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This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs, rituals, and mythology originating in ancient Greece in the form of both popular public religion and cult practices. While there were few concepts universal to all the Greek peoples, there were common beliefs shared by many. Ancient Greek theology was polytheistic, based on the assumption that there were many gods and goddesses. There was a hierarchy of deities, with Zeus, the king of the gods, having a level of control over all the others, although he was not almighty.
Some deities had dominion over certain aspects of nature. While being immortal, the gods were certainly not all-good or even all-powerful. They had to obey fate, known to Greek mythology as the Moirai, which overrode any of their divine powers or wills. Aphrodite riding a swan: Attic white-ground red-figured kylix, ca. The gods acted like humans and had human vices. They would interact with humans, sometimes even spawning children with them.
At times certain gods would be opposed to others, and they would try to outdo each other. Some gods were specifically associated with a certain city. Athena was associated with the city of Athens, Apollo with Delphi and Delos, Zeus with Olympia and Aphrodite with Corinth. Greeks themselves were well aware that the Artemis worshipped at Sparta, the virgin huntress, was a very different deity from the Artemis who was a many-breasted fertility goddess at Ephesus. Poseidon, the god of the sea, as depicted on a statue in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Greeks believed in an underworld where the spirits of the dead went after death. A mosaic depicting the hero Herakles with Cerberus, a three-headed dog, who, according to mythology, guarded Hades.
Some Greeks, such as the philosophers Pythagoras and Plato, also embraced the idea of reincarnation, though this was only accepted by a few. Epicurus taught that the soul was simply atoms which dissolved at death, so there was no existence after death. The Judgment of Paris by Peter Paul Rubens, depicting the three goddesses, Hera, Aphrodite and Athena, in a competition that causes the Trojan War. This is a post-Renaissance painting illustrating the fascination that the nobility in Christian Europe had for the mythology of the ancient Polytheistic Greeks. Greek religion had an extensive mythology.
It consisted largely of stories of the gods and how they interacted with humans. Many species existed in Greek mythology. There was not a set Greek cosmogony, or creation myth. Different religious groups believed that the world had been created in different ways. One Greek creation myth was told in Hesiod’s Theogony. The mythology largely survived and was added to in order to form the later Roman mythology. Various religious festivals were held in ancient Greece.