prophecy, a patron of poetry, music, and healing. Only on rarernoccasions is he said to be a sun god; the sun and the moon belongrnto minor divinities, Helios and Selene. Hermes, the messengerrnof the gods, is the son of Zeus by a minor goddess, thernnymph Maia. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, is the daughterrnof Zeus by an obscure deity, Dione. Zeus’ brother Poseidon isrnlord of the sea, as well as the cause of earthquakes and the lordrnof horses. Another brother. Hades or Pluto, is the lord of thernunderworld. Zeus’ sister Demeter, an underworld goddess andrnresponsible for the growth of crops, is the mother of Persephone,rnthe consort of Hades; the mother and daughter presidernover the great shrine of Eleusis. The most complicated of thernimmortals, Dionysus, is usually called the son of Zeus by a mortalrnprincess, Semele, and to begin with had difficulty in establishingrnhis claim to be a major god; he is the god of wine and ofrnecstasy and the patron of drama. Note that these gods stand forrnforces that can be seen working in the world.rnPlato denounced the immoralityrnof the gods portrayed byrnHomer and the other poets;rnrevolting against the traditionalrnview that a man proved himself byrnhis ability to benefit his friends andrnharm his enemies, he created anrnethics that had much in commonrnwith that of Christianity.rnThe myths that provided the early poets with their subjectmatterrnshow how the gods dealt with each other and with mortals.rnMen were created not by a ruler of the gods, but byrnPrometheus, a minor god belonging to the generation displacedrnby Zeus and his family. The gods rule the universe forrnthemselves, and men have only a minor share of their attentionrnand consideration. Like mortal heroes, the gods care intenselyrnabout honor; they demand that men shall honor them. Afterrndeath the spirits of men lead a shadowy existence in the underworld,rnin the house of Hades. But the gods have certain favoritesrnamong mortals, who in myth are always descended fromrnthe liaisons of the gods with mortal men or women, and also favoritesrnamong mortal communities.rnOne god may clash with another; thus in the legend of thernTrojan War, Troy is protected by Apollo, Artemis, Ares, andrnAphrodite, but is the hated enemy of Hera, Athena, and Poseidon.rnZeus is partial to the Trojans, but in the end his partialityrnis bound to be overcome by the insistence of Hera and Athena.rnIn the Odyssey the return of the hero Odysseus is held up by thernenmity of Poseidon, but is finally achieved through the supportrnof Athena, who as Zeus’ favorite daughter has enormous power.rnThe great hero Heracles must contend with the enmity ofrnHera, always hostile to Zeus’ bastards, but he is protected byrnAthena. By paying too much honor to one god, one can antagonizernanother; in Euripides’ play Hippolytus, the hero’s devotionrnto the virgin huntress Artemis brings upon him the hatredrnof Aphrodite, the goddess of love. From the aesthetic point ofrnview, this religion has particular advantages; these gods and thernmyths about them have provided ideal subjects for literaturernand art, contrasting favorably, it may be thought, with somernother religions in this respect.rnIn the worid as it is depicted in eariy Greek poetry, the will ofrnZeus always prevails. Although in general the gods care morernabout their honor than about justice, Zeus is the protector ofrnDike, the minor goddess who represented justice, and punishesrnmen’s crimes against each other. But since the Greeks, like thernancient Hebrews, could observe that the wicked often flourishedrnlike green bay trees, Zeus’ wrath often fell not upon thernoffender, but upon the latter’s descendants. Zeus was thoughtrnto punish crimes against strangers and also suppliants, personsrnwho by an act of submission placed themselves under his protection.rnBut the will of Zeus, like that of other gods, was inscrutablernto mortals, who did not live long enough to perceivernthe working of his justice. Through oracles or throughrnprophets, men might get particles of knowledge from the gods,rnbut this knowledge was thought to be misinterpreted by them.rnDespite Zeus’ general care for justice, this religion makes itrneasier to understand why the world is as it is than does arnmonotheistic religion whose god cares deeply about men, hisrnown creation, and who is altogether good.rnSo far we have been concerned with Greek religion as it appearsrnin myth. But when we consider the evidence regardingrncult and worship in historic times, we find what seems atrnfirst a different picture. This kind of evidence takes us nearerrnto the religion’s origins. The origin of religion is always an obscurernsubject, and its investigation must be to a certain extentrnspeculative. But it would appear that this religion began withrnthe fear of ghosts; that would explain the importance of therncult of the dead, known from the discovery of tombs to havernexisted from an early time. After the fear of ghosts will haverncome the fear of powerful spirits, needing to be placated by offerings,rnand above all by sacrifice. In the time before the introductionrnof pasturage and agriculture, a time which has so farrnbeen much the longest period of human history, the life of arncommunity depended on the group of male hunters, who disappearedrnfor long stays in the jungle, the abode not only ofrntheir game, but of dangerous animals and formidable spirits.rnSuch a spirit will have been the goddess known to the studentsrnof the earliest known period of Greek religion as “The Mistressrnof Animals.” To get their food the hunters had to kill creaturesrnthat belonged to her; they had to placate her by giving her backrnpart of its body. Here we have the origin of the sacrifices thatrnwere a central feature of Greek religion. But in historic times itrnwas domestic animals, creatures precious to the human community,rnthat were sacrificed to the gods. Not all offerings tookrnthe form of blood sacrifices; many were libations of various liquids,rna few were holocausts; but blood sacrifice was the mostrnimportant, and it continued to be offered to the gods of therncommunity right through the history of Greek religion.rn18/CHRONICLESrnrnrn