What Were the Common Beliefs and Religions in Ancient Greece?

Overall, the ancient Greeks had a polytheistic culture that emphasized the importance of sacrifices and rituals to appease the many gods and goddesses who were known to interfere in human affairs. Emphasis was on earthly rewards rather than the afterlife. Ancient Greece spanned a vast empire and hundreds of years, encompassing a variety of beliefs and practices that often incorporated elements of foreign religions.

For the ancient Greeks, gods and goddesses were in abundance, with the 12 major gods residing on Mount Olympus. Each city or town had its own deity that warranted respect and sacrifice. The pantheon of gods, headed by the powerful Zeus, were immortal beings that resembled humans but exhibited superhuman powers.

They did not believe their gods created the universe, though, and they were still subject to its laws and its order. Humanity and immortals alike were subject to fate, which often appeared personified as the Fates, three goddesses who watched over all destinies. Free will still existed since one still had the freedom to react to predestined situations even if the situations themselves could not be avoided.

Religion in ancient Greece was direct and personal, relevant to and present in all areas of everyday life. Gods were often thought to be present, as they were believed to intervene in human affairs frequently.