Hellenic Reconstruction is sometimes jokingly referred to as 'Athenian Reconstruction', as so much of our information about ancient Hellas was preserved in the city of Athens. As soon as you set foot outside the city of Athens, only a few 'hot spots' provide any information about ancient Hellenic life, and in between the hotspots, there is no information at all. The annual sacrifice at Erchia to Zeus Epoptes (Εποπτες) is a perfect example of this: Erchia is located in the Attic deme, but very little about their practices remains. Of the sacrifice to Zeus Epoptes, we only know that it happened, on the 25th of Metageitnion.

From the calendar we have recovered from Erchia, we know that the sacrifice to Zeus Epoptes was a pig, burned completely in a holókaustos, without an offering of wine. It cost the Erchians three drachmas. As little information as that is, it is still quite telling. A holókaustos was almost solely offered to Underworld deities, or those who oversaw he darker aspects of life. Zeus Meilichios, for example, received His sacrifices as a holókaustos when sacrificed to in order to remove blood guilt. As such, we can tentatively conclude that a holókaustos was either given to Gods of the dead, in appropriation, or placation--or all of them.

Wineless libations were almost always given to Khthonic deities, or earth deities like the Nymphs, the Muses and the Erinyes, and always in a khoe--a complete outpour of the liquid(s). Like most offerings to the dead or Khthonic deities, the offering consisted of water, honey, and/or milk.

'Epoptes' (sometimes 'Epopteus') is often translated as 'overseer' or 'watcher'; 'to look down upon'. Among the ancient Hellenes, the title of 'epoptes' was used of those who had attained the third grade of initiation, the highest, of the Eleusinian Mysteries; a religious cult at Eleusis, with its worship, rites, festival and pilgrimages open to all Hellenes willing to undergo initiation. The epopteia were--appropriately--charged with overseeing the proceedings at Eleusis, but seemingly received the name mostly because they had beheld the full mysteries of the Mysteries.

This is all information we have, but all we are sure of regarding the sacrifice itself is that a whole pig was sacrificed on a hill. That said, I would like to propose a theory, and I do not have more evidence than what I have just put forth and my gut instinct. This isn't even UPG. Thus, feel free to ignore the next bit. Personally, I feel that the myth of Persephone's abduction and its ties to the agricultural season were widely known and not only celebrated in ancient Eleusis--or, better said, that the rites of the Mysteries connected to the rites in other locations of (especially) Attica. While there is never a sacrifice to Persephone in Erchia, there is one to Demeter, on the 12th of this month at the Eleusinion on the Acropolis. This sacrifice is recorded on the sacrificial calendar of Erchia and consists of a white, female, sheep worth 10 drachmas and a libation of wine--shared with the sacrifices.

The Hellenic agricultural season would lead one to assume Persephone returned to the surface world around the time of the Greater Mysteries, celebrated from the 13th to the 23th of the next month. To me, it seems logical that the scorching summer season was regarded as the season of drought and infertility in the myth. If the Greater Mysteries did, in fact, celebrate the return of Persephone, we can, perhaps, say that the sacrifice to Demeter a month prior was in remembrance of the pleas of the human race for Demeter to return to Her duties; after all, by that time (around the beginning of August), the world would be plenty dry and hot already. It would be an Ouranic sacrifice as Demeter was unaware of Her daughter's connection to the Underworld, and all humans knew was that their usually fertile season was suddenly gone.

We know that, in the myth, Demeter pleaded with Zeus--Persephone's father--to bring Her daughter back to the surface world. The sacrifice to Zeus Epoptes is located almost squarely between the sacrifice to Demeter and the Greater Mysteries, and my theory is that this sacrifice to Zeus Epoptes was to honor and placate Zeus the Overseer--both as a watcher and ruler--for brokering the deal with Hades, and to ensure He would have Hades keep up His end of the deal year after year. This sacrifice would have to be Khthonic, as Zeus would have to 'look down upon' the Underworld and learn what was happening with His daughter. Epoptes could then have been an Underworld epithet of Zeus.

As said, I have no evidence, and there are a lot of 'if's' in this story. Still, to me this makes sense. Whatever the case, this sacrifice can be honored with a pancarpia of (dark) fruits, sacrificed wholly to Zeus Epoptes. There are various hymns to Zeus which are relatively 'neutral' in regards to Zeus' epithets, so one of those can be recited. If you think this theory holds water, you could quote from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter about the part of Zeus brokering the deal to release Persephone. I would love to hear feedback on this theory and to hear yours. In the mean time, I wish you a pleasant sacrifice.