Greek religion (alternatively Hellenism, Greek: Ἐλληνισμός) encompasses the collection of beliefs and rituals practiced in ancient Greece in the form of both popular public religion and cult practices. These different groups varied enough for it to be possible to speak of Greek religions or "cults" in the plural, though most of them shared similarities. Many Greek people recognized the major gods and goddesses: Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, Ares, Dionysus, Hephaestus,Athena, Hermes, Demeter, Heracles, Hestia, Asclepius and Hera though philosophies such as Stoicism and some forms of Platonism used language that seems to posit a transcendent single deity. Different cities often worshipped the same deities, sometimes with epithets that distinguished them and specified their local nature. The religious practices of the Greeks 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 Massalia (Marseille). Greek religion was tempered byEtruscan cult and belief to form much of the later Ancient Roman religion. Contents
1.6 Sacred Texts
2.3 Rites of passage
3 Mystery religions
4.2 Classical antiquity
4.3 Roman Empire
4.4 Hellenism revivals
5 See also
8 Further reading
Zeus, the king of the gods, and controller of thunder and the sky. While there were few concepts universal to all the Greek peoples, there were common beliefs shared by many. Theology
Ancient Greek theology was based on polytheism; that is, the assumption that there were many gods and goddesses. There was a hierarchy of deities, with Zeus, the king of the gods, having a level of control over all the others, although he was not omnipotent. Some deities had dominion over certain aspects of nature. For instance, Zeus was the sky-god, sending thunder and lightning, Poseidon ruled over the sea and earthquakes, Hades projected his remarkable power throughout the realms of death and the Underworld, and Helios controlled the sun. Other deities ruled over an abstract concept; for instance Aphrodite controlled love. While being immortal, the gods were not all powerful. They had to obey fate, which overrode all. For instance, in mythology, it was Odysseus' fate to return home to Ithaca after the Trojan War, and the gods could only lengthen his journey and make it harder for him, but they could not stop him.
Aphrodite riding a swan: Attic white-ground red-figured kylix, ca. 460, found at Kameiros (Rhodes) The gods acted like humans, and had human vices. They would interact with humans, sometimes even spawning children with them. At times certain gods would be opposed to others, and they would try to outdo each other. In the Iliad Zeus, Aphrodite, Ares and Apollo support the Trojan side in the Trojan War, while Hera,Athena and Poseidon support the Greeks. Some gods were specifically associated with a certain city. Athena was associated with the city of Athens, Apollo with Delphi and Delos, Zeus with Olympia and Aphrodite with Corinth. Other deities were associated with nations outside of Greece; Poseidon was associated with Ethiopia and Troy, and Ares with Thrace. Identity of names was not 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 Iliadrelated conflicts among the gods these conflicts were because their followers were at war on earth and 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...
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