What is Religion?
- “Viewed from within, religion is a state of mind, a complex of beliefs and feelings about the forces which govern man’s life and situate it in the world.” (E.R.Dodds)
- The Greeks did not have a simple word for what we call religion; instead they spoke of ta theia, theon therapeia, and eusebeia.
The Concept of Hylozoism
- No distinction between matter and spirit
- Motion is indicative of life
- Thales’ remark, “All things are filled with gods”
- The world is informed by powerful supernatural forces
- The world is categorized by a spectrum of life
Polytheism and Anthropomorphism
- Nature/the world is not merely a reflection of a single transcendent deity, but is informed by numerous discrete deities.
- The deities are portrayed as human (i.e., anthropomorphic) figures
- This is the religious background to the Olympian gods
- The Greeks has a strong tendency towards personification
What is a God?
- The distinctive personality of a god is constituted and mediated by at least four different factors:
- Established local cult ( with its ritual programme and unique atmosphere)
- Divine name
- Names and myths can be spread abroad more easily than ritual
- Iconography transcends linguistic and cultural boundaries
Four Generations of Gods
- Gaia + Ouranos (Earth and sea)?
- Titans (Cronus and siblings)
- Zeus and siblings
- Children of Zeus
- Aphrodite (2 birth-myths)
- Dionysus (replaces Hestia)