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Polytheism in Ancient Greece

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A person's culture, and his exposure to a certain religion may not allow the person to study other religions objectively. This is because they cannot look at the beliefs of the other religions objectively. Without objective perception, there is no scientific knowledge. Most people who are exposed to Christianity, Islam, or Judaism, are exposed to monotheism. Even when a person declares himself agnostic or atheistic, their reference is to a particular religion that forms a part of their culture.

Normally people associate a religion with certain qualities that they know or believe in, and then compare it with other religions. Christianity, like other monotheist religions, has been believed to be the victory of a system of beliefs, over the others, by its followers. Followers of Christianity use terms like paganism and idol worship to talk about the rites in polytheism.

In this document, we will discuss more about polytheism and talk about polytheism in Greece, in particular. Polytheism involves belief in multiple gods and goddesses, each with their own mythology and legend. Polytheism, along with cult practices were a characteristic part of the Greek civilization, as Greece was a land of myths and legends. Some of the recognized gods and goddesses of this period are: Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Apollo, Hermes, Athena, Artemis, Dionysus, Hestia, Hera etc. Leaving aside the polytheism of yesterday like the Roman and German civilizations, and of today like Hinduism and Shintoism, this document is dedicated to polytheism in ancient Greece.

One difficulty in the study of religion lies in our cultural reference that hinders an objective perception of the beliefs of "others", an objective perception without which there is no scientific knowledge. Cultures in which we swim are strongly influenced by Christianity, Islam, Judaism, in short, by the monotheisms. This affects all our reading of the world (even if you are an agnostic or atheist), assigning the religions of "qualities" depending on what one knows or understands of the other. Christianity and other monotheistic religions, are designed, historically, by their followers as the victory of a particular belief system over others - see the use made today of terms such as paganism and idol to evoke rites of polytheism.
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Given the circumstances of this semester, our subject is therefore limited to polytheism, and, more specifically, to polytheism in the Greek religion. But if all polytheistic modes of operation have certain traits in common, they do not return all to the same conception of the divine (there are such differences also between the monotheisms). I leave aside other polytheistic systems, of yesteryears such as the Roman, Germanic, and those of today such as Hinduism and Shintoism, I devote myself only to Greeks.

This polytheism will be questioned in its essence. The basic questions are two in number: What is its nature? How should one understand the construction of the human mind?

What is the influence of polytheism on the perception of the sacred? How does the belief in the existence of multiple forms of expression of the divine change the design we have of it?

Tags: polytheism, Greek religion, Christianity

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