Greek / Roman Polytheism
Ancient Classical Greek & Roman Religious Mythology Origins
Out of the void of Chaos came Great Grandmother Gaia (Earth), Great Grandfather Uranus (Sky), Pontus (Sea), Eros (Love), Tartarus (Suffering), and Erebus (Dark). Gaia and Uranus were the parents of the Titans (monster gods): Kronos (Time), Hyperion (Light), Oceanus (Ocean), Rhea (Land), Prometheus (Fire), and others. Kronos castrated the tyrannical Uranus, and became King Titan. Kronos and his sister-wife Rhea gave birth to Olympian Gods. Kronos’ son Zeus, waged war on the Titans and won. Zeus married his sister, Hera, and begot more Olympian Gods. The Olympian myths began as an oral bardic tradition based on ancient leaders at least as early as 1,700 BC (St. Jerome).
Kronos created humans from Earth, and there is symbolism to interpret historically. Kronos respected the Earth (his mother Gaia) and was most likely a prehistoric king-chieftain of agricultural settlements. Prince Kronos rebelled against his warlord father Uranus, who worshiped the Sky and raided settlements. Kronos defended the people of these settlements, and they worshiped him (like Gilgamesh). Humans were allowed to grow food freely from the Earth, the arts were allowed to flourish between villages, and thus events in Time were orally recounted more often, creating the Greek Golden Age. From Neolithic times until the Silver Age, Gaia ruled also; as Mother Earth fertility goddesses were powerful (the last great goddess perhaps being the Roman Venus). Zeus and the Olympians came to power in the Silver Age, and made humans from ash trees. These humans fought and disobeyed the gods, so Zeus killed them. The Bronze Age began, and eventually led into the Heroic Age (which I consider to be historically a part of the Bronze Age in accordance with Ovid).
The Olympian Gods were already worshiped by the time of the Trojan War. The Trojan War would have been about 1,000 BC, yet Homer wrote around 850 BC. Influences from other cultures often inspired new themes.
– (Hesiod, Homer)
Neolithic Era (10,000-2,000 BC)
Mycenaean Bronze Age (1600–1000 BC)
Homeric Age (1000–700 BC)
Archaic Period (700-480 BC)
Classical Period (480-320 BC)
Hellenistic Period (320-150 BC)
Primary Primordial Deities
Gaia / Terra (Earth), Uranus / Caelus (Sky), Pontus (Sea), Eros / Cupid (Love), Tartarus (Suffering), and Erebus (Dark)
Primary Titan Deities
Kronos / Saturn (Time), Hyperion / Sol (Light), Oceanus (Ocean), Rhea (Land), Prometheus (Fire)
Thirteen Primary Greco-Roman Olympian Deities
- Zeus Jupiter: Sky & Air
- Hera Juno / Hestia Vesta: Mothers
- Poseidon Neptune: Water & Ocean
- Demeter Ceres : Agriculture
- Dionysus Bacchus: Wine, nature (Pan)
- Ares Mars: War
- Aphrodite Venus: Love
- Apollo Helios: Fire, Sun & Light
- Artemis Diana : Moon, Hunting,
- Athena Minerva: wisdom, arts & crafts
- Hephaestus Vulcan: Blacksmith & Metals
- Hermes Mercury: Economics, Trade & Messengers
13. Hades Pluto: (Dis) Darkness, Underworld, & Death
The Romans combined their Etruscan pantheon with the Greek pantheon. Rome had a local origin story, involving the immigrant Trojan veteran Aeneas, and his descendents Romulus and Remus. In 750 BC Romulus and Remus were raised by animals and shepherds in the wilderness. Romulus killed Remus and founded Rome (much like how Cain slew Able in the Torah). Venus may have been the last great goddess worshiped in western civilization, until the modern American Lady Liberty (Statue of Liberty in the USA) and Lady Justice.