- Oct 2018
Yes, the modern scholar is right in pointing out that child sacrifice tended to be associated with eastern cults, and so this could easily be slander. In fact, accusations of effeminacy was typically leveled at easterners and eastern customs, and so the claims that you bring up in a later point about Elagabalus acting like a woman are not in and of themselves surprising. Effeminate clothing was a literary trope in the description of easterners and of slothfulness and luxury. The claims about gender that are unusual are the ones about surgery, but I agree that, if one chooses to believe these claims, then the claims about his clothing take on a new significance and become relevant. Although in acknowledging the prevalence of nasty tropes about easterners, perhaps we should therefore see the genital thing as a distorted representation of circumcision. But, again, I am sceptical of such an interpretation, a) because the claim is so unusual, and b) because Dio doesn't link the claim to anything cultural or religious.On the child sacrifice allegation against Elagabalus(also known as Heliogabalus) We can see that Dio is disagreed with by other scholars. Still I find interesting to read about what any scholar contemporary or not has to say about Elagabalus.
Heliogabalus is also accused of child sacrifice. This charge has been noted in Cassius Dio and in the Historia Augusta. It is a lot more serious than the other charges. The author of the Historia Augusta says that the emperor chose beautiful, noble, young boys for these sacrifices, whose parents were still alive - all this in order to inflict more sadness and mourning. The sacrifices were carried out by magicians who studied the entrails afterwards.
Few scholars have been willing to accept this charge, which portrays Heliogabalus as a true monster. They see this information as another attempt to discredit the emperor and Semitic culture. It was a stereotypical accusation which was also thrown at Jews, Christians and Isis devotees. And in fact, the way the child sacrifice is described by Dio, including the inspection of the entrails, looks more like an old Etruscan tradition than a Semitic cult act.
Heliogabalus' religion (1) - Livius