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religion, Greek Reference library
Despite the diversity of the Greek world, which is fully reflected in its approach to things divine, the cult practices and pantheons current among different communities have enough in common to be seen as essentially one system, and were generally understood as such by the Greeks. This is not to say that the Greeks were familiar with the concept of ‘a religion’, a set of beliefs and practices espoused by its adherents as a matter of conscious choice, more or less to the exclusion of others; such a framework was not applied to Greek religion before late antiquity, and then under pressure from Christianity. Boundaries between Greek and non-Greek religion were far less sharp than is generally the case in comparable modern situations, but they were perceived to exist. The tone is set by ...
religion, Greek, terms relating to Reference library
The semantics of Greek and Latin in this regard are very different from those of modern European languages. In Greek, the most important word denoting the sacred was ἱερός, denoting basically something which is consecrated to a god, although its use in Homer may reflect an original meaning ‘strong’. A related sense is ‘connected with cult’; thus ἱερά are religious rites, or materials, especially victims, for them. Contrasting with ἱερός, both ὅσιος and εὐσεβής, with their corresponding abstract nouns, cover some of the meaning of ‘religion’, ‘religious’. Ὅσιος seems to mean primitively ‘usage’, ‘custom’, hence ‘good, commendable, pious usage’ or the feelings which go with it. It tends to specialize into meaning that which is proper and lawful with regard to holy things, or to traditional morality; it is, for instance, ἀνόσιον to commit murder. Its sense of ‘lawful’ can, however, further develop into ‘that which is permitted, as not sacred or taboo’, and thus may contrast with ἱερός, coming to mean almost ‘profane, secular.’ Εὐ̑σεβής, literally ‘reverent’, does not necessarily indicate reverence towards the gods unless a qualifying phrase is added; in this respect it is like Latin ...