Tuesday, May 16, 2017

G0d and Mankind 4,000 Years Ago: Part II Greece and Rome

Nadene Goldfoot                                            

First came the Titans; the original Greek gods found on Mount Othrys. This was in answer to the question, yes, but who made the gods of Olympus?  How did they get there?

.  "The mighty Titans were a powerful race that ruled the world before Olympians, in a time of the Golden Age of man. They were immortal giants of incredible strength and knowledge of old religion rituals and magic. They are also known as the Elder Gods and their dwelling place was at Mount Othrys. In Greek culture they were interpreted as personifications of the Earth (Gaea) and the Sky or Heavens (Uranus).
The first generation of Titans were descendants of Gaea and Uranus who originally gave birth to Twelve Titans, six males and six females. Males were Coeus, Cronus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus and Oceanus and females were Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Rhea, Theia, Themis and Tethys. They arose to power when Cronus, in a plot with his mother and his brothers, castrated his father Uranus and took the rulership of Cosmos from him. More details about the conflict can be found in the Genesis.  

During this reign, some brothers and sisters consorted with each other while others consorted with sons and daughters of their relatives and gave birth to the second generation of Titans. Hyperion and Theia gave birth to EosHelios and Selene, while Coeus and Phoebe brought forth Leto and Asteria. Oceanus and Tethys gave birth to Oceanids and Potamoi who are in general not referred as Titans. However, an Oceanid Clymene, a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, helped Iapetus to continue the next generation and bore him AtlasPrometheusEpimetheus and Menoetius. Crius and his half-sister Eurybia, a daughter of Gaea and Pontus, brought forth AstraeusPallas and Perses

 and, eventually, Cronus and Rhea gave birth to younger gods, ZeusHadesPoseidonHeraHestia and Demeter who rebelled against Cronus and his followers and later defeated them in a ten-year war, known as Titanomachy. They called themselves the Olympian Gods, after Mount Olympus which was their main dwelling place, and became the new rulers of Cosmos which included Earth (Gaea), the world most known to Greeks.                             
The Greek Gods at Olympus
One change from the Middle Eastern gods is that they are in human form here,
and act like humans.  In fact, they will be able to cohabit with humans and
produce half human-half gods.  
                       The ancient history of Greece goes back at least 6,000 years ago. In the ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, the Twelve Olympians are the major deities of the Greek pantheon, commonly considered to be Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus.
Zeus, king of the Gods, later called Jupiter by the Romans.
The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon (GreekΔωδεκάθεον from δώδεκα,[3][4] dōdeka, "twelve" and θεοί, theoi, "gods"), were the principal deities of the Greek pantheon, said to reside atop Mount Olympus. The Olympians gained their supremacy in a ten-year-long war of gods in which Zeus led his siblings to victory over their predecessor gods, the Titans.
Remains of the Temple of Zeus
A much later Greek, the  philosopher Xenophanes of Colophon (c. 570-478 BCE) once wrote: 

"Mortals suppose that the gods are born and have clothes and voices and shapes like their own. But if oxen, horses and lions had hands or could paint with their hands and fashion works as men do, horses would paint horse-like images of gods and oxen oxen-like ones, and each would fashion bodies like their own. The Ethiopians consider the gods flat-nosed and black; the Thracians blue-eyed and red-haired."
The contest of Athena and Poseidon, West Pediment of the Parthenon
Athena was the goddess of wisdom and of women's crafts in Greek mythology.
Poseidon was  the god of the sea.  

The name of Athens, " the capital of Greece, was also at the heart of Ancient Greece, a powerful civilization and empire."  It was connected to the name of its patron goddess Athena, who  originates from an earlier Pre-Greek language.  The etiological myth explaining how Athens acquired this name through the legendary contest between Poseidon and Athena was described by HerodotusApollodorus OvidPlutarchPausanias and others. It even became the theme of the sculpture on the West pediment of the Parthenon
Both Athena and Poseidon requested to be patrons of the city and to give their name to it, so they competed with one another for the honour, offering the city one gift each. Poseidon produced a spring by striking the ground with his trident, symbolizing naval power.

Xenophanes believed there was "one god, among gods and men the greatest, not at all like mortals in body or mind" but he was in the minority. Monotheism did not make sense to the ancient people aside from the visionaries and prophets of Judaism and their followers.  So for thousands of years, the Greeks also indulged in a pantheon of gods and were of a polytheistic religion.  
"Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for at least 5000 years. Situated in southern EuropeAthens became the leading city of Ancient Greece in the first millennium BCE, and its cultural achievements during the 5th century BCE laid the foundations of western civilization.
Prior to the rise of Athens, Sparta considered itself to be the leader of the Greeks, or hegemonSparta was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece. It was reported that other Greek States mocked the Spartans for their fastidious praise of the gods, as the Spartans believed that the gods were to be obeyed and respected without question.  The gods pertaining to war such as Ares and Apollo were their favorites.  Evidently the other Greeks didn't feel that way. 
nd respected  
In 499 BC, Athens sent troops to aid the Ionian Greeks of Asia Minor, who were rebelling against the Persian Empire (the Ionian Revolt). This provoked two Persian invasions of Greece (see Persian Wars). In 490 BC, the Athenians, led by the soldier-statesman Miltiades, defeated the first invasion of the Persians under Darius I at the Battle of Marathon.  This occurred about 100 years after the Babylonian attack on Judah by Nebuchadnezzar.  Darius the First who reigned from 522 to 486 BCE, inherited the throne of Cyrus.  Darius had permitted Zerubbabel and the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem to resume reconstruction of Solomon's Temple in 538 BCE.  There would be two more King Darius's to follow.  

Hades, known in the Eleusinian tradition as Pluto, was not usually included among the Olympians because his realm was the underworld. Plato connected the Twelve Olympians with the twelve months, and implies that he considered Pluto one of the twelve in proposing that the final month be devoted to him and the spirits of the dead.In Phaedrus, Plato seems to exclude Hestia from the rank of "the twelve great gods".


ROME:  According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BCE by twin sons Romulus and Remus who were raised by a she-wolf.The myth of a Trojan founding with Greek influence was reconciled through an elaborate genealogy (the Latin kings of Alba Longa) with the well-known legend of Rome's founding by Romulus and Remus. The most common version of the twins' story displays several aspects of hero myth. Their mother, Rhea Silvia, had been ordered by her uncle the king to remain a virgin, in order to preserve the throne he had usurped from her father. Through divine intervention, the rightful line was restored when Rhea Silvia was impregnated by the god Mars. She gave birth to twins, who were duly exposed by order of the king but saved through a series of miraculous events. 

 Romulus and Remus regained their grandfather's throne and set out to build a new city, consulting with the gods through augury, a characteristic religious institution of Rome that is portrayed as existing from earliest times. The brothers quarrel while building the city walls, and Romulus kills Remus, an act that is sometimes seen as sacrificial. Fratricide thus became an integral part of Rome's founding myth.  Roman history is full of killing family members for their own benefit of power or money.  
Romulus was credited with several religious institutions. He founded the Consualia festival, inviting the neighbouring Sabines to participate; the ensuing rape of the Sabine women by Romulus's men further embedded both violence and cultural assimilation in Rome's myth of origins.                                                    
Romans practiced sacrifice at a flaming altar.
Note the sacrificial axe that is carried.  
  The city of Rome originated as a village of the Latini in the 9th century BCE. It was initially ruled by kings, but the Roman Republic was established in 509 BCE. Israel's King David, their 2nd king, ruled from 1010 to 970 BCE, so was a good 500 years older than Rome.  Saul, born in the 11th century BCE, was their first king and was of the tribe of Benjamin.   Babylonia had finished conquering Israel almost 100 years previously.  During its twelve-century history, the Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy to an oligarchic republic to a immense empire.This is about 1,247 years after Abraham's days.  

Rome conquered Athens.   This was put down in 129 BC, when Pergamon was divided among Rome, Pontus, and Cappadocia.  . Athens and other Greek cities revolted in 88 BC, and the uprising was crushed by the Roman General Sulla. and took over their religion.  All they did was change the names of the gods to Roman names.  Thus, 

Greek Name       Roman Name
1. Zeus                 Jupiter
2. Hera                 Juno
3. Posidon            Neptune
4. Demeter           Ceres
5. Athena              Minerva
6. Apollo               Apollo
7. Artemis            Diana
8. Ares                 Mars
9. Aphrodite         Venus
10. Hephaestus    Vulcan
11. Hermes         Mercury
12. Hestea          Vesta
13. Dionysus       Bacchus

It seems the most popular god today might be the 13th, Bacchus, God of wine, celebrations, and ecstasy. Patron god of the art of theatre. Symbols include the grapevine, ivy, cup, tiger, panther, leopard, dolphin, goat, and pinecone. Son of Zeus and the mortal Theban princess Semele. Married to the Cretan princess Ariadne. The youngest Olympian god, as well as the only one to have a mortal mother.

The Roman poet Ennius gives the Roman equivalents (the Dii Consentes) as six male-female complements, preserving the place of Vesta (Greek Hestia), who played a crucial role in Roman religion as a state goddess maintained by the Vestals

Church and State mixed it up in the Roman days.  Females were not ignored but were goddesses, too, at least in the religion. Rome offered no native creation myth, and little mythography to explain the character of its deities, their mutual relationships or their interactions with the human world, but Roman theology acknowledged that di immortales (immortal gods) ruled all realms of the heavens and earth. There were gods of the upper heavens, gods of the underworld and a myriad of lesser deities between. Some evidently favoured Rome because Rome honoured them, but none were intrinsically, irredeemably foreign or alien. The political, cultural and religious coherence of an emergent Roman super-state required a broad, inclusive and flexible network of lawful cults. At different times and in different places, the sphere of influence, character and functions of a divine being could expand, overlap with those of others, and be redefined as Roman. Change was embedded within existing traditions

Rome came into contact with Judah.  "The first intervention of Rome in the region dates from 63 BCE, following the end of the Third Mithridatic War, when Rome made a province of Syria and controlled Judah.   After the defeat of Mithridates VI of PontusPompey (Pompey the Great) sacked Jerusalem and established Hasmonean prince Hyrcanus II as Ethnarch and High Priest, but he was denied the title of King."

Both the ancient Greeks and Romans practiced crucifixion, a practice they borrowed from the Persians,  as a method of capitol punishment for people they overcame.  Thousands of Jews had been crucified before Jesus  was put on their cross. 

 As Rome came into contact with foreign cultures, and conquered them, foreign religions increasingly attracted devotees among Romans, who increasingly had ancestry from elsewhere in the Empire. The emperors promoted the Imperial cult around the empire, and this and imported mystery religions were generally practiced alongside the official religion. Ultimately, Roman polytheism was brought to an end with the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the empire.
So it seems that the Roman religion of Mt. Olympus gods was new to them in 70 CE when they destroyed Jerusalem unless it had permeated the Romans first before the attack.  The Roman Empire had only come into being by 44 BCE by Augustus.  Then in 64 CE, Rome had burned under the rule during Nero, who was said to have fiddled while Rome burned.  From 69 -96 CE "Flavian Dynasty in Rome was involved in the  Building of the Colosseum. Did they realize that the very next year, Jerusalem would be destroyed and its Temple burned down?  
Burning the Temple and Jerusalem, 70 CE
by the Romans
After the Jewish General Bar Kokhba's revolt (132–135), the Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name of the province to Syria Palaestina and Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, which certain scholars conclude was an attempt to remove the relationship of the Jewish people to the region.  Instead, Jews prayed 3 times a day for their return for the past 2 thousand years.  We didn't forget, and now we're back home.  

Roman Empire:  The God, Mithras was a favorite of the
later Romans, another one borrowed from Persia.  "Mithraism, also known as the Mithraic mysteries, was a mystery religion centered around the god Mithras that was practiced in the Roman Empire from about the 1st to the 4th century. The religion was inspired by Persian worship of the god Mithra (proto-Indo-Iranian Mitra), though the Greek Mithras was linked to a new and distinctive imagery, and the level of continuity between Persian and Greco-Roman practice is debated. The mysteries were popular in the Roman military.
Worshippers of Mithras had a complex system of seven grades of initiation and communal ritual meals. Initiates called themselves syndexioi, those “united by the handshake”. They met in underground temples, called mithraea, which survive in large numbers. The cult appears to have had its centre in Rome.  Mithraism has sometimes been viewed as a rival of early Christianity  with similarities such as liberator-saviour, hierarchy of adepts (bishops, presbyters, deacons), communal meal and a hard struggle of Good and Evil (bull-killing/crucifixion)                                            
Saturnus, a Roman god wearing a special Greek style hat,
like the egg he came out of
Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of deity Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. The poet Catullus called it "the best of days.  In Roman mythology, Saturn was an agricultural deity who was said to have reigned over the world in the Golden Age, when humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in a state of innocence. The revelries of Saturnalia were supposed to reflect the conditions of the lost mythical age, not all of them desirable. The Greek equivalent was the Kronia.  

Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyhbHE-aRGg video of Titans
https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/is-god-a-trinity/how-ancient-trinitarian-gods-influenced-adoption-of-the  talks about importance of 3 gods in many ancient religions

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