Recording Greek History
The Greek poet Homer wrote a great deal about the gods and about how the people during that time believed in them. Modern historians of today have learned a lot about Greek culture during ancient times due to the Homer’s writings. Homer’s Odyssey has been written about and used in movies and plays for years. During ancient times, before Christ walked the earth and Christianity was not heard of, people tried to explain their existence and the existence of the world around them through the work of the gods. The poet Hésiode Théogonie wrote in detail how the creation of the world took place, his writings becoming the foundation of many ancient Greek beliefs. Hésiode Théogonie wrote about the birth of Zeus and how the world began its creation out of chaos. In modern times, the writings of Shakespeare helped to promote Greek gods and mythology as well.
Honoring The Gods
The Pantheon was built as a temple to all the gods. The ancients placed extraordinarily detailed sculptures of their gods in the Pantheon, amazing to artists and experts throughout the centuries. The likeness of humans seen in these sculptures is indeed fantastic and says a great deal about the strong respect the ancient Greeks held for their gods. Zeus, the father of the gods, was especially revered. While the Pantheon in Rome has become the most famous of these temples, the ruins in Greece today prove the existence of such temples years before the rise of Rome. The temple known as Erechtheion is an example of this type of ancient temple to the gods as a group. Other temples were built to please and honor individual gods as well. The temple built for Athena has been revered throughout history and holds a huge statue of Athena fashioned out of ivory and gold. The temple of Zeus is another example of temples built for honoring an individual god. The statue of Zeus is considered to be one of seven wonders of the ancient world due to its beauty and amazing intricate detail. Ancient Greek temples were not used as meeting places for the people like the churches of today are used for. Instead, the ancient Greeks used temples for leaving offerings to the gods.
Ancient Greek Influences
The creation of the world according to the beliefs of the ancient Greeks is fascinating and describes in great details every aspect of the nature and how it came to be. The influences of these myths are still occurring in the modern world today. However, when the Romans adopted the Greek gods, the gods became known to more people than ever before, a guiding force surrounded by myths and legends. While many of the myths related to the gods contradict one another, many of them have been told exactly in the same way for centuries. The influences of the gods in today’s world are still going strong. In fact, the planets in the solar system are named after the gods, using the names that were given to the gods by the Romans.
All aspects of ancient Greek life were described as coming into being by one of the gods. For example, the occurrence of falling love was attributed to Venus and her son Cupid. If soldiers survived a horrific war, their survival was many times attributed to the god of war, Ares, the son of Zeus and Hera. The actual occurrence of was many times attributed the Athena, the goddess of war. The war goddess Enyo also was held in the highest regard when it came to the occurrence and outcome of wars.
Love and war were not the only occurrences believed to be caused by the gods in ancient Greece. The conception of a child was also believed to be a gift from the gods as well. Healthy childbirth was said to also be a gift from the gods. In the event a child was stillborn, the occurrence was believed to be caused by angry gods. The god Ares was also a god of fertility as well as one of the Twelve Olympians of the ancient Greek temple Erechtheion. Demeter was also believed to be a god of fertility in regards to agriculture. However, many ancients also felt he and the god Artemis influenced the process of birth and the occurrence of new life. The Twelve Olympians were considered to be the highest deities and were responsible for all parts of life and the reason. The goddess Hestia was also thought to influence family life and domestic occurrences of sorts.
Ancient Greek families that were thriving and living comfortably were believed to be so because of the blessings of Hera, the wife of Zeus and the goddess of family and marriage. Male gods were believed to have many lovers in addition to their wives, an example followed by many men and women during ancient times. The act of sexual encounters between lovers outside of the realm of marriage was generally found to take place among the rich. Many people believed the wealthy were given special attention by the gods. Commoners were sometimes found to have stronger beliefs in the blessings of the gods due to their plights in life and the need for hope. The gods were believed to be in the form of humans and walking the earth alongside the people. However, while the gods held human form, they were believed to have superior powers like super strength and daunting wisdom.
The Underworld And Darkness
One important god to note was not included in the Twelve Olympians and he was the brother of Poseidon, the god of the seas, and Zeus. Hades was the god of the underworld, a place many experts and theologians today compare to Christianity’s hell. However, the ancient Greeks also believed that good people arrived in Hades after death to receive pleasurable experiences for eternity. After all, the people that were raping, murdering and committing other violent crimes were not believed able to receive the good blessings of the gods. Instead, bad people were believed to be under the influence of darker evils, thus ensuring their sentence of eternity in the underworld with Hades would be less than desirable. The Greeks believed that Hermes led the soul to the river Styx, a river that encompassed the underworld and separated it from the living world. Hermes was said to be the messenger that introduced souls to the ferryman named Charon that carried souls across to the shores of the underworld. The Greeks also believed that once a soul crossed the Styx, a new body awaited in the underworld. This is another ancient Greek myth that is similar to those of Christianity and the reward of a new body in Heaven.
The Gods And Ancient Politics
Politics was another aspect of life greatly influenced by the ancient’s belief in the gods. Sybil, an Oracle that was believed to be the child of a human man and a goddess, was regularly consulted before any type of political proceedings took place. The First Oracle of Delphi, Sybil, gave way to the naming of all acting Oracle priestesses throughout the years. No wars or political occurrences took place without first consulting the Oracle. Delphi was also the place where people worshipped Apollo, the god of the sun. An eternal flame burned at Delphi as a part of the ancient Greek worship of Apollo. Today, Delphi is still the center of many historical occurrences related to ancient Greece and the gods, the ruins still remaining holding a special place in Greek mythology and history. Delphi was also the location of the Pythian Games, held every four years and included athletic competitors from all over Greece. Great Greek politicians like Pericles believed the gods were a great influence in the success of cities and states. Without the influence of religion during these ancient times, the outcome of history may have turned differently than it did.
Myths And The Greek Gods
Many of the myths surrounding Greek gods are great stories and several of them have survived due to films and books. One of the most famous Greek myths is about Prometheus, a Titan that stole the sacred flame of Zeus. Because of this theft, Zeus had Prometheus chained to a large rock so an eagle could come each day and eat his liver. This was an eternal form of punishment because Prometheus’ liver was renewed each day, thus providing the basis for a hideous eternal punishment. Heracles finally killed the bird, another amazing aspect of the myth about Prometheus. The myth about the Cyclops that was fooled by the Greek hero Odysseus has been told throughout the centuries in many cultures. The basis of every Greek myth is most always related to the gods or to a fantastic, mythical creature such as the one-eyed monster Cyclops named Polyphemus. Heracles, also known as Hercules, was said to have a temper that caused him a lot of grievances. For example, Heracles wanted to shoot the sun down with his bow because he was too hot. The god Dionysus was believed to be a highly talented shape shifter, many times assuming the form of a rich man. One important thing to remember about Greek myths and the reason they had a great deal to the gods was due to the superior powers the gods were said to have possessed. Some myths served to provide life lessons like the one about Pandora’s Box. The myth about Dionysus and his trip to the underworld is another example of how the Greeks used their gods to provide morals and lessons.
Looking At A Rich Culture
The Greeks were fascinating and intensely creative thinkers. Of all the many ancient cultures, few were as colorful and imaginative as the Greeks. The Greeks fulfilled their wondering about the world in ways that are still evident today. The creation of gods that were human like and powerful served as a way to provide explanations about the creation of the earth and the heavens. The gods were believed to control the creation of man, woman and child. The gods also were believed to take care of those suffering and sick while also maintaining a good way of life for the healthy. Every Greek home during ancient times had small statuettes of particular gods, each one believed to be capable of bestowing powerful, moving blessings. In some instances, the blessings of the gods were large and earth shaking. At other times, blessings were found to be small, but still desperately necessary for a happy, fulfilling life.
Every human being needs hope to live a long, healthy life. Without the support of hope, the fear of inevitable death is greater. Most people, including the ancient Greeks, feared death. For the ancient Greeks, the creation of the afterlife and their beliefs in the gods provided the hope they needed for being happy during life. The gods of the ancient Greeks provide the foundation for most Greek myths and also serve as the foundation for life after death and lifelong hope. Even today, the art world preserves the statues created in honor of the gods. Many of these statues are held in the highest regards, stored under high security at the Vatican in Rome. The honor of these statues today is to the ancient Greeks themselves for their rich culture and long and amazing impact on the world.