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Curiously, for a people so religiously minded, the Greeks had no word for religion itself; the nearest terms were ).
During that period its influence spread as far west as Spain, east to the Indus River, and throughout the Mediterranean world.
Priests simply looked after cults; they did not constitute a clergy, and there were no sacred books.
The sole requirements for the Greeks were to believe that the gods existed and to perform ritual and sacrifice, through which the gods received their due.
The Mysteries offered a more-personal, less-distant relationship with the divine than did most of the Olympians. On one or two occasions (depending on the grade they wished to attain) the initiates went to Eleusis; what they saw there in the place of initiation sufficed to ensure them a life after death that was much more “real” than the afterlife portrayed in the Olympian belief that the dead were witless ghosts.
Ionian philosophers had offered a serious challenge to traditional religion.
Greek religion, religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Hellenes.
Greek religion is not the same as Greek mythology, which is concerned with traditional tales, though the two are closely interlinked.
The incomers applied the name of Zeus to his Cretan counterpart.
In addition, there was a tendency, fostered but not necessarily originated by An unintended consequence (since the Greeks were monogamous) was that Zeus in particular became markedly polygamous.
(Zeus already had a consort when he arrived in the Greek world and took Hera, herself a major goddess in Argos, as another.) Hesiod used—or sometimes invented—the family links among the deities, traced out over several generations, to explain the origin and present condition of the universe.
In those circumstances it is easy to overlook the fact that most Greeks “believed” in their gods in roughly the modern sense of the term and that they prayed in a time of crisis not merely to the “relevant” deity but to any deity on whose aid they had established a claim by sacrifice.
To that end, each Greek polis had a series of public festivals throughout the year that were intended to ensure the aid of all the gods who were thus honoured.