Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Sacrifice of Children

It has been confirmed that the ancient Carthaginians did engage in child sacrifice, just as their Roman critics had said (contrary to a popular documentary on the topic):
"This is something dismissed as black propaganda because in modern times people just didn't want to believe it," said Josephine Quinn, a lecturer in ancient history at Oxford, who is behind the study, with international colleagues, of one of the most bitterly debated questions in classical archaeology.

"But when you pull together all the evidence – archaeological, epigraphic and literary – it is overwhelming and, we believe, conclusive: they did kill their children, and on the evidence of the inscriptions, not just as an offering for future favours but fulfilling a promise that had already been made.

"This was not a common event, and it must have been among an elite because cremation was very expensive, and so was the ritual of burial. It may even have been seen as a philanthropic act for the good of the whole community."

... The Roman historian Diodorus and other ancient historians gave graphic accounts of Carthaginian child sacrifice: "There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus, extending its hands, palms up and sloping towards the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire."

Diodorus even said that some citizens who bought children from poor people and reared them specially for sacrifice believed misfortunes had resulted because they had not sacrificed their own offspring.

... Quinn said many of her academic colleagues were appalled by her conclusions.

"The feeling that some ultimate taboo is being broken is very strong. It was striking how often colleagues, when they asked what I was working on, reacted in horror and said, 'Oh no, that's simply not possible, you must have got it wrong.'"

"We like to think that we're quite close to the ancient world, that they were really just like us – the truth is, I'm afraid, that they really weren't."
However, are we really that different? According to CNBC, Al Gore spoke at the Davos summit about the need to reduce the surplus population in order to control global warming. Although the CNBC article attempted to spin Gore's comments as referring to contraceptives, he spoke more broadly of "empowering women and making fertility management ubiquitously available," which is newspeak for abortions. How is Gore's position that we should kill children to save us from global warming any different from ancient Carthaginians sacrificing children to ensure a good crop?

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