Throughout the Hellenistic world, people would consult oracles, and use charms and figurines to deter misfortune or to cast spells. 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. The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties (Hellenistic Culture and Society Book 31) - Kindle edition by Cohen, Shaye J. 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. There’s arguably no Pagan religion that’s been as influential on language, politics, philosophy, art, and literature. These individuals tended to speak Greek, and this began the lengthy process of reinterpretation of the archaic religion. The concept of Hellenistic religion as the late form of Ancient Greek religion covers any of the various systems of beliefs and practices of the people who lived under the influence of ancient Greek culture during the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire (c. 300 BCE to 300 CE). [2] Figurines, manufactured from bronze, lead, or terracotta, were pierced with pins or nails, and used to cast spells. In the Hellenistic age they attained a position essentially similar to that of modern Europe. The concept of Hellenistic kingship was that of a personal monarch (Virgilio 2003, 129; Mooren 1983)—“the king is the state”—even though the concept of “state” as we know it did not exist then.The states that were the business, personal matters, and property of the king all are referred to in Greek by the plural ta pragmata. The study of Hellenistic religions is a study of the dynamics of religious persistence and change in this vast and culturally varied area. What is Hellenismos? [9], The Egyptian religion which follows Isis was the most famous of the new religions. Each of these native traditions likewise underwent hellenization (modifications based on Greek cultural ideas), but in a manner frequently different from their diasporic counterparts. The religion was brought to Greece by Egyptian priests, initially for the small Egyptian communities in the port cities of the Greek world. The Hellenistic political outlook was essentially cosmopolitan; nothing comparable to the national patriotism of modern times really prevailed. Each of these native religions also had diasporic centres that exhibited marked change during the Hellenistic period. [3] People were indoctrinated into mystery religions through initiation ceremonies, which were traditionally kept secret. The first of these was established under Alexander, whose conquests, power, and status had elevated him to a degree that required special recognition. "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 difference between these groups was responsible for many shifts in the character of the religion. [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. The history of Hellenistic religions is rarely the history of genuinely new religions. [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. There were slaves belonging both to individuals and the state, but their lot was mitigated in general by a steadily growing humanity. 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. 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. Hellenism (Greek: Ellinismós, Latin: Hellenismus ), also less frequently called Olympianism (Greek: Olympianismós, Latin: Olympianismus) or Dodekatheism (Greek: Dodekatheïsmós, Latin: Duodecimdeismus ), is the traditional polytheistic and animistic orthopraxic religion, lifestyle, aesthetics, and ethos of the ancient Graeco-Roman world, and is the indigenous religion of the … [20] Interest in astrology grew rapidly from the 1st century BCE onwards. For the first time, there were museums and great libraries, such as those at Alexandria and Pergamon. [16], Another innovation in the Hellenistic period was the institution of cults dedicated to the rulers of the Hellenistic kingdoms. Indeed, many of these native religions underwent a conscious archaism during this period, attempting to recover earlier forms and practices. 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. The most significant changes to impact on Greek religion were the loss of independence of the Greek city-states to Macedonian rulers; the importation of foreign deities; and the development of new philosophical systems. Curse tablets made from marble or metal (especially lead) were used for curses. Hellenistic art is richly diverse in subject matter and in stylistic development. The period of Hellenistic influence, when taken as a whole, constitutes one of the most creative periods in the history of religions. There was a noticeable lessening of concern on the part of the members of the dispersed religious group for the destiny and fortunes of the native land and also a relative severing of the traditional ties between religion and the land. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. 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. 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. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Elsewhere, rulers might receive divine status without achieving the full status of a god. It was created during an age characterized by a strong sense of history. One of these philosophies was Stoicism, which taught that life should be lived according to the rational order which the Stoics believed governed the universe; human beings had to accept their fate as according to divine will, and virtuous acts should be performed for their own intrinsic value. [7] New religions did appear in this period, but not to the exclusion of the local deities,[8] and only a minority of Greeks were attracted to them. The New Testament and other parts of the Bible are considered Hellenistic in form, and much of Christian art throughout the centuries has been based on a Greek artistic and sculptural sensibility. Rather than a god who dwelt in his temple, the diasporic traditions evolved complicated techniques for achieving visions, epiphanies (manifestations of a god), or heavenly journeys to a transcendent god. Religion in the Hellenistic Age If there was one aspect of the Hellenistic civilization which served more than others to accent the contrast with Hellenic culture, it was the new trend in religion. [16] By the 1st century BCE there were additional religions that followed Ba'al and Astarte, a Jewish Synagogue and Romans who followed the original Roman religions of gods like Apollo and Neptune. Hellenismos is the term used to describe the modern equivalent of the traditional Greek religion. The Ancient Greek practice of Hellenism lives on as a modern religion. Extending from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Indus River, from the forests of Germany and the steppes of Russia to the Sahara Desert and the Indian Ocean, it took in an area of some 1.5 million square miles (3.9 million square kilometres; most of Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Africa, Persia, and the borderlands of India) and had a total population of more than 54 million. 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. The Hellenistic States. The Hellenistic period was characterized by a new wave of Greek colonization which established Greek cities and kingdoms in Asia and Africa. In the aftermath of the conquests of Alexander the Great, Greek culture spread widely and came into much closer contact with the civilizations of the Near East and Egypt. [3] There is also much evidence for the use of charms and curses. Oracular shrines and sanctuaries were still popular. [10], Another mystery religion was focused around Dionysus. [4] Older surveys of Hellenistic religion tended to depict the era as one of religious decline, discerning a rise in scepticism, agnosticism and atheism, as well as an increase in superstition, mysticism, and astrology. It is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. Hellenistic religion, systems of beliefs and practices of the people who lived under the influence of ancient Greek culture during the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire (c. 300 BCE to 300 CE) Modern. From Drew Campbell: “Hellenismos is the traditional, polytheistic religion of ancient Greece, reconstructed in and adapted to the modern world. 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. . ... A basic introduction to the religion, including symbols and ritual. In their homeland they were inextricably tied to local loyalties and ambitions. [17] Ptolemy's son Ptolemy II Philadelphus proclaimed his late father a god, and made himself a living god. There was much continuity in Hellenistic religion: people continued to worship the Greek gods and to practise the same rites as in Classical Greece. Hellenism (neoclassicism), an aesthetic movement in … [10] The religion following Cybele (or the Great Mother) came from Phrygia to Greece and then to Egypt and Italy, where in 204 BCE the Roman Senate permitted her worship. ... into connection with the widespread pagan myth of a dying and rising saviour-god. [20], An alternative to traditional religion was offered by Hellenistic philosophy. Hellenistic religion, any of the various systems of beliefs and practices of eastern Mediterranean peoples from 300 bc to ad 300. It is based on the modern form of Hellenism called humanism clearly descended from the human centered worldview of the Greeks. c. 200 CE): The Great Spectacle and Procession of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, 285 BCE [This Site] 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). Hellenistic artists copied and adapted earlier styles, and also made great innovations. The religion came back in 1967, while Lithuania was under Soviet rule. Modern-day religions are central to the lives of billions of people around the world. [11], Almost as famous was the cult of Serapis, an Egyptian deity despite the Greek name, which was created in Egypt under the Ptolemaic dynasty. On Hellenistic religion see Graham Shipley, The Greek World after Alexander: 323-30 BC (New York: Routledge, 2000): 153-76; Erskine, ed., A Companion to the Hellenistic World: 405-445. This philosophy provided the foundation for Hellenism, which was devoted to the supremacy of human beings and human accomplishment. Basic Introduction to Hellenistic Polytheism Rational Pagan. 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 Soviets didn’t like it—they tried to smother and extinguish it. Hellenistic Judaism also existed in Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period, where there was conflict between Hellenizers and traditionalists (sometimes called Judaizers). The island was sacred as the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, and by the 2nd century BCE was also home to the native Greek religions that follow Zeus, Athena, Dionysus, Hermes, Pan, and Asclepius. It is also called Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenic Reconstructionist Paganism, or simply Hellenism. [7] Other philosophies included Pyrrhonism which taught how to attain inner peace via suspension of judgment; Cynicism (philosophy), which expressed contempt for convention and material possessions; the Platonists who followed the teachings of Plato, and the Peripatetics who followed Aristotle. It was called the Romuva movement, a call to connect Lithuanians back to their roots. Each god was honored with stone temples and statues, and sanctuaries (sacred enclosures), which, although dedicated to a specific deity, often contained statues commemorating other gods. Central to Greek religion in classical times were the twelve Olympian deities headed by Zeus. 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]. Around Dionysus of heroes, people who were regarded as semi-divine of charms and to. 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