Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Greek gods on the Siphnian Treasury, Delphi, ca. 530 BC

Greek gods on the Siphnian Treasury, Delphi, ca. 530 BC

People in ancient Greece believed in many gods: they were polytheistic (PA-lee-thee-ISS-tick). It is impossible to say how many Greek gods there were, because different Greek people worshipped different gods, or called their gods by different names. Certainly there were hundreds of gods and goddesses. The most famous of these gods, and the ones which the most people sacrificed to, were ZeusHera,ApolloArtemisPoseidonAphrodite, AthenaDemeterHermesAres, and Hades.

Persephone being kidnapped

Persephone being kidnapped

But there were many others: Asclepius, the god of medicine, Persephone, Demeter’s daughter, Gaia the earth goddess, Hecate, and so forth.
In addition, every little village had its own gods. The local stream, an especially big oak tree, an oddly shaped rock, all were thought to have their own god inside them, who had to be worshipped or he or she would get mad. It was, as Keith Hopkins has said, “a world full of gods.”

Greek people also worshipped foreign gods, if they thought other people’s gods might help them somehow. The Egyptian goddess Isis was especially popular in Athens in the Hellenistic period, for instance. And many Hellenistic Greeks worshipped Astarte, too.

To keep their gods happy, most Greek people sacrificed to their gods. Most people in Greece also asked the gods to tell them about the future through oracles.

Learn by doing – Greek Gods Bingo!
Greek myths (stories about the gods)
More about Greek religion

Bibliography and further reading about the Greek gods and goddesses:

More about Greek mythology
Ancient Greece home