In the ancient Greek world, religion was personal, direct, and present in all areas of life. With formal rituals which included animal sacrifices and libations, myths to explain the origins of mankind and give the gods a human face, temples which dominated the urban landscape, city festivals and national sporting and artistic competitions, religion... [continue reading]
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The remains of the temple of Apollo, Delphi (4th century BCE). Site of the oracle and for the greeks the centre of the ancient world.
Also known as the Theseum because of its decorative sculpture depicting the feats of Theseus, the Doric temple, built in 449 BCE, is situated in the agora of Athens. Hephaistos and Athena, as gods of crafts were worshipped here and within were bronze statues of the divinities.
Temple of Poseidon (444-440 BCE), Sounion, Greece.
The Doric temple of Zeus, Nemea. c. 330 BCE.
The temple of Zeus at Nemea was constructed in c. 330 BCE and replaced an earlier temple which had stood from the 6th to 5th century BCE. Inside was a cult statue of the god. The temple was composed of an exterior Doric peristyle (6x12 unusually tall and slim columns) with an interior Corinthian colonade, topped by a second story of the Ionic order. There... [continue reading]
In ancient Greece the continued existence of the dead depended on their constant remembrance by the living. The after-life, for the ancient Greeks, consisted of a grey and dreary world in the time of Homer (8th century BCE) and, most famously, we have the scene from Homer's Odyssey in which Odysseus meets the spirit of the great warrior Achilles... [continue reading]
published on 05 March 2012
The fifth century BCE Greek historian Herodotus relates the importance of bees in ancient Greece, pointing out that the honey of neighboring countries was made using fruit, while the honey of the Greeks was produced by bees. The significance of this difference lies in that, to the Greeks of that time period, bees were considered to be divine insects... [continue reading]
What, exactly, this mystic ritual was, no one knows; but why the ancient Greeks participated in it can be understood by the testimonials of the initiated. The Eleusinian Mysteries, held each year at Eleusis, Greece, fourteen miles northwest of Athens, were so important to the Greeks that, until the arrival of the Romans, The Sacred Way (the road from Athens... [continue reading]
Another excellent book from the Oxford Handbook series with sixty-eight chapters arranged by theme, each written by a leading scholar in that particular field. Topics covered include literature, theatre, politics, philosophy, warfare, trade, and society. Strong on the literary arts it is strangely brief on subjects which are usually the staple topics of general... [continue reading]
published on 25 October 2012
A view from Filoppappos Hill of the Parthenon in Athens (447-432 BCE) built to house the giant statue of the goddess Athena, patron of the city.