Part 16: Bobbin Threadbare goes further into it.
Sleep of Bronze posted:
There were plenty of pagan/Hellenistic mystery cults that promised pleasant afterlives, and sacrifices were very rarely a burden on a household, because you happily ate it afterward. (The sacrifices certainly weren't human either, as you might have guessed by the eating part.) Pagan worship was probably less onerous than early Christianity, for that matter. Many more festivals, and much more communal and civic, compared to the more personal aspect of Christianity.
In fact, there's a story about the nature of Grecian sacrifices. When the nature of sacrifices was to be determined, Prometheus, a titan who is eternally in humanity's corner, slaughtered an ox and from it prepared two settings: the first held all the meat and organs but was hidden under the ox's large, disgusting stomach, and the second was a pile of bones and gristle underneath a layer of fat. Zeus chose the latter, and so the inedible parts of a sacrifice are all that is burned for the sake of the gods; the rest of a sacrificial animal is eaten by those attending the event.
Incidentally, this trick is what caused Zeus to snatch up all the fire from Earth in a fit of pique. Prometheus responded by stealing the Olympians' fire and giving it to the humans, and Zeus responded to that by chaining him to a rock so a vulture could chew on his liver forever (although Heracles would later show up to rescue Prometheus because Heracles guest-stars in everybody's legends).