ATS Bible DictionaryGreece
In the Old Testament, is put for the Hebrew word Javan, which is equivalent to Ionia, and seems to include not only Greece but western Asia Minor, and the intervening isles, all settled by the Ionian race, Genesis 10:2. Greece proper, however, is chiefly intended. It is not often mentioned in the Old Testament, Daniel 8:21 10:20 11:2 Joe 3:6 Zechariah 9:13. See JAVAN.
In the New Testament, Greece is called Hellas, a name supposed to have belonged first to a single city, but at length applied to the whole country south of Macedonia. About B. C. 146, the Romans conquered Greece, and afterwards organized two great provinces, namely, Macedonia, including Macedonia proper, Thessaly, Epirus, and Illyricum; and Achaia, including all the country, which lies south of the former province. (See ACHAIA.) In Acts 20:3, Greece is probably to be taken in its widest acceptation, as including the whole of Greece proper and the Peloponnesus. This country was bounded north by Macedonia and Illyricum, from which it was separated by mountains, south by the Mediterranean sea, east by the Aegean sea, and west by the Ionian sea. It was generally known under the three great divisions of Peloponnesus, Hellas, and Northern Greece.
Peloponnesus, more anciently called Pelasgia, and Argos, and now the Morea, was the southern peninsula; it included the famous cities, Sparta, Messene, Elis, Corinth, Argos, etc. The division of Hellas, which now constitutes a great part of Livadia, included Thessaly and Epirus, with the cities Larissa, Nicopolis, etc. The large islands of Crete and Euboea belonged to Greece, as well as most of those in the Archipelago and on the west.
The Jews and the Greeks appear to have had little intercourse with each other, until after Alexander the Great overran Egypt, Syria, and the East. They then began to come in contact everywhere, for both races were widely dispersed. The Jews extended the name of Greeks to include the people conquered and ruled by Greeks; and the word is thus nearly synonymous in the New Testament with Gentiles, Mark 7:26 Acts 20:21 Romans 1:16. The term "Grecian" or Hellenists, on the contrary, denotes a Jew by birth or religion, who spoke Greek. It is used chiefly of foreign Jews and proselytes, in contrast with the Hebrews, that is, those speaking the vernacular Hebrew, or Aramaean, Acts 6:1 9:29. The Greeks were a vivacious, acute, and polished, but superficial people, compared with the Jews. They excelled in all the arts of war and peace; but were worshippers of beauty, not of duty. Their pride of intellect, and their corruption of morals, were almost insurmountable obstacles to their reception of Christianity. Yet it was among the Greek cities and people that chiefly labored, and with great success. Many flourishing churches were, in early times, established among them; and there can be no doubt that they, for a long time, preserved the apostolic customs with much care. At length, however, opinions fluctuated considerably on points of doctrine; schisms and heresies divided the church; and rancor, violence, and even persecution followed in their train. To check these evils, councils were called and various creeds composed. The removal of the seat of government from Rome to Constantinople, gave a preponderance to the Grecian districts of the empire, and the ecclesiastical determinations of the Greek Church were extensively received. In the middle of the eighth century disputes arose, which terminated in a permanent schism between the Greek and Latin churches. The Greek Church has a general resemblance to the Roman-catholic, and embraces a population of not far from fifty millions of souls, in Russia, Greece, Turkey, Syria, etc.
International Standard Bible EncyclopediaGREECE, RELIGION IN ANCIENT
" I. THE GREEK GODS
1. Greek Myths
2. Mythology Distinguished from Religion
3. Local Shrines
4. Epithets of the Gods
5. Nature of the Gods of Worship
6. Relation of Greek Gods to Nature
7. The Greater Gods of Greece
8. Nature Gods
9. Gods of Human Activities and Emotions
II. REVELATION: INSPIRATION
2. Divination by Sacrifice
III. FORMS OF WORSHIP
4. Seasons of Worship: Festivals
5. Elements of Worship
7. Burnt Offering, or Sacrificial Meal
8. Meaning of Sacrifice
9. Propitiatory Sacrifice
11. The Great Religious Festivals
12. Mysteries at Eleusis
13. Absence of Magic and Mystery
IV. THE FUTURE LIFE
1. Funeral Rites
2. Future Life in the Homeric Poems
3. Later Beliefs in Immortality
V. SIN, EXPIATION, AND THE RELIGIOUS LIFE
1. Greek Idea of Sin
2. Religious Ideals
VI. THE INFLUENCE OF GREEK RELIGION ON CHRISTIANITY
1. Greek Philosophy and Christian Theology
2. Greek Influence on Christian Liturgy
3. Greek Influence on the Sacraments
I. The Greek Gods.
1. Greek Myths:
The gods of ancient Greece are well known to our western civilization through the myths which have found so large a place in our literature. In Greece itself, fancy had free play in dealing with these divine beings, and the myths were the main treasure-house from which the poet drew; the same myths and the same gods, under different names, reappear in Rome; and Rome passed them on, a splendid heritage of imagination, to the literatures of later Europe. It is characteristic of myths that they deal with persons, not so different from men in their nature, but with more than human powers. Gods, nymphs and satyrs, noble "heroes" or evil spirits have superhuman powers in varying degree, but they remain persons with a human interest because of their human type. And, further, as men are organized in families, cities and states, so there is a tendency to organize the beings of myth into social groups, and even to bring men, heroes and gods together into one large social organism, the universe of persons.
These Greek myths, the story of Athena's birth full-armed from the brain of Zeus, of Circe's magic potion, of Poseidon's chariot on the waves, and of Apollo's shafts are familiar to us from childhood. To regard them as expressing the content of Greek religion is as natural as it is false. Very few myths have any religious meaning at all, in spite of the large part the gods play in them. A little comparison with the facts of worship serves to show that here the gods are quite different from the gods of story.
2. Mythology Distinguished from Religion:
Some of the gods hardly appear in myths, and some of the beings of myth are not worshipped; in worship, each god is for the time being the only god thought of, not a member of the hierarchy established in myth; moreover in myth the gods are treated as universal, while the gods of worship are most closely attached, each to one shrine. Along with these external differences goes the one essential difference between a being of story and an object of worship. The failure to recognize the deep meaning of Greek religion results from the superficial assumption that myths constitute a peculiar kind of theology, when in reality they teach but little, and that, indirectly, about religion proper.
3. Local Shrines:
The essential fact about the gods of Greek religion is that each god was worshipped in a unique form at one or another particular shrine by a group of worshippers more or less definite. The group might include the state, the dwellers in one locality or simply the family; whatever its limits, it included those connected with the god by a social-religious tie, and the fundamental purpose of the worship was to strengthen this tie. In a city like Athens there were hundreds of such shrines, varying in importance, each the place where one particular phase of a god was worshipped at specified times. The particular form of the god was ordinarily indicated by an epithet attached to his name, Zeus Olympios, Dionysus Eleutherios, Athena Nike. This epithet might refer to the locality of the worship (Aphrodite of the Gardens), to the center from which the worship was brought (Artemis Brauronia), to some local spirit identified with the greater god (Poseidon Erechtheus), or to the nature of the god himself (Apollo Patroos).
4. Epithets of the Gods:
Each of the many shrines in Athens had thus its unique god, its group of worshippers connected with the god, its particular form of worship and times of worship, its own officials. While the state exercised general supervision over all the shrines, they were not organized in a hierarchy under any distinctly religious officials, but remained as independent units. Religious worship in a given city meant the aggregation of independent worships at the different local shrines.
5. Nature of the Gods of Worship:
The god of worship, then, was the god of a local shrine whose blessing and favor were sought at certain times by those who had the right to worship there. As in myth the gods were drawn after human types, that is, with human virtues and human frailties, and bodies almost human, except that they were not made to die; so in worship the gods were persons not unlike men in their nature. Worship proceeds on the assumption that gods are like human rulers, in that men honor the gods by games and processions, seek to please them by gifts, and ask them to share banquets made in their honor. Only the humanness of the gods in worship is something more subtle, more intimate than in myth. No stress is laid on human form or the vagaries of human character in the gods of worship; in form they remain spirits more or less vague, but spirits who care for men, who may be approached as a man approaches his ruler, spirits bound to man by close social ties which it is his duty and pleasure to strengthen. Zeus is father of gods and men, a father not untouched by the needs of his children; Athena cares for the city of Athens as her special pride; each family worships gods which are all but akin to the family; in the gymnasium, Apollo or Hermes is represented as the patron and ideal of the youths who exercise there; the drama is part of the service of Dionysus; in a word each form of human activity, be it work or pleasure, was a point of contact with the gods. The real forces at work in the world were first men, and secondly beings with a nature like man's, but with powers superior to man's; worship was the attempt to ally the gods more closely to man by social-religious ties, in order that as both worked together the ends of life might be successfully attained. This conception of the gods as higher members of society is the keynote of Greek religion. In some ethnic religions the gods seem to be evil beings whose desire for mischief man must overcome; in others they are beings to be avoided as much as possible; or again they are rulers who delight in man's abject servitude; or again by cultivating the friendship of one god, man may hope to win blessing and avoid harm from the others. In Greece all the gods of worship were essentially friendly to man, because they were akin to him and a part of the society in which he lived.
6. Relation of Greek Gods to Nature:
The relation of the gods to Nature is not so simple as might at first appear. Within certain limits the forces of Nature were subject to the will of the gods. From the Greek point of view, however, the relation is much more intimate, in that the forces in the world, at least in so far as they affect man, are personal activities, activities that express the will of divine beings. We say that Poseidon personifies the sea, Gaia the earth, Helios the sun; and the origin of religion has been sought in man's awe before the forces of Nature. The truer statement is that the Greek world, including the physical world, was made up of spiritual beings, not of physical forces. "The fire, as useful as it is treacherous, is the province of Hephaestus; all the dangers and changeableness of the sea are reflected in Poseidon and his followers; an Artemis is there to guide the hunter, a Demeter to make the grain sprout, a Hermes or Apollo to watch over the herds; Athena is the spirit of wisdom, Hermes of shrewdness, Ares of tumultuous war.. In a word the Greek gods are in the world, not above the world, superior beings who embody in personal form all the forces that enter into human life." The contrast between such a personal point of view and the mechanical view of modern science is as marked as the contrast between it and the Hebrew conception of a universe brought into being and controlled by a God quite distinct from the physical world.
7. The Greater Gods of Greece:
Of the particular gods, little need be said. The five greater gods, Zeus, Hera, Athena, Apollo and Artemis, are not closely connected with any one phenomenon of Nature or human life, though Zeus has to do with the sky, and Apollo and Artemis acquire a connection with the sun and moon. The most important worship of Zeus was at Olympia, where the pan-Hellenic games were held in his honor. Elsewhere he was worshipped mainly in connection with the weather and the changing seasons. Apparently much of his preeminence in Greek thought was due to myth. Hera was worshipped with Zeus on mountain tops, but her special place in worship was as the goddess of marriage. Athena, the maiden goddess of war and of handicrafts, was worshipped especially in Northern Greece. War dances found a place in her worship, and she was rarely represented without aegis, spear and helmet. All the arts, agriculture, handicrafts, even the art of government, were under her care. Apollo was worshipped widely as the protector of the crops, and of the shepherd's flocks. In this aspect his festivals included purifications and rites to ward off dangers. He was also the god of music and of prophecy. At Delphi his prophetic powers won great renown, but the Pythian games with their contests in music, in rhythmic dancing, and in athletic sports were hardly less important. Artemis, in myth the chaste sister of Apollo, was worshipped as the queen of wild creatures and the mother of life in plants as well as in animals. She was the patron and the ideal of young women, as was Apollo of young men.
8. Nature Gods:
The gods most closely associated with Nature were not so important for religion. Gain, mother earth, received sacrifices occasionally as the abode of the dead. Rhea in Crete, Cybele in Asia Minor, also in origin forms of the earth mother, received more real worship; this had to do primarily with the birth of vegetation in the spring, and again with its destruction by drought and heat. Rivers were honored in many places as gods of fertility, and springs as nymphs that blessed the land and those who cultivated it. Poseidon was worshipped that he might bless fishing and trade by sea; inland he was sometimes recognized as the "father of waters," and a god of fertility; and where horses were raised, it was under the patronage of Poseidon. The heavenly bodies marked the seasons of worship, but were rarely themselves worshipped. In general, the phenomena of Nature seem to have been too concrete to rouse sentiments of worship in Greece.
9. Gods of Human Activity and Emotions:
A third class of gods, gods of human activities and emotions, were far more important for religion. Demeter, once no doubt a form of the original earth-goddess, was the goddess of the grain, worshipped widely and at many seasons by an agricultural people. Dionysus, god of souls, of the inner life, and of inspiration by divine power, was worshipped by all who cultivated the vine or drank wine. The Attic drama was the most important development of his worship. Hermes was quite generally honored as the god of shepherds and the god of roads. As the herald, and the god of trade and gain, he found a place in the cities. Aphrodite was perhaps first the goddess of the returning life of the spring; in Greece proper she was rather the goddess of human love, of marriage and the family, the special patron of women. Ares, the Thracian god of war, was occasionally worshipped in Greece, but more commonly the god of each state was worshipped to give success in battle to his people. Hephaestus, pictured as himself a lame blacksmith working at the art which was under his protection, was worshipped now as the fire, now as the patron of cunning work in metal. Asclepius received men's prayers for relief from disease.
II. Revelation: Inspiration.
For the Greeks revelation was a knowledge of the divine will in special circumstances, and inspiration was evinced by the power to foresee the divine purpose in a particular case. There is no such thing as the revelation of the divine nature, nor any question of universal truth coming to men through an inspired teacher; men knew a god through his acts, not through any seer or prophet. But some warning in danger or some clue to the right choice in perplexity might be expected from gods so close to human need as were the Greek gods. The Homeric poems depicted the gods as appearing to men to check them, to encourage them or to direct them. In Homer also men might be guided by signs; while in later times divine guidance came either from signs or from men who were so close to the gods as to foresee something of the divine purpose.
The simplest class of signs were those that occurred in Nature. In the Iliad the thunderbolt marked the presence of Zeus to favor his friends or check those whose advance he chose to stop. The Athenian assembly adjourned when rain began to fall. Portents in Nature-meteors, comets, eclipses, etc.-claimed the attention of the superstitious; but there was no science of astrology, and superstition had no great hold on the Greeks. In the Homeric poems, birds frequently denoted the will of the gods, perhaps because their place was in the sky beyond any human control, perhaps because certain birds were associated with particular gods. The presence of an eagle on the right hand (toward the East) was favorable, especially when it came in answer to prayer. At times, the act of the bird is significant, as when the eagle of Zeus kills the geese eating grain in Odysseus' hall-portent of the death of the suitors. In later Greek history there are but few references to signs from birds. The theory of these signs in Nature is very simple: all Nature but expresses the will of the gods, and when the gods wish to give men some vague hint of the future, it is necessary only to cause some event not easily explained to attract man's attention.
2. Divination by Sacrifice:
From the 5th century on, divination by means of sacrificial victims took the place ordinarily of signs such as have just been described. In the presence of the enemy or before some important undertaking, animals were sacrificed to the gods. If they came willingly to the altar, if the inward parts, especially the liver, were sound and well shaped and of good color, if the sacrifice burned freely and without disturbing the arrangement on the altar, success might be expected. The theory was very simple: if the gods were pleased and accepted the sacrifice, their favor was assured; but if the sacrifice deviated in any way from the normal, it would not please the gods. Thus any sacrifice might have prophetic significance, while sacrifices offered before important undertakings had special meaning. The practice arose of repeating sacrifices before a battle until a favorable one was obtained, and at length, as religion began to lose its hold, the time came when a general might disregard them completely.
An important means of learning the will of the gods was through dreams, when the ordinary channels of perception were closed and the mind was free to receive impressions from the gods. The treacherousness of dreams was fully recognized, even in the Homeric poem; students of natural science came to recognize that dreams arose from natural causes; none the less they were generally regarded as a source of knowledge about the future, and gradually a science for interpreting dreams was evolved. For Pindar and for Plato the soul was more free when the body slept, and because the soul was the divine part of man's nature it could exercise the power of divination in sleep. Many of the recorded dreams are signs which came to the mind in sleep, like the dreams of Joseph and of Pharaoh, signs that needed later interpretation.
Prophets and seers were not as important in Greece as among many peoples. The blind Teiresias belongs to the realm of myth, though there were great families of seers, like the Iamidae at Olympia, who were specially gifted to interpret dreams, or signs from sacrifices. Ordinarily it was the "chresmologist," the man with a collection of ancient sayings to be applied to present events, whose advice was sought in time of need; or else men turned to the great oracles of Greece.
The most important oracle was that of Apollo at Delphi. Hither came envoys of nations as well as individuals, and none went away without some answer to their questions. After preliminary sacrifices, the priestess purified herself and mounted the tripod in the temple; the question was propounded to her by a temple official, and it was his function also to put her wild ravings into hexameter verse for the person consulting the oracle. A considerable number of these answers remain to us, all, of course, somewhat vague, many of them containing shrewd advice on the question that was brought to the oracle. The honor paid to the oracle and its influence, on the whole an influence making for high ethical standards and wise statesmanship, must be recognized. The early Christian Fathers held that the Pythian priestess was inspired by an evil spirit; later critics have treated the whole institution as a clever device to deceive the people; but in view of the respect paid to the oracle through so many generations, it is hard to believe that its officials were not honest in their effort to discover and make known the will of the god they served.
III. Forms of Worship.
It has already been pointed out that Greek religion centered about local shrines. While in early times the shrine consisted of an altar with perhaps a sacred grove, and later it might be no more than a block of stone on which offerings were laid, the more important shrines consisted of a plot of land sacred to the god, a temple or home for the god, and an altar for sacrifices. The plot of land, especially in the case of shrines outside a city, might be very large, in which case it often was used as a source of income to the shrine, being cultivated by the priests or leased under restrictions to private persons.
In this precinct stood the temple, facing toward the East, so that the morning sun would flood its interior when it was opened on a festival day. With one or two exceptions, the temple was not a place of assembly for worship, but a home for the god. It contained some symbol of his presence, after the 5th century B.C. ordinarily an image of the god; it served as the treasure-house for gifts brought to the god; worship might be offered in it by the priests, while the people gathered at the sacrifice outside. And as a home for the god, it was adorned with all the beauty and magnificence that could be commanded. The images of the gods, the noblest creation of sculpture in the 5th and 4th centuries, were not exactly "idols"; that is, the images were not themselves worshipped, even though they were thought to embody the god in some semblance to his true form. In Greece men worshipped the gods themselves, grateful as they were to artists who showed them in what beautiful form to think of their deities.
Each of these shrines was directly in the hands of one or more officials, whose duty it was to care for the shrine and to keep up its worship in due form. Occasionally the priesthood was hereditary and the office was held for life; quite as often priests were chosen for a year or a term of years; but it was exceptional when the duties of the office prevented a man from engaging in other occupations. In distinction from the priests of many other forms of religion, the Greek priest was not a sacred man set apart for the service of the gods; the office may be called sacred, but the office was distinct from the man. The result was important, in that the priests in Greece could never form a caste by themselves, nor could they claim any other powers than were conferred on them by the ritual of the shrine. Thus Greek religion remained in the possession of the people, and developed no esoteric side either in dogma or in worship.
4. Seasons of Worship: Festivals:
The seasons of worship varied with each particular shrine. While the state observed no recurring sabbath, it recognized a certain number of religious festivals as public holidays; thus at Athens the number of religious holidays in the year was somewhat larger than our fifty-two Sundays. The tradition of each shrine determined whether worship should be offered daily or monthly or yearly, and also what were the more important seasons of worship. The principle of the sacred days was that at certain seasons the god was present in his temple expecting worship; just as it was the principle of sacred places that the temple should be located where the presence of the god had been felt and therefore might be expected again. Neither the location of the temple nor the seasons of worship were determined primarily by human convenience.
5. Elements of Worship:
The elements of worship in Greece were
(1) prayers, hymns, and votive offerings,
(2) the sacrificial meal,
(3) propitiatory sacrifice and purification, and
(4) the processions, musical contests and athletic games, which formed part of the larger festivals.
The heroes of Homer prayed to the gods at all times, now a word of prayer in danger, now more formal prayers in connection with a sacrifice; and such was doubtless the practice in later times.
In the more formal prayers, it was customary to invoke the god with various epithets, to state the petition, and to give the reason why a favorable answer might be expected-either former worship by the petitioner, or vows of future gifts, or former answers to prayer, or an appeal to the pity of the god. Sometimes a prayer reads as if it were an attempt to win divine favor by gifts; more commonly, if not always, the appeal is to a relationship between man and his god, in which man's gifts play a very subordinate part. Thanksgiving finds small place in prayer or in sacrifice, but it was rather expressed in votive offerings. In every temple these abounded, as in certain Roman Catholic shrines today; and as is the case today they might be of value in themselves, they might have some special reference to the god, or they might refer to the human need in which the giver had found help. So far as the great public festivals are concerned, the prayer seems to have been merged with the hymn of praise in which the element of petition found a small place.
7. Burnt Offering or Sacrificial Meal:
The most common form of worship consisted of the sacrificial meal, like the meat offering or meal offering of the Hebrews. The sacrifice consisted of a domestic animal, selected in accordance with the ritual of the shrine where it was to be offered. First the animal was led to the altar, consecrated with special rites and killed by the offerer or the priest while hymns and cries of worship were uttered by the worshippers. Then some of the inward parts were roasted and eaten by priests and worshippers. Finally the remainder of the creature was prepared, the thigh bones wrapped in fat and meat to be burned for the god, the balance of the meat to be roasted for the Worshippers; and with libations of wine the whole was consumed. The religious meaning of the act is evidently found in the analogy of a meal prepared for an honored guest.
8. Meaning of the Sacrifice:
The animal, an object valuable in itself, is devoted to this religious service; the god and his worshippers share alike this common meal; and the god is attached to his worshippers by a closer social bond, because they show their desire to honor and commune with him, while he condescends to accept the gift and to share the meal they have prepared. (Possibly the animal was once thought to have been made divine by the act of consecration, or the god was believed to be present in his flesh, but there is no evidence that such a belief existed in the 5th century B.C., or later.) The simple, rational character of this worship is characteristic of Greek religion.
9. Propitiatory Sacrifice:
When men felt that the gods were displeased or in circumstances where for any reason their favor was doubtful, a different form of sacrifice was performed. A black animal was selected, and brought to a low altar of earth; the sacrifice was offered toward evening or at night, and the whole animal was consumed by fire. While in general this type of sacrifice may be called propitiatory, its form, if not its meaning, varied greatly. It might be worship to spirits of the earth whose anger was to be feared; it might be offered when an army was going into battle, or when the crops were in danger of blight, or of drought; or again it was the normal form of worship in seasons of pestilence or other trouble. Sometimes the emphasis seems to be laid on the propitiation of anger by an animal wholly devoted to the god, while at other times there is the suggestion that some evil substance is removed by the rite.
The later conception is clearer in rites of purification, where, by washing, by fire, or by the blood of an animal slain for the purpose, some form of defilement is removed. In the sacrifice of a pig to Demeter for this purpose, or of a dog to Hecate, some mystic element may exist, since these animals were sacred to the respective goddesses.
These various elements of worship were combined in varying degree in the great religious festivals. These lasted from a day to a fortnight. After purification of the worshippers, which might be simple or elaborate, and some preliminary sacrifice, there was often a splendid procession followed by a great public sacrifice.
11. The Great Religious Festivals:
In the greater festivals, this was followed by athletic games and horse races in honor of the god, and sometimes by contests in music and choral dancing, or, in the festivals of Dionysus at Athens, by the performance of tragedy and comedy in theater. In all this, the religious element seems to retreat into the background, though analogies may be found in the history of Christianity. The religious mystery plays were the origin of our own drama; and as for the horse races, one may still see them performed as a religious function, for example, at Siena. The horse races and the athletic games were performed for the gods as for some visiting potentate, a means of affording them pleasure and doing them honor. The theatrical performances apparently originated in ceremonies more essentially religious, in which men acted some divine drama depicting the experiences attributed to the gods themselves.
12. Mysteries at Eleusis:
This last feature is most evident in the mysteries at Eleusis, where the experiences of Demeter and Persephone were enacted by the people with the purpose of bringing the worshippers into some more intimate connection with these goddesses, such that their blessing was assured not only for this world, but for the life after death.
13. Absence of Magic and Mystery:
In all the forms of Greek worship perhaps the most striking feature was the absence of magic or superstition, almost the absence of mystery. Men approached the gods as they would approach superior men, bringing them petitions and gifts, making great banquets for their entertainment, and performing races and games for their pleasure, although this was by no means the whole of Greek religion, a phase of religion far more highly developed in the rational atmosphere of Greek thought than among other races. As the Greek gods were superior members of the social universe, so Greek worship was for the most part social, even human, in its character.
IV. The Future Life.
1. Funeral Rites:
Greek thought of the life after death was made up of three elements which developed successively, while the earlier ones never quite lost their hold on the people in the presence of the later. The oldest and most permanent thought of the future found its expression in the worship of ancestors. Whether the body of the dead was buried or burned, the spirit was believed to survive, an insubstantial shadowy being in the likeness of the living man. And rites were performed for these shades to lay them to rest and to prevent them from injuring their survivors, if not to secure their positive blessing. As at other points in Greek religion, the rites are fairly well known, while the belief must be inferred from the rites. The rites consisted first of an elaborate funeral, including sometimes animal sacrifices and even athletic games, and secondly of gifts recurring at stated intervals, gifts of water for bathing, of wine and food, and of wreaths and flowers. The human wants and satisfaction of the spirit are thus indicated. And the purpose is perhaps to keep the spirit alive, certainly to keep it in good humor so that it will not injure the survivors and bring on them defilement which would mean the wrath of the gods. At the same time, any contact with death demands purification before one can approach the gods in worship.
2. Future Life in the Homeric Poems:
The second element in Greek thought of the future life appears in the Homeric poems, and through the epic exerted a wide influence on later periods. Here the separateness of the souls of the dead from the human life is emphasized. Once the bodies of the dead are burned, the souls go to the realm of Hades, whence there is no return even in dreams, and where (according to one view) not even consciousness remains to them. It would seem that the highly rational view of the world in the epic, a point of view which laid stress on the greater Olympian gods, banished the belief in souls as akin to the belief in sinister and magic influences. We might almost say that the thought of the greater gods as personal rulers tended to drive out the thought of lesser and more mystic spiritual influences, and made a place for souls only as shades in the realm of Hades. Certainly the result for Greek religion was to render far less vivid any idea of a real life after death.
3. Later Beliefs in Immortality:
The third element was associated with the worship of the gods of the lower world, and in particular Demeter and Persephone. In this worship, particularly at Eleusis, the fact of life after death was assumed, a fact that the Greeks never had denied; but the reality of the future life, the persistence of human relationship after death, and the kindly rule of Persephone as Queen of Souls were vividly impressed on the worshippers. In part through the influence of the Orphic sect, the actual divinity of the soul was believed by many thinkers, a doctrine which was formulated by Plato in a manner which profoundly affected early Christian thought.
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GREECE, SONS OF
"I will stir up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and will make thee as the sword of a mighty man" (Zechariah 9:13). The passage doubtless refers to the captive Hebrews who are held by the Greeks. The exhortation is to insurrection against the Greeks. Although bearing a striking similarity to the passage in Joel 3:6, there is evidently no connection between the two. In the first, there was conflict between the nations; in the second, simply a reflection upon Tyre and Sidon for having sold into Greece certain Jewish captives. From a Jewish standpoint the Maccabean wars were really between Jews and Greeks.
See JAVAN; ASMONEANS.
In the earliest times there was no single name universally and exclusively in use either of the people or of the land of Greece. In Homer, three appellations, (Achaioi), (Danaoi), (Argeioi), were with no apparent discrimination applied to all the Greeks. By the Orientals they were called Ionians. See JAVAN. The name (Hellenes), which in historical times came into general use as a collective appellation, was applied in Homer to a small tribe in Thessaly. But the corresponding name (Hellas) was not primarily a geographical term, but designated the abode of the Hellenes wherever they had their own states or cities. In the 4th century B.C. many felt, as did Isocrates, that even "Hellene" stood not so much for a distinction in race, as for preeminence of culture, in contrast to the despised "Barbarian." Hence, there was much dispute as touching certain peoples, as, e.g. the Epirotes, Macedonians, and even the Thessalians, whether they should be accounted Hellenes and as included in Hellas. The word (Graikoi), Latin Graeci) occurs in Aristotle, who says that it was an older name for those who were later called Hellenes. The meaning and truth of this statement are alike in doubt; but he probably refers only to the tribe inhabiting the vicinity of Dodona, in Epirus. At any rate, Graeci and Graecia owed their introduction practically to the Romans after their contact with the Greeks in the war with Pyrrhus, and in consequence they included (what "Hellenes" and "Hellas" did not) Epirus and Macedonia.
2. Location and Area:
"Hellas," as the land of the Hellenes, is used in a broad sense to include not only Greece proper, but also the islands of the Ionian and Aegean seas, the seaboard of the Hellespont, of the Pontus, and of Asia Minor, the flourishing colonial regions of Magna Grecia and Sicily, Crete, and occasionally Cyprus, Cyrene, and the scattered colonies dotting the shore of the Mediterranean, almost to the Pillars of Hercules. "Grecia," however, was used in a more restricted sense as applying to "Continuous" (or continental) Greece, which forms the southern extremity of the Balkan peninsula. While the Romans included Macedonia and Epirus, it will be well for us to limit Greece to the territory lying roughly below 40 degrees, and extending almost to 36 degrees North latitude, and ranging between 17 degrees and 23 degrees East longitude. If, as is proper, we include the immediately adjacent islands, its greatest length, from Mt. Olympus in the North to Cythera in the South, is about 280 miles; its greatest breadth, from Cephallenia in the West to Euboea in the East, is about 240 miles. The area, however, owing to the great irregularity of its contour, is far less than one might expect, amounting to about 30,000 square miles. With an area, therefore, considerably less than that of Portugal, Greece has a coastline exceeding in length that of Spain and Portugal combined. In Greece the ratio of coastline to area is 1:3 1/4, whereas that of the Iberian peninsula is 1:25.
3. Mountain Structure:
The northern boundary of Greece is formed by an irregular series of mountain chains, beginning on the West with the Acroceraunian range and ending in Mt. Olympus (now, Elymbos, 9,790 ft.) on the East. Intersecting this line, the lofty Pindus range, forming the backbone of Northern Greece, extends southward to Mt. Tymphrestus (now, Velouchi, 7,610 ft.) in Aetolia, at which point spurs radiate through Central Greece. The highest peaks are Mt. Corax (now, Vardusia, 8,180 ft.) in Aetolia, Mt. Oeta (7,060 ft.), Parnassus (now, Lyakoura, 8,070 ft.), Helicon (now, Paleo Vouno, 5,740 ft.), Cithaeron (now, Elatias, 4,630 ft.), lying on the boundary between Boeotia and Attica, Mt. Geranea (now, Makri Plaghi, 4,500 ft.), North of the Isthmus, and, in Attica, Parnes (now, Ozea, 4,640 ft.), Pentelicon (now, Mendeli, 3,640 ft.) and Hymettus (now Trelovouni, 3,370 ft.). Along the eastern coast extends a broken range of mountains, the highest peaks of which are Ossa (now, Kissavos, 6,400 ft.), Pelion (now, Plessidi, 5,310 ft.); and, in Euboea, which virtually belongs to this range, Dirphys (now, Delphi, 5,730 ft.) and Ocha (now, Elias, 4,610 ft.). Southern Greece, or the Peloponnesus, is united to Central Greece only by a narrow isthmus (now cut by a canal 4 miles long), with a minimum altitude of about 250 ft. In the northern portion, a confused mass of mountains rises to great heights in Cyllene (now, Ziria, 7,790 ft.), Erymanthus (now, Olonos, 7,300 ft), Maenalus (now, Apano Chrepa, 6,500 ft.), all in Arcadia, Panachaicus (now, Voidia, 6,320 ft.), in Achaia; and, running southward through Laconia, the two important ranges called Taygetus (now, Pentedaktylo, 7,900 ft.) and Parnon (now, Malevo, 6,430 ft.). Minor ranges jut seaward in Argolis, Laconia and Messenia.
4. Rivers and Lakes:
The rainfall in Greece is not abundant and is confined largely to late autumn and winter. Whether the present rainfall differs much in amount from that of antiquity is a matter in dispute, although it seems reasonable to assume that the progressive denudation of the mountains since the 5th century A.D. has entailed a corresponding loss in humidity. Even in antiquity, however, the rivers of Greece were much like the arroyos of the Southwest portion of the U.S.A., which are in winter raging mountain torrents, and in summer dry channels. Owing to the proximity of the sea to all points in Greece, the rivers are short, and the scarcity of springs makes them dependent upon the direct and immediate rainfall. Among the more considerable rivers may be enumerated, in Northern Greece, the Peneius, with its tributaries, in Thessaly; Central Greece, the Achelous and the Evenus, in Aetolia; the Spercheius, flowing between Oeta and Othrys into the Maliac Gulf; the storied, but actually insignificant, Ilyssus and Cephissus, of the Attic plain; in Southern Greece, the Alpheius, rising in Arcadia and flowing westward through Elis, and the Eurotas, which drains Laconia. Eastern Greece consists of a series of somewhat considerable basins, which become lakes in winter and are pestilent marshes in summer, except where Nature or man has afforded an outlet. The former is the case with the Peneius, which has cut a channel through the celebrated Vale of Tempe. Lake Copais, in Boeotia, affords an example of man's activity. The Minyae, in prehistoric times, are credited with enlarging the natural outlets, and so draining the basin for a time; in recent times the same undertaking has again been brought to a successful issue. Similar basins occur at Lake Boebeis, in Thessaly, and at Lake Stymphalus, in Arcadia, besides others of less importance. Western Greece has relatively few such basins, as at Lake Pambotis, in Epirus, and at Lake Trichonis, in Aetolia. In many cases, where there is no surface outlet to these basins, subterranean channels (called by the Greeks Katavothrae) are formed in the calcareous rock, through which the waters are drained and occasionally again brought to the surface at a lower level.
The climate of Greece was probably much the same in ancient times as it is today, except that it may have been more salubrious when the land was more thickly populated and better cultivated. Herodotus says that of all countries, Greece possessed the most happily tempered seasons; and Hippocrates and Aristotle commend it for the absence of extremes of heat and cold, as favorable for intelligence and energy. But owing to the inequalities of its surface, to the height of its mountains and the depth of its valleys, the climate varies greatly in different districts. In the highlands of the interior the winter is often cold and severe, the snow lying on the ground until late in the spring, while in the lowlands near the sea there is rarely any severe weather, and snow is almost unknown. The following data for Athens may be taken as a basis for comparison: humidity 41 per cent, rainfall 13, 1 inches, distributed over 100 days; mean temperature, Jan. 48, 2 degrees F., July 80, 6 degrees F. Greece lies open to the northern winds which, during certain seasons, prevail and give a bracing quality to the air not always present in places of the same latitude.
The western half of Greece, in which the mountain ranges run generally from North to South, consists of a formation of grayish and yellowish-white compact limestone, while the eastern half-Macedonia, Thessaly, Euboea, Cyllene, and the mountains from Artemision to Cape Malea and Taygetus-together with the greater part of Attica and of the Cyclades, consists of mica-schist and crystalline-granular limestone (marble) Tertiary formations occur in narrow strips on the North and Northwest slopes of the ranges in the Peloponnesus and in the valley of the Eurotas, in Boeotia and Euboea. Volcanic action is evidenced both in the parallel elevations of similar or contemporary formation, and in the earthquakes frequent in all ages, especially in Southern and Central Greece, and in the islands of the Aegean. Perennially active volcanoes are nowhere found in Greece, but new formations due to volcanic action are most clearly seen on the island of Them among the Cyclades, where they have occurred within the last half-century. The solfatara between Megara and Corinth, and the abundant hot springs at widely scattered points in Greece also bear witness to the volcanic character of the region. Many an ancient site, venerated for its sanctity in antiquity, like those of Delphi and Olympia, in their ruined temples offer mute testimony to the violence of the earthquakes; and history records repeated instances of cities engulfed by tidal waves of appalling height.
Mention has already been made of the sinuous coastline of Greece, and the land has been spoken of as consisting of three divisions. Northern Greece, to which Epirus and Thessaly belong, is marked off from Central Greece by the deep indentations of the Ambracian Gulf on the West and the Maliac Gulf on the East. The Pegasean Gulf, virtually continued by Lake Boebeis, reaches far into Thessaly, and divides it from Magnesia, which lies to the eastward. The land of the Dolopians really belongs to Northern Greece. Central Greece consists of Acarnania and Aetolia on the West, and of Phocis, Boeotia and Attica (with the adjacent island of Euboea) on the East, separated by a group of lesser states, Aenis, Oetaea, Doris, Locris and Phocis. Southern Greece is separated from Central Greece by the Corinthian and Saronic Gulfs, which almost meet at the Isthmus of Corinth, and are now, after repeated efforts, dating from the time of Julius Caesar, united by a sea-level canal. Megaris, which, by its position, belongs to Central Greece, is here, in accordance with its political affinities and predilections, classed with Corinth, the keeper of the isthmus, as belonging to Southern Greece. Facing the Corinthian Gulf, Achaia forms the northern division of the Peloponnesus, touching Elis, Arcadia and Argolis, which belt the peninsula in this order from West to East Arcadia is the only political division which does not have access to the sea, occupying as it does the great central plateau intersected by lesser ranges of varying height. The southernmost divisions, Messenia and Laconia, are deeply indented by the Messeniac and Laconic Gulfs, and Laconia is separated from the peninsula of Argolis by the Argolic Gulf, all of which head somewhat West of North of the subjacent islands, which a reasonable view must include in the boundaries of Greece, Euboea has already been mentioned; but we should add the group of great islands lying in the Ionian Sea, namely, Corcyra (now, Corfu), Leukas, Ithaca, Cephallenia (now, Cephalonia), Zacynthus (now, Zante), and Cythera (now, Cerigo), at the mouth of the Laconic Gulf, as well as Salamis and Aegina in the Saronic Gulf.
Greece was never, in ancient times, a united state, but consisted of a large number of separate states. These were essentially of two types, (a) city-states, in which a city dominated the adjacent territory whose free population constituted its citizenship, or (b) confederacies, in which neighboring cities or districts combined into political organizations which we may call federal states. These matters cannot, however, be discussed except in connection with the history of Greece, for which the reader must consult the standard works. It may be advisable here, however, to name the principal cities of Greece. Northern Greece had no great cities which developed as commercial centers. Aegina was the first to attain to special importance, then Corinth and Athens; Chalcis and Eretria, in Euboea, were for a time rich and prosperous, and Megara, in Megarid, and Argos, in Argolis, became formidable rivals of Athens. Sparta, though never a commercial center, early won and long maintained the hegemony of Greece, for a while disputed by Athens, in virtue of her power as the home of the militant Dorian aristocracy, which was disastrously defeated by the Beotians under Epaminondas, when Thebes, for a time, assumed great importance. Megalopolis, in Arcadia, enjoyed a brief prominence at the time of the Achean League, and Corcyra flourished in the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. We should also not fail to mention three great centers of Greek religion: Olympia, in Elis, as the chief sanctuary of Zeus; Delphi, in Phocis, as the oracular seat of Apollo; and Eleusis, in Attica, as the pilgrim-shrine to which all Greeks resorted who would be initiated in the mysteries of Demeter and Cora. Argos also possessed a far-famed shrine of Hera, and Thermopile and Calauria were the centers at which met the councils of influential amphictyonies. Epidaurus was famous for her sanctuary of Asclepius. Delos, a little island in mid-Aegean, celebrated as a sanctuary of Apollo and as the meeting-place of a most influential amphictyony, falls without the limits of Greece proper; but Dodona, in Southern Epirus, should be mentioned as the most ancient and venerable abode of the oracle of Zeus. The Greeks, incorrigibly particularistic in politics, because of the almost insuperable barriers erected by Nature between neighboring peoples in the lofty mountain ranges, were in a measure united by their religion which, like the sea, another element making for intercourse and union, touched them at nearly every point.
For Greece in the Old Testament, see JAVAN. In the New Testament "Greece" occurs but once- Acts 20:2 -where it is distinguished from Macedonia.
William Arthur Heidel
Easton's Bible Dictionary
Orginally consisted of the four provinces of Macedonia, Epirus, Achaia, and Peleponnesus. In Acts 20:2
it designates only the Roman province of Macedonia. Greece was conquered by the Romans B.C. 146. After passing through various changes it was erected into an independent monarchy in 1831.
Moses makes mention of Greece under the name of Javan (Genesis 10:2-5); and this name does not again occur in the Old Testament till the time of Joel (3:6). Then the Greeks and Hebrews first came into contact in the Tyrian slave-market. Prophetic notice is taken of Greece in Dan. 8:21.
The cities of Greece were the special scenes of the labours of the apostle Paul.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
) Plural of Gree
2. (n. pl.) See Gree a step.
Strong's Hebrew3120. Yavan -- a son of Japheth, also his desc. and their land...
Word Origin from the same as yonah Definition a son of Japheth, also his desc.
and their land NASB Word Usage Greece
(4), Javan (7). Javan. ... /hebrew/3120.htm - 6k