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21 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
Why gods?
Polytheism vs. monotheism
Gods are organized in a pantheon

Gods have different functions and provinces

Gods interact with each other

In cult, e.g. common sacrifices

In myth, e.g. as friends, spouses, or enemies

All ancient Mediterranean religions are polytheistic

Almost the only exception is the religion of Israel
Why gods are good to think with?
A: ‘pre-science’
B: society
Gods help...
A: ‘pre-science’...why Gods?
Gods explain how the world functions

its day-to-day function

otherwise unexplained events

Gods guarantee the stability of the world

Gods help overcome a crisis
pre-science Scholars
Sir James George Frazer, 1854-1941: The Golden Bough. A Study in Religion and Magic (1890. 1915)
B: society..How Gods help
Gods explain the origin of society

Gods legitimate society

Gods prevent social revolutions

Gods help to solve social crises
Society important scholar
scholar: Emile Durkheim, 1858-1917: The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912 )
Why gods are dangerous:
They make us dependant and prevent our autonomy

BUT: They help us to think about ourselves
The fighting (intellectual)grandfathers
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), The Future of an Illusion

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), Archetypes
having the form of a human being”, from Greek anthropos ‘human being’ + morphe ‘form’)
Anthropomorphism chracteristics..Gods look like..
Gods look like humans

Gods act like humans

Gods feel like humans
Greek and Roman gods are ...
The Great Goddess from Catal Huyuk (Turkey), 6000 BC looks not very different from ...
the Great Goddess, Magna Mater/Cybele, in Rome, 200 AD
Limits of Anthropomorphism
Gods whose human forms are ‘larger than human’ (Shiva in India)

Gods who wholly or in part have animal form

Theriomorphism (ther = animal) (Sobek, Crocodile God in Egypt)
Greek thinking, gods look like humans, but they have different bodies from us:
they are stronger

they are larger

they are faster

they are more beautiful

they are ageless and deathless

they eat ambrosia and drink nectar

their blood is ‘ichor’
In an epiphany, the gods appear
in their true shape (e.g. Aphrodite to Aeneas)
tell-tale signs even without an epiphany
e.g. Poseidon to the Greeks
Gods act and feel like humans but...
But their actions and feelings have larger consequences
And often, they could not care less
Exception of anthromorph..Mountain Gods
“And the old man sat down on his mountain and took the trees out of his ears; only his dark hair is crowned with oaks.” )Ovid, Metamorphoses)
Exception of anthromorph...River Gods
“and not even the rivers were absent… they all came to Zeus’ house and sat on the benches” (Homer, Iliad 20). == (Achilleus attacks the river god Skamandros): “and in he jumped into his middle; but the river boiled with water … and a terrible wave grew around Achilles’. (Homer, Iliad 21).
Egyptian gods are...
the Crocodile God