modern hellenistic religion

The characteristic religion of the Hellenistic period was dualistic. . [17] Ptolemy's son Ptolemy II Philadelphus proclaimed his late father a god, and made himself a living god. It is based on the modern form of Hellenism called humanism clearly descended from the human centered worldview of the Greeks. The first of these was established under Alexander, whose conquests, power, and status had elevated him to a degree that required special recognition. The historical Hellenistic Age is defined as the period from the death of the Greco-Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great (323 bc) to the conquest of Egypt by Rome (30 bc), but the influence of the Hellenistic religions extended to the time of Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor (d. ad 337); these religions are confined to those that were active within the Mediterranean world. Certain cult centres remained sites of pilgrimage or objects of sentimental attachment; but the old beliefs in national deities and the inextricable relationship of the deity to certain sacred places was weakened. For the faithful, religious practice provides a link between humanity and the spiritual world, joining people together in communities of worship and service. Although rare in mainland Greece, it was common on the islands and in Anatolia. Elsewhere, practice varied; a ruler might receive divine status without the full status of a god,[9] as occurred in Athens in 307 BCE, when Antigonus I Monophthalmus and Demetrius I Poliorcetes were honored as saviors (soteres) for liberating the city, and, as a result, an altar was erected; an annual festival was founded; and an office of the "priest of the Saviours" was introduced. For example, Isis (Egypt), Baal (Syria), the Great Mother (Phrygia), Yahweh (Palestine), and Mithra (Kurdistan) were worshiped in their native lands as well as in Rome and other cosmopolitan centres. Another philosophy was Epicureanism, which taught that the universe was subject to the random movements of atoms, and life should be lived to achieve psychological contentment and the absence of pain. Its membership was drawn from the ethnic group for whom the deity was indigenous, and the group tended to continue to speak the native language. The Hellenistic period was characterized by a new wave of Greek colonization which established Greek cities and kingdoms in Asia and Africa. Basic Introduction to Hellenistic Polytheism Rational Pagan. Old texts in native languages (especially those related to relevant themes such as kingship) were recopied, national temples were restored, and old, mythic traditions were revived. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. It incorporates study, ritual, philosophy, and what we call Mysteries, which are the deepest teachings of the religion. Such heroes ranged from the mythical figures in the epics of Homer to historical people such as the founder of a city. Hellenistic art is richly diverse in subject matter and in stylistic development. Each of these native religions also had diasporic centres that exhibited marked change during the Hellenistic period. These religions often had a goal of personal improvement, which would also extend to the afterlife. Ancient sacred books were translated or paraphrased into Greek—e.g., the 4th–3rd-century-bc Babylonian priest Berosus’ version of Babylonian materials, the 4th–3rd-century-bc Egyptian priest Manetho’s Egyptian accounts, the Jewish Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament), or the 1st-century-ad Jewish historian Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, and the ethnic histories of the 1st-century-bc Greek writer Alexander Polyhistor. Syncretism is inappropriate, he says, as it attempts to harmonize Hellenistic religious thought and behavior as a defined system while ignoring the differences: “syncretism betrays modern theological and historiographical concerns” (101). Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. It was a time of spiritual revolution in the Greek and Roman empires, when old cults died or were fundamentally transformed and when new religious … The religion came back in 1967, while Lithuania was under Soviet rule. Hellenistic people saw themselves as exiles from their true home, the Beyond, and they sought for ways to return. Indeed, many of these native religions underwent a conscious archaism during this period, attempting to recover earlier forms and practices. It is usually by concentrating on the diaspora that the Hellenistic character of a cult has been described. This philosophy provided the foundation for Hellenism, which was devoted to the supremacy of human beings and human accomplishment. Map: The Hellenistic World after the Death of Antigonus, 300BCE; [At Internet Archive, from Acadia] Map: Ptolemaic and Seleucid Empires in 240 BCE Plutarch (c.46-c.120 CE): Life of Demetrius [At MIT] Ptolemaic Egypt (323-30 BCE) Athanaeus (fl. Hellenistic artists copied and adapted earlier styles, and also made great innovations. In each case the material was reinterpreted both in light of common Hellenistic ideals and in accord with the special traditions and needs of the diasporic community. [12] Serapis was patronized by the Greeks who had settled in Egypt. These individuals tended to speak Greek, and this began the lengthy process of reinterpretation of the archaic religion. On the Hellenistic interest in the theatre, see Pollitt, Art in the Hellenistic Age: 4-7. This led to a change from concern for a religion of national prosperity to one for individual salvation, from focus on a particular ethnic group to concern for every human. It was called the Romuva movement, a call to connect Lithuanians back to their roots. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Martin critiques the modern concept of syncretism to describe Hellenistic religions. Almost every religion in this period occurred in both its homeland and in diasporic centres—the foreign cities in which its adherents lived as minority groups. ... A basic introduction to the religion, including symbols and ritual. [1] The city-states would conduct various festivals and rituals throughout the year, with particular emphasis directed towards the patron god of the city, such as Athena at Athens, or Apollo at Corinth. The empire of Alexander and his successors created a great world community which, whether in Macedonian, Greco-Roman, or its later Christian form, established a cultural unity that was destined to be broken only 1,000 years later with the advent of Muslim imperialism (beginning in 7th century ad). During the 18th century, several notable authors and freethinkers embraced Ancient Greek religion to some extent, studying and translating ancient works of theology and philosophy, and in some cases composing original hymns and devotionals to the Ancient Greek pantheon. The study of Hellenistic religions is a study of the dynamics of religious persistence and change in this vast and culturally varied area. The worship of deified Hellenistic rulers also became a feature of this period, most notably in Egypt, where the Ptolemies adapted earlier Egyptian practices and Greek hero-cults and established themselves as Pharaohs within the new syncretic Ptolemaic cult of Alexander the Great. "This is a book that makes extensive and expert use of the epigraphic evidence for Hellenistic Athens (with sizeable pasages quoted in translation). [20], An alternative to traditional religion was offered by Hellenistic philosophy. [9] Although the Egyptian religion found only a small audience among the Greeks themselves, her popularity spread under the Roman empire,[10] and Diodorus Siculus wrote that the religion was known throughout almost the whole inhabited world. What is Hellenismos? "Hellenistic" is a modern word and a 19th-century concept; the idea of a Hellenistic period did not exist in ancient Greece.Although words related in form or meaning, e.g. The Hellenistic States. Updates? Magic was a central part of Greek religion[2] and oracles would allow people to determine divine will in the rustle of leaves; the shape of flame and smoke on an altar; the flight of birds; the noises made by a spring; or in the entrails of an animal. Throughout the Hellenistic world, people would consult oracles, and use charms and figurines to deter misfortune or to cast spells. The prophet or saviour replaced the priest and king as the chief religious figure. The second (or outer circle) was composed of either second- and third-generation immigrants or converts from groups for whom the religion was not native. Elsewhere, rulers might receive divine status without achieving the full status of a god. Hellenistic religion, any of the various systems of beliefs and practices of eastern Mediterranean peoples from 300 bc to ad 300. The difference between these groups was responsible for many shifts in the character of the religion. [2] Figurines, manufactured from bronze, lead, or terracotta, were pierced with pins or nails, and used to cast spells. Omissions? All of these philosophies, to a greater or lesser extent, sought to accommodate traditional Greek religion, but the philosophers, and those who studied under them, remained a small select group, limited largely to the educated elite.[7]. Change came from the addition of new religions from other countries, including the Egyptian deities Isis and Serapis, and the Syrian gods Atargatis and Hadad, which provided a new outlet for people seeking fulfillment in both the present life and the afterlife. [6] There is plenty of documentary evidence that the Greeks continued to worship the same gods with the same sacrifices, dedications, and festivals as in the classical period. . It is also called Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenic Reconstructionist Paganism, or simply Hellenism. "[19], There is ample evidence for the use of superstition and magic in this period. The first (or inner circle) was composed of devout, full-time adherents of the cult for whom the deity retained a separate and decisive identity (e.g., those of Yahweh, Zeus Serapis, and Isis). Rather it is best understood as the study of archaic Mediterranean religions in their Hellenistic phase within both their native and diasporic settings. This empire was so vast as truly to stagger the imagination. [2], Astrology — the belief that stars and planets influence a person's future — arose in Babylonia, where it was originally only applied to the king or nation. Author of. [18] Temples dedicated to rulers were rare, but their statues were often erected in other temples, and the kings would be worshiped as "temple-sharing gods. Both the inner and outer circles fostered esotericism (secrets to be known only by initiates)—the former by its use of native language and its oral recollection of traditions from the homeland; the latter by its use of allegory and other similar methods to radically reinterpret the sacred texts. In the diasporic centres, as is generally characteristic of immigrant groups, there were two circles. The period of Hellenistic influence, when taken as a whole, constitutes one of the most creative periods in the history of religions. Hellenion stands with Black Lives Matter in support of the goal of bringing about “sustainable transformation to our communities.” (1) We support and agree with the transformational goals that will bring about equal liberty, justice and freedom for Black communities. The Hellenistic period begins formally with the arrival of Alex­ander the Great in the Near East in 334BCE, but this date is not the beginning of Greek influence in the region. There was much continuity in Hellenistic religion: people continued to worship the Greek gods and to practise the same rites as in Classical Greece. The complex system of Hellenistic astrology developed in this era, seeking to determine a person's character and future in the movements of the sun, moon, and planets. [20] The Greeks, in the Hellenistic era, elaborated it into the fantastically complex system of Hellenistic astrology familiar to later times. Hellenism and Wicca: A Perfect Fit. Religion from the death of Alexander to the reformation of Augustus: 323–27, Religion from the Augustan reformation to the death of Marcus Aurelius: 27, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hellenistic-religion, ReligionFacts - Hellenic Reconstructionism. Succinctly, Hellenismos is the ancient Greek religion, the worship of the Olympian Gods and all the myriad deities. The period of Hellenistic influence, when taken as a whole, constitutes one of the most creative periods in the history of religions. For many scholars the Hellenistic age saw the emise of traditional state religion and the rise of more personal cults, thus leaving the Greeks vulnerable to the missionary zeal of Christianity. Ceremonies, which are the deepest teachings of the Humanities, University Chicago... Characteristic of immigrant groups, there is, however, no reason to suppose there! Fury ( Patch 3.0 ), can now be revived as a,!, as of Holy Fury ( Patch 3.0 ), can now revived! 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