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Sydney Cayas

Religion Block G

Mr. Olzyc

8 October, 2016

Creation Myths and Olympian Gods

Greek mythology is a body of myths that originated from the ancient Greeks. It was

significant because it contained heros, gods, and how the world came to be. Mythology explains

the origins of mankind and it is part of the religion in ancient Greece. The Greeks were very

religious people who were polytheistic. This means they worshiped many gods and goddesses.

They believed in the gods who look like humans while maintaining powers, strength, and

everlasting beauty. The tales of the Greek gods were molded into a variety of different fables to

help people have a better understanding and these stories are part of their religion. Greek

mythology explains the basis of human nature through tales that are an important aspect of what

they believe in.

Greeks were particularly conservative in nature. They based what they see by observing

what's around them. The earliest embodiment of Greek literature was the Illiad and Odyssey of

Homer, which was very influential on how people thought. Unlike the Jewish Torah, Christian

Bible, and the Muslim Qu'ran, Greeks didn't have a specific guide on how to grow on their faith.

This religion was practiced anywhere by individuals, each in a personal way. Humans and deities

relied on the concept of exchange, in which gods and goddesses were accounted on to sacrifice

gifts and offerings. By doing this, they are expressing how thankful they are to their gods.

Majority of Greeks expressed their faith through art. They portrayed the main gods and
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goddesses in a marvelous way by painting scenes on vases, stones, and created bronze

sculptures.

There are Twelve Olympians who are major deities of the Greek Pantheon. The king of

the gods is Zeus, who rules Mount Olympus. He is the God of the sky and thunder. The

thunderbolt, oak, eagle, and bull symbolizes him. Hera is the goddess of marriage, women, and

childbirth. She is Zeus' wife and sister, whos symbols are the scepter, diadem, and peacock. Next

is Poseidon, who is the god of the sea and earthquakes. He rules the over ocean and his symbols

are horses, sea foam, dolphins, and a trident. He symbolizes those things because he can create

horses from sea foam. Demeter is the sister of Zeus and the goddess of fertility, agriculture, grain

and harvest. Athena who is the goddess of wisdom, warfare, strategy, handicrafts and reason. She

is the sister of Ares, and the daughter of Zeus. Next is Apollo who is the god of music, medicine,

health, prophecies, poetry, and archery. He is also said to be the god of light and truth and

associated with the sun. Legends say that he was the most handsome god and his symbols are the

bow, lyre, and laurel.

Another one of the twelve main Olympian Gods is Aphrodite, who is the goddess of

love, lust, beauty. Aphrodite is known to be the most beautiful goddess ever and her symbols are

a myrtle and a dove. She is the wife of Hephaestus who is the god of fire and forge. According to

legends, his mother threw him off Mount Olympus as a baby, so as a result, he was deformed.

The god of war, murder, and bloodshed is Ares who's symbols vultures, dogs, boars, and a spear.

Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, wild things, and the moon. She is associated with the moon

and her symbols are the bow, dogs, and deer. Hermes is the messenger of the gods. He leads the

way for the dead souls to Hades's realm. He is a very well known god because he shows up in
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more myths than any other god or goddess. Lastly, the twelfth main Olympian god is Dionysus

who is the god of wine, parties, madness, and merriment; his symbols are the grape vine, ivy, and

thyrsus. Hestia is the goddess of the hearth and home who gave up her seat as one of the Twelve

Olympians to tend to the sacred flame on Mount Olympus for Dionysus. The Olympian gods

each had their personal flaws and it portrayed that they were just like humans, but with special

power. Their flaws molded them into the person they are today.

The underworld is the kingdom of the dead that is hidden deep within the earth. It is

ruled by the god Hades, who is evil and greedy. His goal is to let as many souls enter into the

underworld which was filled with empty promises, miserable emotions, and dark shadows. The

process Greeks believed of going to the underworld was that Thanatos, the God of Death, would

reach down and cut a lock of hair from their head, as they died. Then, Hermes, who was the

messenger would lead them to the River Styx. If their body had been buried, then Charon, the

ferryman, transported them across the river. On the bank of the river, they would face Cerberus

who was a three-headed dog that guarded the Underworld and he is in charge to stop people from

entering and escaping. After crossing the river, they would leave the ferry and walk on to a place

called the Asphodel Fields, where people forget all memories of their former life. Finally, they

would reach the road three judges who would decide where to send souls. The good people were

allowed to go onwards to Elysium which was heaven, or those that were bad would be sent to

Tartarus which was a dark, terrible place. If the judges can't decide where the souls should go, it

will sent back to the Asphodel Fields. Also, if the individual can't pay the fare with coins that

would be placed on their lips for a guaranteed passage, they would be trapped between the two

worlds.
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Temples were made for the Greeks and pray to seek health and guidance. They were

meant to serve as homes for each god or goddess who overlooked and provided that community.

The god or goddess was represented by an statue that was placed in the center of the temple. For

example, there is a statue of Zeus at Olympia which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of

the ancient world. There is also a statue of Athena in Athens which represents gold and victory.

Temples were in a sacred enclosure known as a temenos which reflected the origins of most

cults. It is also a custom to recite a prayer when they come across the temple. It is a complex

place where people and groups can come to worship and make offerings. There was a ceremony

called pharmakos which was a ritual that the people sacrifice the scapegoat which was a slave or

animal who was in a hard point in their life. When they sacrifice the scapegoat, they believe the

hardships will vanish away as well. Sometimes, there are occasions of public celebration that

included feasts, competitions, and productions in which the gods and goddesses were presented

with gifts. All in all, the people of Greece gather round the front of the temple to offer their

sacrifices while praying to the gods for success.

Greek mythology and the legends about the gods embodies how the Greek people

viewed the world around them. It represents how they would react and how rituals are performed

from generation to generation. The art that appeared on vases and paintings portrayed

meaningful stories. Greek mythology is a very important aspect because it influenced language,

literature, culture, and the arts, in a significant way which continues to play a major role in

society today. 

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Works Cited

Berens, E.M The Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome. New York: Maynard,

Merril, & Co., 1880.

Hemingway, Colette, and Seán Hemingway. “Greek Gods and Religious Practices.” In

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://

www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/grlg/hd_grlg.htm (October 2003).

Marinatos, Nano. Art and Religion in Thera, Reconstructing a Bronze Age Society,

Athens: I. Mathioulakis & Co., No date of Publication Given.

Pollard, John Richard Thornhill. "Greek Religion." Encyclopedia Britannica Online.

Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.