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4. Conception of the Divine in Greek Polytheism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on deities to observe, perceive, reconstruct, and understand the working of the Aiginetan religious system as a whole. Immortality and superhuman power are two central characteristics of divinity in Greek religion. Daimones and heroes must have been as important a category of divine beings as theoi in Greek polytheism. There is another typology of Greek deities, variously labeled as etic or emic, the distinction between the Chthonians and the Olympians. Anthropomorphism and personification are the two most important Greek ways of objectifying the divine side in religious communication. In Greek religion, there is divine personhood even when human social morality is overstepped. Literary sources (Homer or Hesiod) showing how deities deceive each other are a testimony to that. Such literary sources as Pindar show an awareness of local sensibilities and could be a valuable source of insights in this respect.

Keywords: Aiginetan religious system; anthropomorphism; Chthonians; daimones; divinity; Greek polytheism; Homer; Olympians; Pindar

10.1163/9789004262089_005
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