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Homo necans is a book on Ancient Greek religion and mythology by Walter Burkert. The book's core thesis is that when paleolithic man became a hunter, in spite of the generally omnivore orientation of the great apes, lack of a predator instinct was made up for by turning patterns of intra-species aggression against the prey. Thus, the animals hunted by ancient man automatically acquired aspects of an equal, as it were of one of the hunter's relations. Burkert uncovers traces of ancient hunting rituals so motivated in historical animal sacrifice and human sacrifice (by his thesis unified as deriving from the same fundamental principle) in historical Greek ritual, and in human religious behaviour in general.
The thesis of the book is an extension of the hunting hypothesis, which states that hunting as a means of obtaining food was a dominant influence on human evolution and cultural development (instead of gathering vegetation or scavenging).
- (1972) Homo necans: Interpretationen Altgriechischer Opferriten und Mythen (in German), Berlin: De Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-003875-7.
- (1981) Homo necans: Antropologia del Sacrificio Cruento nella Grecia Antica, trans. Francesco Bertolini (in Italian), Turin: Boringhieri. ISBN 88-339-5114-6.
- (1997) Homo Necans: Interpretationen Altgriechischer Opferriten Und Mythen: 2., Um Ein Nachwort Erweiterte Auflage(Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche Und Vorarbeiten , Vol 32) (2nd edition, with a 1996 postscript) de Gruyter, ISBN 3-11-015098-0.