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Greek Religion & Mythology
 Greek
mythology was “anthropomorphic”
(Their gods had human characteristics)
 It was believed that the gods controlled
everything from the stars to the harvest.
 They believed in the power of 12 brilliant
gods called the Olympians. Many festivals
were had in honour of them.
The 12 Olympian Gods &
Zeus – Sky God and Chief God
Hera – Marriage & Childbirth
Poseidon – Sea & Earthquakes
Demeter – Earth Mother, Fertility, Crops
Hestia – Hearth
Athena – Wisdom & Skill
Apollo – Sun & Music
Artemis – Hunting & The Moon
Hermes – Messenger of the Gods
Aphrodite – Beauty & Love
Hephaestus – Metalwork
Ares - War
 Outside
Hades (Zeus’ brother) was god of the
 There
of Mount Olympus
were other less important dieties
Muses: Inspired artists and poets
The Fates: 3 females who controlled the
destinies of humans
The Furies: avenged those who were killed by
family members
Religious practices
 Practiced
individually (usually)
 To speak to the gods they went to shrines
or temples and prayed.
 Greeks were very superstitious and
thought that bad luck meant they had
angered a God
 Why would they go to the gods?
Illness, harvest, battle, marriage, birth
To get their blessing
To avoid punishment
 Greeks
would speak out loud to the
gods with their arms stretched out.
 They had no organized church and no
religious teachings and laws.
 There were priests, but they had no
 The Book of Orpheus (used by
priests) was the closest thing to a
sacred text.
 Oracle was a person who spoke for
the Gods. People would come from
all over seeking their advice.
Death & The Afterlife
Burial rites
Women’s responsibility
Would wash and oil the body, wrap in a shroud
and place a crown on the head
A coin was placed in the mouth for the boatman
One day for visitors to pay respects
Body was carried out to the tomb transported by
pallbearers. Funeral oration (epitaphios) was
Funerals were often used to display wealth.
Professional mourners would often be hired.
The River Styx
 Hermes
(the messenger God) delivered
the deceased to the River Styx. They had
to cross the Styx to get over to the
 They were met at the river by Charon, the
boatman. Here they were to pay a fee of
one obolus one to cross the river.
 Cerberus protected the underworld and
prevented those who entered from ever
leaving again.
Happiness in Hades?
 The
underworld was described as: dreary,
shadowy and cheerless
 Greeks thought that by remembering the
dead with offerings of food and drink, they
might ensure their happiness.
 The Greeks believed that to achieve some
form of happiness in the afterlife you
needed to examine the mysteries of