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Ancient Greek Gods as a religion by Ngu Wah

In the week 4 tutorial class, our lecturer Mr.John mainly discussed about the ethics in different perspectives and the different types of world religions. This week topic was interesting for me because unlike the previous weeks, we shared and discussed about the religious beliefs based on different perspectives. Moreover, I have got the chance to know and learn about the some types of religions that I have never heard before and it was so fascinating for me to learn the new things.

What I understand and accept about the religions is that all the religions and the Gods tell and show the ways to the people to do the good things in life. None of them tell us to do the bad things for ourselves and for others. So, why did the different kinds of religions appear? For this question, I personally believed that people see the world in different perspectives and that is why the different types of religions appeared. In my point of view, although we believe and accept in one religion, we should respect all the religions and we should have wider view for all.

For me, I am a Muslim and I believe in Islam as my way of life but I am also eager to know about other religions. Especially about the ancient Greek Gods religion because I have heard their stories since I was young, I have watched the famous movies about the Greek Gods and it makes me to be interested to study about their religion. Therefore, I would like to share my understandings based on the research about the “Ancient Greek Gods” as a religion.

Greek religion also known as Hellenismos  involves the collection of beliefs and rituals practiced in ancient Greece. The time period of 146BC era, the ancient Greek religion was emerged and the religion of the Greek extended beyond the mainland Greece then out to other islands. The ancient Greek theology was based on Polytheism that is they do believe in that there were many gods and goddesses according to their own field and power. Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, Ares, Dionysus, Hephaestus, Athena, Hermes, Demeter, Heracles, Hestia, Asclepius and Hera are the major gods for Greek people that people accepted them as the most power and influential gods for them.

There was also a hierarchy of gods such as Zeus, the king of the gods, having a level of control over all the others, although he was not omnipotent. . Besides, some gods had dominion over certain aspects of nature and some gods ruled over an abstract concept. For instance, Zeus was the sky-god. He has the power of sending thunder and lightning. Poseidon ruled over the sea and earthquakes. Hades projected his remarkable power throughout the realms of death and the underworld especially the hell. Helios controlled the sun. Aphrodite controlled love. Although people believed that their gods are immoral, they accepted that the gods were not all powerful because they have to obey fate.

Therefore, ancient Greek people do believe in fate. Moreover, the Greek gods acted like humans to know the real lifestyle of human beings, and had human vices. They interact with humans, sometimes even the women spawning children with them. Then, half-god, half-human were born and according to the history, they were even more powerful than the gods because they possess both the strengths of human and gods. For the afterlife perception, the Greeks believed in an underworld where the spirits of the dead went after death.

People were very concerned about the funerals preparation because unless the proper funeral rituals were performed, the deceased person’s spirit would never reach the underworld and so would haunt the upper world as a ghost forever. Only a few amount of people who fought the Trojan and Theban wars, were considered to have been physically immortalized and brought to the heaven. For most people at the moment of death there was, however, no hope of anything but continued existence as a disembodied soul. For the festivals of Greek gods, various religious festivals were held in ancient Greece.

Mostly, they do the celebration according to the name of gods or city-state. For the morality of this religion, one of the most important things was a fear of committing hubris, which constituted many things especially the rape. It was a big crime for them.  Although pride and egotism were not considered sins themselves, the Greeks emphasized moderation. Pride only became hubris when it went to extremes, like any other vice. The same was thought of eating and drinking. Anything done to excess was not considered proper. Pride was not evil until it became all-consuming or hurtful to others.

Sacrificing domestic animals at the altar with hymn and prayer was a typical kind of worship for the Greek. Parts of the animal were burned for the gods and the worshippers eat the rest. Sacrificial rituals played as a very important part in forming the relationship between humans and the divine. . According to estimates reported by the U.S. State Department, there are about 2,000 followers of the ancient Greek religion out of a total Greek population of 11 million.  However, Hellenismos leaders place that figure at 100,000 followers. Therefore, there are still many people believed in the religion of ancient Greek gods and for me, it was one of the most fascinating religions to know and understand their beliefs and perceptions.

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