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Soulless Zombie's picture
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I realise this was covered a bit in the other post in this forum, but I came upon this little piece on Greek religious practice which I found quite interesting and so I thought I'd share it with you guys:

Religious Practice

The Gods - All To Human

The Greeks' gods seem unusual to modern eyes. In the things they did and in their motives, they were too close to humans to be thought sacred or divine. The only moral examples they set were bad ones - abuse of power, domination, pleasure-seeking, vengeance and boundless egotism were all godly characteristics. They were not even all-powerful: they had to share power with the Fates - up to three remote beings who goverened particularly the start and the end of human life - and so only had limited control of events. And they suffered so much from human failings, that they were unhappy. Human life was bound often to be wretched and miserable, and the gods ensured everyone recieved their full portion. Fate and the jealousy of the gods determined the destiny even of heroes, regardless of their moral righteousness. Consequently, instead of being revered, they were feared.

Part 2

Kaarin's picture

The People

No one was instructed in religion and although worship was not compulsory, most people practised it. Those especially devoted to a particular deity could delve deeper through initiation into the god's dedicated and usually secret cult; they were promised the ultimate reward of an afterlife in the Elysian Fields. But for most people, normal forms of worship were enough.


Worship did not take place in temples, but often in homes where prayers could be said and an offering made - usually of wine, called a libation - at a small altar. People would remember the gods as they went about their daily business - for example, someone setting out on a hunt might pray for success to Artemis, the goddess who goverened hunting. For a particluar request, a worshipper would take an offering in sacrafice to the god's temple.


The gods each had their own temples and priests or priestesses who made sure that the rules of the offering and worship were followed. The closeness of godly-human contact meant the temples were seen as the god's home on earth, and temple designs were based on palaces. Inside the temple, in a room called the cella, stood the cult statue of the god to whom the temple was dedicated; the statue of Zeus in his temple at Olympia was over 43 ft high and was made of gold and ivory and was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. An altar stood, sualy at the temple enterance, where worshippers could bring food or drink, animals or birds for sacrafice by a priest, according to normally strict rules. But for major undertakings, people tried various ways to discover the gods' will.

Religious Practice

Kaarin's picture

There is still quite an interesting bit about communication via oracles and about Greek religious festivals, which I will add later.

Part 3

Kaarin's picture

Fortelling The Future

Direct communication with a deity was possible through an oracle. In one of these revered places, a special priest or priestess would pass on the message of a god in answer to a question. The most famous of Greek oracles was Apollo's temple at Delphi, where his priestess, the Pythia, conveyed his replies to particular questions. Such was the popularity of the Phythia's consultations that their frequency increased from anually to weekly, and she had to recruit another Pythia. The priestess bathed in special waters, drank from a holy well and inhaled the scent of burning laurel leaves (Apollo's symbol) before giving her pronouncements from behind a curtain in the temple's inner sanctum.

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