The chapter was primarily focused on the significant changes in Greek religion that took place during the Hellenistic Period. It describes how religion in Greece today were influenced by the consolidation of external religions that Greece. The change in the Greek religion came about as a result of the arrival of new religious beliefs from other countries. The first setting of this exchange took place in the Island of Crete where early trades were carried out. Most of the changes were caused by the addition of new religious beliefs from countries like Egypt and Syria.
The introduction of Egyptian deities which included Isis, Serapis, Atargatis and of Hadad afforded new channel for the Greeks who were trying to find contentment and self-actualization in both their current life and life after death. During the Hellenistic period, worships were no longer solely given to deities but also to Hellenistic rulers. Semi-divine rulers who regarded themselves as god-kings inspired pharaonic tradition, thereby, holding them worthy of the peoples exaltation. While Hellenistic religion adapted the idea of offering worship to rulers, rulers had never become gods.
The mixture of cultures and religion between Greece and other countries had stimulated the expansive practices of magic, which is still being practiced up to this present time. In the Hellenistic era, Greeks developed a rather spiritual and religious connection to certain magical forms like oracles, prophecies, charms, and trinkets to put off bad luck and other troubles, and to cast incantations. Furthermore, the belief that the future of human life can be determined by the sun, moon, and stars likewise cropped up. hence, the concept of astrology. Perhaps, it was due to the syncretic approach of the Greeks towards religion during the Hellenistic era that ushered in the creation of Hellenistic thinking: Stoicism and Epicureanism.
Crucial to the changes in the Hellenistic religion was the introduction of the Olympian gods and goddesses. In fact, the term Olympian Pantheon is therefore called because these deities are believed to have resided on top of Mount Olympus. This had also stirred the foundation of Olympic Games in order to give honor to the deities athleticism. Every deity was venerated with temples, shrines, and sculptures which, while each god is revered with his or her own temple, likewise honor other deities. Fiestas and rites were carried out in different Greek cities that venerate their own patron god. For example, festivals and other forms of celebrations in Athens were aimed for Athena, the city’s patron deity.
Hellenistic philosophy delivered a new benchmark of religious concepts. The most far-reaching of these systematic beliefs was Stoic philosophy, which believes that every person should live consistent with the sensible and logical instruction and order of everything that surrounds him or
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her, and which was thought to be responsible for the management of the universe. Every person had to agree to take their destiny as consistent to the divine instructions, and righteous actions have got to be done for their individual inherent value. Differing Hellenistic philosophy was expressed by Epicureanism. It believes that the universe is not governed by anything spiritual or mystical for that matter, but is governed by the mobilization of physical attributes. Also, it believes that every person should live life in a way that gratifies body and soul and dissuade the existence of pain.
Cynics broached standards and material ownership. Likewise, new philosophical studies of the works of Plato and Aristotle cropped up. These philosophies, in all ways, had pointed towards the adaptation of conventional Greek religion. Nevertheless, the philosophers and their protégés, did not flourish and yet their teachings were solely employed and understood by the select few.
Not like other nationalities including, but not limited to, Indians and Chinese, the Greeks had never established a main religion. Much of their religious structures were based on the pantheon of the boisterous deities who meddled in the dealings of humanity. The Greeks dearth of spiritual desire furthered the expansion of mysterious religions that turned out to be more sustaining for the people. Given that Hellenistic religion did not afford a foundation for ethical thinking, Greek philosophers toiled to fashion a discrete, distinct philosophical method.
The determination to appreciate occurrences and marvels by the use of logical scrutiny and observation turned out to be the trademark of Greek culture. Socrates advised concern over nonspiritual standards for ethical decisions. Aristotle affirmed the significance of restraint to achieve equilibrium in both politics and religion. The Stoics affirmed individual moral individuality. Other Hellenistic thinkers endeavored to make sense of suitable political makeups. Plato suggested a superlative government where thinkers and academics reigned. Majority of the philosophers during the Hellenistic period asserted the need for a pragmatic and stable system integrating egalitarian rudiments. A secular philosophy urged importance on the capacities of the human thoughts.
Brink, T. and Denise Carmody. Ways to the Center: An Introduction to the World
Religions. Covington: Wadsworth Publishing, 2005. Print.