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Olympian And Mystery Religions In Ancient Greece

1219 words - 5 pages

The Olympian Religion of Ancient Greece was a religion that was based on fear, whereas the many mystery religions of Ancient Greece were based primarily on hope. The Olympian Religion was based on fear due to the instability and unpredictability of the gods and goddesses; it was believed that they could change their minds whenever they pleased. This left mortals scared and willing to do anything to avoid the wrath of the gods and goddesses. However, the mystery religions were based on hope and community, offering a sense of belonging due to their classless nature. The mystery religions also offered a belief of a better life after death which was appealing to many Greeks. In addition, there were many secret rites that offered mortals a way of communicating directly to the god of the mystery religion.
Many mystery religions such as the Dionysiac religion and to Eleusinian religion offered the Greeks a sense of belonging and community. Much information is not known about the ancient Greek mystery religions due to the religions being very secret and the price for talking about them was death in ancient Greece. Due to this secrecy the religions offered a sense of belonging between the initiates. For Example, all Greek speaking people could share in the gift of initiation in the Eleusinian mysteries. The Eleusinian mysteries were open to any Greek speaker, man, woman or even slaves (Class Notes). Initially only men were allowed into the mystery, but soon enough every Athenian was allowed to be admitted into the mystery religion, though the initiates had to travel to Eleusis (‘Mystery religion’ n.d.). In ancient Greece, there was a sense of community and belonging in a Greek being able to say “I am initiated into the Eleusinian religion”, all Athenian citizens were encouraged to join, men, women, slaves, Greeks and barbarians, thus adding to the classless nature of the Eleusinian religion (Lecture 15 n.d.). Women in particular took the advantage to join the mystery religion to escape their domestic duties. The Orphic religion also held closely to the idea of a religious community where all were equal and welcome (Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Parmenides, n.d.).
The Mystery religions also gave the Greeks a belief and in hope for a better life after they had died. Many of the Mystery religions offered preferential treatment to those who undertook the secret initiation rituals (Dover, K 1980). Through the initiation rituals the worshipper became united with the god and shared in their divine power (Classical Mystery Religions: an Introduction, n.d.). The Worshippers of the Orphic Mysteries believed that the soul was imprisoned in the body. The Orphics believed that by following the rules of the religion such as abstaining from certain foods and had been purified in the initiation rituals; the Orphics believed that they could escape the prison of the body and enter into commune with the gods after death (Class Notes). The Eleusinian Mystery religion offered...

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