A Comparative Study Of Greek And Celtic Pagan Religions, The Variations Between Them And Their Demise Through The Christian Movement

3023 words - 13 pages

Variations exist within all religions. These variations are formed as a result of a number of influences experienced by not only individuals but the society as a whole. Throughout history religions have developed, diminished as well as formed the basis for many contempory religions, notably Christianity. It is the latter however which caused the downfall of Paganism, in particular ancient Celtic and Greek belief and which resulted in the church gaining ultimate power and authority over a majority of the world.For hundreds of years prior to the birth of Christ, religions existed in a polytheistic nature, meaning they worshiped a number of gods. This is opposed to not only Christianity but ...view middle of the document...

Through their migration across Europe and encounters with such countries as Greece and Italy, Celtic religion, after final settlement, had inevitably been influenced by the previous cultures. It must be noted however that while the ancient religion is thought to have derived and evolved as said by the writings of ancient Greek and Roman historians, their portrayal of the ancient people may well have been biased. This is a result of the fact that Celts held an oral tradition with the belief that writing, rather than remembering, weakened the mind. Therefore all written evidence is based on the previous cultures portrayal and may well have been altered or distorted over time.Contrary to this, a great deal of knowledge is known of Greek religion and its origin due to their insistence on written records. The first European civilization was developed on Crete, the largest of Greek islands. Although flourishing at around 2000 BC, there are no written records of the society, known as the Minoans. Rather, information is derived from their paintings, pots and statues. This civilization however diminished around 1600 BC following what was thought to be the result of a series of natural disasters. From this time onwards mainland Greece was occupied by a peoples known was Mycenaean's. From artifacts found in royal tombs, archaeologists have concluded that their religious beliefs were similar to that of the Minoans. Both believed in life after death which is evident from their burial methods of placing food and possessions in tombs for, as well as the belief that goddesses and priestesses were in a higher position of authority in comparison to their male counterparts.This culture however too declined and Greece experienced a period known as the Dark Ages of which very little is known. However the period from 500 BC to 336 BC, known as the classical period in Greek history, holds similarities with both previously mentioned civilizations and encompassed dozens of gods and goddesses as well as many spirit figures and half gods. Mythology became extremely significant with religion being its practical counterpart with religious practices varying enough that one might speak of Greek religions rather then as a singular term.Beliefs are particular to that of the culture in question and coincide with that of their morals, social manner and that of which or whom they are influenced by. Unlike modern society, ancient Celtic and Greek life was governed entirely by their religious beliefs. Both were of a polytheistic nature and while their gods had different names, similar functions were thought to have been performed by them.However Celtic belief and religion in itself, held a great deal of variation in local practices due to a lack of political unification and no central source of cultural influence. While over three hundred gods were referred to throughout the recorded Celtic history, many of these deities were local gods and few were widely worshiped by the...

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