The gods acted like humans and had human vices. They would interact with
humans, sometimes even spawning children with them. At times certain gods would
be opposed to others, and they would try to outdo each other. In the Iliad,
Aphrodite, Ares and Apollo support the Trojan side in the Trojan War, while
Hera, Athena and Poseidon support the Greeks (see theomachy).
Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Pindar’s
Odes are included as sacred texts as are other works of classical antiquity,
although there were no texts canonized or universally declared as sacred by the
ancient Greeks. These are the core texts that were considered inspired and
usually include an invocation to the Muses for inspiration at the beginning of
the work. Such texts, however, were not considered inspired in the sense that
they had to be believed by everyone. Plato even wanted to exclude the myths
from his ideal state described in the Republic because of their low moral tone.
One ceremony was pharmakos, a ritual involving expelling a symbolic scapegoat
such as a slave or an animal, from a city or village in a time of hardship. It
was hoped that by casting out the ritual scapegoat, the hardship would go with
In the period in Greece between Homer and about 450 bc the language of
relationships between god and god, mortal and god, and lower-status mortal with
higher-status mortal was the same. The deities remained a super-aristocracy.
There was a scale of power and excellence on which the position of every mortal
and every deity could be plotted. Both god and mortal were likely to resent any
attempt of an inferior to move higher on the scale. It constituted hybris
(â€œoverweening pride,â€ or hubris) for a Greek hÄ”rÅs to claim that he would
have a safe voyage whether or not the gods were willing; it was likewise hubris
for Electra to presume to criticize the behaviour of her mother, Clytemnestra.
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The temple itself, though, was not used during religious practices as these
were carried out at a designated altar outside the temple. Ancient authors
often show a reluctance to go into explicit details of religious ceremonies and
rites as if these were too sacred to be publicised in the written word. What we
do know is that the most common religious practices were sacrifice and the
pouring of libations, all to the accompaniment of prayers in honour of the god.
The animals sacrificed were usually pigs, sheep, goats or cows and always the
same sex as the god which was being honoured. The meat was then either burnt
completely or cooked, with part offered to the god and the rest eaten by some
or all of the worshippers or taken away to be eaten later. The actual killing
of the animal was carried out by a butcher or cook (megeiras) whilst a young
girl sprinkled seeds onto the animals head, perhaps symbolic of life and
regeneration at the moment of the animalâ€™s death. Other such rituals included
examining the entrails of sacrificed animals to ascertain signs which could
help predict future events.
Religious tourism is not a new idea, something thought up recently. It is the
oldest, the most important form of â€œtourismâ€ in the history of Mankind.
Every society has produced members whose quest was to commune with the divine.
Religious travel has its roots in the pilgrimages of a bygone age. Since
antiquity the desire to embark on a journey for religious purposes has inspired
Greeks and non-Greeks to make their way to religious sites throughout Greece. From
the earliest times it has been a custom of the Greek people to express their
religious sentiments, their deep faith and their reverence for God, a key
characteristic of the Orthodox faith for 2000 years.
The Greeks, to show the gods how important they were, built temples in every
town for one god or goddess. The temples were not like modern places of
worship, for ordinary people to pray in. They were homes for statues of gods,
which were cared for by priests. Religious ceremonies and festivals went on
outside the temple.
The ancient Greeks worshiped their gods every day. They believed in a great
many gods! The ancient Greeks built many, many temples. They believed each
temple they built should honor only one god, no matter how big or elaborate the
temple. Some cities built more than one temple to honor the same god. Women
could be priests. Priests were assisted by attendants. People would bring
offerings, usually food, to the temples when they prayed. This food was
collected, sometimes stored, and eaten by the priests and the attendants in
honor of the gods. Sacred sites were located all over the place. Sites held a
simple alter at which the ancient Greeks could pray. Some sacred sites became
so popular, for whatever reason, that a temple was built on the site. The
Greeks also prayed at home in their courtyards. It was not unusual to pray at
home, stop at a sacred site, and visit a temple, all in the same day. The
Greeks held festivals to honor their gods. First a festival, then a parade to a
temple, then a sacrifice – an animal of the same sex as the god being
worshiped, and then a feast. They held sporting events, like the ancient Greek
Olympics, to honor their gods. In ancient Greece, honoring the gods was part of
daily life and part of just about everything they did. The Greeks did not
believe their gods lived in the temples or at the sacred sites. But they did
believed the gods visited these places, and had magical powers that could hear
their prayers. The Greeks also believed they could ask for help and advice
through an oracle. An oracle was a wise woman with the ability to see the
future. Apollo’s Oracle (The Trouble With Oracles).
When we think about Greek mythology, we often assume that these are simply
â€œjust stories.â€ Maybe to us they are stories, but to the Ancient Greeks,
this was actually their religion. Many of the things that we know of today,
such as the Parthenon in Athens, the Archaeological site in Delphi, and even
the Ancient Olympic Games all have their roots in the religion of the Ancient
Greeks. Hereâ€™s more information about this:.
The religion of Ancient Greece was classified as polytheistic, which means that
they believed in multiple deities. In fact, the gods and goddesses that we know
as the Olympian Gods were something that many religious experts accept as being
at the core of their belief system. Although there were multiple gods and
goddesses that existed in Ancient Greece, these twelve represented the core of
what most in Ancient Greece believed in. There are other gods and goddesses,
however, that may also have been worshipped locally. The Twelve Olympian Gods
and Goddesses include Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis,
Ares, Aphrodite, Haphaestus, Hermes, Hestia, and Dionysius.
Worship of these gods and goddesses was part of their every day life. For
example, most households had an alter dedicated to Hestia, the goddess of the
hearth. Worship of Hestia was an almost daily ritual, as families would reserve
a portion of their evening meal to this goddess. The temples that we know of
today, such as the Parthenon that is located in Athens and the Temple of
Poseidon that is located on Cape Sounion near Athens, were dedicated to gods
and goddesses. The Parthenon was dedicated to Athena and the Tempe of Poseidon
was dedicated to Poseidon. There are many such places located throughout Greece
and people would come from all over to worship the gods at these places. The
Ancient Olympia Games were also a pivotal part of the religion of Ancient
Greece, as the games were dedicated to the king of the Gods, Zeus.
There are many ways that the Ancient Greeks would practice their religion. This
included activities such as telling the stories, making sure the stories were
preserved and written down, as is the case with Hesiodâ€™s Theogeny, performing
rituals, and even making sacrifices. For example, when families reserved a
portion of their evening meal for Hestia, this was considered a type of
sacrifice. Some examples of sacrifices were more extreme than others. Overall,
the Ancient Greeks used their religion to help explain the world around them.
Stories such as Hesiodâ€™s Theogeny, for example, served to explain how the
Olympian gods themselves came to be.
Many of the Ancient Greek mythos and legends have been preserved for us to
enjoy today. However, it is important to remember that although they are simply
entertaining stories to us, they were serious tales to the Ancient Greeks since
they actually made up the core of their religious beliefs. Knowing this can
give us insights into the culture of the people of that time.
The most lavish funerary monuments were erected in the sixth century B.C. by
aristocratic families of Attica in private burial grounds along the roadside on
the family estate or near Athens. Relief sculpture, statues (32.11.1), and tall
stelai crowned by capitals (11.185a-c,f,g), and finials marked many of these
graves. Each funerary monument had an inscribed base with an epitaph, often in
verse that memorialized the dead. A relief depicting a generalized image of the
deceased sometimes evoked aspects of the personâ€™s life, with the addition of
a servant, possessions, dog, etc. On early reliefs, it is easy to identify the
dead person; however, during the fourth century B.C., more and more family members
were added to the scenes and often many names were inscribed (11.100.2), making
it difficult to distinguish the deceased from the mourners. Like all ancient
marble sculpture, funerary statues and grave stelai were brightly painted, and
extensive remains of red, black, blue, and green pigment can still be seen
People prayed to these gods for the same reasons we pray today: for health and
safety, for prosperity, for a good harvest, for safety at sea. Mostly they
prayed as communities, and through offerings and sacrifice they sought to
please the inscrutable deities who they believed controlled their lives.
Personal, privately-held belief unimportant or trivial; public, ritual
performance mattered. While some practitioners of specific mystery cults may
have looked to their religion as a way to attain the Afterlife, entrance to
Paradise or Hell did not depend on one’s religiosity.
This article examines how this material culture worked to bring gods and
mortals into contact. It does so by tackling three major issues: first, it
discusses how a wide range of artifacts, monumental and modest, shaped
sanctuary space and guided and recorded the worshipperâ€™s interaction with the
divine; second, it looks at images of gods themselves and how these affected
epiphany, while maintaining a critical gap and insisting on their strangeness;
and third, it uses art to rethink the relationship of religion and myth.
Although there are some continuities between cultures, the rise of Hellenistic
and Roman ruler cults created a new subcategory of gods, creating additional
representational challenges. Out of this came Christ, who was god incarnate. We
briefly explore how early Christian artists used the problems of
anthropomorphism to their spiritual advantage.
During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th
century, Greece saw monarchies and ousting of royalty, fierce political fights,
assassinations, and dictatorships, wars that added neighboring territories and
new population, but also brought economic devastation and poverty. After the
defeat of Germany and the end of World War II, Greece joined NATO in 1952 and
experienced a bitter civil war between communist and anticommunist forces.
In 1967, a group of military officers seized power, establishing a military
dictatorship that suspended many political liberties and forced the king to
flee the country. In 1974, democratic elections and a referendum created a
parliamentary republic and abolished the monarchy. In August 1974 Greek forces withdrew
from the integrated military structure of NATO in protest against the Turkish
occupation of northern Cyprus. Greece rejoined NATO in 1980. In 1981, Greece
joined the EC (now the EU) and became the 12th member of the Eurozone in 2001.
It successfully hosted the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Even the Greek Constitution guarantees freedom of faith, but defines the
“prevailing religion” of Greece as the Eastern Orthodox Church of
Christ. Most Greeks, whether deeply religious or not, revere and respect the
Orthodox Christian faith, attend church, observe major religious holiday and
are emotionally attached to Orthodox Christianity as their “national”
The conjugal family includes the husband and wife and their children. The
extended family includes the conjugal family as well as ascendants of the
husband and/or wife. Interestingly, the National Statistical Service of Greece
considers all people who live under the same roof to be members of the family,
regardless of whether they are related.
Greece is also famous for its alcoholic drinks. Liquor includes ouzo and
tsipouro with ouzo being the most famous Greek alcoholic beverage, considered
the trade mark of the country. It is mixed with ice or with a bit of water and
is ideal to drink with all kinds of mezedes. Tsipouro is similar to ouzo but
with a stronger taste of anis. In different parts of Greece people make their
own home made tsipouro, also called raki, depending of the region.
After the ceremony, the bridal couple stays in the church and all the guests
kiss them and wish them â€œna ziseteâ€ (Long Life to You). Then everybody goes
to the wedding reception, which is usually a restaurant rented for the night,
where people dance, eat and drink all night long.
The god Poseidon, a brother of Zeus, not only looked after the seas; he was
also in charge of earthquakes and horses. Quarrelsome, surly, petulant and
greedy were some of the adjectives used to describe him and he was reputed to
hold a grudge for a long time. His symbol was the trident or fish spear which
could cause earthquakes or create springs when struck on the ground.
Apollo was the god of music, of health, healing and human enlightenment. His
twin sister Artemis was the goddess of hunting and, oddly enough,guardian of
Theory and Method in the Study of Religion Edited by Aaron W. Hughes
(University of Rochester) This volume reflects on current debates in the
acdemic study of religion by reprinting select articles form the Brill journal
Method and Theory in the Study of Religions, currently in its 25th volume, and
asking a group of younger scholars to comment on them.
A 1936 law requires houses of worship to get a permit, which Sharkawi says the
government wonâ€™t hand out. At least not to Muslims. So this mosque is one of
dozens in Athens alone, operating illegally.
The most important oracle was that of Apollo at Delphi. Hither came envoys of
nations as well as individuals, and none went away without some answer to their
questions. After preliminary sacrifices, the priestess purified herself and
mounted the tripod in the temple; the question was propounded to her by a
temple official, and it was his function also to put her wild ravings into
hexameter verse for the person consulting the oracle. A considerable number of
these answers remain to us, all, of course, somewhat vague, many of them
containing shrewd advice on the question that was brought to the oracle. The
honor paid to the oracle and its influence, on the whole an influence making
for high ethical standards and wise statesmanship, must be recognized. The
early Christian Fathers held that the Pythian priestess was inspired by an evil
spirit; later critics have treated the whole institution as a clever device to
deceive the people; but in view of the respect paid to the oracle through so
many generations, it is hard to believe that its officials were not honest in
their effort to discover and make known the will of the god they served.
Gods of the natural world Peter Jones, co-founder Friends of Classics: “Ancient
religion embraces every feature of the natural world. The original deities are
earth and sky. Sky comes down to earth and copulates and produces all the known
features of the world, and also all the gods. So the gods are not external to
the world – they are made by the world, they are internal to the world. There
are gods of woods, there are gods of rivers, and there are gods of trees. You
never know when you might stumble across a god. All gods were in play, no gods
were banned. Greek myths are just stories about the gods, they are not sacred
texts in any way – there was no such thing as a Greek bible. When Christianity
came in it claimed it was unique – that there was one God, and all the other
gods were false gods, and therefore had to be banished”.
In comparison to most other European countries, religion is quite important in
Greece. It is tied to every aspect of the culture, and the percentage of
self-identified religious people is among the highest in Europe. The official
religion in Greece is Eastern Orthodoxy, known also as Greek Orthodoxy.
Reference to Greek Orthodox religion on Greek ID cards was mandatory until
If you are driving around Greece, the number of churches that seem to be
everywhere will surprise you. Wherever you are, chances are that if you look
around you will be able to see at least one church. Given our long and varied
history, many of those churches are over 500 years old, not to mention the
Ancient Greek temples that exist in several parts of Greece. The church of Agia
Fotini near Tripoli, uniquely combines several elements in one church!.
The longest periods of fasting are the weeks before Easter, before Christmas
and before the Dormition of Virgin Mary on 15th August. Also, Wednesdays and
Fridays are days of fasting. A few foods like olive oil and wine have their own
special place in the fasting regime, so they are not allowed on all fasting
Although attending church on Sundays is not extremely important in big cities
in Greece, it is quite common in rural areas and smaller towns. In many areas,
the church is not only a place to worship God, but also a place to meet
like-minded people and to socialise.
The evil eye is a common idea around the Mediterranean, and not only. It is a
curse, believed to be given to a person by someone looking at them. Although
the evil eye tradition is arguable of a pagan nature, the Orthodox church
accepts it nevertheless.
Little is known about the earliest inhabitants of Greece. They were all but
destroyed during the Bronze Age, circa 1900 BC, when a large wave of Mycenaean
tribes migrated into Greece from the Balkans. The new inhabitants were largely
dominated by the Minoan civilization of Crete for some 500 years until
approximately 1400 BC, when the Mycenaeans threw off Minoan control. Homer’s
Iliad and Odyssey date from the Mycenaean period. Although altered by time,
they nonetheless provide at least a glimpse into Mycenaean warfare, politics,
religion, and daily life.
There were four dominant Greek city-states â€” Corinth, Thebes, Sparta and
Athens. Of those four, Sparta and Athens were the most powerful. Eventually the
battle for supremacy between the two would shake the Greek world to its
In 490 BC the Persian fleet landed a huge force (somewhere between 20,000 and
100,000 soldiers) in Attica. They were met by a much smaller force of perhaps
9,000 Athenians and 1,000 Plateans, who defeated the Persian army in detail.
This bought the Greeks some 10 years of peace.
The war continued for decades. The Spartan forces invaded Attica and besieged
Athens, and the city fell victim to a massive and deadly plague which killed
thousands, including the great leader Pericles. But Athens survived, and the
Spartans were driven back. The Athenian navy harassed the enemy coastlines and
overseas allies, draining the Peloponnesian League’s larders and treasuries.
Neither side was able to gain an advantage, and in 421 they signed another
Upon news of Philip’s death, the southern Greek city-states attempted to
revolt, but Alexander moved south at the head of 3000 Macedonian cavalry, and
the terrified city-states quickly surrendered. He then headed north into the
Balkans, where, in a lightning campaign he defeated several armies much larger
than his force.
Eastern Orthodox is the dominant religion constituting 92% of the Greece
population. The Religion had its origins from the schism that occurred between
the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople. Their disagreement was on
issues related to the celibacy of the priests, Holy Communion, and the wording
of the Creed. The control of the Pope of the Eastern Patriarchs was also part
of the dispute. The division left the Eastern Church outside the control of the
Pope. It is the dominant religion that is officially recognized in the
The Apostolic Church of Pentecost is the largest congregation with hundreds of
churches.Other religions in Greece include Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism
among others. The Greece government is continuously allowing for religious
pluralism through the enactment of laws aimed at enabling their operation. For
example, in 2006, it passed a law that allows for cremation which is a
religious practice done by the Hindus. The law was lauded by the Indian
community that is mainly found in Athens. Jehovahâ€™s Witness, Seventh Day
Adventists, Mormons, and Scientologists are the other small religious groups in
the country. Some of them number just a few hundreds.