These groups varied enough for it to be possible to speak of Greek religions or “cults” in the plural, though most of them shared similarities.
Polytheistic Greek religion encompassed a myriad of gods, each representing a certain facet of the human condition, and even abstract ideas such as justice and wisdom could have their own personification. Hades, not Tartarus, is the place of the dead but some especially wicked characters have been imprisoned in Tartarus to be punished. . Demeter 9. Greek religion, spreading as it did over many centuries and many different city-states, incorporated a great deal of variety in its beliefs. As illustrated by the above remark by the hero Achilles, death was not a glorius thing for the ancient Greeks. Hermes 6. This is similar to Catholic beliefs as we also believe that if we live a life of good then we can live eternally in a happy place. Only terrible sinners (like Tantalus, Tityus and Sisyphus) were punished after death; similarly, only a select few ended up in the paradisical Elysian Fields. Then the world came into existence when Earth was forcibly separated from her consort Heaven (Uranus) for a time so that she might give birth. Greek religion is not the same as Greek mythology, which is concerned with traditional tales, though the two are closely interlinked. , At the same time, however, the Olympians regularly directed the fate of human beings and one of Zeus' many epithets was Moiragetes, "guide of fate." "Greek religion," The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, 231.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, 213. "death, attitudes to." The earth, the sea, the mountains, the rivers, custom-law (themis), and one’s share in society and its goods were all seen in personal as well as naturalistic terms. Hesiod wrote that it would take an anvil nine days to fall from heaven to earth and another nine to fall from earth to Tartarus. Aphrodite 8. In Greek philosophy, this concept of a Supreme Law or Ulimate Reality was much more emphasized, often at the expense of traditional beliefs about the gods. Zeus 2. According to this account, four divine beings first came into existence: Chaos, the Abyss, Earth (Gaea) and Love (Eros).
This is seen in both Christianity and Ancient Greek religion. Hades was a cold, damp and dark realm that was guarded by the god of the same name. The notion that the human soul enters another body upon death, though unfamiliar in popular Greek religion, was widespread in Greek philosophy. Fate, while not a personal god, was nevertheless "half-personal because so clearly moralistic." Medusa –a winged female monster with hair made of snakes. With the rare exceptions mentioned above, Hades was the universal destination of the dead in Greek religion until the latter half of the 5th century BCE. Satyrs – half-man, half-goat nature spirits who dwelled in woods and mountains and were lusty followers of Dionysus 5. The primary source for the ancient Greek creation myth is Hesiod's Theogony. To effect this separation, Uranus' genitals were severed by his son Cronus (the father of Zeus) and thrown into the sea, from which rose Aphrodite.
In Roman mythology, Tartarus was the eternal destination of sinners in general. Although Herodotus claims that the Greeks learned this idea from Egypt, most scholars do not believe it came either from Egypt or from India, but developed independently. All rights reserved. It is where Sisyphus, thief and murderer, must repeatedly push a boulder up a hill for eternity; where Ixion, who killed his father-in-law, is attached to a flaming wheel; and where Tantalus is kept just out of reach of cool water and grapes for sharing the secrets of the gods with humans. Medusa –a winged female monster with hair made of snakes. 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." 4. Athena 3. Phlegethon, Acheron, Cocytus). In Homer's epics, the dead are "pathetic in their helplessness, inhabiting drafty, echoing halls, deprived of their wits, and flitting purposelessly about uttering batlike noises." The ancient Greeks viewed the earth as a flat disk floating on the river of Ocean. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, 150. Tartarus is also where monsters and other enemies have been cast after being defeated by the gods, including the Cyclopes, the Titans and Typhus. . In Plato's Timaeus, the world is treated as a living thing, with body and soul. "Greek mythology." Apollo 4. The "gates of Hades" were guaded by the fearsome hound Cerberus, who wags his tail for new arrivals but does not allow anyone to leave. The doctrine of transmigration is first associated with the Pythagoreans and Orphics and was later taught by Plato (Phaedo, Republic) and Pindar (Olympian). While there were few concepts universal to all the Greek peoples, some common beliefs were shared by many. Satyrs – half-man, half-goat nature spirits who dwelled in woods and mountains and were lusty followers of Dionysus, Centaurs – half-man, half-horse creatures who were wild and lawless but possessed cultural knowledge, Typhon - represents disorder and devastation. Encyclopaedia Britannica; Hesiod, Theogony 126ff. Greek religion was this-world oriented; any postmortem benefits of religious beliefs and actions were only peripherally considered, if at all. The most important gods, though, were the Olympian gods led by Zeus: 1. ReligionFacts provides free, objective information on religion, world religions, comparative religion and religious topics. Poseidon 5. Hera 7. Ares 10.
"I'd rather be a day-laborer on earth working for a man of little property than lord of all the hosts of the dead." , That Greek religion was polytheistic is clear, but it also incorporated concepts that could be said to resemble an Ultimate Reality. Greek religion, religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Hellenes. Keres - evil female spirits 3. A similar concept is found in Japanese Buddhism in the Sanzu River, which the dead must cross on the way to the afterlife. Centaurs – half-man, half-horse creatures who were wild and lawless but possessed cult… If we live a life of sin, then we will be tortured in hell. 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. Religiously speaking, the most important thing to do in life is believe in the gods and perform the proper sacrifices and rituals. Hephaistos 13.
Closely related to Elysium is Hesiod's Isles of the Blessed, mentioned in his Works and Days, which was located in the western ocean. Elysium (also called Elysian Fields or Elysian Plain) was a paradise inhabited at first only by the very distinguished, but later by the good. In Greek religion, Tartarus was the deepest region of the underworld, lower than Hades.  While undesirable when compared with life on earth, this vague, shadowing existence was not generally cause for fear of the afterlife.
Another aspect of Greek religion worth mentioning is the set of mythological and sometimes monstrous creatures that populate its myths, the most notable being the following: Plato emphasized the existence of a soul that is separate and distinct from the body. This would avoid reprisals both from gods and fellow human beings and encourage gifts from the gods. Even Zeus, the mightiest of all gods, was subject to the powerful force of Destiny or Fate.