The Role Of The Gods
In Greek mythology men believed in twelve major Goddesses and Gods. These are commonly referred to as the Olympians and they are the ones that are the most known or famous. There were also Titans and lessor Gods. These twelve Gods were known as:
- Zeus: The God/King of the Olympians.
- Hera: Wife of Zeus and reigning Queen.
- Hermes: Olympians messenger.
- Aphrodite: The Goddess of beauty and love.
- Ares: The God over war.
- Demeter: The Goddess over agriculture.
- Hephaestus: The God of metal-working and fire.
- Poseidon: The God who reigned over the sea.
- Athena: Goddess over wisdom.
- Artemis: Goddess overseeing the hunt.
- Apollo: The God of Music and the sun.
- Hestia: The Goddess of hearth and home.
Ancient Greece held strong onto beliefs in a variety of gods, however religion was something considered to be very personal, present in all aspects of one’s life, and it was very direct. Their beliefs also included the most formal of rituals or celebrations of the Gods that included libations and animal sacrifices. The Gods were given human faces which helped further the explanation of mankind’s origins. The Gods were dominant in everyday life especially sporting events, festivals, and artistic competitions. Religion was always at the forefront of the Ancient Greek’s mind.
Many individuals made up their own minds on their level of their beliefs and like any nation there were those that were skeptical. In order for the society to function properly, there were many fundamentals that were sufficiently widespread. It was well believed that the Gods did exist and they played a vital role in human affairs. It also believed that they not only responded to, but welcomed acts of worship and piety.
The Polytheistic form of Greek religion was comprised of a variety of gods. Each one represented a particular facet of the human condition. Even ideas that seemed to be pure abstract such as wisdom or justice had their very own personification available to them. The Olympian Gods were seen as the most important. Mt. Olympos is where they were believed to reside.
In literature, art, and imagination the Gods were symbolized in human form. They were recognized as good and bad. Much in the same way the men and women were viewed, they were married, had children (although most were products of affairs), they fought wars, and were directly involved in the affairs of human kind. Many of the Greek traditions were only recounted orally. There wasn’t a text that contained the sacred Greek religion. People would call to the Gods to help them in certain situations. For example, they would go to Ares for prayers during war or to Hera for prayers during a marriage.
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