Did the ancient Greeks and Romans really worship the same Gods?


My understanding from school is that the Greeks and Romans worshipped (or at least believed in) the same Gods, but used different names. I always thought it would be like if your name was “John” in English, it would be “Juan” in Spanish, but the same person nonetheless.

Today, many different religions also have different names for the God that originally revealed himself to Abraham as a burning bush (e.g., “Allah,” “Jehovah,” or just “God”).

So, was it like that?

In: Culture

Well they in theory did worship the same gods. But the Roman believed that they worshipped the more powerful/holy versions of those gods

It was indeed comparable to the different Abrahamic religions although to different degrees. The Roman gods were the same ones as the Greek gods with some different names and other differences. It is likely that the Roman religion were not directly derived from the Greek but developed from a common ancestry. There were a lot of religions with about the same gods in them, including the Norse religions. This did not go unnoticed at the time either as when the names for the weekdays which the Romans named after the gods were translated to Germanic languages they also translated the names of the gods. So Friday is in ancient Greek called “Aphrodites” in Roman it was “Veneris” (Venus) and in modern English it is “Friday” (Froy). The same goddess with three names but the same properties and different myths. It should also be noted that the Romans were very tolerant to other religions and also adopted a lot of gods, myths and customs from the regions the conquered. This is not something we saw a lot with Greek religion.

Sort of yes, sort of no. The gods they worshipped likely had a common origin in the folklore and religion of the Mediterranean areas of Europe. But they were technically their own culture’s versions of those gods. When they encountered each other, they made an approximation of which gods were which. They both had a god of war? So then Mars=Ares. Hey, my goddess of love is called Aphrodite, what’s yours? Venus. Ok, Venus=Aphrodite!

The Romans admired the Greeks a lot and were strongly influenced by their art, knowledge, and culture. They translated Greek tales into Latin, they created their own versions of the Greek statues, etc. They fit Greek gods into their own already existing pantheon of gods by saying one was the same as the other. They fit their own history into Greek history to show there was a link, that the Romans were the descendants of the greatest Greeks of the greatest age (that is, that their founder was descended from Aeneas, a minor character in The Iliad, and a son of King Priam of Troy. Kind of like how they make spinoff TV shows out of a minor character).

Some gods that they didn’t have equivalents of in Rome were Romanized and new folktales were written about them. Like Heracles (His name is purely Greek, meaning The Glory of Hera). They didn’t change his name to a Latin one, that means The Glory of Juno (Hera’s Latin equivalent) because he hadn’t existed as a Roman god (or demi-god), they just turned the word into Latin pronunciation—Hercules.