study of myths of the Greeks and Romans

Graeco-Roman mythology and Graeco-Roman religion include the cults, beliefs and legends of ancient Greece, of which many were adopted to the Roman Empire, in syncretism with other beliefs around the Mediterranean Sea.

While these faiths were replaced by Christianity, they have survived as folk belief, and the foundation of the European literary canon, as well as timeless themes of European art and European classical music.

Understand edit

There was no universal Greek or Roman religion. The Mediterranean region has had countless faiths, myths and legends inspiring each other, without the institutional organization of today's world religions, such as Christianity or Islam. Nevertheless, both Greek and Roman mythology are believed to share a common origin in Proto-Indo-European mythology, which is also likely the common ancestor of the Germanic (including Norse), Celtic, Slavic and Vedic Hindu mythologies.

The Greek civilization has been recorded from the 9th century BC. Its early history is intertwined with legend, with the Trojan War described in the Iliad and the Odyssey, as a Greek foundation myth.

The most famous Graeco-Roman religious faith is the one of classical Greece during the 5th and 4th centuries BC. It was a polytheist faith with many goods (the pantheon) who had superhuman abilities, without being all-powerful or all-good.

The Roman Empire adopted much of Greek culture, including the pantheon. Since Augustus, the Roman Empire had an imperial cult parallel with the polytheist belief.

Since the Christianization of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, Christians have referred to the believers in other faiths than Judaism or Christianity as pagans, from Latin pāgānus ("rural").

The ancient Greeks were skilled in astronomy, which was in ancient times not much different from astrology, the superstition that celestial bodies' positions had a connection to life on Earth. Many stars and constellations have been named by gods and other characters of Greek mythology. While the planets visible to the naked eye (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) got the names of the Roman gods, celestial bodies discovered through telescopes in modern times continue the Greek and Roman theme.

Destinations edit

Map of Greek and Roman mythology
  • 1 Athens (Attica). One of the most important poleis in Ancient Greece, Athens was a naval power and a center of learning and philosophy. While it was eventually surpassed militarily by Sparta and Thebes, its immense wealth meant that some of its classical architecture is still standing. Due in part to its history Athens later became the capital of modern Greece.
  • 1 Acropolis of Athens. The ancient fortified town of Athens, dating back to the Late Bronze Age. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historic role and the many iconic buildings of the Greek Classical age, among them the Parthenon, the Erectheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike. The key landmark of Athens, visible from afar, Acropolis dominates the Athenian sky and symbolizes the foundation of modern culture and civilization.    
  • 2 Delphi (Sterea Hellada). Famously nested on a shoulder of Mount Parnassus, Delphi was believed to be determined by Zeus when he sought to find the omphalos (navel) of his "Grandmother Earth" (Ge, Gaea, or Gaia). Site of the Apollo cult, oracle, and eternal flame.
  • 3 Dodona (about 6 km southwest of Ioannina, Epirus). The oldest recorded Hellenic oracle. There's a well preserved theater, built by King Pyrrhus, a must-see, which hosts theatrical performances.
  • 4 Rome. The capital of the Roman Empire contains many religious sites, including the Pantheon, the Temple of Saturn, and the Temple of Hadrian.    
  • 5 Pompeii. An Ancient Roman time capsule with many preserved religious sites.    
  • 6 Ljubljana. Capital of Slovenia, where legend accredits that the city was founded by Jason and the Argonauts.    
  • 2 Temple d'Auguste et de Livie (Vienne, France). A well-preserved Roman temple.    
  • 7 Pula (Croatia). A Roman city famous for its temple to Augustus.    
  • 8 Nemea (Corinthia). An archaeological site, said to be the place where Heracles defeated the Nemean Lion. The Temple of Zeus is the most prominent religious building here.    
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