Greek Religion Origin:
The Greek religion is based on anthropomorphic polytheism, it comprises multiple
divinities having human forms and feelings. This article gives you insight on
the origin of Greek religion, Greek mythology, Greek Gods, and the various forms
of Greek worship. Early Greek religion is a blend of the Achaean, Dorian,
Minoan, Egyptian and the Asian cultures. It dates back to the period of the
Aryan invasion during 2d millennium B.C. The Aryans mingled with the Aegean (Pelasgians)
and the Minoan cultures to create the present day Greek culture. The
civilization that resulted from the amalgamation flourished between 1600 B.C.
and 1400 B.C. and was known as the Minoan-Mycenean civilization. Greek religion
emerged as an amalgamation of various civilizations and races, Zeus, Demeter and
Hestia were initially Gods of the Indo-European invaders, Rhea was a Minoan
Goddess, God Athena belonged to Mycenean, Hera and Hermes were borrowed from
Aegean, God Apollo came from Ionian, Aphrodite was Cyprus, Dionysus and Ares
belonged to the Thrace.
Greek mythology is complete with
supernatural beliefs and ritual observance of the ancient Greek and Greek
religion. It contains a body of stories, myths and legends that originated since
the ancient Hellenic civilization. The Greek mythology is rich with the tales of
monsters, heroes, wars, and the various Greek Gods, their worship and beliefs.
According to Greek mythology, Gods are assigned human form, they are immortal
and are worshiped for the supernatural powers that they possess. The Greeks
placed the deity of their Gods at appropriate positions around them for
blessings and future favors. They invoked Gods during every memorable occasion.
A conical stone of Apollo was placed in front of many of the street doors, the
alter of Zeus was placed in the courtyard, Hestia was worshipped at the Hearth,
the bed chamber, kitchen and storeroom each had its own specific divinity. The
twelve Gods of Olympus constitute an important element in the Greek mythology...
Submitted by Da Verminator: Before Zeus hurled his first thunderbolt from Olympus, the pre-Greek people occupying the land presumably paid homage and offered sacrifices to their own gods and goddesses, whose nature and identities are unknown to scholars today. But archaeologists say they have now found the ashes, bones and other evidence of animal sacrifices to some pre-Zeus deity on the summit of Mount Lykaion, in the region of Greece known as Arcadia. The remains were uncovered last summer at an altar later devoted to Zeus.Fragments of acoarse, undecorated pottery in the debris indicated that the sacrifices might have been made as early as 3000 B.C., the archaeologists concluded.
That was about 900 years before Greek-speaking people arrived, probably from the north in the Balkans, and brought their religion with them.The excavators were astonished. They were digging in a sanctuary to Zeus, in Greek mythology the father of gods and goddesses. From texts in Linear B, an ancient form of Greek writing, Zeus is attested as a pre-eminent god as early as 1400 B.C. By some accounts, the birthplace of Zeus was on the heights of Lykaion.After reviewing the findings of pottery experts, geologists andother archaeologists, David Gilman Romano of the University of Pennsylvania concluded that material at the Lykaion altar “suggests that the tradition of devotion to some divinity on that spot is very ancient” and “very likely predates the introduction of Zeus in the Greek world.”As Dr. Romano remarked, quoting a quip by a friend, “We went from B.C. to B.Z., before Zeus.”
Historical significance: Delphi owed its international prominence to the
famous oracle of the god Apollo, who foretold the future through his priestess,
known as the Pythia. She responded to the questions of visitors while in a
trance; her inarticulate cries were interpreted and written down by an official
interpreter, in earlier times in hexameter verse, then later in prose. These
oracular responses were notoriously ambiguous, and their interpretation was
often only 'deduced' after the event to which they referred. This, however, did
not deter visitors from journeying to Delphi from all over the Mediterranean.
During the course of the 8th and 7th centuries BC, the sanctuary grew in
prestige as it received splendid dedications from legendary kings such as Gyges
and Midas. Its political role expanded in the 7th century BC, when it became the
seat of the Amphictyony, and individual cities began to build along the Sacred
Way leading up to the temple - treasuries in which the cities' dedications to
Apollo were guarded, and monuments commemorating the cities' successes.
Inter-city rivalry also played out in the Pythian games at which athletes and
musicians from all over the Greek world competed. This festival, which
originally took place every eight years, was expanded after the first Sacred War
and held every four years on a scale that rivaled the Olympic games. Thus Delphi
could rightfully sustain its mythical claim of being the navel (omphalos)
of the Greek world. Modern visitors can still follow in the steps
of ancient worshippers such as the Roman emperor Hadrian, or of ancient tourists
such as the Roman writer Pausanias. Visitors to Delphi would first encounter the
sanctuary of Athena Pronaia in the East, which contained two temples, two
treasuries, and the unusual round tholos building. They would then pass a
recreational facility on the left that included a gymnasium, palaistra, running
track and swimming pool. On the right they would encounter the Castalian spring
in a cleft of the sheer rocks (known as the Phaidriades or "shining ones") that
tower over it...
What makes me a Greek polytheist today in the twenty first century, is exactly what made an ancient Greek a worshiper of the Hellenic Pantheon. Greek polytheism today has to follow an a long-established pattern and the blueprint of our religious practise is the sacrifice, the offering.The sacrifice played an important role in Greek religious devotion, which was practised and repeated more than once a day by a Greek polytheist and involved more than one divinity.There were the state’s sacrifices in honour of the city state's main divinities and their cults as well as the private sacrifices in honour of the household gods, the family ancestors and thedemes’ heroes and local gods.
So, which of these two aspects of religious practices was the most essential in the ancient times and how does this apply today?
In order to answer that
question we should first visit the ancient world and try to step into
the shoes of an ancient Greek citizen at a specific location in Greece.
We must not overlook the fact that every community had its own
divinities to worship and every altar and / or temenos had its own cult.
On the basis of this fact Greek polytheism was an extremely diverse religion in its notion and practice.
There were not just twelve gods but, on the contrary, thousands of divinities worshiped throughout ancient Greece.
For that reason, I will select a citizen of the Erchia Demes, located near the area of the new internationalairport of Athens.
Erchia provides us evidence
of its religious calendar, in which we can see what our ancient friend
worshiped every single day throughout the year.
He had the opportunity
to be involved in sacrifices for statewide divinities, such as Athena
Polias, gods of small distance districts, Demeter Eleusinia, local
deities, Epops, Menedeius and Heroines and Pan-Hellenic gods such as
Apollo Pythios. But what the calendar does not refers to is the most
essential aspect of our Erchian friend: his household's religious
Household worship is indeed
what makes an individual a part of his community, is the alpha and
omega of the Greek polytheism. It is not just the local demes’,
Pan-Hellenic and state-wide divinities that he should or could worship,
but it is also the everyday worship of his household divinities and of