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Classics & Ancient History   >   Greek Religion: The Nature of the Gods


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Greek Religion: The Nature of the Gods

In this course, Dr Emma Aston (University of Reading) explores Greek religion, focusing in particular on the nature of the gods in Greek thought. In the first module, we think about the concept of anthropomorphism (i.e. the fact that the gods were often thought of or depicted in humanoid form) and how this impacted how the Greeks thought about encounters between man and god. After that, in the second module, we consider the influence of the poets Homer and Hesiod on the ways the Greeks conceived of their gods. In the third module, we turn to the practice of animal sacrifice, thinking in particular about how the Greeks thought their gods participated in sacrifices, before moving on in the fourth module to think about the form and function of temples. Finally, in the fifth module, we think about some of the critiques of the gods, and of anthropomorphism in particular, looking at the depictions of the gods in the works of Homer and Aristophanes, as well as the range of gods who were worshipped in non-humanoid forms.

The line drawing of Achelous and the illustration of the Pan vase are (c) Rosey Aston 2011. All rights reserved.


In this module, we think about the anthropomorphism of the Greek gods, i.e. the fact they were thought of (and depicted) as having human or humanoid form. We begin by thinking about some of the implications of this belief, focusing in particular on epiphanies as well as a few closer encounters between gods and men – both iatric and erotic. Finally, we think about the few cases where the gods were depicted as having a non-humanoid form, focusing in particular on the gods Pan and Achelous.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Aston, E. (2018, August 15). Greek Religion: The Nature of the Gods - Anthropomorphism [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Aston, E. "Greek Religion: The Nature of the Gods – Anthropomorphism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


Dr Emma Aston

Dr Emma Aston

Reading University