Because of the under development of science, Ancient Greeks used mythologies and associated to the gods anything that they could not explain or understand, which also have revealed many aspects of their culture and society, including their views toward gods. Through the survived works of ancient Greeks, one can see that the concept of exchange plays a center role in the relationship between human beings and gods; and that the ancient Greeks had absolutely and undeniably respect for their gods, who are human-like and demand to be glorified.
To begin with, the ancient Greeks explained the creation of the universe, in particular the Earth and its elements, by a system of anthropomorphism in which their gods are human-like and are representatives of these elements. For example, Zeus is the god of heaven while Hades is the underworld lord (Hesiod, p.145). Unlike the Christians’ god who is “flawless”, the ancient Greeks’ divinities are portrayed as humans and are far from perfect. Their gods behave like ordinary people except they are immortal and have supernatural powers. Like any human being, the Greeks’ gods have love, jealousy, sadness, etc. For instance, in Euripides’ Bacchae, Zeus falls in love with Semele, which makes Hera becomes jealous and tries to kill Semele and Dionysus (Euripides, p.209). The Greeks even have a physically imperfect god, Hephaestus. This is to say that the gods’ attitude toward mortals is affected by how people treat them as the Greeks’ gods have emotions like humans.
One of the best summarizes of Greeks’ gods attitude toward human is the claim of Aphrodite in Euripides’ Hippolytus that she will treat well the people who revere her power, but will “trip up” those who are proud towards her, and this principle held by other gods (Euripides, pp.94). A clear example is given by Hyginus. Niobe, wife of Amphion – the king of Thebes, claims that she is better than Leto because she has more children than Leto. Thus all of her children, except Chloris, are killed by Apollo and Artemis while she herself turns into a rock. Niobe’s husband, Amphion, is also killed by Apollo because of his intention to destroy Apollo’s temple (Hyginus, pp.219). This example suggests that the ancient Greeks believed whoever dares to challenge the gods will be horrendously punished. As can be seen here, the deities seem to be very cruel to human and the ancient Greeks had some kind of fears of their gods. One possible explanation for this is that since the gods represent the nature elements which are ultimately powerful, they are unpredictable as the nature. Probably there were some kinds of disasters during the time these mythologies were created so that people have a fear in the gods and the deities appear to be cruel in these stories.
The absolute respect for gods of the ancient Greeks is also shown especially through their tragic plays, which suggest that the gods want people to glorify them and people should maintain good relationships with...