The Olympians

  • The Polytheism (belief in more than one God) found in poems of Homer stayed a permanent belief throughout Greece until the Christian era
  • There are twelve principal gods and goddesses (deities), headed by Zeus and the rest are his siblings, his children, and grandchildren, it is only Dinoysus that Homer doesn’t acknowledge
  • Zeus is a third generation God, and so opposite to the God in the Old Testament, Zeus grew with creation instead of doing the creating, he also cannot change fate and is instead bound to fate
  • Each deity has his or her own principal power
  • Unlike most attitude towards the God in the Old Testament, respecting, offering sacrifice and prayer to the Olympians was done for earthly and mortal success, a good life on Earth, instead of gifts and rewards after death like in Christianity, or fear of eternity in Hell
  • The Gods were depicted very similar to humans; they got jealous, they competed against each other, they wanted to be the best, everything human with supernatural powers (anthropomorphic)
  • The Gods were very unethical
  • Zeus is always on the look out since he got rid of his father, and his father got rid of his father

Greek Myth and the Uses of Myth

  • There are many different stories about the Gods, and many that contradict each other (e.g. Hephaestos),
  • Didn’t believe one particular person who could dictate to everyone else and say this is what this God is, and this is what the supernatural is
  • Myth > a story that has  cut its teeth on time, has standing for a long period of time and is meaningful generation after generation, the great value of myths is their applicability for years
  • Christian myths > people spend a lot of time arguing about them
  • Zeus has many names > the Father God, God of the Sky, who protects guests
  • Gods and Goddesses have names but they are also concepts

Religion and Magic

  • When praying one would use every possible name for one God so that they do end up calling the God what he/she wants to be called
  • Greek temples > gymnasium, a theatre, spa, because Gods were very human and so Greek religion was a celebration of human life
  • Greek festival > different from Christian festivals, Greeks would have a more human feel, eating, sports, as opposed to other-worldly; Christian religion would be giving answers, comforting the people
  • Religion is just a form of interacting with the divine that is accepted by each culture and it different from culture to culture, and so in Greece, magic was like religion, not much of a distinction, whereas in Christianity, magic is evil
  • Religion isn’t ethical, but the priest was more of a religious lawyer
  • Prayers from mortals were like license agreements to cover themselves of every aspect, the Gods didn’t look into one’s heart, they looked into their words and made decisions based on their prayer form and specific words and word combinations they used
  • Modern religion leads you away to a higher plane, opposite of Greek religion

Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy

  • Greeks don’t say “No that’s not true”, everyone accepted myths even if they are contradictory, they say, “who am I to say which one is true or not true even if I believe one in particular”
  • If something is very complex, you multiply the stories to capture all the complexity of it, (e.g. Aphrodite had so many stories and many versions; heavenly, below, love is too complicated )
  • Orthopraxy > behaving properly, the Greek priests only cared about if you behaved properly, not what you believe, no one asked “Do you believe in Zeus?”, they asked, “Did you do the correct sacrifices?” The Gods themselves didn’t even care what the mortals believed, they were just concerned with correct behavior
  • Zeus doesn’t help because one is a good person, he helps if one does the correct sacrifices/procedures
  • Due to so many myths and no one will say which is true and which is not, how did they determine the correct method of sacrificial procedures, growing a good harvest, the best way was to try every way

Hesiod (c. 700), Theogony (II. 104-225) (about same time is Homer, maybe a little later)

  • Right across the sea from Greece, is Asia Minor (Hesiod is from here) (west coast of Turkey)
  • Asia Minor > Where did the Gods come from?
  • Hesiod asked these questions, catalyzed by older civilizations and his answers were much the same
  • Mount Olympus was this figurative home of the Gods, even though there wasn’t anything at the top of actual Mount Olympus
  • Mother Earth and Father Sky (Heaven) > have lots of children because Father Sky was lustful, the female hates the male but is helpless since she is female, so she asks all of her children (the titans) to help her
  • The applicability is for when men want to be great, be able to love, they have to step out of their father’s shadow, push and take power, another application is for women who pit men against each other to get what they want

Ecstatic and Mystery Religions

  • Ecstatic > autobody experience, stand outside of yourself
  • Mystery > no human can know
  • “I was purified, before I was alive now, I was born once a girl, once a boy, once a plant, once a bird, once a fish darting around in the sea”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment