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Encyclopedia > Ancient Greek religion
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Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs and rituals practiced in Ancient Greece in form of cult practices, thus the practical counterpart of Greek mythology. Within the Greek world, religious practice varied enough so that one might speak of Greek religions. The cult practices of the Hellenes extended beyond mainland Greece, to the islands and coasts of Ionia in Asia Minor, to Magna Graecia (Sicily and southern Italy), and to scattered Greek colonies in the Western Mediterranean, such as Massilia (Marseille). Greek examples tempered Etruscan cult and belief to inform much of the Roman religion. Greek mythology consists in part of a large collection of narratives that explain the origins of the world and detail the lives and adventures of a wide variety of gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines. ... The ancient Greeks proposed many different ideas about the primordial gods in their mythology. ... In Greek mythology, the Titans (Greek Τιτάν, plural Τιτάνες) were a race of powerful deities that ruled during the legendary Golden Age. ... The Statue of Zeus at Olympia Phidias created the 12-m (40-ft) tall statue of Zeus at Olympia about 435 BC. The statue was perhaps the most famous sculpture in Ancient Greece, imagined here in a 16th century engraving In Greek mythology, Zeus (in Greek: nominative: Ζεύς Zeús, genitive... The twelve gods of Olympus. ... Pan (Greek , genitive ) is the Greek god who watches over shepherds and their flocks. ... This article or section contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ... Lycian Apollo, early Imperial Roman copy of a fourth century Greek original (Louvre Museum) In Greek and Roman mythology, Apollo (Ancient Greek , Apóllōn; or Ἀπέλλων, Apellōn), the ideal of the kouros, was the archer-god of medicine and healing and also a bringer of death-dealing plague; as... Image:Dionysos panthære satyre. ... The ancient Greeks had a very small number of see gods. ... In mythology chthonic (from Greek χθονιος-pertaining to the earth; earthy) designates, or pertains to, gods or spirits of the underworld, especially in Greek mythology. ... Hercules, a Roman bronze (Louvre Museum) For other uses, see Heracles (disambiguation). ... The Wrath of Achilles, by François-Léon Benouville (1821–1859) (Musée Fabre) In Greek mythology, Achilles, also Akhilleus or Achilleus (Ancient Greek ) was a hero of the Trojan War, the central character and greatest warrior of Homers Iliad, which takes for its theme, not the War... The fall of Troy by Johann Georg Trautmann (1713–1769) From the collections of the granddukes of Baden, Karlsruhe The Trojan War was a war waged, according to legend, against the city of Troy in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), by the armies of the Achaeans, after Paris of Troy... Odysseus and the Sirens. ... Odysseus and Nausicaä - by Charles Gleyre The Odyssey (Greek: , Odusseia) is one of the two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to the poet Homer. ... Jason (Greek: Ιάσων, Etruscan: Easun) is a hero of Greek mythology who led the Argonauts in the search of the Golden Fleece. ... Jason returns with the golden Fleece on an Apulian red-figure calyx krater, ca. ... Perseus with the head of Medusa, by Antonio Canova, completed 1801 (Vatican Museums) Perseus, Perseos, or Perseas (Greek: Περσεύς, Περσέως, Περσέας), the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty there, was the first of the mythic heroes of Greek mythology whose exploits helped establish the hegemony of Zeus and the Twelve... In Greek mythology, the Gorgons (terrible or, according to some, loud-roaring) were vicious female monsters with sharp fangs and hair of living, venomous snakes. ... Oedipus with the Sphinx, from an Attic red-figure cylix from the Vatican Museum, ca. ... The Oath of the Seven Chiefs, an 1897 illustration from Stories from the Greek Tragedians by Alfred Church Seven Against Thebes is a play by Aeschylus concerning the battle between Eteocles and the army of Thebes and Polynices and his supporters, traditional Theban enemies. ... Theseus (Greek ) was a legendary king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, with whom Aethra lay in one night. ... Bull mask at the Greek pavilion at Expo 88 In Greek mythology, the Minotaur (Greek: Μινόταυρος, Minótauros) was a creature that was part man and part bull. ... Triptolemus (threefold warrior; also Buzyges), in Greek mythology always connected with Demeter of the Eleusinian Mysteries, might be accounted the son of King Celeus of Eleusis in Attica, or, according to Apollodorus (Library I.v. ... The Eleusinian Mysteries were annual initiation ceremonies for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. ... A mystery religion is any religion with an arcanum, or body of secret wisdom. ... Image from a Greek chalice depicting a satyr with a tail and erect penis, Euphronios, c. ... This article is on the mythological creatures. ... Dragons play a role in Greek mythology. ... The ancient Greek world circa 550 BC Ancient Greece is the period in Greek history which lasted for around one thousand years and ended with the rise of Christianity. ... In traditional usage, the cult of a religion, quite apart from its sacred writings (scriptures), its theology or myths, or the personal faith of its believers, is the totality of external religious practice and observance, the neglect of which is the definition of impiety. ... Greek mythology consists in part of a large collection of narratives that explain the origins of the world and detail the lives and adventures of a wide variety of gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines. ... Ionia (Greek Ιωνία; see also List of traditional Greek place names) was an ancient region of southwestern coastal Anatolia (now in Turkey) on the Aegean Sea. ... Magna Graecia around 280 b. ... Marseilles redirects here. ... The Etruscans were a race of unknown origin from North Italy who were eventually integrated into Rome. ... Religion in ancient Rome combined several different cult practices and embraced more than a single set of beliefs. ...


There is a scholarly belief that early Greek religion came from, or was strongly influenced by, shamanistic practices from the steppes of Central Asia to the Greek colony of Olbia in Scythia, on the northern shore of the Black Sea, then all the way down to Greece.1 A shaman doctor of Kyzyl. ... A steppe in Western Kazakhstan in early spring In physical geography, a steppe (Russian: - step, Ukrainian: - step, Kazakh: - dala), pronounced in English as step, is a plain without trees (apart from those near rivers and lakes); it is similar to a prairie, although a prairie is generally considered as being... Map of Central Asia showing three sets of possible boundaries for the region Central Asia located as a region of the world Central Asia is a vast landlocked region of Asia. ... Olbia, Ukraine is the site of Pontic Olbia in the Crimea, a colony founded from Miletus on the shores of the Bugh estuary, which lasted for a thousand years. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Map of the Black Sea. ...

Contents

Overview

It is perhaps misleading to speak of "Greek religion." In the first place, the Greeks did not have a term for "religion" in the sense of a dimension of existence distinct from all others, and grounded in the belief that the gods exercise authority over the fortunes of human beings and demand recognition as a condition for salvation. The Greeks spoke of their religious doings as "ta theia" (literally, "things having to do with the gods"), but this loose usage did not imply the existence of any authoritative set of "beliefs." Indeed, the Greeks did not have a word for "belief" in either of the two senses familiar to us. Since the existence of the gods was a given, it would have made no sense to ask whether someone "believed" that the gods existed. On the other hand, individuals could certainly show themselves to be more or less mindful of the gods, but the common term for that possibility was "nomizein", a word related to "nomos" ("custom," "customary distribution," "law"); to nomizein the gods was to acknowledge their rightful place in the scheme of things, and to act accordingly by giving them their due. Some bold individuals could nomizein the gods, but deny that they were due some of the customary observances. But these customary observances were so highly unsystematic that it is not easy to describe the ways in which they were normative for anyone.


First, there was no single truth about the gods. Although the different Greek peoples all recognized the 12 major gods (Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, Ares, Hephaestus, Athena, Hermes, Dionysos, and Demeter), in different locations these gods had such different histories with the local peoples as often to make them rather distinct gods or goddesses. Different cities worshipped different deities, sometimes with epithets that specified their local nature; Athens had Athena; Sparta, Artemis; Corinth was a center for the worship of Aphrodite; Delphi and Delos had Apollo; Olympia had Zeus, and so on down to the smaller cities and towns. Identity of names was not even a guarantee of a similar cultus; the Greeks themselves were well aware that the Artemis worshipped at Sparta, the virgin huntress, was a very different deity from the Artemis who was a many-breasted fertility goddess at Ephesus. When literary works such as the Iliad related conflicts among the gods because their followers were at war on earth, these conflicts were a celestial reflection of the earthly pattern of local deities. Though the worship of the major deities spread from one locality to another, and though most larger cities boasted temples to several major gods, the identification of different gods with different places remained strong to the end. Athens (Greek: Αθήνα, Athína IPA: ) is the capital and largest city of Greece and the birthplace of democracy. ... Helmeted Athena, of the Velletri type. ... Sparta (Doric: , Attic: ) is a city in southern Greece. ... The Artemis of Versailles, a Roman copy of the marble sculpture of Leochares, now at the Louvre Artemis (Greek: nominative , genitive ), in Greek mythology was daughter of Zeus and of Leto and the twin sister of Apollo. ... Corinth, or Korinth (Greek: Κόρινθος, Kórinthos; see also List of traditional Greek place names) is a Greek city-state, on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece. ... The Birth of Venus (detail) by Sandro Botticelli, 1485. ... The amphitheatre, seen from above. ... The island of Delos, Carl Anton Joseph Rottmann, 1847 The island of Delos (Greek: Δήλος, Dhilos), isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, had a position as a holy sanctuary for a millennium before Olympian Greek mythology made it the birthplace of... Lycian Apollo, early Imperial Roman copy of a fourth century Greek original (Louvre Museum) In Greek and Roman mythology, Apollo (Ancient Greek , Apóllōn; or Ἀπέλλων, Apellōn), the ideal of the kouros, was the archer-god of medicine and healing and also a bringer of death-dealing plague; as... Olympia (Greek: Ολυμπία Olympía or Ολύμπια Olýmpia, older transliterations, Olimpia, Olimbia), a city of ancient Greece in Elis, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, comparable in importance to the Pythian Games held in Delphi. ... The Statue of Zeus at Olympia Phidias created the 12-m (40-ft) tall statue of Zeus at Olympia about 435 BC. The statue was perhaps the most famous sculpture in Ancient Greece, imagined here in a 16th century engraving In Greek mythology, Zeus (in Greek: nominative: Ζεύς Zeús, genitive... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... Fertility rites are religious rituals that reenact, either actually or symbolically, sexual acts and/or reproductive processes. ... Ephesus (Greek: Έφεσος see also List of traditional Greek place names, Turkish: Efes) was one of the great cities of the Ionian Greeks in Asia Minor, located in Lydia where the Cayster river flows into the Aegean Sea (in modern day Turkey). ... The Iliad (Ancient Greek , Ilias) is, together with the Odyssey, one of two ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer, a supposedly blind Ionian poet. ...


Second, there was no single true way to live in dealing with the gods. "The things that have to do with the gods" had no fixed center, and responsibilities for these things had a variety of forms. Each individual city was responsible for its own temples and sacrifices, but it fell to the wealthy to sponsor the "leitourgeiai" (literally, "works for the people," from which our word "liturgy" comes)--the festivals, processions, choruses, dramas, and games held in honor of the gods. "Phratries" (members of a large hereditary group) oversaw observances that involved the entire group, but fathers were responsible for sacrifices in their own households, and women often had autonomous religious rites.


Third, individuals had a great deal of autonomy in dealing with the gods. After some particularly striking experience, they could bestow a new title upon a god, or declare some particular site as sacred (cf. Gen. 16:13-14, where Hagar does both). No authority accrued to the individual who did such a thing, and no obligation fell upon anyone else--only a new opportunity or possibility was added to the already vast and ill-defined repertoire for nomizeining the gods.


Finally, the lines between divinity and humanity were in some ways clearly defined, in other ways ambiguous. Setting aside the complicated genealogies in which gods sired children upon human women and goddesses bore the children of human lovers, after death historical individuals could receive cultic honors for their deeds during life--in other words, a hero cult. Indeed, even during life, victors at the Olympics, for instance, were considered to have acquired extraordinary power, and on the strength of their glory (kudos), would be chosen as generals in time of war. Itinerant healers and leaders of initiatory rites would sometimes be called into a city to deliver it from disasters, without such a measure implying any disbelief in the gods or exaltation of such "saviors." To put it differently, "sôteria" ("deliverance," "salvation") could come from divine or human hands and, in any event, the Greeks offered cultic honors to abstractions like Chance, Necessity, and Luck, divinities who stood in ambiguous relation to the personalized gods of the tradition. All in all, there was no "dogma" or "theology" in the Greek tradition, no heresy, hypocrisy, possibility of schism, or any other social phenomenon articulated according to the background orientation to a codified order of religious understanding. Such variety in Greek religion reflects the long, complicated history of the Greek-speaking peoples.


Greek religion spans a period from Minoan and Mycenean periods to the days of Hellenistic Greece and its ultimate conquest by the Roman Empire. Religious ideas continued to develop over this time; by the time of the earliest major monument of Greek literature, the Iliad attributed to Homer, a consensus had already developed about who the major Olympian gods were. Still, changes to the canon remained possible; the Iliad seems to have been unaware of Dionysus, a god whose worship apparently spread after it was written, and who became important enough to be named one of the twelve chief Olympian deities, ousting the ancient goddess of the hearth, Hestia. It has been written by scholars that Dionysus was a "foreign" deity, brought into Greece from outside local cults, external to Greece proper. 2 3 The Minoans were a pre-Hellenic Bronze Age civilization in Crete in the Aegean Sea, flourishing from approximately 2600 to 1450 BC when their culture was superseded by the Mycenaean culture, which drew upon the Minoans. ... The Mycenean Period covers the latter part of the Bronze Age on the Greek mainland. ... The term Hellenistic (established by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen) in the history of the ancient world is used to refer to the shift from a culture dominated by ethnic Greeks, however scattered geographically, to a culture dominated by Greek-speakers of whatever ethnicity, and from the political dominance... The Roman Empire was a phase of the ancient Roman civilization characterized by an autocratic form of government. ... The Iliad (Ancient Greek , Ilias) is, together with the Odyssey, one of two ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer, a supposedly blind Ionian poet. ... Homer (Greek Hómēros) was a legendary early Greek poet and rhapsode traditionally credited with the composition of the Iliad and the Odyssey, commonly assumed to have lived in the 8th century BC. However, exact placement of these dates is unsure. ... Image:Dionysos panthære satyre. ... The twelve gods of Olympus. ... In Greek mythology, virginal Hestia (ancient Greek ) is the goddess of the hearth, of the right ordering of domesticity and the family, who received the first offering at every sacrifice in the household. ...


Quoting Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, article on Zeus, "According to the Homeric account Zeus, like the other Olympian gods, dwelt on Mount Olympus in Thessaly, which was believed to penetrate with its lofty summit into heaven itself (77. i. 221, &c., 354, 609, xxi. 438). He is called the father of gods and men (i. 514, v. 33 ; comp. Aeschyl. Sept. 512), the most high and powerful among the im­mortals, whom all others obey (II. xix. 258, viii. 10, &c.)." 4 Sir William Smith (1813 - 1893), English lexicographer, was born at Enfield in 1813 of Nonconformist parents. ... Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology is a encyclopedia/biographical dictionary. ...


In addition to the local cults of major gods, various places like crossroads and sacred groves had their own tutelary spirits. There were often altars erected outside the precincts of the temples. Shrines like hermai were erected outside the temples as well. Heroes, in the original sense, were demigods or deified humans who were part of local legendary history; they too had local hero-cults, and often served as oracles for purposes of divination. What religion was, first and foremost, was traditional; the idea of novelty or innovation in worship was out of the question, almost by definition. Religion was the collection of local practices to honour the local gods. See Grove for other meanings (disambiguation) of the word grove. A grove is a small group of trees such as a sequoia grove. ... A tutelary spirit is a god, usually a minor god, who serves as the guardian or watcher over a particular site, person, or nation. ... Look up Altar in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In ancient Greece, before his role as protector of merchants and travelers, Hermes was a phallic god, associated with fertility, luck, roads and borders. ... From the Greek , in mythology and folklore, a hero (male) or heroine (female). ... A demigod, a half-god, is a modern distinction, often misapplied in Greek mythology. ... A legend (Latin, legenda, things to be read) is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude. ... Hero cult was one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion. ... An oracle is a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic opinion; an infallible authority, usually spiritual in nature. ... This article is about the religious practice of divination. ...


The scholar, Andrea Purvis, has written on the private cults in ancient Greece as a traceable point for many practices and worship of deities.


A major function of religion was the validation of the identity and culture of individual communities. The myths were regarded by many as history rather than allegory, and their embedded genealogies were used by groups to proclaim their divine right to the land they occupied, and by individual families to validate their exalted position in the social order.


Archaic and Classical period

Worship

The most widespread public act of worship in ancient Greece was sacrifice, whether of grain or the blood sacrifice of animals. In general, the Greeks distinguished open-air sacrifices of burnt offerings given to the Olympian gods from those given to chthonic (from chthôn "earth") or earth-bound gods (like Hades, Hekate, and so on). The Olympian sacrifices were categorized as therapeia, the "service" due to the Olympian gods. "This therapeia" Socrates urges, "must be of the nature of service or administration." (Plato, Euthyphron, 15), a proposition which he reduces, to the discomfort of his interlocutor, to a business transaction, do ut des ("I give that you may give") a kindly transaction quite free from fear. Here, as Jane Ellen Harrison observed (Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion pp 3ff) "there is no question of sin, repentence, sacrificial atonement, purification, no fear of judgement to come, no longing after a future complete beatitude." The other, darker, nocturnal, fearful and primitive aspect of Greek cult practice was informed by deisidaimonia, the "fear of spirits", or of the supernatural and weird, in its true sense. By the fourth century the deisidaimon had been reduced to the role of the "superstitious man" who is even later described by Plutarch (De Superstitio); but in the archaic period, and even in the fifth century, the more vital and immediate reality of Greek religion was in its apotropaic magic that turned away or averted (as in "averting the Evil Eye") the chthonic spirits, among whom were the heroes who must be propitiated. Worship usually refers to specific acts of religious praise, honour, or devotion, typically directed to a supernatural being such as a god or goddess. ... Marcus Aurelius and members of the Imperial family offer sacrifice in gratitude for success against Germanic tribes: contemporary bas-relief, Capitoline Museum, Rome Sacrifice (from a Middle English verb meaning to make sacred, from Old French, from Latin sacrificium : sacer, sacred; sacred + facere, to make) is commonly known as the... A sheep is led to the altar, 6th century BC Corinthian fresco. ... Jane Ellen Harrison (September 9, 1850–April 5, 1928) was a ground-breaking English classical scholar and feminist. ... John Phillip, The Evil Eye (1859), a self-portrait depicting the artist sketching a Spanish gypsy who thinks she is being given the evil eye The evil eye is a widely distributed element of folklore, in which it is believed that the envy elicited by the good luck of fortunate...


Isocrates makes the distinction plain: Isocrates (436–338 BC), Greek rhetorician. ...

"Those of the gods who are the source to us of good things have the title of Olympians, those whose department is that of calamities and punishments have harsher titles; to the first class both private persons and states erect altars and temples; the second is not worshipped either with prayers or burnt-sacrifices, but in their case we perform ceremonies of riddance" (Oration v.117, quoted in Harrison, Prolegomena p 8)

The ceremonies of riddance were known to the Greeks as apopompai, "sendings away", with a meaning akin to exorcism. The Twelve Olympians, in Greek mythology, were the principal gods of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. ... Saint Francis exorcised demons in Arezzo, fresco of Giotto Exorcism (from Late Latin exorcismus, from Greek exorkizein - to adjure) is the practice of evicting demons or other evil spiritual entities, which are supposed to have possessed (taken control of) a person or object. ...


Sacrifices served multiple functions: one sacrificed before important undertakings, to introduce a new-born child to the phratry or district, to introduce a young man on the verge of manhood into the society of those engaged in politics. The temples of the Greek religion generally were not public gathering places where people gathered socially for collective indoor prayer; most temples held little more than a cult image of the deity and the accumulated votive gifts, which might amount to a treasury. A few venerable archaic wooden aniconic idols survived even to the time of Pausanias. When we are told in mythology that "horses are sacred to Poseidon" or roosters to Hermes, what this meant first and foremost was that these animals were customarily offered as sacrifices to those gods. Most sacrificial victims were food animals; for these, the usual practice was to offer the god the blood, bones, and hide of the victim, while the worshippers kept and ate the rest. The Greeks began to build monumental temples in the first half of the eighth century BC. The temples of Hera at Samos and of Poseidon at Isthmia were among the first erected. ... In the practice of religion, a cult image is a man-made object that is venerated for the spirit or daemon that it embodies. ... Pausanias was a Greek traveller and geographer of the 2nd century A.D., who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. ... // The word mythology (Greek: μυθολογία, from μυθος mythos, a story or legend, and λογος logos, an account or speech) literally means the (oral) retelling of myths – stories that a particular culture believes to be true and that use supernatural events or characters to explain the nature of the universe and humanity. ... Neptune reigns in the city centre, Bristol, formerly the largest port in England outside London. ... Hermes bearing the infant Dionysus, by Praxiteles Hermes (Greek IPA: ), in Greek mythology, is the Olympian god of boundaries and of the travellers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of orators and wit, of literature and poets, of athletics, of weights and measures and invention and commerce in general...


Altars were not inside the temples but generally in front of them in the temenos or sacred fane. The altars often preceded the temple building and were set up upon the ashes of innumerable previous sacrifices since time immemorial. One of the difficulties in establishing a Greek colony was identifying the new place that would be grateful to the deity brought, as with live coals from the communal hearth, from home. Greek Temenos ([1], from the Greek verb to cut) (plural = temene) is a piece of land cut off and assigned as an official domain, especially to kings and chiefs, or a piece of land marked off from common uses and dedicated to a god, a sanctuary, holy grove or holy...


Glimpsed through the practice of animal sacrifice are the traces of an older practice, abandoned by the increasingly civilized Greeks - that of human sacrifice. Indications for this remain in the myths of heroes such as Tantalus and Pelops or Agamemnon and Iphigenia, and in comments that forbade such practices, ascribed to the teachings of Orpheus, himself a victim of the maenads (or bacchantes), ecstatic women followers of Dionysus, who tore their ritual victims limb from limb. In Greek mythology Tantalus (Greek Τάνταλος) was a son of Zeus and the nymph Plouto (riches), not to be confused with the god of the underworld. ... In Greek mythology, Pelops (Greek Πέλοψ) (from pelios: dark; and ops: face, eye) was a son of Tantalus and Dione. ... -1... 112 Iphigenia is an asteroid. ... The head of Orpheus, from an 1865 painting by Gustave Moreau. ... In Greek mythology, Maenads [MEE-nads] were female worshippers of Dionysus, the Greek god of mystery, wine and intoxication. ... In Greek mythology, Maenads [MEE-nads] were female worshippers of Dionysus, the Greek god of mystery, wine and intoxication. ... Image:Dionysos panthære satyre. ...


Votive gifts were offered to the gods by their worshippers. They were often given for benefits already conferred or in anticipation of future divine favors. Or they could be offered to propitiate the gods for crimes involving blood-guilt, impiety, or the breach of religious customs. They could be given either voluntarily or in response to demands by the cult's priesthood that the donor fulfill a religious vow or honor some religious custom.


Votive gifts were kept on display in the god's sanctuary for a set period of time and then were usually ritually discarded. Bronze tripods, prize cauldrons and figurines, terracotta tablets and figurines, lamps, and vases are typical examples. Armor, weapons, jewelry and other more personalized items were dedicated in large numbers, along with marble statuettes and reliefs. Some of the healing sanctuaries housed replicas of body parts donated in thanks for or in hope of cures. Large sculptural monuments in bronze, marble and other costly materials were routinely dedicated by either private donors or individual city-states in the great Panhellenic sanctuaries like Olympia and Delphi.


The Roman formula expressed the attitude of worshippers to their gods in the formula do ut des; "I give that you may give". Public worship was aimed at pleasing the gods so that the gods would send rain, good harvest, military victories, and other public blessings. Private sacrifice was offered for personal goals. Prayer was highly formulaic and ritualized. Most places did not have professional or full-time clergy; priests were local officials whose priesthoods were not full time jobs. Major religious sites such as the oracles of pilgrimage brought in enough spiritual tourism to need a full time clerical staff. Maria Magdalene in prayer. ... Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. ... An oracle is a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic opinion; an infallible authority, usually spiritual in nature. ... Pilgrim at Mecca A pilgrimage is a term primarily used in religion and spirituality of a long journey or search of great moral significance. ...


Theology

In the context of the Greek traditions, there was no theology in the sense of a rationalized exposition of the normative understanding of the gods. If one takes the term to refer to any explicit account of the gods in general, or of particular gods, then the Greek tradition abounded in theologies. In the Homeric epics, the dramatic action is often interrupted to tell the history of some god, or some story that accounts for some of the gods honors. The Homeric Hymns are poems devoted to one particular god, but the stories they relate do not pretend to be comprehensive or authoritative. Theology (Greek θεος, theos, God, + λογος, logos, word or reason) means reasoned discourse concerning religion, spirituality and God. ... Homer (Greek Hómēros) was a legendary early Greek poet and rhapsode traditionally credited with the composition of the Iliad and the Odyssey, commonly assumed to have lived in the 8th century BC. However, exact placement of these dates is unsure. ... The epic is a broadly defined genre of poetry, and one of the major forms of narrative literature. ... The anonymous Homeric Hymns are a collection of ancient Greek hymns. ...


In the works of the poet Hesiod, whose Theogony provides a creation myth focusing on deified abstractions like Night and Time, one can find an attempt to establish a more or less comprehensive account of how the gods originated, how they acquired their honors--but the long digression in honor of the goddess Hecate, who was by no means a major figure in the Greek religious imagination, shows that the poem could not have been meant to be authoritative in our sense. The decision as to which deities were considered major enough to number among the Twelve Olympians who were the chief gods of the pantheon was no doubt a political decision, at least in part. Because most of the gods were originally local, and inconsistent stories were told of them from one locality to another, the tradition of the ancient Greeks resisted systematization, at least at first. Socrates and other philosophers were accused of atheism by the populists of Athens when they pointed out the difficulties in accepting the received ideas about the gods as a whole. Yet Socrates' view of the gods was ultimately to triumph; as time went on, the traditional piety of the sacrificial rites tended to be dismissed as a sort of folklore, while those who were philosophically minded tended to believe in abstract, remote, and genteel gods who vaguely acted to uphold social norms and public virtues. Bust, traditionally thought to be Seneca, now identified by some as Hesiod. ... Wikisource has original text related to this article: Theogony Wikisource has original text related to this article: Theogony (in Greek) Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins of the gods of ancient Greek religion. ... Creation beliefs and stories describe how the universe, the Earth, life, and/or humanity came into being. ... A pantheon (Greek: παν, pan, all + θεός, theos, god), is a set of all the gods of a particular religion or mythology, such as the gods of Hinduism, Greek mythology, Norse mythology, and Egyptian mythology. ... Socrates (Greek: Σωκράτης, invariably anglicized as , Sǒcratēs; 470–399 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher who is widely credited for laying the foundation for Western philosophy. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... The 18th-century French author Baron dHolbach was one of the first self-described atheists; he did not believe in the existence of any deities. ... Populism is a political philosophy or rhetorical style that holds that the common persons interests are oppressed or hindered by the elite in society, and that the instruments of the state need to be grasped from this self-serving elite and used for the benefit and advancement of the... Folklore is the body of verbal expressive culture, including tales, legends, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs current among a particular population, comprising the oral tradition of that culture, subculture, or group. ...


The virtues fostered by Greek religion were chiefly respect for the gods, who were majestic (sebastos, σεβαστος) and sublime (semnos, σεμνος) Given the variety of rituals and traditions in the Greek religious state, the devotees of the gods in any one city had to exercise caution when they visited other cities. As mentioned above, foreigners could not freely participate in sacrifices, and indeed one myth relates what happens when a foreigner sacrifices a bull in violation of the tradition, putting the Athenians in great danger until the outsider is made a citizen, at which point he receivers the name Sopater (literally, "Saving Father"). In general, the main religious duties for the ordinary adult male was to conduct his life in a fashion that was dikaiôs and hosiôs--just and pure. But for all, it was important to avoid doing anything that would introduce miasma or pollution into one's personal life and into the household. For example, Orestes was pursued by the Furies for the murder of his mother Clytemnestra to avenge her murder of his father Agamemnon, even though Orestes slew him in what he considered to be his duty. Still, the sacred boundaries and laws must be upheld, and Orestes was unable to win free from the Furies until he was absolved by Athena and performed a quest imposed by Apollo. The dangers of pollution were quite impersonal. In Plato's Euthyphro, Socrates encounters a young man who is prosecuting his father for what we would call manslaughter--after one of the household slaves, in a drunken rage, had murdered another slave, the father bound the murderer up and threw him into a ditch, where he died of exposure while the family awaited word from the exegetes (interpreters of religious law) on how to proceed. Euthyphro's family think it outrageous that he should prosecute his father, and Socrates is himself surprised, but Euthyphro rather reasonably argues, in effect, that pollution is pollution, no matter who kills and who dies. In this he is simply following Greek tradition, although there were certainly other ways for him to purify the family--the pollution of a single individual endangers everyone in contact with that person--than to prosecute his father. The Remorse of Orestes by William-Adolphe Bouguereau For other uses, see Orestes (disambiguation). ... In Greek mythology the Erinyes (the Romans called them the Furies) were female personifications of vengeance. ... Clytemnestra (Greek: Κλυταιμνήστρα Klytaimnéstra, praiseworthy wooing) was the wife of Agamemnon, king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Mycenae or Argos. ... -1... This article is about the word, for other meanings see Quest (disambiguation) A quest is a journey towards a goal with great meaning and is used in mythology and literature as a plot device. ... Lycian Apollo, early Imperial Roman copy of a fourth century Greek original (Louvre Museum) In Greek and Roman mythology, Apollo (Ancient Greek , Apóllōn; or Ἀπέλλων, Apellōn), the ideal of the kouros, was the archer-god of medicine and healing and also a bringer of death-dealing plague; as...


During the archaic and classical periods, Greek peoples had rather strict procedures for introducing new gods into the traditions of worship, but after the death of Alexander the Great, who had spread the Greek language, and Greek social and political forms throughout the Mediterranean world, the breakdown in the autonomy of Greek cities, and the dissociation of all indigenous cults from local political realities, made it possible for syncretism, the "mixture" of traditions, to flourish. In the Hellenistic world, aspects of Persian, Anatolian, Egyptian (and eventually Etruscan-Roman) religious traditions gained different types of recognition beyond the confines of the peoples with whom they had originated, with Isis being particularly popular, as is indicated by the fact that a name like Isidore ("gift of Isis") established itself even in the Christian world. Alexander the Great (Greek: ),[1] Megas Alexandros; July 356 BC–June 11, 323 BC), also known as Alexander III, king of Macedon (336–323 BC), was one of, if not the most successful military commanders in history, conquering most of the world known before his death; he is regarded as... Syncretism is the attempt to reconcile disparate, even opposing, beliefs and to meld practices of various schools of thought. ... The term Hellenistic (derived from Héllēn, the Greeks traditional self-described ethnic name) was established by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen to refer to the spreading of Greek culture over the non-Greek peoples that were conquered by Alexander the Great. ... The Persians of Iran (officially named Persia by West until 1935 while still referred to as Persia by some) are an Iranian people who speak Persian (locally named Fârsi by native speakers) and often refer to themselves as ethnic Iranians as well. ... Anatolia lies east of the Bosphorus, between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Anatolia (or Anatolian Peninsula) is a region of Southwest Asia which corresponds today to the Asiatic portion of Turkey, as opposed to the European portion, the Thrace. ... Map showing the extent of the Etruscan civilization and the twelve Etruscan League cities. ... This is a list of topics related to ancient Rome that aims to include aspects of both the ancient Roman Republic and Roman Empire. ...


Very late in the history of classical religion, the Neo-Platonists, including the Roman emperor Julian, attempted to organize classical paganism into a systematic belief system, to which they gave the name of Hellênismos: the belief system of the Greeks. Julian also attempted to organize Greek and Hellenistic cults into a hierarchy resembling that which Christianity already possessed. Neither of these efforts succeeded in the limited time available; Greek religion had always been local, variable, and inconsistent. Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is a school of philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century A.D. Based on the teachings of Plato and the Platonists, it contained enough unique interpretations of Plato that some view Neoplatonism as substantively different from what Plato wrote and believed. ... The Roman Empire was a phase of the ancient Roman civilization characterized by an autocratic form of government. ... Flavius Claudius Iulianus, also known as Julian the Apostate, was the last Pagan Roman Emperor. ...


Julian's vision of a synthesis of Platonism and Hellenism was taken up in the 14th century by George Gemistos Plethon, a forerunner of the Renaissance. Georgius Gemistos ,or Plethon (or Pletho), (c. ...


Mystery religions

Those whose spiritual leanings were not satisfied by the public cult of the gods could turn to various mystery religions. Here, they could find religious consolations that the traditional cultus could not provide: a chance at mystical awakening, a systematic religious doctrine, a map to the afterlife, a communal worship, and a band of spiritual fellowship. Some of these mysteries, like the mysteries of Eleusis and Samothrace, were ancient and local. Others were spread from place to place, like the mysteries of Dionysus. During the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire, exotic mystery religions like those of Osiris and Mithras became widespread. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The afterlife (or life after death) is a generic term referring to a continuation of existence, typically spiritual and experiential, beyond this world, or after death. ... Eleusis (Game) The cardgame invented by Robert Abbott in 1962, and later popularized in 1977 by Martin Gardner in his Mathematical Games column in Scientific American magazine. ... Samothrace (in Greek: Σαμοθράκη, Samothraki, Turkish: Semadirek) is an island in Greece, in the northern Aegean Sea. ... Image:Dionysos panthære satyre. ... The term Hellenistic (established by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen) in the history of the ancient world is used to refer to the shift from a culture dominated by ethnic Greeks, however scattered geographically, to a culture dominated by Greek-speakers of whatever ethnicity, and from the political dominance... The Roman Empire was a phase of the ancient Roman civilization characterized by an autocratic form of government. ... For other uses, see Osiris (disambiguation). ... Mithras and the Bull: fresco from the mithraeum at Marino, Italy, (3rd century AD) Mithras was the central god of Mithraism, a syncretic Hellenistic mystery religion of male initiates that developed in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC and was practiced in the Roman Empire from...


Hellenism

Main article: Hellenistic religion

Hellenistic religion refers to any of the various systems of beliefs and practices of the eastern Mediterranean peoples who lived under the influence of ancient Greek culture from 300 BC to AD 300. ...

Christianization

Main article: Christianization.

In the late 4th century, the Imperial courts were predominantly Christian; Christianity tolerated relatively few internal quarrels; and a deep conviction that right belief, orthodoxy, was what mattered to God. The Christian emperors closed pagan oracles, temples and end the pagan games by degrees, in a series of increasingly stringent decrees. Finally, the public practice of the Greek religion was made illegal by the Emperor Theodosius I and this was enforced by his successors. The Greek religion, stigmatized as "paganism", the religion of country-folk (pagani) - other scholars suggest the force of paganus was "(mere) civilian" - survived only in rural areas and in forms that were submerged in Christianized rite and ritual, as Europe entered into the Dark Ages. St Francis Xavier converting the Paravas: a 19th-century image of the docile heathen Ansgar, the 9th century apostle of the North in an 1830 drawing. ... Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on Jesus of Nazareth, and on his life and teachings as presented in the New Testament. ... The word orthodoxy, from the Greek ortho (right, correct) and doxa (thought, teaching, glorification), is typically used to refer to the correct theological or doctrinal observance of religion, as determined by some overseeing body. ... An engraving depicting what Theodosius may have looked like, ca. ... Paganism (from Latin paganus, meaning a country dweller or civilian) is a blanket term which has come to connote a broad set of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices of natural or polytheistic religions, as opposed to the Abrahamic monotheistic religions. ... Petrarch, who conceived the idea of a European Dark Age. From Cycle of Famous Men and Women, Andrea di Bartolo di Bargillac, c. ...


The European Renaissance scarcely touched Greece. Renaissance humanism in Italy and western Europe included the rediscovery and reintroduction of the culture and learning of ancient Greek thought and philosophy, which included a renewed appreciation of the ancient religion and myth, reinterpreted from a humanist point-of-view. Raphael was famous for depicting illustrious figures of the Classical past with the features of his Renaissance contemporaries. ... Renaissance humanism was a European intellectual movement beginning in Florence in the last decades of the 14th century. ...


Polytheistic revivals

Hellenismos as the religion was named by the Emperor Julian the Philosopher, has experienced a number of revivals, in the arts, humanities and spirituality of the Renaissance as well as contempary Neopagan Hellenismos and Hellenic polytheism. Hellenismos ( Hellēnismós), corresponding to the English word Hellenism, meant (in ancient Greek) the imitation of the Greeks. ... Raphael was famous for depicting illustrious figures of the Classical past with the features of his Renaissance contemporaries. ... Hellenismos ( Hellēnismós), corresponding to the English word Hellenism, meant (in ancient Greek) the imitation of the Greeks. ... Hellenic polytheism is any polytheistic religion honoring the gods of the ancient Greek pantheon. ...


Many neo-pagan religious paths, such as Wicca, use aspects of ancient Greek religions in their practice; Hellenic polytheism focuses exclusively thereon, as far as the fragmentary nature of the surviving source material allows. It reflects neo-Platonic speculation (which is represented in Porphyry, Libanius, and Julian), as well as Classical cult practice. Neopaganism (sometimes Neo-Paganism, meaning New Paganism) is a heterogeneous group of religions which attempt to revive ancient, mainly European pre-Christian religions. ... For other uses, see Wicca (disambiguation). ... Hellenic polytheism is any polytheistic religion honoring the gods of the ancient Greek pantheon. ... Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is an ancient school of philosophy beginning in the 3rd century A.D. It was based on the teachings of Plato and Platonists; but it interpreted Plato in many new ways, such that Neoplatonism was quite different from what Plato taught, though not many Neoplatonists would... Porphyry (c. ... Libanius (Greek Libanios) (ca 314 AD - ca 394) was a Greek-speaking teacher of rhetoric of the later Roman Empire, an educated pagan of the Sophist school in an Empire that was turning aggressively Christian and publicly burned its own heritage and closed the academies. ... Flavius Claudius Iulianus, also known as Julian the Apostate, was the last Pagan Roman Emperor. ...


The overwhelming majority of modern Greeks are Greek Orthodox, although there is a growing minority of people following the ancient Greek religion, especially among the educated classes. According to church estimates, there are around 40,000 followers out of a total Greek population of 10 million. This makes them a much larger group than Greek Jews, who currently number around 5,000. The Church of Greece is one of the fifteenth autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches which make up the Eastern Orthodox Communion. ...


Notes

  • 1Cf. E.R. Dodds The Greeks and the Irrational
  • 2 M.L. West, ibid., p.17. "In another place Herodotus tells us of a cult of Dionysos Baccheios, Dionysos of the Bacchoi, at Borysthenes (Olbia), one of the noteworthy of all Greek colonies".
  • 3 Xavier Riu, Dionysism and Comedy, p. 104, "Dionysus comes from the Outside-- the other world".

Olbia, Ukraine is the site of Pontic Olbia in the Crimea, a colony founded from Miletus on the shores of the Bugh estuary, which lasted for a thousand years. ... Sir William Smith (1813 - 1893), English lexicographer, was born at Enfield in 1813 of Nonconformist parents. ... Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology is a encyclopedia/biographical dictionary. ...

References

  • Albertus Bernabé (ed.), Orphicorum et Orphicis similium testimonia et fragmenta. Poetae Epici Graeci. Pars II. Fasc. 1. Bibliotheca Teubneriana, München/Leipzig: K.G. Saur, 2004. ISBN 3-598-71707-5. review of this book
  • Walter Burkert, Greek Religion. Boston: Harvard University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-674-36281-0. Widely regarded as the standard modern account.
  • Walter Burkert, Homo necans, 1972.
  • Cook, Arthur Bernard, Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion, (3 volume set), (1914-1925). New York, Bibilo & Tannen: 1964. ASIN B0006BMDNA
    • Volume 1: Zeus, God of the Bright Sky, Biblo-Moser, June 1, 1964, ISBN 0-8196-0148-9 (reprint)
    • Volume 2: Zeus, God of the Dark Sky (Thunder and Lightning), Biblo-Moser, June 1, 1964, ISBN 0-8196-0156-X
    • Volume 3: Zeus, God of the Dark Sky (earthquakes, clouds, wind, dew, rain, meteorites)
  • Mircea Eliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, 1951.
  • Lewis Richard Farnell, Cults of the Greek States 5 vols. Oxford; Clarendon 1896-1909. Still the standard reference.
  • Lewis Richard Farnell, Greek Hero Cults and Ideas of Immortality, 1921.
  • George Grote, A History of Greece: From the earliest period to the close of the generation contemporary with Alexander the Great, 1846.
  • Jane Ellen Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, 1903. An early classic, against which many modern accounts have reacted.
  • Jane Ellen Harrison, Themis: A Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion, 1912. [2]
  • Jane Ellen Harrison, Epilegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, 1921.
  • Karl Kerényi, The Gods of the Greeks
  • Karl Kerényi, Dionysus: Archetypical Image of Indestructible Life
  • Karl Kerényi, Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter. The central modern accounting of the Eleusinian Mysteries.
  • Karl Meuli, Scythica, 1935.
  • Jon D. Mikalson, Athenian Popular Religion. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983. ISBN 0-8078-4194-3.
  • William Mitford, The History of Greece, 1784. Cf. v.1, Chapter II, Religion of the Early Greeks
  • Clifford H. Moore, The Religious Thought of the Greeks, 1916.
  • Martin P. Nilsson, Greek Popular Religion, 1940. [3]
  • Martin P. Nilsson, History of Greek Religion, 1949.
  • Robert Parker, Athenian Religion: A History Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. ISBN 0-19-815240-X.
  • Andrea Purvis, Singular Dedications: Founders and Innovators of Private Cults in Classical Greece, 2003.
  • William Ridgeway, The Dramas and Dramatic Dances of non-European Races in special Reference to the Origin of Greek Tragedy, with an Appendix on the Origin of Greek Comedy, 1915.
  • William Ridgeway, Origin of Tragedy with Special Reference to the Greek Tragedians, 1910.
  • Xavier Riu, Dionysism and Comedy, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1999. ISBN 0-8476-9442-9.
  • Erwin Rohde, Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks, 1925.
  • William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1870, [4]
  • William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, 1870. [5]
  • Martin Litchfield West, The Orphic Poems, 1983.
  • Martin Litchfield West, Early Greek philosophy and the Orient, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1971.
  • Martin Litchfield West, The East Face of Helicon: west Asiatic elements in Greek poetry and myth, Oxford [England] ; New York: Clarendon Press, 1997.

The covers of Bibliotheca Teubneriana Greek texts through the years: Philodemi De ira liber, ed. ... Walter Burkert (born Neuendettelsau (Bavaria), February 2, 1931), the most eminent living scholar of Greek myth and cult, is an emeritus professor of classics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland who has also taught in the United Kingdom and the United States. ... Homo necans is a book on Ancient Greek religion and mythology by Walter Burkert. ... Arthur Bernard Cook (1868-1952) was a British classical scholar, known for work in archaeology and the history of religions. ... Mircea Eliade Mircea Eliade (March 13, 1907 – April 22, 1986) was a Romanian historian, theorist of religion, and novelist notably in the fantasy and autobiographical genres. ... George Grote George Grote (November 17, 1794 - June 18, 1871) was an English classical historian. ... Jane Ellen Harrison (September 9, 1850–April 5, 1928) was a ground-breaking English classical scholar and feminist. ... One of the founders of modern studies in Greek mythology, Karl (Carl, Károly) Kerényi (January 19, 1897 - April 14, 1973) was born in Timisoara, then in Hungary, to a family of some landed property. ... The Eleusinian Mysteries were annual initiation ceremonies for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. ... William Mitford (February 10, 1744 - February 10, 1827), English historian, was the elder of the two sons of John Mitford, a barrister, who lived near Beaulieu, at the edge of the New Forest. ... Erwin Rohde (1845 - 1898) was one of the great German classical scholars of the 19th and early 20th centuries. ... Sir William Smith (1813 - 1893), English lexicographer, was born at Enfield in 1813 of Nonconformist parents. ... Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology is a encyclopedia/biographical dictionary. ... Title page A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities is single volume encyclopedia in English language first published in 1842. ... Martin Litchfield West (b. ...

See also

Greek mythology consists in part of a large collection of narratives that explain the origins of the world and detail the lives and adventures of a wide variety of gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines. ... Major religious groups as a percentage of the world population in 2005. ... Religious narrative has included stories interpreted by many as accounts of same-sex love and sexuality. ... Paganism (from Latin paganus, meaning a country dweller or civilian) is a blanket term which has come to connote a broad set of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices of natural or polytheistic religions, as opposed to the Abrahamic monotheistic religions. ... Religion in ancient Rome combined several different cult practices and embraced more than a single set of beliefs. ... Roman mythology, the mythological beliefs of the people of Ancient Rome, can be considered as having two parts. ... The Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes (Υπατο Συμβουλιο των Ελληνων Εθνικων), commonly known as YSEE, is an umbrella organisation in Greece established in 1997 to defend and restore the ethnic, polytheistic, Hellenic tradition, religion and way in contemporary Greek society. ...

External links

  • Journal of Hellenic Religion

  Results from FactBites:
 
Ancient Greek religion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3432 words)
Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs and rituals practiced in Ancient Greece in form of cult practices, thus the practical counterpart of Greek mythology.
There is a scholarly belief that early Greek religion came from, or was strongly influenced by, shamanistic practices from the steppes of Central Asia to the Greek colony of Olbia in Scythia, on the northern shore of the Black Sea, then all the way down to Greece.
Greek religion spans a period from Minoan and Mycenean periods to the days of Hellenistic Greece and its ultimate conquest by the Roman Empire.
Ancient Greek religion - Free Encyclopedia of Thelema (2052 words)
Greek religion is the polytheistic religion practiced in ancient Greece in form of cult practices, thus the practical counterpart of Greek mythology.
It is perhaps misleading to speak of "Greek religion" as a unified system of dogma or ritual; perhaps the most conspicuous aspect of the religions practised in the Greek city states is their overall variety and their localism.
The virtues fostered by Greek religion were chiefly respect for the gods, who were majestic (sebastos, σεβαστος) and sublime (semnos, σεμνος) Given the variety of rituals and traditions in the Greek religious state, the believer was obliged to hold the faiths of his neighbours in a similar regard to those of his own city.
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