Greek and Roman Gods Lecture notes from guest professor that describe Greek and Roman gods, including mystery religions and some traditions surrounding the religion in general (votives, polytheism, etc).

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Published on 16 Oct 2011
University of Regina
Classical Studies
Greek and Roman Gods
7:01 PM
Greeks and Romans tended to deify nature
Revolved around the gods that lived on Mount Olympus
Polytheist religion; because of the deification of nature, what would the sky have to do with the water?
Nothing, so there was a god for everything. Different generations of gods
Anthropomorphic gods: had human shape and acted like humans. Had mental and emotional processes
that are humanistic
Community oriented, not personal like Christianity. God's protected communities, and for the most part
communities would appeal to the gods. Minor household gods were individually worshipped. Romans
have a "state hearth" protected and worshipped by Vestal Virgins
Very ritualistic; events and gods required ritual communications with the gods. Central act of worship
was sacrifice.
Quid pro quo basis: People could promise gods votives; that is, things they would do for them upon safe
return or whatever favour was asked of them (ie ill build you a statue when I get back from Corinth, if
you protect me and I get back safe). Otherwise they would sacrifice to gods for protection or favour
Supplemented by mystery religions. Olympian religion not really spiritual - mystery cults were. Eleusis
mystery religion was that of Demeter, goddess of grain (grain was essential to life); daughter
Persephone is the wife of Hades, she spends half her time in the underground and half time above
ground; symbolizes life after death and gave spiritual essence to people. Roman mystery religion: Isis;
again, powerful being representing death and rebirth. Religions were a mystery because they have to be
initiated into the religion. Mystery religions also not 'exclusive'; can believe in roman religion and
mystery religion, whereas a Christian is only a Christian and nothing else.
Powerful beings that live forever
Indo-European origins
Rendered their gods in human form
Generally good looking
Had purple/blue blood called 'ichor'
Ate ambrosia and drank nectar
Gods lived on mount Olympus - Greek attempt to lift them into a sacred, higher area
Gods were localized, not omniscient or omnipotent
Not creators of the universe
Not all powerful - fates were all powerful
Elder Generation
7:08 PM
Wielder of thunder and lightning
o Wouldn’t be able to explain thunder and lightning, extremely scary thing
Most powerful
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