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Basic Information

Thyesthai is an Greek term for religious feasting on a sacrificed animal. This was a normal practice in the classical world - indeed for many of the poor, sacrifices were a key source of meat and might be the only time they could afford to eat a meat meal (or one of few opportunities at any rate).

In the correct cultures, thyesthic sacrifice could be a form of both performative religion and performative charity - a rich man could both advertise his virtue (and possibly ward of the evil eye) by sacrificing to the gods (showing piety) and having the offerings consumed by the community at large (showing generosity and charity).

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Game and Story Use

  • May be part of how the priest, sage, wizard or wisewoman, sustains their lifestyle. People seeking knowledge of their fate bring animals to be sacrificed. Rather than (or in addition to) paying in bullion coin, you pay them directly in food.
    • The Mosaic Law of the Old Testament includes specific parts of specific sacrifices reserved for feeding the priests and Levites of The Temple.
  • The large banquet after an animal sacrifice such as haruspicy may be a way that the local community forms tight social bonds. This is especially true if the sacrifices happen on a regular schedule, such a holy day or festival.
    • Where there is some form of election in progress, piety may suddenly flourish as all the candidates try and ensure that everyone has had a free meal at their expense.
  • If an animal being sacrificed is contaminated in some way, the banquet afterwards may spread that corruption to all who partake of it. If you plot needs an entire church or village full of werewolves, zombies, etc, this is an unconventional way to affect a bunch of people all at once.
  • Even in a situation where the priesthood consume the actual cuts of meat from the sacrifice, it would not be unreasonable for a temple to have a perpetually bubbling cauldron of broth made from the offcuts and bones which is served out of the back door to all comers and so serves as a form of civil relief for the indigent.
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