Kratos: Brutal Tyrant of Ancient Greek Mythology

Kratos is characterized as brutal and merciless, advocating for the use of unnecessary violence. Introduction In Greek mythology, Kratos (or Cratos) is the divine personification of strength. He is the son of Pallas and Styx. Kratos and his siblings Nike (“Victory”), Bia (“Force”), and Zelus (“Zeal”) are all essentially personifications of a trait.[5] Kratos is[…]

Sisyphus: Deceitful Trickster God of Ancient Greek Mythology

As a punishment for his trickery, Hades made King Sisyphus roll a huge boulder endlessly up a steep hill. Introduction In Greek mythology Sisyphus, or Sisyphos, was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill[…]

Azazel: The Evil Fallen Angel of Ancient and Medieval Hebrew Apocalypticism

The Book of Enoch brings Azazel as a fallen angel onto Mount Hermon, a gathering-place of demons of old, as a rebellious “Watcher”. Overview Azazel is, according to the Book of Enoch, a fallen Angel. In the Bible, the name Azazel appears in association with the scapegoat rite; the name represents a desolate place where[…]

Ahriman: The ‘Devil’ of Ancient and Medieval Zoroastrianism

Ahriman was the “Evil spirit, … whose religion is evil [and] who ever ridiculed and mocked the wicked in hell.” Overview Angra Mainyuis the Avestan-language name of Zoroastrianism’s hypostasis of the “destructive spirit/mentality” and the main adversary in Zoroastrianism either of the Spenta Mainyu, the “holy/creative spirits/mentality”, or directly of Ahura Mazda, the highest deity[…]

Classical Archaeology and Ancient Greek Mythology

Despite the scientific rigor of archaeology today, archaeological exploration is still an art and an adventure of the human mind. Introduction to Classical Archaeology Classical Archaeology is the study of past societies in the Mediterranean region on the basis of surviving material evidence. What this means, for all practical purposes, is that classical archaeologists –[…]

An Historical Overview of Ancient Greek Mythology

Greek myths were initially propagated in an oral-poetic tradition by Minoan and Mycenaean singers starting in the 18th century BCE. Introduction Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and[…]

Magna Mater: The Cult of Cybele in Ancient Rome

Originally, the Cybelean cult was brought to Rome during the time of the Second Punic War (218 -201 BCE). Introduction History verifies the importance of religion not only on a society’s development but also on its survival; in this respect the Romans were no different than other ancient civilizations. During the formative years of the[…]

The Cult of Athena in Ancient Greece

In Athens, the cult of Athena Polias was the most important religious faction. Much like the Vestal Virgins of Rome, the priestesses of Greek religion enjoyed a great many perks that other Greek women did not. In exchange for the commitment to their religious and civic responsibilities, they were often paid, given property, and most[…]

The François Vase: Story Book of Ancient Greek Mythology

The neat labels of Greek text that accompany and identify many of the characters on the vase still help us understand its imagery today. Introduction 270 figures run, fight, and dance across the surface of the François Vase. While the decoration seems dense and busy to our modern eyes, an ancient viewer would have known[…]

Meet an Ushabti, an Ancient Egyptian Statuette Made for the Afterlife

What we know about this figure discovered in Neferibresaneith’s tomb. What’s an Ushtabi? Ushabtis are figurines that were designed to be placed in someone’s tomb. Ushabtis look like human figures that have been mummified, usually with their arms crossed over their chest. Some, like the Getty’s ushabti, were very carefully made, with detailed features, while[…]

Exploring ‘End Times’ Armageddon Mythology across Faiths

The term is often used in a generic sense to refer to any end of the world scenario. Introduction According to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, Armageddon (from Ancient Greek: Ἁρμαγεδών Harmagedōn,[1][2] Late Latin: Armagedōn,[3] from Hebrew: הר מגידו‎ Har Megiddo) is the prophesied location of a gathering[…]

Sex with Demons: A Belief That Runs Deep in Christian and Jewish Traditions

The earliest account of demon sex in Jewish and Christian traditions comes from the Book of Genesis. Introduction Houston physician and pastor Stella Immanuel – described as “spectacular” by Donald Trump for her promotion of unsubstantiated claims about anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a “cure” for COVID-19 – has some other, very unconventional views. As well[…]

Exploring Abrahamic Mythology since the Ancient World

In its broadest academic sense, the word “myth” simply means a traditional story. However, many restrict the term to sacred stories. Introduction Abrahamic mythology is the body of myths associated with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The term encompasses a broad variety of legends and stories, especially those considered sacred narratives. Mythological themes and elements occur[…]

Myth and Epic in the Ancient World

Exploring believed what and the effect literal belief in myths had on given social orders. Introduction Anthropologists and literary critics tend to read even sacred ancient literature in the manner of Homer’s and Virgil’s epics, that is, as fiction with historical elements. They don’t, however, always follow up with the implications of that. Mesopotamian myths[…]

Golden Tickets to the Underworld in Ancient Greece

Tablet with Instructions for the Deceased in the Underworld, 350–300 B.C., Greek. Gold, 7/8 × 1 7/16 × 1/16 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Gift of Lenore Barozzi, 75.AM.19 How some ancient Greeks navigated their passage to a happier afterlife. By David Saunders / 10.30.2018 Curator, Department of Antiquities J. Paul Getty Museum Introduction[…]

Janus: The Roman God of Beginnings and Endings

Detail from The Temple of Janus by Peter Paul Rubens. Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons On January 1, we consider the origins of Janus, after whom this month is named. Dr. Caillan Davenport / 12.31.2017 Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History and ARC DECRA Senior Research Fellow Macquarie University January 1 can be a day of regret and reflection – did I really[…]

Palaces in Ancient Egypt: Cities for Kings and Gods

Illustration of the ancient palace of Malkata The grandeur that early European explorers had come to expect in royal building programs seems to have been reserved for sacred space and funerary complexes. By Dr. Steven Snape Reader in Egyptian Archaeology University of Liverpool Introduction For early European explorers in Egypt, it was inconceivable that the massive monumental[…]

The City of Gilgamesh: Temple Rule in Ancient Babylon

Passing lion, brick panel from the Procession Way which ran from the Marduk temple to the Ishtar Gate and the Akitu Temple / Photo by Jastrow, Louvre Museum, Wikimedia Commons Gilgamesh, legendary ruler of Uruk, famous drinker, womanizer and battler against monsters, was a King Arthur of Mesopotamian antiquity. By Dr. Paul Kriwaczek British Historian Uruk[…]

Human and Non-Human Sacrifice in Aztec Religious Practice

 / An Aztec ceremonial knife with a cedarwood handle and flint blade. The figure of the handle is covered in turquoise and shell mosiac and represents an Aztec Eagle knight. 1400-1521 CE. (British Museum, London) / British Museum, Creative Commons This was a strictly ritualized process which gave the highest possible honor to the gods and was regarded[…]

The Power Struggle between Government Officials and Clergy in Ancient History

Fragment of an inscripted clay cone of Urukagina (or Uruinimgina), lugal (prince) of Lagash. The inscription reads: “He [Uruinimgina] dug (…) the canal to the town-of-NINA. At its beginning, he built the Eninnu-(E-ninnu or Temple-Ninnu); at its ending, he built the Esiraran”. / Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen, Louvre Museum, Wikimedia Commons When secular governors supported by the armies appeared[…]

The Ancient Roman Cult of Mithras

The Tauroctony / Photo by CristianChirita, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Wikimedia Commons The Roman deity Mithras appears in the historical record in the late 1st century A.D., and disappears from it in the late 4th century A.D. By Dr. Roger Pearse Ancient Historian Introduction The Roman deity Mithras appears in the historical record in the late 1st century A.D., and disappears from it[…]

Hero Cults in Ancient Greece

Sacello Ipogeico (Heroon), Paestum, Italy / Photo by Berthold Werner, Wikimedia Commons Hero cults were one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.24.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Hero cults were one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion. In Homeric Greek, “hero” (ἥρως, hḗrōs) refers to a man who[…]

How Punitive, Omniscient Gods May Have Encouraged the Expansion of Human Society

With moralistic gods watching, it’s easier to be fair and cooperative. Olivier, CC BY-NC-ND For human groups to grow from small, intimate communities to the huge interconnected societies we know now, people needed to be willing to cooperate with strangers. Religion might have played a big role. By Dr. Benjamin Grant Purzycki / 02.10.2016 Senior Researcher, Department of Behavior, Ecology, and Culture Max[…]

The Petrifying Gaze of Medusa: Ambivalence, Explexis, and the Sublime

Photo by bl3w, Flickr, Creative Commons Tracing the notion of ekplexis in Greek rhetoric and the connections in etymology, myth, and pictorial traditions, between the petrifying powers of art and the myth of Medusa. By Dr. Caroline van Eck Professor of Art History University of Cambridge Abstract The Dutch art theorists Junius and van Hoogstraten describe the sublime,[…]

Common Beliefs and Practices in Ancient Greek Religion

Aegeus at right consults the Pythia or oracle of Delphi. Vase 440-430 BC. He was told “Do not loosen the bulging mouth of the wineskin until you have reached the height of Athens, lest you die of grief”, which at first he did not understand. / Photo by Zde, Antikensammlung Berlin, Altes Museum, Wikimedia Commons We speak of Greek religions or “cults” in[…]

Living the Principles of Ma’at in Ancient Egyptian Religion

The limestone Pyramidion of Ramose, from the top of the tomb of the ‘Necropolis Scribe’. Scenes on all four sides depict the worship of the sun. From Deir-el-Demina, New Kingdom, XIX Dynasty, 1279-1213 BCE. (Egyptian Museum, Turin) / Photo by Mark Cartwright, Creative Commons During one’s life on Earth in ancient Egypt, one was expected to uphold the principle[…]

Hippolytus: Asexuality and Ancient Greece

“Phèdre et Hippolyte” (1802), by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin / Wikimedia Commons Classical discussions often get caught between that problematic binary of social constructionism vs essentialism. By Dr. Chris Mowat / 05.17.2018 Visiting Fellow in Classics Newcastle University Myth was a great tool with which the ancient Greeks were able to think about themselves and their place[…]

The Julio-Claudian Imperial Cult at the Sebasteion at Aphrodisias

The Sebasteion, excavated in 1979-81, was a grandiose temple complex dedicated to Aphrodite and the Julio-Claudian emperors and was decorated with a lavish sculptural program of which much survives. / Photo by wneuheisel, Wikimedia Commons Augustus and the Julio-Claudian emperors’ successful reign over the vast Roman Empire were due primarily to provincial loyalty and acquiescence.[…]