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Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xvi ] Gods. Greek deities were anthropomorphic, possessing immortality, extensive powers, knowledge, happiness and beauty. They were not omnipresent. They protected morality (E thike ), though they themselves sometimes cheated and committed adultery. Each had a M ythos , a cult corpus, certain functions, and embodied certain concepts (e.g. Apollo order). Divine personalities developed over time and varied between cities and again in the Panhellenic facet of G reek religion , which influenced local conceptions. Deities helped but did not generally have affection for humans (except for their own children), but they occasionally showed compassion. Worshippers did not generally feel affection for or intimacy with the gods, except in certain cults, especially M ysteria and healing cults. Human relations with the gods focused on paying the honour due to them through sacrifices, other cult observances, and abstention from divinely disapproved behaviour. No god was entirely negative, but each had a dangerous side. Greatest were the 12 Olympioi , residing on Mount Olympos, a divine family headed by Zeus ( see C osmos ) which included Hera, Poseidon, Apollon, Artemis, Athena, Aphrodite, Ares, Hermes, Hephaistos, Demeter and Hestia (or Dionysos). Hades, Persephone and other Underworld deities are Chthonioi (chthon = earth); but the distinction is not absolute: deities in each category ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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