Religion in Ancient Greece, Questions and Answers
Question: Does Religion need Myth
Answer: Every person has to live with their own personal experience, much
of which cannot be scientifically verified. In addition, the course of events
cannot be predicted with certainty, and yet decisions about the future must
be made. In this muddle of reality, one person’s truth is another one’s myth.
Religion deals with these personal experiences in a personal way that is
helpful for many. But the truth of what happens is not easy to say. Nor is
the view clear from any angle. But it is not correct to call the descriptions
myth. Nor is it correct to say that myth is necessarily fiction. It is
possible for a person to describe personal experiences; the best we can
do is to take them at face value in their relvance to our own experience.
The question that you ask suggests that religion might be founded in
intentional fiction. But the truth is that many believe the stories that are
incorporated into religion. They need them to deal with personal experience.
Myth and religion are related. When you realize how they are related, then
you realize the futility of your question. Myths are religious truths that
are no longer believed. But religion needs truths.
Question: what ws the main religion of the greeks?
Answer: For the ancient Greeks religion was not separate from culture or
reality. They found the god and goddesses in their experience and adjusted
their lives to the demands of the deities. All public and private events
involved the deities because their favor was sought. The ancient Greeks
felt that if they were moral and just that the deities would reward them.
Question: what role did women have in classical greek religion?
Answer: Normally female goddesses required female priestesses and because
Athena was a female, women were especially important in the religious activity
in Athens. The priestesses had high status and a lot of influence in their
society. They also were less restricted in their activity than other women.
Many women also participated in the festivities relating to Athena.
Answer: There were no Monasteries in ancient Greece. On the web Greece is
Ellada. Go to the following site and enter monasteries as the search term:
Question: Was there heaven or hell in Ancient Greece?
Answer: Most dead souls went to the same place of the dead which seemed to
be underground in Hades. Heaven was where the deities dwelled and some
mortals were elevated to this status due to extrordinary service to the
deities. Souls could also be punished in the afterlife. Tartarus was a
region below Hades where even gods could be confined and ineffective. The
ancient Greeks believed that most of their rewards for good behavior would
be provided by the gods while they were alive. If they were bad they were
punished by the furies while they were alive. They could also receive
rewards and punishment in the afterlife. But they all went to Hades when
they died. Their they lived a shadowy existence unless they were revived by
blood. Then they could speak and interact with the living. Achilles thought
it was better to be a lowly slave than to be a Prince among the dead in Hades.
Question: what was the delphic oracle
Answer: The ancient Greeks believed that the deities knew both the past
and the future. A priest or priestess of a diety could communicate with the
deity and if the deity was plesed would reveal some aspect of the future.
This information could then be communicated by the priest or priestess to a
supplicant. The priest or priestess who did this communication was referred
to as an oracle. The most famous oracle of the Greek world was a
priestess, called Pythia, at the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi. Only one
priestess at a time assumed the role of Pythia. When the Pythia was
consulted she would respond with words that seemed incomprehensible. The
priests would have to interpret the meaning to the supplicant.
Question: What.were.any”firsts”in.religion.in.ancient.greece? ()
Answer: The ancient greeks were the first to worship deities in the form
of human beings. It is important to consider the lengths to which they took this. In drama they went from impersonating deities with humans to protraying them in their interactions with humans. In art Dedalus was the first to split the legs of a statue representation of a deity. Later the art portarayed the deity moving in space.
Question: What were the religious obligations of a Greek man or woman?
Answer: These seemed considerable. Religion provided rituals and good modes
of behavior. Religious festivals were frequent. Processions,
sacrifice of animals, pouring of libations were very common. But one of the
unusual characteristics of Greek religion was that religious practice was
Question: I’m interested in the priestess of the delphi oracle. How did they get selected to
become priestess, and how was the selection Pythia decided?
Answer: “In ancient times virgins delivered the oracles because virgins,
having their natural innocence intact were supposed to guard the secrecy of
the oracles. But in historical times, as sexual violence was offered against
a prophetess, the Delphians appointed an elderly woman to prophesy.” More
information about the oracle can be found at:
Answer: Study of new-found Greek works during the Renaissance promoted
the questioning of Catholic dogma and humanistic thinking.
Question: how did greeks worship their gods
Answer: They tried to please them so they could ask for favors.
Question: what would a ceromony to aphrodite in a temple be like?
Answer: There are several possibilities. First is an image on a ring
from the Minoan culture dated to 1500 BCE. The small image in the sky may
be Aphrodite coming down in response to the dancing of the priestesses:
What follows is the description of a ceremony for Apollo from the Iliad,
Book I: “They then got out upon the sea-shore and landed
the hecatomb for Apollo; Chryseis also left the ship, and Ulysses
led her to the altar to deliver her into the hands of her father.
“Chryses,” said he, “King Agamemnon has sent me to bring you back your
child, and to offer sacrifice to Apollo on behalf of the Danaans, that
we may propitiate the god, who has now brought sorrow upon the
So saying he gave the girl over to her father, who received her
gladly, and they ranged the holy hecatomb all orderly round the
altar of the god. They washed their hands and took up the
barley-meal to sprinkle over the victims, while Chryses lifted up
his hands and prayed aloud on their behalf. “Hear me,” he cried, “O
god of the silver bow, that protectest Chryse and holy Cilla, and
rulest Tenedos with thy might. Even as thou didst hear me aforetime
when I prayed, and didst press hardly upon the Achaeans, so hear me
yet again, and stay this fearful pestilence from the Danaans.”
Thus did he pray, and Apollo heard his prayer. When they had done
praying and sprinkling the barley-meal, they drew back the heads of
the victims and killed and flayed them. They cut out the
thigh-bones, wrapped them round in two layers of fat, set some
pieces of raw meat on the top of them, and then Chryses laid them on
the wood fire and poured wine over them, while the young men stood
near him with five-pronged spits in their hands. When the
thigh-bones were burned and they had tasted the inward meats, they cut
the rest up small, put the pieces upon the spits, roasted them till
they were done, and drew them off: then, when they had finished
their work and the feast was ready, they ate it, and every man had his
full share, so that all were satisfied. As soon as they had had enough
to eat and drink, pages filled the mixing-bowl with wine and water and
handed it round, after giving every man his drink-offering.
Thus all day long the young men worshipped the god with song,
hymning him and chaunting the joyous paean, and the god took
pleasure in their voices; but when the sun went down, and it came on
dark, they laid themselves down to sleep by the stern cables of the
ship, and when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared they
again set sail for the host of the Achaeans.’
This ceremony would work for Aphrodite too, especially the part about
the presenting of the girl. But Aphrodite would not be involved with
a pestilence. She would be involved with some other disaster. And the
priestess of Aphrodite would be a woman. This ceremony is mainly men, while
a ceremony with aphrodite would be mainly women.
In book VI of the Iliad, Homer describes a service for Athena:
“When they reached the temple of Athena, lovely Theano, daughter
of Cisseus and wife of Antenor, opened the doors, for the Trojans
had made her priestess of Athena. The women lifted up their hands
to the goddess with a loud cry, and Theano took the robe to lay it
upon the knees of Athena, praying the while to the daughter of
great Jove. “Holy Athena,” she cried, “protectress of our city,
mighty goddess, break the spear of Diomed and lay him low before the
Scaean gates. Do this, and we will sacrifice twelve heifers that
have never yet known the goad, in your temple, if you will have pity
upon the town, with the wives and little ones If the Trojans.” Thus
she prayed, but Pallas Athena granted not her prayer.” This servce
would work for Aphrodite with little modification.
Question: what is religions role in antigone
Answer: Antigone’s actions are guided by her religion.
Question: what was the religious views of the people in Antigone’s time,
the fact that burial was so important to the greeks for the person to have
peace, would this have influenced what descion a person in that time would
have made, in either burying the body or following the commands of the
leader. How would this have affected the descion of a woman in the same
situation as Antigone. If you could please point me to other sources where
I could find this information it would be appreciated. I am trying to find
info on a paper that I am writting for my english class.
Answer: First you need to realize when Antigone’s time was. She lived in
the period just before the Trojan War about 1250 BCE. This was not the time
of Classical Greece of about 800 years later when the play was written.
This was a time when superstition was quite strong and science was not yet
a dream of the future. What we know is that the source of the art and
literature that was produced in classical Greece were poems that were retold
by the bards over this 800 year period. We have copies of some of these
poems, but not nearly all of them. What we can do is look at some of the
older ones of these to verify ideas of burial. Fortunately this is a
subject that comes up repeatedly in the Iliad and the Odyssey so we can
review the situation there.
In the Odyssey (Book X) is this tale: “Yet
even thence I led not my company safe away. There was one,
Elpenor, the youngest of us all, not very valiant in war
neither steadfast in mind. He was lying apart from the rest
of my men on the housetop of Circe’s sacred dwelling, very
fain of the cool air, as one heavy with wine. Now when he
heard the noise of the voices and of the feet of my fellows
as they moved to and fro, he leaped up of a sudden and
minded him not to descend again by the way of the tall
ladder, but fell right down from the roof, and his neck was
broken from the bones of the spine, and his spirit went
down to the house of Hades.”
When Odysseus went to Hades ”
‘And first came the soul of Elpenor, my companion, that had
not yet been buried beneath the wide-wayed earth; for we
left the corpse behind us in the hall of Circe, unwept and
unburied, seeing that another task was instant on us. At
the sight of him I wept and had compassion on him, and
uttering my voice spake to him winged words: “Elpenor, how
hast thou come beneath the darkness and the shadow? Thou
hast come fleeter on foot than I in my black ship.”
‘So spake I, and with a moan he answered me, saying: “Son
of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many devices,
an evil doom of some god was my bane and wine out of
measure. When I laid me down on the house-top of Circe I
minded me not to descend again by the way of the tall
ladder, but fell right down from the roof, and my neck was
broken off from the bones of the spine, and my spirit went
down to the house of Hades. And now I pray thee in the name
of those whom we left, who are no more with us, thy wife,
and thy sire who cherished thee when as yet thou wert a
little one, and Telemachus, whom thou didst leave in thy
halls alone; forasmuch as I know that on thy way hence from
out the dwelling of Hades, thou wilt stay thy well-wrought
ship at the isle Aeaean, even then, my lord, I charge thee
to think on me. Leave me not unwept and unburied as thou
goest hence, nor turn thy back upon me, lest haply I bring
on thee the anger of the gods. Nay, burn me there with mine
armour, all that is mine, and pile me a barrow on the shore
of the grey sea, the grave of a luckless man, that even men
unborn may hear my story. Fulfil me this and plant upon the
barrow mine oar, wherewith I rowed in the days of my life,
while yet I was among my fellows.”
‘Even so he spake, and I answered him saying: “All this,
luckless man, will I perform for thee and do.”
‘Even so we twain were sitting holding sad discourse, I on
the one side, stretching forth my sword over the blood,
while on the other side the ghost of my friend told all his
tale.’ (Book XI)
In those days only a crazy person would ignore such a command from the
gods. It is interesting to note that in the Odyssey the body must be burned
while in Antigone the body must be buried.
Question: what was the role of greek priestesses?
Answer: See the information about Theano above.
Question: what roles did women have in religion?
Answer: The goddesses had women priestesses who did everything. Some
priestesses also served gods.
Question: what worship took place at the parthenon?
Answer: The worship of Athena.
Question: how has ancient greek religion influnced modorn times
Answer: Ancient religion has influenced modern times:
- The learned people who developed early Christianity were trained in Greek
schools and learned Greek concepts. They incorporated much of this material
into the early dogma and literature of the church. This influence is found
to some extent in the New Testament, but more in the writings of the Church
- Much of the Greek religion was simply translated into the new religion.
Greek Deities became angels, Temples became churches, Festivals were renamed,
- Some people refused to give up the old religion and it is now incorporated
into Wicca, and other Neo-Pagan religions.
- Greek literature is still actively studied. Those who study it are still
affected and bring old ideas into current work.
- The Greek religion was largely responsible for the art and architecture
that the Greeks produced. This art is still admired and copied.
Question: why were gods important to the greeks?
Answer: The Greeks thought the gods caused many things to happen around them
and they thought that their behavior toward the gods made their life easier
Question: what where the religious obligations of ancient greek people
Answer: Participation in religious activities was very important because
The Greeks beleived that for an individual to be successful, the deities must
be pleased with his or her behavior. Difficulties were though to result from
the displeasure of the deities. Many rituals were spelled out for religious
observance, and then seers and prophets could be consulted for additional
activities. Many activities during the day were ritualized in this way. But
it is important to note that the activities of Greek religion were optional
and not obligatory.
Question: What is the Labyrinth with that half bull-half man in the center?
Answer: The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur suggests that it is a maze
with a child-devouring monster in the center. But Homer thinks it is a
dance floor. The archeology of Arthur Evans suggests the Minotaur may be a
bull symbol of the Minoan religion and the children leaped over the bull on
the dance floor. The devouring of the children may have occurred when they
were accidentaly gored during their dance.
Question: What were the most known myths?
Answer: The best known myths were the ones contained in the Iliad and
Question: How were priests or priestesses chosen?
Answer: In the ancient Minoan society, priests or priestesses were chosen
based on an experience that they had with a deity. This experience would be described as an epiphany. Generally sex matched
the sex of the deity. Some priesthoods were often hereditary. Some cults required
youths. On mainland Greece election, lottery, and appointment were largely
used. On the eastern Greek islands and in Asia Minor priesthoods could be
Question: what is the religion
Answer: The Greeks had no name for their religion. This is because they
did not separate religion from reality. They felt the gods and goddesses as
they experienced them, were part of reality. Christians came to call the
religion of the Greeks Paganism, but the religion that they so labeled was
the religion of ignorant farmers who would not convert to Christianity. The
religion of the Greeks was the religion of intelligent people who lived
in Greece for thousands of years before the religion of Christianity.
Question: were the goddesses from ancient greece derrived
from earlier religions?
Answer: Yes they were. For example Aphrodite came from Astarte of Phoenicia.
Question: What was the worship?
Answer: Worship consisted of rituals and ceremonies. Some were private and
done in the home. Hestia, the goddess of the hearth was worshipped in the
home with prayers and libations related to the hearth. On holidays worship
ways performed in a temple dedicated to one or more gods and goddesses to whom
the holiday was dedicated. A procession might be performed where an image
or sculpture was carried about the town. The procession might end at the altar
in the temple where a libation might be poured on the alter. Gifts might
be presented to the deity, and an animal sacrifice might be performed. The
blood of the animal might be used for another libation. The
body of the animal would then be cut up and a feast served from the roasted
meat of the animal. Another libation might involve the basting of the meat
with wine and oil. Prayers and dedications might be said at various times
during this service. Similar ceremonies might occur for weddings and funerals.
The use of oaths, potions, charms, signs, wands, and magic in general involved
observance of the religion.
Question: What were the religions in Acient Greece
Answer: There was only one religion in ancient Greece and this site is
about that religion. It had no name and the ancient Greeks did not separate
religion from other aspects of their lives. Some refer to the religion as
paganism but this is quite incorrect. What is known as paganism was a residue
of the ancient Greek religion that persisted after the majority of the Greek
people had converted to Christianity.
Question: Did they have a lot of Gods in ancient Greece?
Answer: They had thousands of goddesses. There seemed to be fewer gods,
but there were plenty of those too.
Question: how did religion influence greek art?
Answer: The best art was produced for religious use. Most Greek art was
for religious use. The Greeks had little use for private art. Most art
was conceived to be pleasing to the gods.
Question: Did people worship the Furies? And if so, how?
Answer: Pausanius, Description of Greece, 1.28.1 states: “Hard by is a
sanctuary of the goddesses which the Athenians call the August, but Hesiod in
the Theogony calls them Erinyes (Furies). It was Aeschylus who first
represented them with snakes in their hair. But on the images neither of these
nor of any of the under-world deities is there anything terrible. There are
images of Pluto, Hermes, and Earth, by which sacrifice those who have received
an acquittal on the Hill of Ares; sacrifices are also offered on other
occasions by both citizens and aliens.”
Question: Did the acient greeks base their religion around
the four elements, earth air fire and water, and if so what
were the symbols they used to represent these elements?
Answer: Hesiod, in the Theogony, says: “(ll. 116-138)
Verily at the first Chaos came to be, but next
wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundations of all (4) the
deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus, and dim
Tartarus in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth, and Eros (Love),
fairest among the deathless gods, who unnerves the limbs and
overcomes the mind and wise counsels of all gods and all men
within them. From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but
of Night were born Aether (5) and Day, whom she conceived and
bare from union in love with Erebus. And Earth first bare starry
Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be
an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods. And she brought
forth long Hills, graceful haunts of the goddess-Nymphs who dwell
amongst the glens of the hills. She bare also the fruitless deep
with his raging swell, Pontus, without sweet union of love. But
afterwards she lay with Heaven and bare deep-swirling Oceanus,
Coeus and Crius and Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis
and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys. After
them was born Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her
children, and he hated his lusty sire.”
The concept of an element does not seem to play a part here. What are
listed are immortal beings related by sex as a method of generation. Clearly
the ancient Greeks viewed natural processes interms of the processes they were
involved with. Immortal beings were a natural part of these processes. Later
Greeks went beyond anthropomorphic mechanisms because they found other
simpler processes that explained better. But it was a matter of understanding
the nature of things, not a matter of belief in one religion or another.
If anything the early Greeks believed in a multiplicity of elements each
relating to a separate god or goddess. Earth was Gaia, air was Zeus, fire
was Hephaestus, and water was Poseidon. The other deities corresponded to
Question: do you have any info on the religious teachings
and followings of ancient greece
Answer: Yes I do. The literature of ancient Greece is full of this
material, for example in the Odyssey Homer, Book XVIII, says: “Man is the
vainest of all creatures that have their being upon earth. As long as
heaven vouchsafes him health and strength, he thinks that he
shall come to no harm hereafter, and even when the blessed gods
bring sorrow upon him, he bears it as he needs must, and makes
the best of it; for God almighty gives men their daily minds day
by day. I know all about it, for I was a rich man once, and did
much wrong in the stubbornness of my pride, and in the
confidence that my father and my brothers would support me;
therefore let a man fear God in all things always, and take the
good that heaven may see fit to send him without vain glory.”
Question: Who was Pandora
Answer: The first woman according to the Greeks. Click on the menu
directory and click on Pandora. Or click here
Question: why do the Greeks have gods and godesses?
Answer: They thought their stories about gods and goddesses were true and
verified by what they saw around them. Many of their prayers to the deities
were answered and what the soothsayers said turned out to be true..
Question: What did oracles do in Ancient Greece, and what were their lives like?
Answer: Oracles were people who communicated directly with the dieties.
They were usually priests or priestesses and lived a comfortable life as an
Question: who did they worship in ancient greece?
Answer: The ancient Greeks worshipped a pantheon of over 3000 gods and
goddesses. The main deities included Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Athena, Hera,
Apollo, Hermes, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Ares, Hephaestus.
Question: What kind of regious beliefs did Anceint Greeks have?
Answer: The ancient Greeks had a religion which was polytheistic and
personal. They did not have a rigid set of beliefs but rather had the
idea that they needed to discover the truths about a world where the divine
and the real were closely interwined. They believed a system of education was
required to inform them of the truths that had been discovered in the past.
They continued there education by participating in the recital of poems,
dramas, reading ofi etters and books, and attending lectures, to inform
them of what had been found out. They believed the deities had an ideal
form and nature which they could change at will. They also believed that
the deities could visit them in the form of animals or friends. Good resulted
from the kindness of deities while evil was the result of angering a deity
or deities arguing with each other. Some deities were imbued with human-like
emotions which could trouble mortals. Deities were capable of sexual
relations with humans with the result that a deity or superior human would
On the personal level deities could be pleased and communicated with.
Libations, prayers and sacrifices were useful. Each deity was in control of
a realm and it was important to attend to the deity whose realm was of
interest. The major deities needed special holidays and festivals while
the minor ones might receive daily attention. All deities had the capability
to forsee the future, but they could only communicate what they knew in
cryptic form. Special priests were required to interpret these communications
which took the form of flights of birds, garbled speach, and other omens.
Question: What were the religious obligations of a Greek man and woman in 1200 BC?
Answer: The works of Homer and Hesiod only hint at the obligations of
500 years earlier. Much had happened in the intervening time. It seems likely
that most if not everything at that time was a religious obligation. One of
the revolutions of ancient Greece involves the removal of many rituals and
taboos from daily life. By the classical period there were no religious
Question: Where woman allowed in the Acropolis? Why or Why not?
Answer: Yes. Women were needed to attend to the goddesses.
Question: About how long did the religion of the ancient Greeks last?
Answer: The religion of Classical Greece was formed about 1000 BCE
and lasted until about 125 AD. It did incorporate some much older elements
from perhaps as far as 25,000 BCE. Many aspects of the religion
persist in the current religions of Muslim, Christian, and Jew.
Question: what were the mystery cults and did it have anything to do with
Answer: A mystery cult was a cult that maintained serets revealed only to
initiates. Usually the mystery related to some aspect of immortality.
Mystery cults involved initiation rites, purification, sacred symbols,
sacred rites, and a promise of a happy afterlife. Worship of the mystery
religions required the participation of the individual while the traditional
Greek religion required no participation. The cult of Isis and Serapis was
from Egypt and was practiced in Greece. In general mystery cults appealed to the lower classes of people and the aristocrats shunned them.
Question: What is the role of a priest in Ancient Greece?
Answer: A priest or priestess was an assistant to a divinity. The
divinity regarded the priest or priestess as a friend who received favors
while humans regarded the priest or priestess as a favored person who could
obtain help from the divine. Often this help regarded a forcast of the
future which the priest or priestess would always receive in garbled form,
as an omen or an augery. The priest or priestess would have to interpret
the message for the human. They would also knew procedures that were
pleasing to the divine so a human could petition for a healing or other
miracle. The priests and priestesses usually had a high status in the
community to such an extent that they were able to override governmental
Question: what did the Greeks think of death?
Answer: You can read an entire book on the subject: Vermeule, Emily,
Aspects of Death in Early Greek Art and Pottery,
University of California Press, Berkeley, 1979, ISBN 0-520-04404-5.
In the Odyssey souls of the dead were lead to the halls of Hades by Cellenian
Hermes with his golden wand. There the souls lost many of their powers
but still could communicate with one another. The dead had rights which include
proper burial including cleaning them of clotted blood, laying them out, and
singing them a dirge. In the heroic era the bodies were burned and the bones
buried. Persephone received all the souls to Hades and there decided if they
are to be punished.
Question: could you name religios obligations of Greek men and women?
Answer: They did not really have any. The fact is that they really did not
have a religion. They thought the divinities were a part of reality and
what they had were ways of interacting with the divinities so their reality
was changed. But they were not required to perform certain rituals. They
performed the rituals that were required by their circumstances. The big
problem for some was that they had received certained certain favors from the
divine. They felt that they were required to remember the source or they would
incur the wrath of the divine.
Question: who is the god of motion
Answer: Hermes, the god of roads and boundaries, is usually given this
Question: what kinds of religious ceremonies took place at the parthenon
Answer: Processions, initiations, purifications, libations, prayers, and
Question: In homer’s Odyssey, how does Odysseus and Athena’s relationhip represent greek religion?
Answer: Odysseus believes in Athena and acts accordingly. Athena responds
favorably to this belief.
Question: Did Hera and Zeus know they were brother and sister.
Answer: Their mother Rhea told them.
Answer: Strictly, there is no ancient Greek religion because there was no
body of required beliefs or behaviors. The Eleusinian Mysteries were an
important cult for some of the people for over 1000 years.
Question: what was the religion of the hellenic age
Answer: The Hellenistic period was a time of religious and cultural mixing.
Alexander the Great carried the Greek religion wherever he went, but he did not
impose it on the conquered peoples. But he carried with him Greek scholars
who studied the local religions as he moved. He also stimulated scholarship
among the locals and many of the local religions were codified during this
Question: mythical stories in the context with desire
Answer: Aphrodite is the goddess of desire. The story of the judgement of Paris is all about desire.
Question: is there a saint named sophia
Answer: The ancient Greeks had no saints. They also did not have a goddess
named Sophia. ‘Sophia’ means ‘wisdom’ but the goddess of wisdom was Athena.
An early religion related to Christianity worshipped a female savior named
Sophia. Sophia did become a saint. Gnostic Christianity and the Myth of Sophia
Question: what did the people of Antigone’s time believe was the religious right. Can you expaned a little more why they thought it was so imortant to bury people.
Answer: This issue is not as simple as it might seem. The ancient Greeks
were not motivated by faith in their religious beliefs. If they were the
Iliad and the Odyssey would tell them to cremate the dead rather than to
bury them in the ground as they did later.
In the Odyssey Homer (Book XI) gives the reason in the tongue of Elpenor, “Do not leave me unmourned and unburied; do not desert me, or I may draw God’s vengeance upon you! Burn me with all my arms, and pile up a barrow on the shore of the grey sea, that in day to come men may hear the story of an unhappy man;…”
In the Odyssey Homer (Book XXIV)further states, “Our Friends do not know yet; they have not come to wash the blood from the wounds and lay out the bodies for mourning, which is an honor due unto the dead.”
Clearly the burial process is spiritual which places it in the realm of the divine. This may be because the soul has been released from the body into the realm of the divine as the mother of Odysseus points out in Book XI: “…but this is what happens to mortals when one of us dies. As soon as the spirit leaves the white bones, the sinews no longer hold flesh and bones together–the blazing fire consumes them all, but the soul flits away fluttering like a dream.”
Burial may be an attempt to put the soul to rest so that it no longer bothers the living. The Erinyes may exemplify the type of vengeance that burial will alleviate.
In fact burial is a public health and sanitation issue. But the ancient Greeks had no idea about germs and the way they cause disease. But it is entirely possible that cultures that buried there dead thrived. They may have looked to the causes of this fact and only found an explantion in the behavior of the deities. They took natural laws to be caused by the gods and so approached burial as a responsibility to the divine. Sophocles wrote the play Antigone, in part to educate his audience to this fact.
Question: what was the role of Greek religion in the Iliad
Answer: Religion provided an explanation of why things happened the way they
did and a way to endure these things.
Answer: Isis was an Egyptian goddess.
Question: Did the Ancient Greeks pray every day?
Answer: Ancient Greeks were not required to pray at all. The only ones who
prayed were those with needs, and they prayed to satisfy these needs.
Question: What do they believe about life after death
Answer: Most souls proceed to Hades where they live as shades. They just
flit around. Some evil souls are punished by Persephone. Favored heroes went
to Elysium for a life of endless pleasure. There was some notions about
happiness after death developed later.
Question: is the position of the corpse in inhumation relevant?
Answer: The position of a corpse must be carefully documented in any
Question: social structure
Answer: Minoan culture was a theocracy with most events prescribed by a
religious protocol. Culture was centered on palaces with most activity within
the bounds of the palace. Processions and festivals were common. Each
palace contained a priestess queen and her king consort. The economy was based
on international trade which the Minoans controlled with their beaked ships.
Mycenaean culture was more decentralized with the King consort administering
the governemnt. The economy was agricultural and not focused on the palaces.
The Queen determined inheritance but her role focused away from government to
weaving and breadmaking. Religion was respected but was more on an as needed
Duing the Classical period women became a possession of their husbands and
inheritance was determined by the man. Religious festivities provided a
break in the work cycle and were not dogmatic. Preists and priestesses
continued to be higlly respected. Governments were more democratic and less
Question: whose helmet made him invisible
Answer: Hades loaned his helmet of invisibility to Perseus to help him
retrieve the head of Medusa.
Question: What role did Isis Preists have in Greece, or Rome?
Answer: Priests of Isis influenced the worship of Aphrodite. Rome is out
of my area.
Answer: The Greek divinities were unusual in that their power was limited
rather than infinite. Fate was one of the limitations. But one of the divine
characteristics was knowledge of fate. Divinities knew what was fated so they
could sometimes work around it even though they could not alter it.
Question: Why did man invent gods and godesses?
Answer: The Greeks did not invent gods and goddesses, nor are their writings
about them works of fiction. The ancient Greeks needed the gods and goddesses
because they were very interested in establishing causes and they needed
the gods and goddesses as causes of many perceived events. But they were not
satisfied with the deities as causes and they continued to look for causes
that would improve their understanding. Aristotle was so confident of his
ability to establish causes that he needed only one deity, the prime mover.
The writings of the Greeks must be considered as reports of the nature of
the world as each author saw it. From our point of view it looks like some
of the stories are made up because the stories are so fabulous. But the
stories in our news media are fabulous in the same respect and they are
believed. Often you have to look past a story to see what might have caused
it to be told that way. Only then do you have some sense of the truth.
Question: My teacher is requiring that we have timeline that relates to ancient greece and when goddesses were born and the time period that they were worshipped. Do you have any timelines?
Answer: The relevant timeline is:
- 7000-3300 BCE — Neolithic and Copper Age
- 3300-1050 BCE — Bronze Age
- 1050-750 BCE — Dark Age
- 750-479 BCE — Archaic Age
- 479-336 BCE — Classical Age
- 336-30 BCE — Hellenistic Age
The gods and goddesses are eternal and were born before recorded time.
What was modified through time was the way the Greeks worhipped their gods
and goddesses. The Greek Pantheon as we know it was fixed about 750 BCE when
the myths were written down. The Greek myths as we know them were stories
of heroes from a few generations before the Trojan war or about 1250 BCE to
Although its exact origins are lost in time, Greek religion is thought to date from about the period of the Aryan invasions of the 2d millennium B.C. Those invaders encountered two other peoples who had existed in the region of Greece from Neolithic times: the Aegeans (Pelasgians) and the Minoans of Crete. The Aryans fused with the Aegean and Minoan cultures to create what is now considered Greek culture. The result, known as the Minoan-Mycenean civilization, flourished in the period from 1600 B.C. to 1400 B.C. Previous to the invasions, the Helladic communities had been widely separated geographically, but the attacking foreigners swept everything along in their path, including various beliefs that were prevalent in the outlying districts. At first the result was a confused conglomeration, but gradually a certain systematization of the gods began to take place. The marriage of Zeus, a sky god of the conquerors, and Hera, a fertility goddess of the conquered, symbolized the attempt at fusion, although the constant conflict between the divine pair, as seen in the Iliad, indicates the tensions of the match. The classical Greek pantheon was peopled with gods from all the cultures involved: Zeus the sky father, Demeter the earth mother, and Hestia, the virgin goddess of the hearth, were borrowed from the Indo-European invaders; Rhea was an indigenous Minoan goddess; Athena was Mycenean; Hera and Hermes were Aegean; Apollo was Ionian; Aphrodite came from Cyprus and Dionysus and Ares from Thrace.
Question: Ive be interested it learning about the triple goddess for sometime now, is there any information you could send me.
Answer:Which triple goddess?
- Athena was the virgin form of the triple Gorgon Mother of Fate: Neith; Metis
or Medusa; Anath or Ath-enna.
- Originally, the Triple Goddess was represented by Kore, the virgin; Demeter,
the mother preserver; and Hecate or Persephone, the destroyer
- As Diana, she was “Queen of Heaven” and was worshipped as a triple Goddess
(Lunar Virgin, Mother of Creatures, and Huntress)
- Ananke – Necessity. Neo-Platonic Pythagorean Goddess Who governed the world according to Karmic Law. Aspect of the Triple Goddess with Dike and Heimarmene.
- Hebe – Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess, Hebe.Hera.Hecate
- Persephone – Queen of the Underworld. Destroyer Goddess. Crone of the Triple
Goddess with Kore and Demeter.
- Hera, Aphrodite, Athena
- Artemis, Selene, Hecate
A really good explanation of the tripling of goddesses is the makeup ofIndo-European society:
“The Indo-Europeans were a migrating patriarchal, pastoral culture which may be traced to the great steppe regions stretching from Poland to Central Asia. Their patrilinear society was organized around a tripartite social and theological hierarchy. This marauding three-leveled culture would prove to be exceedingly important to the development of astrological symbolism and interpretation.
The three classes of Indo-European society were: priests at the top of the social ladder, followed by warriors, with herders at the bottom. Each class had its own specific ruling sky gods, with goddesses for the most part conspicuously absent from the pantheon.
The domestication of the horse was one of the great achievements of the Indo-Europeans. This enabled them to conquer many agricultural, matriarchal, goddess-worshiping societies, including those on the Peloponnesus during the second millennium B.C.E.
The Indo-Europeans both politically dominated and became absorbed into these cultures. The defeated goddess-worshiping peoples, who were frequently darker in complexion, were forced to assimilate as the subservient fourth class in this three-leveled system. They subsequently became the subordinate peasant class, considered racially and spiritually inferior by the tall, fair-haired, blue-eyed Indo-European aristocracy.
(http://www.aplaceinspace.net/Pages/SJordanRepressionofFeminine.html, “The Repression of the Feminine in Astrology”, By Shelley Jordan, M.A.
Question: What was spartas and athens’ belief about the afterlife?
Answer:This is a difficult question because beliefs vary from time to time and place to place. One good source is the Odyssey when Odysseus visits Hades. What he finds are shades that can only be brought to life with blood. Otherwise they sort of just float. Achilles admits that he would rather be a peasant slave than dead. But there are also stories about Persephone who give punishment to the evil and rewards to the good. Finally there is the matter of Elysium. Ellysium is the abode of the blessed. Achilles, in spite of his cruelty and because of his heroism is supposed to be there. With him is a beautiful woman, usually Helen but also possibly Polyxena, Breisis, or Iphigenia. Aristotle seems to argue for the mortality of the soul but St. Thomas Aquinus was sainted for pointing out the untruth of this and that all of Aristotle could be accepted as Christian as Aristotle was really talking about something else. If you read Aristotle you will realize what a great miracle this really was. But this was important because it validated the ancient Greeks as a source of Christian theology.
In truth the Christian notion of the afterlife is strongly based on that of the Greeks. Though it seems that Christian heaven is quite different from Greek heaven (The greek dead souls were under the ground in Hades, and the Christian souls are above the sky in heaven) there is actually a lot of similarity. Take the case of the angels. The greeks had many gods and goddesses and no angels. When the Christians took over a Greek temple they would expropriate any of the statues of goddesses and make them angels. Many of the goddesses already had wings but they could also be added. If you look at the angels in the curio shops of today you realise that often what you are looking at is a goddess with wings. The lyres, dolphins, doves, and flowers pictured with the angels are actually attributes of goddesses. The flowing robes that they wear are actually chitons and peploses that the ancient goddeses would have worn during the classical period. Many gods and goddeses became saints. In Aritotelean Astronomy the deities moved the celestial sphere. The Christians had Angels move the Celestial sphere.
Question: What were some of the signs and omens used by the Gods and Goddesses when communicating with the people of Ancient Greece?
- The seasonal arrival of birds
- The flight of birds.
- The entrals of birds
- Letters of the Greek alphabet (used to cast horoscopes as cards, tarot cards, and celtic runes are used)
- Persons who are seen to act like a deity (usually a friend)
- An epiphany. This is an extremely strong omen. It is not hard to recognize an epiphany because when the deity appears he/she looks exactly like a deity you expect to see. This would be true for each individual so different individuals can see different images and still recognize the deity. This is because deities are shape changers.
- Actually The deities are perfectly free to speak directly to a mortal as long as they do not impart so much infomation that the mortal can act like a deity. Omens and such are attempts by mortals to obtain communication from the deities even if the deities have no desire or intent to communicate.
Question: How religious were the ancient Greeks?
I ask this question because IMO the Greek gods, unlike say, the Hebrew God
or the Moslem God, are so clearly the product of the human imagination. In
other words, the ancient Greeks must have known that man created the gods
and not the other way around. This is obvious because unlike most
divinities, the Greek gods have lots of flaws and are not the least bit
omnipotent. They are vain, short tempered, spiteful, jealous, and even
stupid on occasion. So my question is, did the Greeks really believe
these beings existed? I think not. There must have been an oral
tradition that could trace the various myths back to the original
human authors. Also, Mount Olympus is not that high. Someone could have
easily climbed the mountain and found it vacant at the top.
And if the Greeks really did believe in their gods, then wasnr’t it
blasphemy or sacrilege to depict the gods in such a poor light as in the
various myths? I recall one scene from the early chapters of the Iliad in
which Zeus is worried that Hera will find out about his doing something
naughty and he’ll have to endure her wrath. No almighty God in a
monotheistic religion would even care whether his actions upset some female. Only a human male has ever had to put up with an angry wife.
And yet you never read about any Greeks getting burned at the stake for
being a witch or for writing something unflattering about their gods. In
fact I get the impression the Greeks were very tolerant when it came to
religion. But if the Greeks weren’t all that religious, why go to the
trouble to build expensive stone temples? Why fool around with oracles?
Did anyone really believe the oracles?
So in short, just how religious were the Greeks?
Answer: The situation was different for the Greeks, and lucky for us
this was true. The Greeks were very spiritual. But they went to the gods
because they thought they had to. They thought the gods actually caused
things. What they wanted was to control their environment and because they
thought the gods were instrumental in that control they went to them. But
their spirituality caused them to look for causes. And what they found was
that the gods did not cause as much as originally thought. This ultimately
lead to the Science that we know today.
One aspect of the Greek religion was their emphasis on law. This is related
to the understanding of causes in that laws can describe causes. The lack
of omnipotence in the deities of ancient Greece is related to the notion that even the gods
are subject to law. Of course one could say that Zeus, the most powerful
God, has his way in this matter, but it is Themis who personifies law, and
it is Athena who personifies the knowledge of law. Much can be made of the
fact that these powerful goddesses are both women. Also important is the
fact that Themis is a Titan from the old divine system. Finally one can ask
why Zeus has made the world this way, and of course the teleological answer
is that this is done so that man can understand the world in his meagre way
and so survive.
The Greeks did punish those that failed to believe, and this is what happened
to Socrates. But it was not that common. Religion, for the Greeks was not
a belief system as is the case with most contemporary religions. When you
had a particular problem you went to the deity who controlled that problem.
You did not have to bother with the other deities at that time. When you
focused on that deity you became aware of the realm of that deity and what
the rules were that the deity had promulgated. It is possible that in your
understanding of those rules was your solution.
Similar to the emphasis on law was their emphasis on perfection. The divine
world was one where laws produced a state of perfection not easily known on
earth. The divinities were perfectly beautiful and perfect in their
behavior. This is akin the ultimate good of Aristotle. Because of this
perfection many of the deities were remote from everyday life. The myths
reference the major dozen deities, for example. But the deities of everyday
life were different and more accessible. Hestia was needed everyday to
allow the home fire to start. And Demeter was needed for the crops. But
what the emphasis on perfection did was to remove many deities from
importance to everyday man. They became art objects that could be studied
in the marketplace.
The Greeks believed that their deities were eternal and so they must still
exist. It is actually easier to prove their existence than the Christian
God. After all there is love, wisdom, etc. so Aphrodite and Athena must exist if only as a personification of these qualities. And as far a Aphrodite is concerned Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsey Lohan are nothing but her priestesses. And her image, the Venus de Milo, is perhaps the most popular sculpture in the world today. Is it not possible to say the popular attachment to this image is nothing but worship?
Oracles are an interesting case. Laws suggest determinism. You find that
determinism in the myth of Oedipus. What Oedipus does is to think he is like
god and can know the future. But his belief that he knows the future leads
to his downfall. The truth is that much of the world is determined by law.
The truth is that we are free to choose only in some limited situations.
But we must make those choices carefully. So, though the belief in oracles
was strong, wise men like Euripides saw though the deception the oracle
provides as far as seing the future. A better use of the oracle is not to
see the future but to find out the will of the divinities and act
according to their laws.
Let us now turn your question around. Just how religious are we today?
Do you think the killing that is going on in Iraq suggests that either
Christians or Muslims are religious? How could a just and loving God allow
this and other natural disasters to happen? The ancient Greeks were very
intense in their lives and accomplished a great deal and their religion
supported them in this. We have much to thank the ancient Greek religion
for. The Romans recognized that when the Greek worship of their deities ended so did theri great art. The religion of the ancient Greeks must have been powerful indeed.
Question: Did any of the ancient Greeks try to climb Mount Olympus to
visit the gods? If not, do you know who the first person to climb the
mountain was? I have not been able to find this information on the
Answer: The Minoans had peak sanctuaries but I have not heard of anything
like that with the Greeks. Actually climbing mountains was something that
seemed to be avoided. Of course it was dangerous and you could be struck
by lightning during a storm. The ancients were very afraid of this because
they thought it was the wrath of Zeus. You do not find references to
mountain climbing until the Renaissance. This is something Leonard da
Comment: I suspect that ignorance is bliss is another reason the
Greeks did not climb Mount Olympus . Anyone who did, and came back
reporting they found only rocks at the top, might suffer the same fate as
Socrates or that woman in Sudan who named a teddy bear Muhammad.
Answer: Not really. The Greeks were aware of the artistic nature of
their deities and they reveled in it. Notice that the works of Homer and
Greek Dramas are not about the gods per se. These works reference the
deities but they are about human interaction. What they do is investigate
moral behavior in a very intense way. Such mythical facts as the Palace of
Zeus on Olympus are not really relevant. Aristotle does not seem to worry
about such difficulties. For the most part he ignores myth. What he does
attend to are are the moral, political, and artistic details. The force of
Greek myth was found in Liberal Arts and Science. It was not found in
religion. Yet the Greek religion had its effects on later religions. At
first Augustine derided the triple goddess of Greek religion. But he
changed his tune when the trinity was established. The Greeks had priestess
for goddesses and priests for gods. When the Christians decided on their
priesthood they made priests male only because the Trinity is male only.
In their art Greeks showed goddesses with wings to show that
they could fly. The Christians denyed goddesses and substituted angels.
But when they sacked Greek temple they saved the statues of the goddesses
and made them angels. Now when you buy an angel statue, even from China,
they wear Greek costumes, carry lyres, and play with doves. These are all
attributes of goddesses.
Today a passion for the Liberal Arts is called Secular Humanism. This is
close to being Greek religion from the classical period. The Greeks were
not into belief. They wanted to know the causes of things. Christians are
into belief to such an extent that some ignore real causes.