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Thursday, June 2, 2016

010 - Religion and Panhellenism

In this episode, we discuss the philosophy behind early Greek religion that was formalized in writing by Homer and Hesiod; the rituals performed when the Greeks worshipped their deities; the evidence for the earliest sanctuaries in the 8th century BC that developed hand-in-hand with the city-state and their increasing wealth (as seen through votive offerings); the development of the idea of Panhellenism; and the foundation myths, archaeological evidence, and importance for the four predominant Panhellenic sanctuaries that gained massive popularity in the 8th and 7th centuries BC (the sanctuaries of Zeus and Hera at Olympia, the sanctuaries of Apollo and Artemis at Delos, the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, and the sanctuaries of Zeus and Dione at Dodona)

ca. 900-700 BC - stone defensive walls appear throughout the cities of Greek Anatolia, the Aegean islands, and mainland Greece (attesting to the probability of increased warfare between communities over securing the growing wealth in the period)
ca. 800-700 BC - an increase in religious sanctuaries and shrines led to the building of the earliest temples in all parts of the Greek world
776 BC - traditional date for the first Olympic Games
ca. 750 BC - numerous ancient tombs began to receive votive offerings, an indication that their anonymous inhabitants were now being worshipped as hero cults
ca. 750-700 BC - votive offerings in the form of pottery, bronze statuettes, and bronze tripods were being dedicated at Delphi in ever increasing numbers by Greek city-states
ca. 700-600 BC - the much older oracle of Zeus at Dodona (in northwestern Greece) developed into an important religious center for the southern Greeks too 
ca. 650-600 BC - the oracle of Apollo at Delphi was being respected by many countries around the periphery of the Greek world, such as Lydia, Caria, Egypt, and Rome

Greek words: daimones (non-anthromorphized divine powers), chthonic (earthly), hoi thnetoi (the ones who die, i.e. mortals), hoi athanatoi (the deathless ones, i.e. immortals), moira (fate or destiny), dios (godly), diotrephes (reared as a god), isothesos (equal unto a god), menin (anger), andra (man), arma virumque cano (Latin for "I sing of arms and the man"), hubris (arrogance), ate (moral blindness), nemesis (retribution), sophrosune (moderation), miasma (religious pollution), sebas (respect or reverence for the gods), asebeia (impiety), psyche (soul), hiera (sacred rituals), thyesthai (to conduct a sacrifice in which the inedible parts are burnt and theedible parts are consumed in a communal feast), holokaustein (to conduct a sacrifice in which the animal is completely consumed by fire), holos (whole or entire), kaustos (burnt), mantike techne (the art or skill of a seer/prophet, i.e. divination), mantis (seer or prophet), sphagia (sacrificial animal), orare (Latin "to speak"), khresmoi (oracular utterances), temenos (sanctuary), hieron (sacred space), polis (city-state), panhellenism ("Greekness"), barbaro phonoi (those who speak strange), barbaroi (barbarians, those who didn't speak Greek and sounded like "bar bar" to Greek ear), omphalos (navel of the earth), Pythia (the priestess who gave the oracles of Apollo at Delphi), Selloi (priests who looked over the sanctuary of Zeus at Dodona), Peleiades ("doves", the priestesses who gave the oracles of Zeus at Dodona)

Recommended Sources for Further Reading:
Article/A Do-it-Yourself Tour of Delos (Detailed Map Included)

Recommended Podcast Episodes for Further Listening:
Wonders of the World Episode 22 The Oracle of Delphi


  1. Seeing these videos takes me back to visiting these sites in the 1990's. How I would love to go back! Thanks for your great podcasts, really enjoying them so far.

    1. You have to go back ASAP! I was a student in Athens and Rome for a semester each in 2010-2011 and it was a once in a lifetime experience. I haven't been back since (because life got in the way I suppose), but I am planning on it in 2018! I've always been a huge fan of Rick Steves as well. I live vicariously through him sometimes :-)