Ancient Greek religion played a key role in the everyday life of Greek people. Their religion was based on numerous gods and is called a polytheistic religion.
Ancient Greek religion was based on the twelve Olympian Gods.
The people believed that their gods and human beings had formed a partnership to help each other. They believed their gods were of human form with emotions and had super powers.
The Olympian Gods
The first gods were Cronus and Rhea. They are called the Titans and are the parents of the twelve Olympian Gods in ancient Greek religion. The twelve gods and goddesses are the children of the Titans.
These gods were Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Dionysius, Demeter, Ares, Hermes, Haphaestus, Artemis, Apollo, Hestia, Aphrodite and Athena.
The ancient Greeks thought all gods were formed by Gaia-the Earth and Uranos-the Sky.
Zeus was considered the leader of all Olympian Gods after overthrowing the Titans and taking control. He was married to Hera, the queen of the gods.
Ancient Greeks worshipped each god for specific reason.
For instance, Dionysus was the god of theater and art, Ares was the god of war and Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty.
There were symbols for each god too such as a lightning bolt for Zeus, a trident for Poseidon and Athena’s symbols were an owl and olive branch.
The ancient Greeks built numerous temples to their gods. The temples were different places than a modern church.
Temples were constructed as homes to a specific god or goddess.
Priests took care of the temples and festivals as well as religious ceremonies took place outside of the temple.
An example of these temples would be the Parthenon in Athens, which was home to Athena and the Temple of Poseidon along the Cape Sounion.
Other examples of temples could be found in ancient Greeks homes like a Temple to Hestia, the goddess of the hearth. While eating, each person would save a portion of their food for the goddess.
Priests in ancient Greek society are referred to as Oracles. The Oracles looked after the gods and could speak to the gods.
The Oracles were respected by the people and the gods. Their other job was to tend to the temple and people that were visiting the temples.
You might wonder how a person became an Oracle. Either a man or a woman could become an Oracle. There were two ways a person could become an Oracle.
You were made an Oracle by a dying Oracle or your mother or father was an Oracle.
The ancient Greeks believed that the twelve gods and goddesses lived together as a family atop Mount Olympus.
Located in northern Greece, the summit of Mount Olympus is often cloudy and not visible. Mount Olympus is also the highest point in Greece and this added to the mystique of the twelve gods and goddesses.
The ancient Greeks believed the gods and goddesses were like any other human family and argued, loved each other as well as took care of each other.
Important facts about ancient Greek religion
- The Titans, Cronus and Rhea were the parents of the Olympic gods.
- There were twelve Olympic gods and goddesses.
- Zeus was the leader of the Olympic gods.
- The Olympic gods had a human form with emotions and had super powers.
- The Olympic gods lived atop Mount Olympus.
- Temples were constructed in each city-state for the Olympic gods.
- Priests were called Oracles.
- Only Oracles could talk to the gods.
1. Which goddesses was the wife of Zeus?
Hera, the queen of gods
2. Where did the gods live?
3. What were the symbols associated with Athena?
An olive branch and owl
4. Who were the only people able to speak with the Olympic Gods?
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