Greek religion spread across vast lands and seas due to the influence of the Greek civilization. With their civilization came their dominion, both cultural and economical. Consequently, Greek religion became widespread and known to many peoples, which led to its omnipresence in the ancient world. Though people got to know the Greek pantheon, there still are some unknown or better yet bizarre beliefs that we have not heard of.
Greeks Believed In Fate
Though Greek Religion was polytheistic, there was still one god beyond others. That, clearly, was Zeus, the mightiest of all gods. Despite his powerful force, he also was susceptible to Destiny or Fate, if you like, just like any other god. According to the sayings of The Delphic Oracle, no god was in a position to escape his appointed fate.
Greek Religion Treats The World As A Living Thing
The ancient Greeks, unfortunately, did not live in the times of the great discoveries of Newton, Galilei, and Copernicus, therefore, they observed the Earth as a flat disk that is floating on the river of Ocean. What’s more, in one of the Plato’s works, the world is treated like a human being with body and soul.
The World Came Into Being With Four Divine Beings
According to the source found in the Hesiod’s Theogony, the ancient Greeks believed that four divine beings first came into existence: Earth (Gaea), Love (Eros), Chaos and the Abyss. The world came into existence because the Earth was forcibly separated from Heaven (Uranus) for a certain time so she could give birth. Afterward, Uranus’ genitals were severed by his son Cronus (the father of Zeus) and then thrown into the sea.
Greek Religion Is Overwhelmed With Spirits, Monsters And Other Mythological Beings
Greek religion was not only famous for its powerful and interesting gods. Figures other than gods also deserve a mention in the article not just because they were numerous, but because they had notable parts in the mythological and religious stories of the ancient Greece. Some of them were Amazons (female warriors), Centaurs (half-man, half-horse creatures), Sirens (enchanting sea creatures) and many more.
The Ultimate Purpose of Life is Believing In Gods
According to Plato, the existence of soul should be immortal and separated from the body and the physical. In religious terms, this means that to live purposely is to believe in the Greek gods and perform proper rituals and sacrifices. This way, a mortal human being would avoid reprisals and encourage gifts from the gods. Though the Greek religion included sacrificing and rituals, it was oriented to this world. Not many postmortem aspects were considered important in the religion, if at all.
Death Was Illustrated As Something Inglorious
In the Illiad, one line uttered by Achilles best depicts how inglorious and pathetic death was for the ancient Greeks. Homer’s epics best portray the dead who are wallowing in their misery and helplessness, and wandering drafty and echoing halls. Though the ancient Greeks considered afterlife undesirable, the fading existence in the afterlife was not something that they were afraid of. Only grave sinners like Tantalus or Sisyphus were punished after death.
The Ancient Greeks Believed In Reincarnation
The notion of reincarnation was the cornerstone of the Greek mythology, and yet, popular Greek religion was unfamiliar with this concept. On the other hand, Greek philosophers were fully aware of the concept where human soul enters another body upon death, and this is why they endeavored to pass it on to next generations. In Plato’s Republic, he indicated that souls have no memory of their previous experiences. Some claim that the Greeks learned the idea from others, but most scholars claim they developed it independently.
Elysium Was The Greek Version Of Paradise
Elysium was a paradise that was first inhabited by the distinguished, and later by the good. Homer was the first to write about Elysium where it is described as the destination of Menelaus and of gentle breezes and an easy life, located at the western ends of the earth.
Hades Was Also The Realm Of The Dead
Upon mentioning Hades, many people think of the Greek god. However, Hades was also the universal destination of the dead. The gates of Hades were guarded by Cerberus, the fearsome hound who does not allow anyone to leave without his permission. One could not enter Hades if not properly buried.
Tartarus Was The Region Underneath Hades
In Greek religion, Tartarus was located lower than Hades. According to Hesiod’s writings, it took an anvil nine days to fall from heaven to earth and another nine to fall from earth to Tartarus. Though Hades was the home of the dead, some of the most wicked characters were imprisoned in Tartarus. Sisyphus was imprisoned in Tartarus for thievery and murder where he was to push a boulder up a hill for eternity as a punishment.