Saturday, August 2, 2014

Honouring the Ancient Greek Gods

If you wanted a god to look after you in Ancient Greece it was important to honour him or her properly. People honoured their gods in many different ways. They believed that in order to get something, first you had to give something – just like in everyday life. So, if you gave the gods things that they liked, they would be happy and return the favour by helping you. Sometimes people would just give a god something small, like a cake or some incense, but sometimes they would give larger gifts like statues or personal items.
An important kind of gift was an animal sacrifice. A number of people would gather together and kill an animal (usually a sheep, goat, pig or cow) near an altar to a god. They would then cook and eat the meat together at a feast. The bones and fat were burnt for the god as his or her share. Religious feasting like this bonded people together, and bonded people with the gods. Usually the Greeks honoured their gods one at a time and created plenty of opportunities to celebrate and honour the gods.



Whole cities would also give gifts to the gods, like temples and giant statues of them. Temples were mostly used to store valuable gifts that people had given to the gods. People did not meet inside them to worship – instead, they gathered around the altar, which was usually located in front of the temple. The altar was the most important part of a Greek sanctuary, not the temple. Some sanctuaries didn't even have temples.
Another way that the Ancient Greeks would honour the gods was through competitions. The Olympic games, for example, were held in Zeus' honour. In Athens, people competed to write and perform the best plays in honour of Dionysus. Processions were also an important part of Greek religion. People would walk long distances through cities or the countryside carrying gifts to the gods and sacred objects. Both competitions and processions were important events for the Greeks. They were entertaining and they bonded the community together.

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