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
  • Myths
  • Iconography
  • 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

The Twelve Olympians

  • Zeus
  • Hera
  • Poseidon
  • Demeter
  • [Hades]
  • Athena
  • Apollo
  • Artemis
  • Aphrodite (2 birth-myths)
  • Hermees
  • Dionysus (replaces Hestia)
  • Hephaestus
  • Ares

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