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Old 10-08-2012, 11:01 PM   #31
corroonb
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While I'm not an expert in Greek religion or mythology (general Classics degree and masters), I have to disagree with some of what Harry is saying. The Greeks did not see any significant difference between the deities they worshipped and those same deities in myths. The Homeric poems were not sacred texts in the sense of the Bible; they were not thought of as the words of a god. However they did serve to provide a common (Olympian) pantheon of gods that could be adapted to whatever local deity they most resembled. The Greeks also did this with foreign gods, they assigned them a Greek counterpart in a process known as syncretism. The foreign and local counterparts were not conceived as distinct deities but different aspects of one god from the patheon. Zeus had a number of different regional identities but was still Zeus. Apollo had numerous local aspects but a single basic identity.

Most of the stories did not play a direct role in rituals but they definitely played a part in how ordinary Greeks thought about their gods. The Homeric Hymns almost definitely had ritual functions at some point judging by some of the references to cult locations. The Iliad and the Odyssey were recited at festivals which had strong religious elements. They were not as definitely separated as Harry seems to be suggesting, that may have come later among a certain class of educated philosophers but ordinary Greeks did not seem concerned about the truthfulness or otherwise of the "myths". However they were not simply "stories", ie made up or false. The Greek philosophers debated this extensively so evidently most people thought of the epics as somewhat historical if not exactly in the way we would define such thing. They did not have the same distinction between myth and history that we do.

The Christian stories about Jesus appear related to fables such as those of Aesop which have morals. I imagine there might be similar Hebrew or Aramaic stories not necessarily for children. The Greek myths are mostly quite amoral (and perhaps immoral for some) and don't usually have a simple moral or message.

Last edited by corroonb; 10-09-2012 at 12:25 AM.
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