The Gods

 

In the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans, the gods were all powerful. They influenced everyone’s daily lives, from the cradle to the grave, and were believed to be responsible for everything, from a change in emotion to a change in the weather.

Particular tasks, responsibilities and associations were recognised by a deity’s epithets, or attributes. Worship of one divinity did not exclude worship of another: prayers and sacrifices were offered according to specific needs.

Homer and Hesiod both record how the Greeks believed their gods looked like (beautiful) mortals, behaved like mortals and suffered like mortals, except they could not die. Their gods embodied paradoxes and contradictions, and writers had no problem satirising them, laughing at their jealousies and passions, their unreasonable behaviour and their domestic quarrels.

The Romans merged their native Italic gods with those of the Greeks, expanding their pantheon to hundreds of deities, including the twelve Greek Olympians, to whom they mostly gave new Latin names.

The imagery of the Greek and Roman gods has continued to inspire art up until the present day and has taken on new allegorical meanings long after their religious significance disappeared.