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To Cure Their Society Of The Plague, Ancient Greeks Sacrificed Ugly People

NOVEMBER 7, 2015  —  By Tim Unkenholz  
Tim Unkenholz

Tim Unkenholz

Writer and stand up comedian in NY. Check out my monthly comedy show Roomie Raiders at the Creek and The Cave! @timunken

When we think of the Ancient Greeks, we imagine great thinkers stroking their beards while pondering the intricacies of democracy, philosophy, and mathematics. But even one of history's most epic societies had its flaws.

One of the most unbecoming aspects of Greek society back then was the pharmakos ritual, which involved slaughtering the ugliest citizens in town (many of whom were children) for the "common good." This horrible practice went on for at least three hundred years.

During times of famine and plague, Greek cities and villages turned to their ugliest inhabitants when it came time to look for a scapegoat.

It was believed that deformed people angered their deities, who were thought to value the purity of their creations above all else.

The unfortunate victim was known as the pharmakos. These individuals were usually deformed, handicapped, and of the lower class.

Ugly members of the aristocracy could take solace in the fact that their riches saved them from being used as a pharmakos.

The pharmakos was usually treated like a king for a night.

Parties were thrown in their honor before they were sacrificed.

These parties eventually gave way to deadly rituals.

The unlucky individual was basically beaten to death, but there are records of sacrificed people being stoned to death, burned alive, and thrown from cliffs.

They had very little knowledge of medicine back then, so the Ancient Greeks needed to do something in order to feel less powerless as they faced various plagues. Sadly, they took the most inhumane route. But here's a fun fact. The word pharmakos is derived from the word pharmakon, which would eventually become the English word "pharmacy." Just let that sink in.

 

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