Artistic representation of the Statue of Zeus in Olympia
Zeus in Greek mythology is the king of the gods, the ruler of
Mount Olympus and the god of the sky and thunder.
Zeus was the child of Cronus and Rhea, and the youngest of
his siblings. In most traditions he was married to Hera,
although, at the oracle of Dodona, his consort was Dione:
according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione.
He has many godly and heroic offspring, including Athena,
Apollo and Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter),
Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen, Minos, and the Muses
(by Mnemosyne); by Hera, he is usually said to have fathered
Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus.
His Roman counterpart was Jupiter and his Etruscan
counterpart Tinia. In Hindu mythology his counterpart was
Indra with ever common weapon as thunderbolt.
Delphi is perhaps best-known for
the oracle at the sanctuary that
became dedicated to Apollo during
the classical period. It had origins
in prehistoric times and the
worship of Gaia.
The priestess of the oracle at Delphi was known as the Pythia. Apollo spoke through
his oracle, who had to be an older woman of blameless life chosen from among the
peasants of the area. The sibyl or prophetess took the name Pythia and sat on a
tripod seat over an opening in the earth. When Apollo slew Python, its body fell into
this fissure, according to legend, and fumes arose from its decomposing body.
Intoxicated by the vapors, the sibyl would fall into a trance, allowing Apollo to
possess her spirit. In this state she prophesied. It has been postulated that a gas came
out of this opening that is known to produce violent trances, though this theory
remains debatable. The oracle spoke in riddles, which were interpreted by the
priests of the temple, and people consulted her on everything from important
matters of public policy to personal affairs.
Acropolis at Athens
The Romans originally followed a rural animistic tradition, in which many
spirits were each responsible for specific, limited aspects of the cosmos and
human activities, such as ploughing. The early Romans referred to these as
numina. Another aspect of this animistic belief was ancestor, or genius, worship,
with each family honoring their own dead by their own rites. Rome had a strong
belief in gods. When they took over Greece, they inherited the Greek gods but
fused them with their Roman counterparts.
Based heavily in Greek and Etruscan mythology, Roman religion came to
encompass and absorb hundreds of other religions, developing a rich and
complex mythology. In addition, an Imperial cult supplemented the pantheon
with Julius Caesar and some of the emperors.
Under the Empire, religion in Rome evolved in many ways. Numerous foreign
cults grew popular, such as the worship of the Egyptian Isis and the Persian
Mithras. The importance of the imperial cult grew steadily, reaching its peak
during the Crisis of the Third Century.
12 Roman month names are:
Martius - Mars, the Roman god of war
Aprilis - Latin aperire, "to open,” - spring
Maius - Greek goddess Maia
Iunius - Roman goddess Juno, the wife of Jupiter
Quintilis (later Iulius)
Sextilis (later Augustus)
Ianuarius - Roman god Janus
Februarius - Latin term februum, which means purification
Stonehenge in Salisbury, England
Became important part of modern New Age believes in Druidry- nature gods, wicca.