According to Plutarch, ancient Greeks sometimes purified themselves by “rub[bing] around with puppies.” There was even a name for it: periskylakismos or “puppifrication.”
Puppifrication, people! Ritual purification by puppies!
See, this is why I love history so much. You COULD NOT make this stuff up if you tried! How awesome is that? I want to be purified by puppies? Where do I sign up?
Of course, Rome always kicked it up a notch with blood and violence–they actually sacrificed dogs (for the Lupercalia) as part of one of their purification rites. I like the Greek version better.
This tidbit of ancient wisdom comes thanks to the Roman History Online Reading Group, for which we read Plutarch’s Moralia, “On Roman Questions.” Thanks to Irene Hahn for absolutely making my day with these readings. I can’t wait for the chat tonight so that we can all marvel at the wonderful strangeness that was the ancient world.
Citation: Plutarch’s Moralia, “Roman Questions,” no. 68. From LacusCurtis’s translation of Frank Cole Babbitt as printed in pp1‑171 of Vol. IV of the Loeb Classical Library edition of the Moralia, published in 1936.