Just the facts on religion.

Ancient Greek Religion Greek Religion fast facts and introduction

Adherents

ancient form extinct; various modern revivals

Beliefs

Polytheism. Human life is subject to the whim of the gods and to Fate; these can be controlled through sacrifice and divination.

Practices

Animal sacrifice, harvest offerings, festivals, games, processions, dance, plays, in honor of the gods. Secret initiations and rituals in mystery religions.

Texts

Epic poems of Homer and Hesiod.

Two of the most powerful empires in the ancient world were Greece and Rome. It's impossible to understand these empires without understanding the religions that were so important to them. Religion wasn't simply a part of the lives of the ancient Greeks and the ancient Romans; religion was the lens through which they understood the universe and all the events within it. Although the religions of the ancient Greeks and Romans are virtually extinct in their original forms, they live on in the cultures, imaginations, and even the religions of the modern western world.

In the ancient world, "religion" and "philosophy" were not completely distinct entities. The beliefs of the average Greek or Roman might have been influenced both by traditional beliefs about the gods and ideas derived from the teachings of the philsophers. In addition, philosophers like Plato and Socrates addressed the subjects we often group under "religious" today, such as the meaning of life, the existence of an afterlife, the nature of the universe, and the nature of gods.

  • Greek religious beliefs

    Greek religion, spreading as it did over many centuries and many different city-states, incorporated a great deal of variety in its beliefs. Nevertheless, the "pantheons current among different communities have enough in common to be seen as essentially one system, and were generally understood as such by the Greeks... full article →
  • Glossary of Ancient Greek Religion

    Definitions of terms related to Ancient Greek Religion. full article →
  • Ancient Greek Festivals

    Ancient Greek festivals were major religious events that recurred annually, every two years, or every four years. The purposes and rituals of the festivals varied a great deal, but all had in common the desire to maintain a good relationship with the gods... full article →
  • Greek religious practices

    The most widespread public act of worship in ancient Greece was sacrifice, especially the blood sacrifice of animals. The temples of the Greek religion generally were not public gathering places where people gathered socially for collective indoor prayer; most temples were little more than boxes that held a cult idol of the deity... full article →
  • Timeline of Ancient Greek Religion

    The history of Greek Religion Timeline at a glance. full article →