Ode 209 is a poem that describes in detail cultural practices of a group. The group offers sacrifices to their ancestral spirits after a massive harvest. The people believe in making sacrifices for their ancestors to receive a reward.
The primary function of such gatherings was to perform rituals and sacrifices for their ancestral spirits. The people had just made a good harvest of wine-millet and cooking-millet as the poet states, “our granaries are all full, for our stacks were in their millions” (“Ode” stanza 1, line 7-8). Their prayer-offering was made so that the people may have peace and blessings. Additionally, the gatherings involved feasting and eating together as the poet affirms, “…sees to the dishes, so many, needed for guests, for strangers” (“Ode” stanza 3, line 4-5).
The role that the people might have played in defining and maintaining the social order is working together in cooperation to ensure that the rituals and sacrifices were made in line with their cultural beliefs and customs. Their togetherness is vivid as they carry out the ceremony together, taking part in performing different duties in preparation for the ritual. Consequently, the ritual is not only for sacrifices but also to feast and celebrate as the poet indicates “…Attend to the foods-stands so tall, the musicians go in and play” (“Ode” stanza 3, line 1-2).
The difference between this feast and a dinner today hosted by a boss or a mayor is that the feast described in the poem is mainly meant to thank their ancestors for good harvests. Moreover, it involves making sacrifices. Conversely, parties held by mayors and bosses today include thanking God through prayer and praises.
Evidently, this poem brings out the culture and customs of people in the old days. They believed in thanking ancestral spirits for good harvests. The people came together, prepared sacrifices, danced, and feasted, which was a sign of cooperation.