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

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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

3 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

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.

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