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Marcus Aurelius and members of the Imperial family offer sacrifice in gratitude for success against Germanic tribes: contemporary bas-relief, Capitoline Museum, Rome

Sacrifice is to give away (something valuable) to get at least a possibility to gain something else of value (such as self-respect, trust, love, freedom, prosperity), or to avoid an even greater loss. It also can be the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of propitiation or worship.


  • If the grain does not suffice for these rites and the the vessels are empty and do not pour water, the person in charge of the regular offerings does not receive extra. After what was distributed from the foods and what was distributed from the drinks, after what was left over from the regular offerings and was not used by the house, after what was expended from the taxed fish, [...] and after what was received in nuts and green plants from within the garden has entered, no mouth may touch them. No one should carry the bread of the shrines in the district as bread allotment.
  • The preparation for the temple's permanent first-fruit festival should not stop. Let there be a fat carrier who delivers fat to the house, let there be a milk carrier who delivers milk to the house and let there be a fish courier, a person of daily assignment. After the firewood carrier has brought his delivery from the open country into his lady's house, it should be deposited in its corners and sides.
  • [I]t is right to be kind and even sacrifice ourselves to people who need kindness and lie in our way – otherwise, besides failing to help them, we run into the aridity of self-development. To seek for recipients of one's goodness, to play the Potted Jesus leads to the contray the Christian danger.
  • In general, the man who is readily disposed to sacrifice himself is one who does not know how else to give meaning to his life.
    The profession of enthusiasm is the most sickening of all insincerities.
  • Modern people have a hard time understanding what sacrifice means, because they think, for example, of a burnt offering on an altar, which is an archaic way of acting out the idea. But we have no problem at all when we conceptualize sacrifice psychologically, because we all know you must forgo gratification in the present to keep the wolf from the door in the future. So, you offer something to the negative goddess, so that the positive one shows up.

* To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

  • If it had not been for these things, I might have lived out my life talking at street corners to scorning men. I might have died, unmarked, unknown, a failure. Now we are not a failure. This is our career and our triumph. Never in our full life could we hope to do such work for tolerance, for justice, for man's understanding of man as now we do by accident. Our words — our lives — our pains — nothing! The taking of our lives — lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fish-peddler — all! That last moment belongs to us — that agony is our triumph.
  • Too long a sacrifice
    Can make a stone of the heart.
    O when may it suffice?
    • William Butler Yeats, "Easter 1916," lines 57–59, Peter Allt and Russell K. Alspach, eds., The Variorum Edition of the Poems of W. B. Yeats (1957), p. 394.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 689.
  • What millions died—that Cæsar might be great!
  • He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter.
    • Isaiah, LIII, 7.
  • Sacrifice to the Muses.
    • Plutarch, Banquet of the Seven Wise Men.
  • Plato used to say to Xenocrates the philosopher, who was rough and morose, "Good Xenocrates, sacrifice to the Graces."
  • The ancients recommended us to sacrifice to the Graces, but Milton sacrificed to the Devil.

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