Greek Religion

Glossary of Ancient Greek Religion


This glossary of Ancient Greek Religion provides definitions of terms related to Ancient Greek Religion, with links to full articles where available.

Hero of Greek mythology and literature. Son of Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. In the Iliad, he is a Trojan leader who is very pious towards the gods.
Hero of Greek mythology and literature. Son of Atreus, brother of Menelaus, husband of Clytemnestra. In Homer, commander of the Greek expedition against Troy and a man of personal valor but easily discouraged.
1. Informal and competitive struggles and rivalries that permeated Greek life. 2. Gatherings of people, usually for formal contests in honor of a god or local hero.
In ancient Greek settlements, open spaces used as marketplaces or general public meeting places. For similar spaces in ancient Roman settlements, use "forums.".
An Athenian festival in honor of the god Dionysus. Held annually for three days in the early spring to celebrate the end of winter and the maturing of the wine.
An Ionian festival celebrated by the phatry throughout Attica. It took place in the autumn month of Pyanopsion for three days, and its main function was to enrol new phatry members.
Dorian festival of Apollo celebrated at Sparta and elsewhere. Corresponded to the Ionian festival of Apaturia. At Sparta, the festival was celebrated monthly, on the seventh, when the Spartan assembly met.
"Impure" days of the Athenian calendar. Associated with the Plynteria, homicide trials, moonless days, and other inauspicious events. Temples were closed and major undertakings were avoided.
(also Dionysia) Any of several festivals of Dionysus, the wine god. Suppressed by the Roman senate in 186 BC. Bacchic cults included oaths of loyalty, organized funding, property and membership. In Greece, only women were admitted; in Rome, both were admitted and the festivities were held more often.
The torchbearer, and second most important priest, of the Eleusian Mysteries. He was chosen from the lineage of the Kerykes for life. He wore a headbadn with a myrtle wreath, a robe of purple, and carried torches. The appointment was considered a great honor and there was often considerable competition for the position.
(also Bacchus). God of fruitfulness, vegetation, wine and ecstasy. Son of Zeus and Semele.
Olive branch carried by singing boys at various festivals, then deposited either at the temple of Apollo or house doors. The branches were hung with symbols of agricultural abundance: figs, fruits, etc. Householders were expected to give the boys a present in return.
Important festival of games held at Eleusis (in Attica) on a grand scale every fourth year and on a lesser scale every two years. The prize was grain from the Rarian field in Eleusis, where grain was believed to have been first cultivated.
Elysian Fields
(also Elysium). Paradise inhabited by the distinguished or the good after their death. First named in Homer's Odyssey as the destiny of Menelaus.
Great Dionysia
Festival of Dionysus in Athens.

Article Info

Title Glossary of Ancient Greek Religion
Last UpdatedFebruary 3, 2021
MLA Citation “Glossary of Ancient Greek Religion.” 3 Feb. 2021. Web. Accessed 28 Oct. 2021. <>