Sarah Hitch

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Classics, Corpus Christi College

Sarah's project, “Food for the gods: the role of belief in Greek myth and ritual”, looks at the evidence for conceptions of divine diet and why people worship them with offerings of food.

Greek gods were thought to consume exclusively divine foods, ambrosia and nectar, but also to require gifts of food from mortals, primarily animal sacrifice. This contradiction, found throughout extant art and literature, is further complicated by a pervasive Greek view of mankind as defined by dependance on food to survive.

The project will explore the way ancient Greeks used food to express their worldview, particularly the relationship between humans and gods.  Historically, Classical scholarship has prioritised the act of eating over the spiritual beliefs that also motivated religious feasting and gift offerings of food to gods. One aim of this project is to look at the interactions between anthropological theories of feasting and religious rituals and Classical scholarship in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Other questions include the Greek reluctance to imagine their gods as eaters and thematic associations between eating and death.

She is co-editing a volume of essays on animal sacrifice in the Greek world and will be contributing chapters on “Anthropology” and “Greek Sacrifice” for the Companion to Food in Antiquity.


Recent Relevant Publications: 

2011    “Embedded speech in the Attic leges sacrae” for Sacred Words: Orality, Literacy and Religion. Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World, vol. 8, eds. A.P.M.H. Lardinois, J.H. Blok and M.G.M. van der Poel. Leiden: Brill 2011, p.113-142.

            Review of G. Boys-Stone, B. Graziosi  and P. Vasunia, eds. The Oxford Handbook of           Hellenic Studies (Oxford, 2009) for Classical Review 61.1.8-10.         

2010    Review of J. Burgess, The Death and Afterlife of Achilles (Johns Hopkins 2009) for Journal of Hellenic Studies 130:188-189

2009    King of Sacrifice. Ritual and Royal Authority in the Iliad. CHS/HUP

(Review by Gunnel Ekroth,

  • Entries on “Jason and the Argonauts”, “Lemnian Women”, “Medea”, “Orpheus and Eurydice” and “Prometheus” for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, ed. M. Gagarin, Oxford University Press
  • Review of A. Suter, ed. Lament (OUP 2006) for Journal of Hellenic Studies 129:132-133

2008    Review of F. Naiden, Ancient Supplication (OUP 2006) for Journal of Hellenic        Studies 128:219-220.


“Hero Cult in Apollonius Rhodius” for Hellenistica Groningana IX (Peeters Publishers, Groningen) 9000 words. (publication timetable: 2012)


Animal Sacrifice in the Greek World.  co-edited with Ian Rutherford. (Under contract to Cambridge University Press for publication in 2012)


In Sacrifice in the Ancient Greek World:

  •  “Rethinking Theoretical Approaches to Sacrifice” (with Ian Rutherford)
  •  “Performing Sacrifice in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo

“Anthropology” and “Greek and Roman Sacrifice” for Companion to Food in Antiquity, ed. J. Wilkins (Blackwell) 6,000 words each (Publication timeline: 2013)


Entries on “Fire, in cult: Greece and Rome”, “Kronos and Kronia”, “Myth (all periods)”, “Plants, sacred: Greece and Rome”, “Priests and Priestesses, Greek”, “Proerosia”, “Prometheus and Prometheia” for The Encyclopedia of Ancient History, eds. R. Bagnall, K. Brodsen, C. Champion, A. Erskine and S. Huebner (Blackwell, 2012)