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Religion in Ancient Greece. What were the Greek gods like? Earliest Greeks, like all primitive peoples, feared the unknown Nature (uncontrolled spirits)

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Presentation on theme: "Religion in Ancient Greece. What were the Greek gods like? Earliest Greeks, like all primitive peoples, feared the unknown Nature (uncontrolled spirits)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Religion in Ancient Greece

2 What were the Greek gods like? Earliest Greeks, like all primitive peoples, feared the unknown Nature (uncontrolled spirits) could do them harm They saw the spirits as monsters: part human, part animal, part imagination Frightening, ugly, violent, destructive, irrational Sacrificed to please them

3 What were the Greek gods like? at an unknown time, Greeks began to believe that the spirits were anthropomorphic – shaped like humans Ugly spirits became extremely beautiful Idealised men and women In art, gods and heroes naked (as was the custom in athletic contests) Goddesses depicted clothed (except Aphrodite), following custom

4 What were the Greek gods like? Resembled humans: Ate, drank, slept, made love, produced children, had emotions (anger, compassion, jealousy, lust, spite) More powerful than humans yet had attachments to areas: Caves on Crete where Zeus was born, place where Aphrodite came ashore, born from the sea Gods less frightening than original spirits Human emotions and activities = they understand humans and their prayers for help They could help if they wished to help They could think – and therefore be persuaded by reason

5 What the Greek gods were like Feared by humans Were not concerned about living good lives themselves or human virture/vice Not impressed by people who tried to be honest or kind Not good or evil To humans they might be friendly, helpful, indifferent, hostile, destructive Attitude could change at any time Regular sacrifices weren’t a guarantee but ‘insurance’ against their displeasure

6 hubris Weren’t bothered by human theft or murder Got offended if ignored Only ‘sin’ was hubris = human pride/arrogance Unforgiveable to try to outdo gods or to boast about it Many tales (teaching a lesson?) about people trying to ‘overstep’ boundaries between human and divine who are viciously punished

7 Why pray? Believed gods caused most things which happened to humans Avoid their displeasure Active assistance: Demeter & Dionysus for fertility Hera for pregnancy and childbirth No god was all-powerful – still subject to law of Fate Length or quality of a person’s life could be changed: Achilles had to die but was given a choice: a short, glorious life or a long life as an unknown

8 The Olympian Gods and Goddesses

9 ZEUS Last child of Cronos & Rhea Married sister Hera Had many love affairs = many children Supreme God / King of the Olympians Carefree & unpredictable Responsible for laws, justice & weather Symbol = thunderbolt Animal = sacred eagle Strong body, bearded face

10 POSIEDON God of the Seas Bad tempered, moody, greedy, unfaithful Wife = Nereid Amphitrite (a sea nymph) Responsible for natural events, especially earthquakes Strong body, bearded, flowing hair Symbol = trident Animals = bulls, horses, dolphins

11 HADES Ruler of the Underworld Wife = Persephone, daughter of Demeter Hardly ever left his gloomy kingdom Had a 3 headed dog – Cerberus Ferryman Charon worked with him Dark, hair flopping over face, beard, good looking, strong body Symbol = helmet to help him stay invisible

12 HERA Goddess of marriage, family, protector of married women Wife of Zeus, had 4 children with him – Eilithyia, Ares, Hebe, Hephaestus Angry about Zeus’s infidelity but couldn’t harm him so she got her own back by harming his mistresses or their children Hated Heracles Shown as a beautiful woman, crowned Symbol = pomegranate (fertility) Animal = peacock

13 HESTIA Goddess of the hearth, home & family Virgin goddess – never married, but Apollo & Poseidon both wanted to Personified by the fire which burned in every home to cook over – never permitted to go out Always worshipped in any temple Widely respected by mortals & gods – kind, forgiving, neutral nature Shown as a shy, seated woman

14 DEMETER Goddess of agriculture & vegetation Peace-loving, taught people how to grow crops, introduced wheat to earth Shown as a woman with golden hair holding a sheaf of wheat Symbols = wheat stalk & grains Mother of Persephone Responsible for seasonal changes

15 APHRODITE Goddess of love, pleasure, beauty Married to Hephaestus but had affair with Ares Mother of Eros Shown as attractive young woman, semi nude Symbols = girdle, seashell & mirror Animal = dove

16 ATHENE Goddess of wisdom, skill & war Born from Zeus’s head, fully grown Taught humans weaving, sewing, metalcraft Patron goddess of ancient Athens Shown as tall, slim woman with armour & helmet Symbols = staff & shield (aegis) with Medusa’s head Animal = owl, symbol of wisdom

17 ARTEMIS Virgin goddess of hunting & the moon Twin brother Apollo Responsible for nature & fertility in nature Hunted with arrows dipped in poison Protector of wild animals (but she also killed them?) Represented armed with bow & arrows, wearing short chiton Sacred animals = snake & deer Symbol = bow

18 APOLLO God of the sun, light, music & prophecy Played the lyre beautifully Twin of Artemis Patron god of city of Delphi – known for the oracle (priestess who would tell the future) Shown as good looking, strong young man Symbols = lyre & tripod Sacred plant = laurel tree

19 HERMES God of trade, messengers and luck Wore winged sandals & carried messages Only god allowed to visit Heaven, Earth & the Underworld Had a tendency to lie & steal so became god of thieves & cheats too Quick witted & especially helpful to his father Zeus Shown as young man with travellers hat and cloak Wears winged sandals Carries staff with snakes wound round it

20 ARES God of war & violence Had secret love affair with Aphrodite Difficult personality & fought with other gods & goddesses Lived on Olympus & had a throne covered in human skin Accompanied by Eris – goddess of discord Symbol = spear Animal = dogs

21 HEPHAESTUS Blacksmith - God of metal working Married to Aphrodite Kind & loving god but was ugly & crippled so Hera (his mother) threw him off Mt Olympus Lived & worked underneath Mt Etna – a volcano Created weapons & armour for the gods & goddesses including thunderbolts for Zeus Symbols = fire, axe, pincers, hammer

22 DIONYSUS God of wine, joy, theatres Son of Zeus & human princess Semele Known for being lighthearted & helpful Didn’t live on Mt Olympus but travelled the world instead Shown as handsome young man with longish hair & ivy/vine wreath on head Carries staff (thyrsos) showing vine leaves & pine cone Symbols = grapes, vines Animal = panther

23 Write down the names of the 14 major Greek gods & goddesses. Next to each, write: The area in which they had more interest & influence A summary of the main points in their stories. A description of what they looked like & how they might be identified in art

24 Greek Gods & Goddesses Write an interview with Aphrodite to appear on This Is Your Life show on tv. You are Athene. Write an open letter to the Athenians explaining why you are without doubt the best divinity to be patron of Athens. Debate ONE of the following statements: “Artemis is a goddess of contradictions.” “Artemis has to be respected but cannot be loved.” Defend this statement with as many reasons as possible: “Apollo was the god of civilisation.” In what ways was Hephaestus different from all the other Olympians? Why do you think that was the case? Compare the behaviour & experiences of the followers of Dionysus with that of followers of pop stars in recent years. Compare and contrast in a list or poster: Aphrodite & Artemis Athene & Hermes You are an ancient Greek. Name your favourite divinity and explain why you like and worship your choice. Sketch both sides of an ancient coin. An Olympian on one side and an incident from his/her tales on the other.

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