the children's head, hands, and feet as tokens by which they were recognized. Sophocles first put the story of Tereus into a tragedy, which is assumed to have put the legend into its canonical form, between 429 and 414 B.C.E., and it was the basis of many comic and tragic plots after him. None of these plays survives complete, and the few fragmentary remains do not include the motif of recognition through head, feet, and hands (49)--most likely just by chance.

As suited as the motif is to the conventions of Greek literature, however, there is a problem with accepting that epic, tragedy, or Herodotus spontaneously generated it to satisfy a need for piteous recognitions and reversals. Why are the feet and hands such a prominent element? The head is all that is needed for a recognition of identity. Certainly the dead Pentheus's head is enough to bring about Agave's recognition of him in Euripides' Bacchae. Could some source external to Greek literature have been a source of the motif? I would like to suggest that imagery like that of Pozo Moro and associated with child sacrifice may be the source. In the Pozo Moro relief, a small figure in a bowl is offered to the two-headed monster to the left. Significantly, only the figure's head and feet are visible above the rim of the bowl. The image is remarkably reminiscent of Harpagus's, Tereus's, and Thyestes' feasts, at which children's heads, and other extremities are revealed in a serving vessel. Could imagery like that of the Pozo Moro have influenced these accounts?

The Greek tradition certainly does display subtle and recondite reflexes of Semitic child sacrifice. We have just seen two possible ones in the figure of the Minotaur and in the legends of Phalaris's bronze bull. There are others. Shawn O'Bryhim argues that the sacrificial practices of the Taurians in Euripides' Iphigenia at Tauris have been informed by Semitic human sacrificial practices. (50) Further, in an essay published in 1995, Sarah Morris suggests that West Semitic child sacrifice influenced artistic portrayals of Astyanax's death at the sack of Troy. (51) According to the most familiar version of Astyanax's death, he is thrown from the walls of Troy by the triumphant Achaeans, who wish to eliminate any chance that Astyanax, heir to the kingship of Troy, might live. Morris notes that motifs in the representation of Troy's siege evoke Near Eastern motifs of besieged cities where child sacrifice was practiced to ward off conquest. (52) She also points out an Egyptian representation of the siege of the Levantine city of Ashkelon, in which the city's inhabitants are shown casting the son of the ruling family off the city walls as a sacrifice to avert defeat. The implication is that literary representations of Astyanax's death were influenced by Near Eastern representations of the fall of cities. Morris, however, also observes that depictions of Astyanax's death in vase paintings follow a different tradition. They show him being slaughtered on a sacrificial altar--the implication being that Astyanax's death contains some notion of sacrifice. As Morris indicates, sacrifice itself in the Greek cultural sphere shows signs of Western Semitic influence. Accordingly, these two disparate traditions of Astyanax's death can be referred back to Near Eastern traditions of child sacrifice.

At first glance, Morris's suggestion seems unlikely. If the theme of child sacrifice has influenced the story of Astyanax, it has suffered great distortions. However, Morris's views are supported by growing evidence that Near Eastern iconography often generated features of Greek legend--and sometimes in surprising ways. When Greeks were exposed to decorative objects manufactured in the Near East, the scenes and depictions on them inspired poets, who at times created narratives with tenuous or distorted connections to the intentions of the objects' makers. One example of this phenomenon is Homer's description of the depiction on Achilles' shield of the army besieging a city. Homer tells us that two [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], that is, two armies or bands of besiegers were encamped on opposite sides of a city (Homer Il. 18.509-10). It has been suggested that Homer, in describing the shield, had been inspired by some object featuring a typical Near Eastern two-dimensional representation of a siege. (53) In such a representation, the besieging army is depicted on the two sides of the city, which can then be viewed from an unobstructed perspective. Homer has interpreted the separation of the army into two parts in the Near Eastern representation as an actual division between the besiegers and has preserved this interpretation in the two [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("armies") on opposite sides of the city. Similarly, the notion of the Trojan Horse may arise from Near Eastern depictions of siege engines. (54) It has even been suggested that legends of Heracles arose when poets observed Near Eastern-style representations of individuals in combat with monsters and attributed the combats to him. A particularly strong case can be made for the narrative of Heracles' defeat of the Lernaean Hydra. (55)

In their iconographic art, Greeks often copied Near Eastern models. Walter Burkert points out several instances where representations based on Eastern models might have influenced mythic narratives. Near Eastern iconography of Gilgamesh and Enkidu slaying Humbaba is picked up by Greek artisans representing Perseus slaying the Gorgon with the aid of Athena. On one clay plaque, the same Near Eastern imagery is the model for a scene depicting Clytemnestra's slaying of Agamemnon. In another striking example, a Near Eastern image of a god fighting a monster is copied by a Greek artist depicting Perseus's slaying of the sea monster and his rescue of Andromeda. In this case, the Near Eastern imagery features a group of stars; in the Greek version, the stars have been converted into stones at the feet of Perseus, who is fighting the monster with stones. (56) It is not unreasonable that such representations, based on Near Eastern models, shaped the Greek narratives they represent.

If one accepts that Near Eastern artistic representation was capable of generating Greek legend, it becomes more likely that imagery like that found at Pozo Moro lies behind the stories of Harpagus, Thyestes, and Tereus. Moreover, the stories do, in distorted form, thematically parallel the content of the Pozo Moro relief. This further suggests a link between Pozo Moro and the Greek narratives. The first thematic parallel is that of sacrifice. In the Greek stories, a father consumes his children. Since Greeks associated the eating of meat with sacrificial slaughter--indeed slaughter of domestic animals for consumption was generally, if not always, sacrificial--a narrative in which children are killed to be consumed by their father conjured up images of child sacrifice in the Greek mind. Thyestes' name itself confirms the connection. Whatever its actual etymology, (57) any Greek could detect in it the root of the Greek word 9tico, which denotes sacrificial activity. Indeed, a folk etymology of his name may have inspired the legend that he had eaten his children after a grisly sacrifice. The theme of sacrifice in the Thyestes, Tereus, and Harpagus narratives, which usually remains latent, (58) is explicit in the Pozo Moro relief. A second theme is that of a father's destruction of his own children. In the Harpagus, Thyestes, and Tereus stories, fathers participate in the destruction of their own children. In the Pozo Moro relief, we can assume that the children being sacrificed have come to this fate through the actions of their fathers, for child sacrifice is generally portrayed as the pious act of a child's father. (59)

But there remains an issue that might make us hesitate to accept that imagery such as that of Pozo Moro's relief inspired the Greek tales. It is that the Pozo Moro relief is the sole testimony to the imagery. There are other purported representations of Semitic child sacrifice from Carthage, (60) but they do not resemble the Pozo Moro relief. Why do we not find examples of it in the Near East itself? It is true that no artifact directly parallel to the relief has been found there. A few factors may be at work here. One is that representations of such sinister activities as child sacrifice are bound to be rare. Such topics are hidden under levels and levels of euphemism and indirection because it is of ill omen to mention or portray them. In addition, the Hebrew Scriptures, hostile to child sacrifice and the religious cults associated with it, approvingly record occasions on which the cultic apparatus associated with Canaanite religion was destroyed (2 Kgs 10:18-27; 11:17-18; 18:3-4; 23:1-25; 2 Chr 23:17; 29:15-16; 31:1; 33:15; 34:3-7). Intolerance of idols and even graphic images of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic God is a recurring theme in the Near East from the first millennium B.C.E. on. Under such circumstances, it would not be surprising if imagery of child sacrifice were a particular object of believers' outrage. Their zealous destruction of such imagery might partially explain why we do not find examples in the homeland of the Canaanites and Phoenicians.

Nevertheless, at least one Near Eastern image recalls the relief. Recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, the story involves Jezebel, the daughter of the Phoenician king Ethbaal. She marries Israel's king Ahab, who worships Baal and has a temple constructed to him. Ahab also constructs an asherah (1 Kgs 16:32-33; 18:18). Given his dedication to such cults, it comes as no surprise that child sacrifice occurs during his reign; Jericho is sanctified with two such sacrifices (1 Kgs 16:34). Jezebel is the implacable enemy of Yahweh's prophets; she kills many of them (1 Kgs 18:4, 13) and supports 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah (1 Kgs 18:19). Yahweh's prophet Elijah opposes Ahab, his wife, and their religious practices, and his opposition culminates in a great contest at Mount Carmel, where Yahweh triumphs over Baal (1 Kgs 18-19). This cements Jezebel's hatred for Elijah (1 Kgs 19:2). Ahab eventually dies from a wound in battle, and his son Ahaziah becomes king and continues his father's practices (1 Kgs 22:37, 51-53). Elijah is carried off into heaven by a whirlwind (2 Kgs 2:11), but his disciple Elisha carries on his work. Eventually, Elisha foments a revolution against Ahaziah by having Jehu annointed king of Israel (2 Kgs 9:1-13). Jehu's revolution is successful; he has Ahaziah killed in a skirmish (2 Kgs 9:27) and then goes for Jezebel herself in Jezreel. In anticipation of his arrival, she paints her eyes and adorns her head. As he enters the gate where she was staying, she looks at him from her window and greets him. He orders some eunuchs to throw her down from the window. They do so. The result is a bloody scene as she is trampled by horses and, perhaps, eaten by dogs (2 Kgs 9:30-33). (61) Jehu goes in, has a meal, and then orders that Jezebel be buried; but all that can be found are her skull, her feet, and the palms of her hands (2 Kgs 9:34-35). (62)

If, as hypothesized here, human sacrifice in the Northwest Semitic world was associated with imagery like that of the Pozo Moro relief, where victims are portrayed as collocations of amputated heads and limbs, this indeed would have been, from the perspective of the redactors of the Hebrew Scriptures, a fitting end to Jezebel, whose religious practice would have also been associated with such imagery. This sort of mockery would be in line with their treatment of Jezebel's religion. At the great contest at Mount Carmel between Yahweh and Baal, Baal's priests cry out to him and beg him to ignite a fire. Baal does not, and Elijah mocks the priests, jeering, "Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened" (1 Kgs 18:27). References to a journey and an awakening may be insulting references to cult and myth surrounding Baal; (63) the expression "he is meditating or he has wandered away" perhaps implies that Baal has gone off to defecate. (64) It would not be surprising, then, if Jezebel's death scene itself mocked her and her cultic practices. In fact, when she primps and waits at the window for her killer, Jehu, she resembles images of a beautiful, if mysterious, ancient Near Eastern goddess who, similarly posed in a window, was immortalized in art and literature throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond. (65) If this is correct, Jezebel's death satirically evokes the very religion she practiced. (66) Indeed, with her skull, her feet, and the palms of her hands alone remaining after death, she resembles the victims portrayed on the Pozo Moro relief. (67)

From several centuries later, the narrative of John the Baptist's death in Matt 14:1-12 and Mark 6:17-29 resonates with the Jezebel story. In a violation of Mosaic Law (Lev 18:16; 20:21), Herod marries Herodias, who has divorced his brother Philip. Herod imprisons John for denouncing the marriage. At Herod's birthday party, Herodias's daughter dances, (68) and Herod is so pleased that he promises her anything she wants. Prompted by her mother, who is infuriated with John for denouncing her marriage to Herod, she requests and receives the head of John the Baptist on a platter. This story has thematic connections with the story of Jezebel. Frequently in the Hebrew Scriptures, apostasy from Yahweh is equated with the sluttish behavior of a faithless whore. (69) It is therefore not surprising that Jehu accuses Jezebel of "whoredoms" (2 Kgs 9:22), and there may be some implication of whorishness in Jezebel's primping before she meets Jehu. (70) In the story of John the Baptist, the lascivious libertinism implied in Herodias's marriage to Herod is underlined by her daughter's pleasing dance for Herod and his friends. Herodias and her daughter, we are led to believe, are whorish women. Jezebel has Elijah to condemn her outrages; Herodias has John to condemn hers. It does not seem coincidental that both Matthew and Mark identify John as Elijah. (71) Where does this all wind up? With John's head on a platter, rather like the figures of the Pozo Moro relief, whose extremities are displayed on a serving vessel. There is a reversal of the Jezebel story here, since John is portayed positively and Jezebel negatively, yet the implication is that the authors of the Christian Scriptures gave significance to the imagery of the amputated extremities that figure in the Jezebel story.

There are, then, some signs that the imagery of the Pozo Moro monument was not unique. Indeed, there are tantalizing hints here and there in the ancient Mediterranean record that, in some blood sacrifices, the head and feet or limbs of victims might be given special treatment. (72) One case from the Greek sphere is interesting. A second-century C.E. inscription found in Attica records the founding, by a Lycian slave named Xanthos, of a cult in honor of the god Men. (73) Line 10 of the inscription instructs that the god be presented with a victim's feet and head on the altar, along with the right haunch, skin, and half its breast. This inscription has caused some excitement because, in its strictures on the purity of participants in the cult, it has been thought by some scholars to have a Judaizing tone and even to echo the wording of the Septuagint. (74) If this inscription does reflect a Semitic tradition, it may have particular relevance to the Pozo Moro relief because it involves special treatment of victims' heads and feet. Lucian records another significant sacrifice that is definitely from the Semitic world (De syria dea 55). Preparing to go to a festival in Hieropolis on the Euphrates, a participant, Lucian tells us, shaves his head and eyebrows and sacrifices a sheep, whose flesh he eats in a banquet. He then kneels on the victim's fleece, lifts up its feet and head against his head, prays that his present sacrifice be accepted, and promises that the next will be better. Here, in a clear context of Semitic sacrifice, is special treatment of a victim's head and feet. We might conjecture that, in this sacrifice, the victim is a substitute for the participant, as is suggested by his gesture of kneeling on the fleece and raising the animal's extremities to his head. That would put this ritual in a context of Semitic human sacrifice. Significantly, Lucian indicates that the practitioners of this cult also practice child sacrifice (De syria dea 58). (75)

IV. Conclusion

There is reason to suspect that imagery like that of the Pozo Moro relief shaped the tales of Tereus, Thyestes, and Harpagus. The possibility is seductive and suggests a rather pleasing irony. Jon Levenson sees in the death of Jesus Christ a reflex of Semitic child sacrifice, wherein a father offers his son up to death. If his view is correct, the communion rituals of early Christians have a connection to child sacrifice and, indeed, resemble the feast depicted on the relief at Pozo Moro. How appropriate, then, that early Christians were accused of participating in "Thyestian feasts" by their pagan detractors who accused them of cannibalism (Eusebius Hist. eccl. 5.1). But the Pozo Moro relief is not limited to connections with the feasts of Thyestes, Tereus, and Harpagus. It may touch on other aspects of Greek legend as well. With its depiction of a bullheaded creature wielding a sacrificial knife, it appears to be related also to the legend of the Minotaur, which recalls bull-masked priests who slaughtered young children in sacrificial ritual.


University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78249

Special thanks are owed a number of people who read this article in draft and gave helpful input. They are Michael Chyet, Francine Colago, Brien K. Garnand, Rick Hillegas, Carol Justus, Charles Kennedy, Chaddie Kruger, Jon Levenson, Darien McWhirter, Shawn O'Bryhim, and Barry Powell. The referees of JBL are to be thanked for their perceptive comments, and Stephen Sherwood, C.M.F., for his help with Hebrew. All remaining flaws are my own.

(1) Remarks in Greek and Roman authors are collected in John Day, Molech: A God of Human Sacrifice in the Old Testament (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 86-91. Biblical references are collected in Shelby Brown, Late Carthaginian Child Sacrifice and Sacrificial Monuments in their Mediterranean Context (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991), 26-29. Extensive analyses of the textual evidence are provided in Day, Molech; Jon D. Levenson, The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993); and George C. Heider, The Cult of Molek: A Reassessment (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1985).

(2) The Carthaginian tophet is the best known. Others have been found at Hadrumentum in North Africa, on the small island of Motya off Sicily, and at Nora, Sulcis, and Tharros on Sardinia; while no tophet has been found, stelae of a style associated elsewhere with tophets have been discovered at Lilybaeum on Sicily (Brown, Late Carthaginian Child Sacrifice, 50-70).

(3) Brown, Late Carthaginian Child Sacrifice. It is important to note the more cautious opinion expressed by Jeffrey H. Schwartz, an osteologist who examined the human remains unearthed in the Carthaginian tophet. He claims that many of the remains buried there were from third trimester fetuses, perinates, and neonates (What the Bones Tell Us [New York: Henry Holt, 1993], 51-57). If he is correct, the question arises whether the deaths of these children perhaps resulted from miscarriage or natural causes or whether they were stillborn, rather than slaughtered in sacrificial ritual. The stories of child sacrifice may then represent some ritualized way of dedicating to a deity children who had died naturally. If this is so, the primary points in this article will still be valid; however, they will have to be slightly altered in their expression.

(4) The relief is described in its primary publication, Martin Almagro-Gorbea, "Pozo Moro: El monumento orientalizante, su contexto socio-cultural y sus parallelos en la arquitectura funeraria iberica," Madrider Mitteilungen 24 (1983): 197-201; and in Charles Kennedy, "The Mythological Reliefs from Pozo Moro, Spain" in SBL Seminar Papers 1981 (SBLSP 20; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1981), 209-16, here 212.

(5) Almagro-Gorbea, "Pozo Moro."

(6) Ibid., 198-99.

(7) Shawn O'Bryhim, "The Cerastae and Phoenician Human Sacrifice on Cyprus," RSF 27 (1999): 3-20, here 12-13; Levenson, Death and Resurrection, 19-20; Heider, Cult of Molek, 188-92; Kennedy, "Mythological Reliefs."

(8) Brown, Late Carthaginian Child Sacrifice, 72.

(9) Almagro-Gorbea, "Pozo Moro," 199.

(10) Generally, the Minotaur is portayed with the body of man and the head of a bull, but it has been suggested that one unique early representation of the Minotaur depicts him as having a bull's body and a man's head (Susan Woodford, "Minotauros," LIMC 6.1:574-81, here 576, 579; Timothy Gantz, Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993], 265).

(11) Sarah P. Morris, "The Sacrifice of Astyanax: Near Eastern Contributions to the Siege of Troy," in The Ages of Homer (ed. Jane B. Carter and Sarah P. Morris; Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995), 221-45, here 238; eadem, Daidalos and the Origins of Greek Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 113-14; Traian Mihailovici, "Der Kult und kretische Mythos vom Minotauros," Das Altertum 20 (1974):199-205; Franz Poland, "Minotauros," in PW 15.2:1927-34, here 1932; James G. Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (12 vols.; 3rd ed.; London: Macmillan, 1911), 4:74-75; Hugo Helbig, "Minotauros," in Ausfuhrliches Lexikon der griechischen und romischen Mythologie (ed. W. H. Roscher; 6 vols.; Leipzig: Teubner, 1890-97), 2:3004-11, here 3010; Ludwig Mercklin, Die Talos-Sage und das sardonische Lachen (St. Petersburg: Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1851), 45 (9).

(12) Morris, Daidalos.

(13) On the basis of Punic inscriptions, Otto Eissfeldt argued convincingly that Molech was not the name of a god but rather a term for child sacrifice (Molk als Opferbegriff im Punischen und Hebraischen, und das Ende des Gottes Moloch [Halle: M. Niemeyer, 1935]). Not everyone has granted Eissfeldt's point (Day, Molech; Heider, Cult of Molek; but see Saul M. Olyan and Mark S. Smith, review of Heider, Cult of Molek, RB 94 [1987]: 273-75).

(14) See the scholia at Plato Resp. 337a and Suda, s.v. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

(15) George Foot Moore, "The Image of Moloch," JBL 16 (1897): 161-65.

(16) In the Hebrew and Jewish tradition, words that are usually rendered into English as "calf" may sometimes be better translated as "bull in the vigor of his youth" (U. Cassuto, A Commentary of the Book of Exodus [trans. Israel Abrahams; Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1967], 412; William Foxwell Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity [2nd ed.; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1957], 300).

(17) I owe this perception to Brien K. Garnand of Stanford University. He derives the medieval type of Molech from a "cross-pollination" of sources.

(18) See particularly the scholia to Plato Resp.337a.

(19) Punic settlers in Sardinia, like the Carthaginians themeselves, were said to have a statue of Cronus, to which children were sacrificed (Philoxenus frg. 591 [Die Fragmente des Grammatikers Philoxenos, ed. Christos Theodoridis (Sammlung griechischer und lateinischer Grammatiker 2; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1976)]), and tophets have been found on Sardinia (Brown, Late Carthaginian Child Sacrifice, 65-70).

(20) The connection between the Minotaur and Talos has been noted for more than a century. See Arthur Bernard Cook, Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion (2 vols.; New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1964-65) 1:720, 722; Frazer, Golden Bough, 4:74-75; and Mercklin, Die Talos- Sage, 45 (9).

(21) For both the three trips a day and stones, see Apollodorus Bibliotheca 1.9.26. For the three trips alone, see Zenobius 5.85 (cf. Plato Minos 320c). For the stone throwing alone, see Apollonius of Rhodes Argon. 4.1637, 1656, 1677-78. Some Cretan coins feature a stone- throwing Talos (George Le Rider, Monnaies Cretoises du Ve au ler Siecle av. J.-C. [Paris: Paul Geunther, 1966], 23-24, pl. 24.15, 16, 17; 96, pl. 24.1-4).

(22) Gantz, Early Greek Myth, 266; Woodford, "Minotauros," catalogue items 2, 10, 18-20, 22, 23.

(23) Th. Lenschau, "Phalaris," PW 19.2:1651. Gideon Bohak examines the influence of the bull of Phalaris on the formation of the rabbinic picture of child sacrifice ("Classica et Rabbinica I: The Bull of Phalaris and the Tophet" JSJ 31 [2000]: 203-16).

(24) Dennis D. Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece (London: Routledge, 1991).

(25) Animals slain for food were generally slaughtered in sacrificial ritual (Paul Stengel, Die griechischen Kultusaltertumer [Handbuch der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft 5.3; Munich: Beck, 1920], 105-6). As Michael H. Jameson wrote, "A description of Greek sacrificial practice is in effect a description of Greek procurement of meat for consumption and of part of their supply of animal skins, indispensable for many purposes" ("Sacrifice and Animal Husbandry in Classical Greece," in Pastoral Economies in Classical Antiquity [ed. C. R. Whittaker; Cambridge Philological Society Supplementary Volume 14; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988], 87-119, here 88). This point is borne out by the linguistic evidence. In fact, ancient Greek vocabulary makes no distinction between slaughtering and sacrificing an animal (Jean Casabona, Recherches sur le vocabulaire des sacrifices en grec des origines a la fin de l'epoque classique [Publication des Annales de la Faculte des lettres, Aix-en-Provence, n.s. 56; Paris: Editions Ophrys, 1966], 329, 346).

(26) There is one additional piece of evidence for the association of the figure of a bull with child sacrifice that is so questionable that it is best relegated to a footnote. A number of seals, some of them in Old Babylonian style, have been found in Anatolia. They depict a bull with what may be a flame in his back, worshipers, and a small figure under the bull. William H. Ward interpreted the scene as a ritual child sacrifice to Molech with the small figure as a child who is about to be sacrificed on a bull-shaped altar with some sort of fire-pit in its back (William Hayes Ward, Cylinders and Other Ancient Oriental Seals in the Library of J. Pierpont Morgan [New York: private printing, 1909], 109-11). Ward's imaginative interpretation is examined in Alberto R. Green, The Role of Human Sacrifice in the Ancient Near East (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1975), 38-43.

(27) O'Bryhim, "Cerastae." Images of people wearing bull masks may be found at Antoine Hermary, "Statuette d'un <<pretre>> masque," BCH 103 (1979): 734-41, here 735- 36; Vassos Karageorghis, "Notes on Some Cypriote Priests Wearing Bull-Masks," HTR 64 (1971): 261-70, here 265-68; idem, Ancient Art from Cyprus: The Cesnola Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (in collaboration with Joan R. Mertens and Marice E. Rose; New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000), 130-31, 147; Morris, Daidalos, figs. 20, 21; John L. Myres, Handbook of the Cesnola Collection of Antiquities from Cyprus (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1914), 151, 340, 342. Pictures of terra-cotta bull masks (at least one of which, because of its size, must be a votive representation, not a mask for use) can be seen at Karageorghis, Ancient Art from Cyprus, 146-47. For an image of an altered bull cranium, see Karageorghis, "Notes on Some Cypriote Priests," 270. A small image of such a cranium may be found in Emily T. Vermeulle and Florence Z. Wolsky, Toumba tou Skourou: A Bronze Age Potter's Quarter on Morphou Bay in Cyprus (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Cyprus Expedition,1990), 150. On the Levantine origin of bull masks, in addition to O'Bryhim, see Morris, Daidalos, 184-86. For the Megiddo bull cranium altered to be a mask, see Herbert May, Material Remains of the Megiddo Cult (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1935), 23, pl. 19. For the bull- masked terra-cotta figurine from Sidon, see Georges Conteneau, "Mission archeologique a Sidon: Quatrieme article," Syria 1 (1920): 287-317, here 306 (fig. 102), 313-14.

(28) According to the Scriptures, after Moses came down from Mount Sinai, his face was radiant, which frightened the Israelites, and from then on he wore a veil among them and took it off only when he communed with Yahweh (Exod 34:29-34). The word that indicates the radiance of Moses' face ought to mean "horned," and, indeed, it was so translated in the Vulgate, and the unique word here rendered by "veil" may indicate a mask (Elias Auerbach, Moses [ed. and trans. Robert A. Barclay and Israel O. Lehman; Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1975],139). Some scholars have maintained that this episode is a murky memory of the fact that Moses, in his priestly function, wore a bull mask (Mark S. Smith, The Early History of God [New York: Harper & Row, 1990], 134-35; Karl Jaros, "Des Mose >>strahlende Haut<<," ZAW 88 [1976]: 275- 81; Auerbach, Moses, 137-41; A. Jirku, "Die Gesichtsmaske des Mose," ZDPV 67 [1945]: 43-45). Arguments against these views are in Menahem Haran, "The Shining of Moses' Face: A Case Study in Ancient Near Eastern Iconography," in In the Shelter of Elyon: Essays on Ancient Palestinian Life and Literature in Honor of G. W. Ahlstrom (ed. W. Boyd Patric and John R. Spencer; JSOTsup 31; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1984), 159-73.

(29) In Ugaritic texts, Baal is usually the son of Dagon, occasionally the son of El. See Conrad E. L'Heureux, Rank among the Canaanite Gods: El, Bacal, and the Repha'im (HSM 21; Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979), 12-14; E. Theodore Mullen Jr., The Divine Council in Canaanite and Early Hebrew Literature (HSM 24; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1980), 15-22; and Arvid S. Kapelrud, Baal in the Ras Shamra Texts (Copenhagen: G. E. C. Gad, 1952), 64-66.

(30) Levenson, Death and Resurrection, 25-33. His reconstruction perhaps gains most support from its remarkable explanatory power when applied to narratives from the Jewish and Christian traditions. He sees this ideology behind, among other narratives, the stories of Isaac's near sacrifice and redemption, Jesus' death and resurrection, and the Israelites' Egyptian captivity.

(31) Harvey Weiss, Ebla to Damascus: Art and Archaeology of Ancient Syria (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, 1985), 298.

(32) Wayne T. Pitard, "Before Israel: Syria-Palestine in the Bronze Age" in The Oxford History of the Biblical World (ed. Michael D. Coogan; New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 33-77, here 73-74.

(33) Frank Moore Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the History of the Religion of Israel (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973), 71.

(34) See n. 16 above.

(35) Modern scholars tend to see in the golden calves of Exod 32 and 1 Kgs 12 a reflection of cult in honor of the storm god Baal Haddad, who is sometimes portrayed mounted on a bull's back. In their view, Jeroboam's young bulls were to serve as supports for Yahweh replacing the cherubim prescribed to Moses for that purpose in Exod 25:17-22; thus, just as the storm god was supported by a bull, so was Yahweh (Cassuto, Commentary, 407-8; William Foxwell Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan: A Historical Analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths [Jordan Lectures in Comparative Religion 7; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968], 197-98; Jerome T. Walsh, 1 Kings [Berit Olam; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, Michael Glazier, 1996], 172-73; Terence E. Fretheim, First and Second Kings (Westminster Bible Companion; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1999], 75-76); Lloyd R. Bailey, in an attempt to refute this view, gives a concise and coherent account of it while making it fairly clear that its supposition that the Israelites were not worshiping a bull but rather using it as a pedestal for Yahweh is not well supported ("The Golden Calf," HUCA 42 [1971]: 97-116). Othmar Keel and Christoph Uehlinger briefly discuss bull imagery associated with Yahweh and tentatively conclude that Jeroboam's bull calves were associated with El, not Baal (Gods, Goddesses, and Images of God in Ancient Israel [trans. Thomas H. Trapp; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998], 191-95).

(36) Kennedy, "Mythological Reliefs."

(37) Almagro-Gorbea describes the creature as "una ... figura ... al parecer equina" [an apparently equine figure] ("Pozo Moro," 198), and elsewhere he describes it with the statement: "Il a une tete d'animal, de forme allongee, probablement une tete de cheval" ("Les reliefs orientalisants de Pozo Moro [Albcete, Espagne]," in Mythe et Personnification [Actes du Colloque du Grand Palais [Paris], 7-8 mai 1977, publies par Jacqueline Duchemin; Paris: Belles Lettres, 1980], 123-36, here 129). Teresa Chapa Brunet identifies the figure as equine (La escultura iberica zoomorfa [Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura, 1985], 74).

(38) Almagro-Gorbea, "Pozo Moro," 183 n. 103.

(39) Kennedy, "Mythological Reliefs," 212; O'Bryhim, "Cerastae," 12-13.

(41) A first-century C.E. source, Seneca Thyestes 1038 (where feet are indicated by "rupta fractis cruribus vestigia"), indicates that the heads, hands, and feet of Thyestes' children were reserved and then displayed to him. In line 764 of the same play, only the head and hands are mentioned: "[Atreus] tantum ora servat et datas fidei manus" (Seneca may have left out the feet here to underline the clever point that the hands, symbols of fides, are now being perfidiously used by Atreus). Apollodorus Epitome 2.13, a source from sometime after the mid-first century B.C.E., and Iohannes Tzetzes Chil. 1 Hist. 18.450 of the Byzantine period refer to the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], the extremities, of the children, which include head, feet, and hands. Hyginus Fabulae 8.2, perhaps from the second century C.E., mentions the heads (ora) and lower arms (bracchia) of the children. Lactantius Placidus in his commentary on Statius Thebais 4.306 and Scriptores Rerum Mythicarum Latini 1.22 mention only heads. Several brief references do not mention how Thyestes recognized that he had eaten his children (Euripides Orest. 1008; Anth. pal. 9.98; Scholia in Euripidem Orest. 15, 807, 811; Pausanias 2.18.1; Hyginus Fabulae 244.4, 246, 248; Scriptores Rerum Mythicarum Latini 2.147, 3.8.16; Servius on Virgil Aen. 1.568, 11.262).

Among the extant sources for the story of Tereus (which include Apollodorus Bibl. 3.14.8; Conon frg. 31 FGH; Hyginus Fabulae 45; Lactantius Placidus on Statius Thebais 5.120; Pausanias 1.5.4, 1.41.8, 10.4.9; Scriptores Rerum Mythicarum Latini 1.4, 2.217; Servius on Virgil Ecl. 6.78-81; Thucydides 2.29; Zenobius 3.14), the Byzantine author Iohannes Tzetzes indicates that the tokens of recognition are the head, hands, and feet, saying that the child was recognized through his hands, head, and "extremities" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Chil. 7 Hist. 142. 472). Achilles Tatius (5.3, 5.5), writing perhaps in the third century C.E., has the recognition occur through the revelation of the boy's head and hands in a basket. In Ovid's version, Procne shows the head alone (Metam. 6.658-59) to provoke the recognition. The twelfth century Eustathius has Tereus discover his deed through the boy's "small remains" (Ad Odysseam 19.518).

(42) Homer describes the nightingale, the bird into which, according to some later versions of the tale, Procne metamorphosed, as mourning her child, Itylus, whom she has slain (Od. 19.517-23). Hesiod calls the swallow, the bird into which other sources say that Procne metamorphosed, the mourning daughter of Pandion, who is, in fact, Procne's father in later versions (Op. 568). He is also reported to have referred to [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("that unlawful feast"), for which the nightingale and swallow (i.e., Procne and Philomela) were punished (Fragmenta Hesiodea [ed. R. Merkelbach and M. L. West; Oxford: Clarendon, 1967], frg. 312).

(43) Karl Schefold and Franz Jung, Die Urkonige, Perseus, Bellerophon, Herakles und Theseus in der klassischen und hellenistischen Kunst (Munich: Hirmer, 1988), 74-75. There is one striking artistic image that may be particularly relevant here: On an Attic column crater made in the period from 470 to 460 B.C.E., there appears a scene in which a man (Tereus), getting off a dining couch, threatens two fleeing women (Procne and Philomela) with a sword; before the couch under a table covered with dishes is a basket from which a child's leg is sticking out (apparently some of Itys's remains) (Evi Touloupa, "Procne and Philomela," LIMC 7.1:527-29, here 527; image at Schefold and Jung, Urkonige, 74).

(44) Scholia in Euripidem Orest. 995 = Alcmeonis frg. 5 Davies (Epicorum graecorum fragmenta [ed. Malcolm Davies; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht,1988], 140) = Alcmeonis frg. 6 Bernabe (Poetarum epicorum graecorum testimonia et fragmenta [ed. Albertus Bernabe; editio correctior primae editionis (MCMLXXXVII); Leipzig: Teubner, 1996], 33) = Pherecydes Atheniensis frg. 133 FGH.

Tragedies entitled Thyestes were written by Agathon, Apollodorus, Chaeremon, Cleophon, and Diogenes the Cynic (Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, vol. 1 [ed. Bruno Snell and corrected and augmented by Richard Kannicht; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986], 162, 209, 219, 247, 254). Diogenes the Cynic is supposed also to have written an Atreus; he apparently was fond of the cannibalistic theme in the Atreus and Thyestes story (Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, vol. 1, ed. Snell, 254-55). To Agathon and to Carcinus are attributed plays entitled Aerope (Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, vol. 4 [ed. Stefan Radt; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1977], 161); Aerope was Atreus's wife, who betrayed him to Thyestes and thereby precipitated Thyestes' exile. Sophocles wrote as many as three plays entitled Thyestes and perhaps an Atreus (Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, vol. 4, ed. Radt, 162, 239). Euripides wrote a Thyestes and a Pleisthenes (Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta [ed. Augustus Nauck; 2nd ed.; Leipzig: Teubner, 1889], 480-82, 556-58). Pleisthenes was a child of Atreus who was raised by Thyestes and sent by him to kill Atreus; Atreus, believing him to be Thyestes' child, killed him.

(45) In his Poetics, Aristotle discusses recognition ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and reversal ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), which he considers important parts of tragedy (Poetics 1450a34). Recognition is a change from ignorance to knowledge, leading into either [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] or enmity (Poetics 1452a29-30). [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is left untranslated because, although it is commonly translated friendship, it can also denote kinship--a [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] can be either a friend or a relative--and no one English word comfortably spans this semantic territory. Accordingly, Aristotelian recognition can and often does involve the realization that someone is a blood relative, as when, in Aeschylus's Libation Bearers, Electra realizes that the stranger who has shown up in Argos is her brother. The grim feasts of Thyestes and Tereus involve recognitions into [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Thyestes and Tereus recognize their sons as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], relatives) and into enmity (Thyestes and Tereus recognize Atreus and Procne respectively as enemies). Just as Aristotle would have wanted it ("The best recognition is when it occurs along with a reversal" [Poetics 1452a32-33]), these recognitions are simultaneous with a reversal: Thyestes' joyous feast of reconciliation with Atreus and Tereus's happy banquet cooked by his wife are reversed into a horrific punishment. The motif further involves [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], kin, doing something awful to [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], kin (Atreus to Thyestes, Thyestes to his children, Procne to Tereus, and Tereus to his son). Aristotle believes that such action in a tragedy is most likely to arouse dread and pity in an appropriate manner (Poetics 1453b19-23).

(46) In Aesch. Agamemnon 1594-97, Aegisthus describes Atreus's preparation of Thyestes' children for the feast and Thyestes' consumption of them. The passage is problematic, and it is probably best to postulate a lacuna in the text (Aeschylus, Agamemnon: Edited with a Commentary by Eduard Fraenkel [3 vols.; Oxford: Clarendon, 1950], 3:752-53; Aeschylus, Agamemnon [ed. John Dewar Denniston and Denys Page; Oxford: Clarendon, 1957], 215-16). It seems to mention some culinary processing of the children's feet and hands, with no mention of their heads or any hiding. Fraenkel attacks those who would assimilate the passage to the feast of Harpagus in Herodotus and the feast of Thyestes in later accounts. He reconstructs the text to have Atreus mince the feet and hands over the meal. This seems improbable. More likely the passage resembled later accounts of the feast, wherein Atreus conceals the head, feet, and hands and then reveals them. Why else would Aeschylus mention the hands and feet? If Atreus hides the feet and hands, he must do the same with the head, for the hands and feet serve poorly as tokens of recognition while heads serve it best. Interestingly, the change of one letter turns Fraenkel's "minced"([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) into "hid" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and thereby introduces the otherwise absent theme of hiding in this passage.

(47) It would have been impossible to act out the entire story of the feast of Thyestes. Tragedy could not accommodate on-stage butchery or eating. If any part were acted out, it would be the presentation of the hands, feet, and head and Thyestes' recognition of them.

(48) Anthologia palatina 9.98; see Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, vol. 4, ed. Radt, 162.

(49) Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, vol. 4, ed. Radt, 435-45.

(50) Shawn O'Bryhim, "The Ritual of Human Sacrifice in Euripides' Iphigenia in Tauris," Classical Bulletin 76 (2000): 29-37.

(51) Morris, "Sacrifice of Astyanax."

(52) Othmar Keel argues that these images are not child sacrifice but the offering of children to victorious attackers as booty ("Kanaanaische Suhneriten auf agyptischen Tempelreliefs," VT 25 [1975]: 413-69).

(53) Mark W. Edwards, The Iliad: A Commentary, Books 17-20 (vol. 5 of The Iliad: A Commentary [ed. G. S. Kirk; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991]), 218.

(54) Barry Powell, "From Picture to Myth, from Myth to Picture," in New Light on a Dark Age (ed. Susan Langdon; Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1997), 154-93, here 176-77; Morris, "Sacrifice of Astyanax," 226-31.

(55) Powell suggests that Near Eastern imagery of two men who battle a serpent may have inspired tales of this labor. The fact that two men, not one man, attack the serpent in the Near Eastern iconography may explain why Iolaus accompanies Heracles on this labor when he is present in no other one; projections out of the Near Eastern serpent's back may suggest flames, which then would inspire the idea that Heracles cauterized the Hydra's head; finally, the odd tradition of the hostile crab that attacks Heracles during the battle may have arisen from a crab present in Near Eastern imagery ("From Picture to Myth," 183).

(56) Walter Burkert, "Oriental and Greek Mythology: The Meeting of Parallels," in Interpretations of Greek Mythology (ed. Jan Bremmer; London: Croom Helm, 1987), 10-40, here 26- 29.

(57) See Lexicon des fruhgriechischen Epos, begrundet von B. Snell (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979-), s.v. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

(58) Sometimes, however, it is expressed more openly. Seneca overtly depicts the murder of Thyestes' children as a sacrifice (Thyestes 641-88), and Apollodorus has the slaughter occur on Zeus's altar, where the children have sat as suppliants (Epitome 2.13). There is some hint of sacrifice in Aeschylus when Aegisthus claims that Atreus pretended to be conducting a feast day ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [literally: "a butchering day," i.e., a day on which sacrifice was to be performed]) when he lured Thyestes to the grisly banquet (Ag. 1592) (see Froma I. Zeitlin, "The Motif of the Corrupted Sacrifice in Aeschylus' Oresteia," TAPA 96 [1965]: 463-508, here 468-70).

(59) Levenson, Death and Resurrection.

(60) Brown, Late Carthaginian Child Sacrifice, 141-42.

(61) Elisha prophesies in 2 Kgs 9:10 that "the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and no one shall bury her." Indeed, as we find out in 2 Kgs 9:35, by the time anyone tries to bury her, there is not much left of her corpse, so we might conjecture that the dogs have eaten her body.

(62) The palms of her hands and not her hands are left possibly because the Hebrew word for hand can mean power, and it would be ill-omened to say that Jezebel's powers remained.

(63) Roland de Vaux, "Les prophetes de Baal sur le Mont Carmel," Bulletin du Musee de Beyrouth 5 (1941): 1-20.

(64) G. R. Driver, "Problems of Interpretation in the Heptateuch," in Melanges bibliques rediges en l'honneur de Andre Robert (Paris: Bloud et Gay, 1957), 66-68.

(65) Noel Robertson, "The Ritual Background of the Dying God in Cyprus and SyroPalestine," HTR 75 (1982): 313-59, here 317-18; Wolfgang Fauth, Aphrodite Parakyptusa: Untersuchungen zum Ersheinungsbild der vorderasiatischen Dea Prospiciens (Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz: Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Klasse: Abhandlungen, Jahrg. 1966, No. 6; Mainz: Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, 1967), 376-77.

(66) If we accept Othniel Margalith's views ("The Kelabim of Ahab," VT 34 [1984]: 228-32), Ahab's death supplies a supporting parallel to such mockery. Margalith argues that, in one passage where Elijah prophesies that dogs will lick Ahab's blood (1 Kgs 21:19) and another where this prophecy is fulfilled (1 Kgs 22:38), the word translated "dog" is better translated "servant" and refers to hierodules, who, engaging in bloody, ecstatic worship like that of 1 Kgs 18:16-29, are said to "lick blood." If this is the case, Elijah's prophecy is that Ahab will fall to the very cults that he is fostering. So, like the death of Jezebel, Ahab's death enacts the ritual forms he follows in life.

(67) It is tempting here to mention the Ugaritic narrative usually called Baal, which dates to many centuries before the final redaction of the Jezebel story but comes from a related Northwest Semitic tradition. Themes in both stories overlap. Anat makes herself up twice in the narrative, as Jezebel does before meeting Jehu (CTU 1.3.II.38-III.2 [translated at UNP, 109]; CTU 1.3.IV.42-46 [translated at UNP, 114]). Robertson has tried to connect Jezebel's window and a window that figures in the Baal narrative ("Ritual Background," 318-19, 338). Significantly, before Anat apparently feasts on her enemies (CTU 1.3.II.17-30, cf. UNP, 167 n. 49), she is depicted destroying them in battle in this pretty image:

   Under her, like balls, are hea[ds,]
   Above her, like locusts, hands,
   Like locusts, heaps of warrior-hands.
   She fixes heads to her back,
   Fastens hands to her belt. (CTU 1.3.II.9-13 [trans. at UNP, 107])

The imagery of the head and hands as emblems of her victims has an odd resonance with Jezebel's skull, palms of hands, and feet and the assemblages of extremities on the Pozo Moro relief.

(68) Josephus identifies her as Salome (A.J. 18.5.4); Mark 6:22 may give her the same name as her mother, Herodias; and Matthew does not identify her by name.

(69) Elaine Adler Goodfriend, "Prostitution," ABD 5:509.

(70) A long tradition assumes that, in Jezebel's primping, the Scriptures are portraying her in the role of a sacred prostitute or the goddess of such prostitutes. The notion of Near Eastern sacred prostitution, however, is nowadays under major assault, with many scholars concluding that it did not exist (see Karel van der Toorn, "Cultic Prosititution," ABD 5:510-13).

(71) Matthew 11:14 and 17:12-13 explicitly identify him as Elijah. Mark is more coy, but he, too, identifies John as Elijah. John's clothing is similar to Elijah's (Mark 1:6 and 2 Kgs 1:8), and apparently Mark 9:11-13 assimilates him to the returning Elijah mentioned in Mal 4:5 (cf. Matt 17:12-13). See Walter Wink, John the Baptist in the Gospel Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968).

(72) The Greek tradition presents several examples. A law from Cyrene indicates that, in one variety of sacrifice at that settlement, the feet and the head (along with the hide) of a sacrificial victim were given to a priestess (Franciszek Sokolowski, Lois sacrees des cites grecques, Supplement [Paris: Editions de Boccard, 1962], no. 115.B.16-17). One testimony of cult regulations from Delphi prescribes special treatment for victims' heads and feet (ibid., nos. 40.B.2-3, C.4-5). Other such testimony specifically mentions heads and feet (Franciszek Sokolowski, Lois sacrees des cites grecques [Paris: Editions de Boccard, 1969], no.166.64; idem, Lois sacrees de l'Asie Mineure [Paris: Editions de Boccard, 1955], nos. 59.3, 72.44). Demon recorded that Melanthos, who became king of the Athenians, was given the feet and head of a victim when he was being honored as a guest in Attica (frg.1 FGH). In the Homeric Hymn to Hermes 137, Hermes separately incinerates the head and hooves of cattle he sacrifices. Porphyry, as preserved by Eusebius, records a bizarre oracle that prescribes sacrificial practice and singles out victims' heads and feet for special treatment (Eusebius Praep. ev. 4.9). Hesychius (s.v. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) also indicates special treatment of feet and heads in sacrificial ritual. In the Semitic tradition, we might refer to Lev 1:8-9, 12- 13; 4:11.

(73) Sokolowski, Lois sacrees des cites grecques, no. 55.

(74) Ibid., commentaire, where verbal echoes are cited.

(75) Two other pieces of Near Eastern evidence are worth mentioning here. One is the discovery of the remains of a child perhaps sacrificed at Kedesh in Upper Galilee. In the floor of an archive dating from the mid-first millennium B.C.E. was buried a child whose hands and feet were missing, apparently amputated before interment (Sharon C. Herbert and Andrea M. Berlin, "A New Administrative Center for Persian and Hellenistic Galilee: Preliminary Report of the University of Michigan/University of Minnesota Excavations at Kedesh," BASOR 329 [2003]: 13-59, here 24). Another is an extremely early (Uruk III) cylinder-seal depiction in which a feline with its paws cut off is apparently being offered to a god (Henri Frankfort, Cylinder Seals: A Documentary Essay on the Art and Religion of the Ancient Near East [London: MacMillan, 1939], 19; E. Douglas Van Buren, The Fauna of Ancient Mesopotamia as Represented in Art [AnOr 18; Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1939], 9-10).

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition)
Rundin, John S. "Pozo Moro, child sacrifice, and the Greek legendary tradition." Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 123, no. 3, 2004, p. 425+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 13 Dec. 2018.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A254014762