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The Greek compound word hecatotombe, from hecaton, meaning one hundred, and bous, ox. and therefore strictly speaking a reference to the sacrifice of one hundred oxen. But the allusion to a sacrifice, formerly of one hundred bulls, and in later expressions referring probably only to an indefinitely large number of victims, is also capable of being applied and was frequently so employed, to mean any great sacrifice. In this latter sense should the word be understood by Freemasons. Pythagoras was a vegetarian who taught that killing was wicked and to him the sacrifice of a hecatomb could have meant no loss of animal life in the offering (see Forty-seventh Problem).

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