Procopius, De bello Gothico III 38.17-23: A Description of Ritual Pagan Slavic Slayings?
Procopius, De bello Gothico III 38.17-23: οpis ritualnih pobojev slovanskih poganov?

Eugenio R. Luján



Procopius' Gothic War is generally assumed to be the oldest source for the study of pagan Slavic religion. However, only the ethnographic excursus on the Slavs and Antes (Procop. Goth. III 14.22-30) is mentioned in works dealing with that subject, while no attention has been paid to another very interesting passage of the same work (Procop.Goth. III 38.17–23). In that passage Procopius describes the three ways in which the Slavs used to kill their enemies – impalement, tying their hands and feet to four stakes and beating them to death and, finally, burning them together with cattle and sheep. The analysis of the text, as well as the comparison with other sources, shows that those practices can best interpreted as various sorts of ritual slayings.

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