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Religion in Ancient Greece What happens to the Greek gods after Homer?

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Presentation on theme: "Religion in Ancient Greece What happens to the Greek gods after Homer?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Religion in Ancient Greece What happens to the Greek gods after Homer?

2 Lecture Outline How the gods behaved Gods in Homer Gods in Homer, Part II Greek Religion, Part I Greek Religion, Part II Material Culture and Religion Gods in Greek Literature Fate and the Gods The Deathless Ones But what about the afterlife? The Afterlife, Part II Belief and Context

3 How the gods behaved in myths and legends: Do humans appear to have free will? How do the gods interact with humans? How do the gods behave on Mt. Olympus?

4 Gods in Homer Want to be honored Are disturbed by inhospitable treatment of strangers and the breaking of oaths Are anthropomorphic, that is, they resemble humans

5 Gods In Homer, Part II Zeus is the upholder of Justice Limited concern with morality Oaths taken in the name of gods are regarded very seriously as binding contracts

6 Greek Religion, Part I Greek gods did not make the world, but live within it Gods do not love humans, nor do they ask to be loved by them Gods struggle for power amongst one another

7 Greek Religion, Part II No writings to reveal the will of the Greek gods Gods are capricious Guilt and sin (in our modern sense) do not exist

8 Material Culture and Religion Temples were where offerings, libations, sacrifices and prayers were performed at the altar by priests Shrine could also take other forms e.g., a cave, tree or mountain top Object of the cult could also be a hero Consult priest or priestess to know the god’s will Sacrifice of an animal is correct ritual Greek temple – houses the cult image of the god

9 The gods in Greek Literature after Homer “often the gods lift up men who were crushed into the dark earth by their troubles, and often they smash down on their faces those who stand firm” - Archilochus Gods often appear to be either neglectful of humans or their tormentors. All are fated to die as the gods did not see fit to give humans eternal life or youth

10 Fate and the Gods Everyone is subject to Fate, but it can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it Example of this is Oedipus Destined to marry his mother and kill his father, but not destined to know about it Oedipus freely chooses to learn the truth about himself

11 The Deathless Ones Greek gods were called “hoi athanatoi”, or the deathless ones Greeks believed that gods could act as their protectors, if they honored them Every community had special gods to protect them

12 But what about the afterlife? Happiness is found in this world, not the afterlife Death is a hostile force The realm of Hades or Pluto Soul survives death, but becomes a faint shadow

13 The Afterlife, Part II Elysian Fields are the “realm of the blessed” a remote place on earth where one goes after death Ordinary Greek men and women would expect Hades as the afterlife If you offend the dignity of the gods, you can suffer endless torment in Tartarus

14 Belief and Context: Some Conclusions Greek religion is communal Religious experience is contextualised Greeks NEVER develop an official set of doctrines and set beliefs that are compulsory – very comfortable with different and contradictory ideas

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