"There is evidence that the victims were supposed to be willing. Not only were mothers forbidden to wail, but ancient traditions on the meaning of 'sardonic smile' claim it derives from the 'smile' worn by those sacrificed by the Phoenician and Carthaginian colonisers of Sardinia. If the victims were prisoners of war or old men, then they tried to smile bravely, and if the victims were children, their grimaces of pain were interpreted as happy grins."More at the link re the etymology of "sycophant."
11 April 2009
The etymology of "sardonic"
The ancient Phoenicianians and Carthaginianians sacrificed children:
Labels: English language