Greco-Roman Religion

Greco-Roman Religion
By:Sarah Perry, Karen Rodriguez, Jo-Ann Smith,
Daniel Bondi, and Russell Megenity
Different gods were worshiped is different Greek city-states.
● for example, Athens worshiped Athena, Sparta believed in Artemis, and Corinth worshiped Aphrodite
The gods were believed...
● to be immune to disease and sickness
● to become invisible
● to travel long distances almost instantly
● to be able to speak through humans with or without their knowledge
There were 12 major Greek gods who lived on Mnt. Olympus.
● Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Dionysus, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Poseidon, and Zeus
Most Greek gods have Roman counterparts because the Roman Empire adopted many of the spiritual beliefs of
ancient Greeks who preceded them.
● Poseidon - Neptune
● Zeus - Jupiter
● Hades - Plato
Gods Cont.
● Athena
goodness of wisdom, the arts, law, justice, and warfare
daughter of Zeus and sister of Ares
symbol of female independence because of her defeat of Poseidon and escape from
Hephaestus’s attempted rape
● Poseidon
god of the sea
became an Olympian god in the Bronze Age of Greece
brother of Zeus and Hades
● Zeus
god of the sky and thunder
represented by a lightning bolt, an eagle, a bull and an oak tree
Basic Beliefs
● the earth was flat floating on the Ocean
● believed in monstrous creatures (
o EX. Keres- evil female spirits
o centaurs- wild half man half horse creatures full of knowledge
o medusa- winged female creature with snake hair)
● Hades was the destination of the dead separated from earth by the Styx
River (cannot enter without a proper burial)
● Elysium was a place of paradise for the good
● did not believe in reincarnation even though it was often discussed in
Greek philosophy
● The relationship between human beings and deities was based on the
concept of exchange: gods and goddesses were expected to give gifts
● Votive offerings, which have been excavated from sanctuaries by the
thousands, were a physical expression of thanks on the part of individual
● The major form of worship for both Greeks and Roman was sacrifice and
● The Greeks felt it was important for humans to show their reverence or
respect for the gods through their actions
● They made daily sacrifices to the gods and goddesses
o These sacrifices were generally food or drink; Greeks and Romans
would simply share part of each meal with the gods
o Animals such as goats, sheep, and birds might also be sacrificed to
the gods and the blood served in goblets.
Role of Women in the Religion
● Children outside of religion
● Most significant roles were found in cults
-Cults and Festivals involving Fortuna (Goddess of fortune) were the most important.
EX: Fortuna Virgo (Goddess of Virginity) protected young girls who ceremonially gave
their small togas to her when they came of age and wore a stola while moving to the
protection of Fortuna Primigenia (Goddess of fate and luck whose worship was
centered around the city of Praeneste- modern day Palestrina).
● Most important role was a Vestal Virgin
-6 priestesses representing the daughters of the royal house who tended to the cult
Vesta (goddess of the hearth).
- Virgins were chosen at the ages of 6-10 by a pontifex maximus “a chief priest”
-Requirements include: Ages 6-10, born free, both parents alive, free of mental and
physical defects.
Role of Women continued
Roles of Vestal Virgins:
● Tending to the fire in the Vesta Temple
● Keeping vow of chastity
● Getting water from sacred spring
● Preparing ritual food
● Caring for the object’s in the temples sanctuary
● Officiating at the Vestalia (a period of public worship for Vesta)
* Beaten if they didn’t do their duties and buried alive for breaking their vow of
● Ability to own their own land
● Emancipate from father’s rule
Texts and Books
Homeric Hymns:
-Hymns written anonymously celebrating 34 different gods
-NOT written by Homer
-Homeric because they share the same epic meter of writing as Homer’s
-Contains major hymns to Demeter, Apollo, Hermes, and Aphrodite
-Contains minor hymns to Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Athena, Artemis,
Hephaestus, and Ares
● Sacred writings have also survived in the form of oracles, inscriptions,
and instructions to the dead.
Origin and Diffusion
greek religion
-slowly conformed more and more with the roman religion
-The religion spread all the way from Dodana to Rhodes
-It was mostly greek centered until the end and more of the roman religion
was infused
Contact with other religions
● before christianity Greco-Roman polytheism ruled Rome and Greece
● spans a period from Minoan and Mycenaean periods where it appears to
evolve from the Hellenistic Bronze Age
● Herodotus (Ancient Greek historian) traced many practices back to
ancient Egypt
● by the 1st century BCE, there were other religions that worshipped Ba’al
and Astarte, a jewish synagogue, and romans who followed original
roman gods such as Apollo and Neptune.
Similarities and Differences
for the most part polytheistic as opposed
to monotheistic Judeo-Christian religions
Greco Romans believed their gods were
human men, while most other religions
thought of their gods as perfect in every
Greco Roman gods were seen as
approachable as if they were more
Females were respected in this religion
very much while in other parts of the
world they were rejected as equals
similar to many religions around the
world the Greco Romans used human
erected great houses and structures for
the gods such as temples and
The Greco Romans had a preceding
religion from Persia know as Mithraism
similar to Judeo-Christianity and many
other religions in the world
"Greco-Roman Gods and Goddesses." Greek Gods and Goddesses. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.
"Ancient Greek and Roman Religion." Ancient Greek Religion and Philosophy. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.
"Overview of Ancient Greek Religion." Overview of Greek Religion. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.
"Greco-Roman Religion and Philosophy." Gale Student Resources. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.
"Women in Roman Religious Life." GraecoMuse. 25 Dec. 2012. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Homeric Hymns." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 7 Apr. 2014.
Web. 15 Sept. 2014.
"Ancient Greek and Roman Religion." Ancient Greek Religion and Philosophy. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Vestal Virgins (Roman Religion)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia
Britannica. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.
Greco-Roman Edition
Sarah $100
Who was Poseidon?
God of the sea
Sarah $200
Name one of 12 major Greek Gods whose
name starts with an “H”.
Hephaestus, Hera, or Hermes
Sarah $300
What did Athena represent?
Female independence, wisdom, and justice
Sarah $400
Who was the Roman counterpart of Zeus?
Sarah $500
What was the place of paradise called?
Karen $100
True or False?
Gods and Goddesses were expected to give
Karen $200
What types of animals were usually
sacrificed to the Gods and Goddesses?
Goats, Sheep, and Birds
Karen $300
What concept was the relationship between
humans and deities based off of?
Karen $400
What were the major forms of worship for
the Greeks and Romans?
Sacrifice and Prayer
Karen $500
What are votive offerings?
Physical expression of thanks from
individual worshippers to a God/Goddesses
Jo-Ann $100
True or False?
Homeric Hymns were written by Homer.
False. It is unknown who wrote them.
Jo-Ann $200
What are the forms that sacred writings
can be found in?
Oracles, Inscriptions, Instructions to the
Dead, and Hymns
Jo-Ann $300
What are the Homeric Hymns?
Hymns written anonymously celebrating 34
different Gods
Jo-Ann $400
What does a Vestal Virgin represent?
Daughters of the royal house who tended to
the Cult of Vesta.
Jo-Ann $500
What is a “Pontifex Maximus”?
Chief Priest
Daniel $100
What is a practice that sets the GrecoRoman religion apart from others?
Daniel $200
Females were _____and______.
Respected and Equal
Daniel $300
Gods were seen as _______ by humans.
Daniel $400
What is the age in which Greco-Roman
Gods evolved?
Hellenistic Bronze Age
Daniel $500
What was the proceeding religion for
Russell $100
Who was the “mightiest” of Gods?
Russell $200
Was the Greek Religion polytheistic or
Russell $300
How did the people worship their Gods and
Through sacrifice
Russell $400
What was fate?
A predetermined way of things happening.
There is no way to change what is going to
Russell $500
In what civilization did Greek religion begin
The Mycenaeans