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Greek Myths That Have a Religious Background



All Greek myths are religious. These myths were stories about the various gods and heroes that accounted for the creation of the world, the seasonal cycles and other natural phenomena. There are several types of myths found within Greek mythology that are worth noting religiously and culturally.

Myths of Origin
Origin myths explain how the world was created. In "The Theogony," Hesiod, one of Greece's earliest poets, explains that out of chaos came Gaia the earth. Gaia and her husband Uranus had children, a race called the titans. Though powerful, the titans were eventually overthrown by Zeus and the rest of the gods whom the Greeks worshiped. Origin myths also told Greeks how to worship their gods. Regarding Zeus, Pausanias wrote: "There are statues of Zeus, one made by Leokhares and one called Polieus, of the City...Upon the altar of Zeus Polieus they place barley mixed with wheat and leave it unguarded."

Myths of the Ages
Myths of the ages of history assist in establishing the social order of a society. According to a Greek myth, the Trojan war ended the mythic age and brought mankind into the modern era. It was important for the Greek people to understand the social order of their world and for the kings to trace their genealogy and dynasties. The myth of Io, who was turned into a cow and forced by Hera to wander to Egypt, explains how her descendents later established the royal houses of Thebes and Argos. The myths of ages ensured that Greek culture knew that their leaders were connected to the gods.

Seasonal Renewal
Myths also helped explain the natural phenomena of the Greek world. One of the most famous seasonal renewal myths is the story of Persephone's kidnapping by Hades. Also found in Hesiod's "Theogony," the Hymn to Demeter tells about the goddess Demeter, Persephone's mother, and her search for Persephone. Demeter's search caused a great famine on earth while she was searching. The Greeks use this myth to explain why there are four seasons and how humanity learned agriculture.

Myths of Heroes
Myths of heroes show how human institutions were created. To many people today, these are simply stories of great feats or acts, but to the culture that believed in these stories, everything had significance. The myth of Pelops explains the creation of the Olympic games. The story of Pandora shows the reason why mankind has to deal with suffering and illness. These myths assisted people in coping with the world around them.







Ancient 'Gate to Hell' Uncovered in Turkey: Pluto's Portal to Underworld




Beneath the fallen Ionic columns, under a haze of hallucinatory mist and rubble, a portal to the underworld beckons. Archaeologists believe they've uncovered an ancient Gate to Hell, and somehow, it isn't in America. The Greek god Pluto's mythical doorway to Hades was discovered recently in Turkey.
Found in the old Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now Pamukkale, in southwestern Turkey, researchers said they were convinced of their discovery the more they dug, continually finding artifacts that matched up with the descriptions of the infamous entrance to Erebus made by Greeks thousands of years ago who wrote of "Plutonion."
"We found the Plutonium by reconstructing the route of a thermal spring. Indeed, Pamukkale' springs, which produce the famous white travertine terraces, originate from this cave," team leader Francesco D'Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento, told Discovery News.
Crews found an abundance of ruins at the Hellenistic site that was once a prosperous center of commerce in the region, replete with temples, a theater, and hot springs that were used for their healing powers. Chief among the finds though - D'Andria is quick to point out - is the mythical Gate of Hell ancient Greeks used as a similar spiritual tourist destination to seeing the Oracles at Delphi. Here, people would travel from across the known world to meet with the gods of the underworld, Pluto and Kore, something D'Andria said inscriptions found on columns around the site, as well as the ruins of a temple, a pool, and a "series of steps placed above the cave" prove.
"People could watch the sacred rites from these steps, but they could not get to the area near the opening. Only the priests could stand in front of the portal," D'Andria said.
These priests were often under the influence of psychedelic chemicals, hallucinating as they guided visitors on revelatory inward quests, and sacrificing bulls to Pluto. Priests would enter the cave with small birds and often other larger animals, and then later drag them back out dead.
"We could see the cave's lethal properties during the excavation. Several birds died as they tried to get close to the warm opening, instantly killed by the carbon dioxide fumes," D'Andria said.
D'Andria said the ruins showed Plutonian was used for the "rites of incubation" for spiritual tourists, a practice where people would sleep near the entrance to the cave, and swim in the pool near the temple while hoping for divine revelations or visions to appear, and indeed, scientists now know that gas rising from the bottom of Hierapoli's phreatic groundwater was capable of producing hallucinations.
Hierapoli lasted as a popular spiritual destination until around 400 A.D., and was used intermittently the next two centuries. The city was "an important pilgrimage destination for the last pagan intellectuals of the Late Antiquity," said Alister Filippini, a researcher in Roman history at the Universities of Palermo, Italy, and Cologne, Germany.
"This is an exceptional discovery as it confirms and clarifies the information we have from the ancient literary and historic sources," Filippini added.