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Polytheism and Greek Mythology

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Submitted By jedandcash
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Polytheistic Greek myths explain religion and ritual worship. Polytheistic myths allowed the Greeks to explain the origins of the universe and allow for elaboration by introducing new gods, to stress the importance of ritual and sacrifice, and to give moral standards by showing that even gods can make the same mistakes as humans. Myth first and foremost explains the origins of the universe, the gods, and humankind. Polytheistic gods were necessary because they allowed for new gods to be introduced in order to answer questions that could not be answered. Chaos produced Gaea, Tartarus, and Eros, as well as darkness/night and radiance/day (Lecture 4). From these gods, there are still many others needed to explain why the earth is the way it is. Thus the mountains, the sky, the sea, and love, among many others, are introduced to show how the earth became the way it is. Because of polytheism, these new gods are able to be accepted into the origin story.
Polytheism also taught the Greeks the importance of ritual and sacrifice. Since Prometheus stole fire from the gods and brought it to humankind, he had to sacrifice an ox to appease Zeus (Morford 2014, 93). This story tells both how the humans received fire and how the practice of animal sacrifice came to be. This practice of proper sacrifice became arguably the most important ritual in Greek life. Humans believed that sacrifice would encourage the gods to bring them good fortune and help them avoid reprisal. If this ritual was not practiced properly, the Greeks only had to remember King Lycaon’s people to know that the gods could become so angry that the entire world could be washed away without sacrifices (Lecture 9).
Finally, polytheistic mythology allowed the gods to interact with each other in a human-like manner, where certain actions carried consequences regardless if one were a god or a man. When...

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