The religious beliefs and practices of Athens, Greece compared to the Gupta Empire

Topics: Greek mythology, Hinduism, Ancient Rome Pages: 9 (3245 words) Published: October 18, 2013
The great myths and religions of the world can often be traced back to a distinct few sources. The direct definition of religion is the “belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” Most of the time the religions of one culture are based on the beliefs of another or an earlier culture. The religious beliefs and practices of Athens, Greece can be quite thoroughly compared and contrasted to those of the Gupta Empire, because while they vastly differ, however there are remarkable similarities between the two.

Ancient Greece was comprised of an abundant mountainous terrain, which led to the development of the polis around 750 B.C.E. Ancient Athenians were a thoughtful people, who delved into the logical study of subjects like science, philosophy, and history among various other studies. The ancients Greeks were polytheistic. (Kearns) A major way that their religion was taught was through myths and legends. Their major gods and goddesses lived at the top of Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, and myths described their lives and actions. In myths, gods often actively intervened in the day-to-day lives of humans. While the Greek religion was not based on a written creed or body of dogma, certain sacred writings survived through time in the form of hymns, oracles, inscriptions, and instructions to the dead. The most well known and ornate are the Homeric Hymns. Scholars are unsure whether or not theses were composed for religious festivals, though their subject matter is almost entirely mythological, based on the religions of today. These anecdotes were used to help explain the unknown and often teach a lesson. (Kearns)

While Hinduism was clearly the religion favored by the empire's rulers, Buddhism still flourished. Hinduism “is a diverse family of devotional and ascetic cults and philosophical schools, all sharing a belief in reincarnation and involving the worship of one or more of a large pantheon of gods and goddesses.” (Lipner) Buddhism the newly flourishing religion had “no creator, god, and gives a central role to the doctrine of karma. The ‘four noble truths’ of Buddhism state that all existence is suffering, that the cause of suffering is desire, that freedom from suffering is moksha, and that this is attained through the ‘eightfold’ path of ethical conduct, wisdom, and mental discipline.” (McKnight Jr.)

Hinduism is a religion that originated on the Indian subcontinent. It was founded in the Vedic civilization, where it has no one known founder, but is a compilation of diverse beliefs and traditions. It is considered one of the world's oldest religions. Hinduism provides a vast body of scriptures. They have been further divided and reassigned to different sects as they have been revealed, and they have been further developed and taught and retaught throughout a millennia. These scriptures explicate a broad of range of theology, philosophy and mythology, providing spiritual insights and guidance on the practice of karma and dharma. Among such texts, Hindus revere the Vedas and the Upanishads the most, and consider these as being among the foremost in authority, importance. Other major scriptures include the Tantras and the sectarian Agamas, the Purāṇas and the epic Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa. The Bhagavad Gītā, an exposition excerpted from the Mahābhārata, is widely considered a summary of the spiritual teachings of the Vedas. Hinduism does not have an official book of the religion, but these readings are the most highly revered. (Lipner)

Ancient Greek religion is the accumulation of stories belonging to the ancient Greeks, regarding their gods and heroes, the nature of the world and their own ritualistic practices. Modern scholars referred to the myths and studied them in an attempt to shed light on the religious institutions of ancient Greece. (Fustel de Coulanges) Greek mythology consists, in part, of a large collection of narratives that explain the...

Bibliography: Fustel de Coulanges, Numa D. The Ancient City: A Study of the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome. Boston : Dover Publications Inc. , 2006. eBook.
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