Sample History Essays on History of World Civilization

The Religion Greeks Practiced

The religion of ancient Greece was classified as polytheistic, implying that they believed in multiple deities. There were multiple gods and goddesses that the Greeks termed as Olympian gods. Although there may have been other gods and goddesses worshipped locally, Greeks established Olympian gods as the core of their belief system. Greeks believed in twelve Olympians gods and goddesses, including Hera, Zeus, Apollo, Athena, Demeter, Poseidon, Ares, Dionysius, Hermes, Hestia, Artemis, Aphrodite, and Hephaestus. The worship of these gods and goddesses formed part of the Greeks’ daily life. For instance, most households established alters and dedicated them to Hestia, the goddess. The worship of the goddess formed part of their daily rituals that most households would give a portion of their evening meals to the goddess (Kunkelman 25). The recent temples, such as Parthenon and Poseidon, were built and dedicated to the gods and goddesses. The Temple of Parthenon was dedicated to Athena, and the Temple of Poseidon was dedicated to Poseidon. People would come to the temples from all parts of Greece to offer sacrifices to the gods and goddesses. Moreover, the Greeks established Olympian Games that they dedicated and used to praise their gods and goddesses.

Roles of Greek Religion to Their Culture

In the ancient Greek world, religion was personal and present in the Greeks’ daily lives. During this time, they engaged in animal offerings and sacrifices and created myths to explain the beginning of the human race. Religion played various roles in Greek culture. Greek religion had extensive mythology, implying that it consisted of various stories explaining the existence of gods and how they interacted with human beings. Most of these myths revolved around various heroes and their heroic actions. For instance, Odysseus and his voyage home as well as Heracles and his twelve labors. The Greek mythology largely survived and later formed the Roman mythology as it was integrated into the Roman beliefs. The myths were written down in forms of poems that were later narrated to the younger generations about the ancient Greek religions.

Another key role of the religion was to instill morality within Greek society. The link between religion and myths helped to instill fear and respect among many people. One of the most important moral aspects of the Greek religion was the fear of committing hubris. It constituted various activities such as rape and engaging in crime (Kunkelman 49). Greeks also believed that doing anything in excess was immoral; for instance, pride became immoral whenever it went to extremes, and excessive drinking or eating. Thus, the younger generations grew up knowing what the Greek society required of them. Any individual who engaged in illegal actions would be held accountable according to society’s laws, such as being cast out.

The religion also demonstrated to the Greeks that there was life after death. Most people believed that the gods and goddesses would take care of them in the afterlife. They believed Hades controlled most of the widespread areas in the underworld, and after death, they all went to him. However, with the rise of mystery cults, places such as Elysium and Tartarus were developed (Kunkelman 51). As such, people believed that after death, they would go to Elysium, the island of the blessed and righteous ones and that they would live forever there. These beliefs were integrated into the Christian era as Christians also believe that there was life after death in heaven, the place where their God stays. Later, some philosophers such as Epicurus argued that there was no existence after death, as one’s soul dissolved at death. The Greek religion was also used in initiating the rights of passage. The religion was used as an educational program to achieve the greatest level of socialization of the youth. It was used to instill knowledge into the younger generations and educate them on their roles and responsibilities in the societies. The religion also guided them on how to perform their duties with determination for the betterment of Greek society.

Importance of the Greek Religion

Religion was important to the ancient Greeks as they believed it formed part of their personal daily lives, and it would make their lives better. Besides, the Greeks believed that the gods and goddesses would take care of them in the afterlife. They believed that their gods and goddesses controlled everything both in the inside and outside worlds. They always believed that their gods represented various aspects; for instance, there were happy and unhappy gods (Kunkelman 69). The happy gods were always perceived to help people to achieve success, and the unhappy gods were believed to punish people for their wrongdoings. As such, they built for each one of these gods’ temples that were cared for by the priests. Ceremonies and festivals would be held outside the temples as they argued that the temples were sacred places and that their gods needed moments of silence in the temples. The priests had the power to talk to gods, as such, people used to explain their problems to the priests with the notion that the gods only hear their prayers. The priests were also mandated to look after the temples and visitors to the temples.

 

Work Cited

Kunkelman, Gary A. The religion of ethnicity: Belief and belonging in a Greek-American community. Routledge, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9780429023095