In the traditions of many civilizations, religious sacrifices have been made to various gods for protection, rites of passage, and as a sign of respect. Some civilizations have even offered human beings as sacrifices. Human sacrifice was either voluntary or involuntary, and surprisingly enough, in most cultures it was voluntary. The victims offered themselves to be sacrificed for the greater good of the people or for honor from the gods. Some cases, though, showed involuntary sacrifice as a result of warfare and slavery.
Many religious symbols were used as amulets of protection or were used to bring good fortune. Ancient Egyptian symbols were also used in religious rituals for the living and the dead. Ancient Egyptian religion affected symbols within their culture in many ways and were used to recognize many gods and their characteristics traits. One might ask: how were the gods recognized? One way the gods were recognized was through Ancient Egyptians symbols and sacred objects.
The Incas were polytheistic like the Aztecs. While their structure of beliefs were different, both civilizations believed in multiple gods. Like the Cherokee and Aztecs, the Inca culture was based on its religious beliefs. They too spent their days preoccupied with their religious beliefs. These beliefs were the underlying current of their
Human sacrifice to gods and tale-telling to people were two components that summarized and showed the religious admiration to their gods in the Aztec culture, and are shown repeatedly in the key art pieces including the Templo Mayor, the Calendar Stone and the Coyolxauhqui Stone. Human sacrifice was seen as a crucial behavior to give offering to god in exchange of the god’s protection to the Aztec society, and this idea is illustrated in both Templo Mayor and the Coyolxauhqui Stone. The sacred Templo Mayor was viewed and honored as a main temple to perform Aztec’s main religious ritual, to dedicate the deities of both the god of warfare Huizilopotchli and the god of rain Tlaloc. And the practice of sacrificing was seen through the sacrificial stone in the center
For instance, the relationship between humans and gods that resound throughout the narrative, gender divisions, civilization versus nature and lastly, how the Sumerians lived. The story of Gilgamesh is one of the earliest epics in world literature and was composed in Southern Mesopotamia before 2000 B.C. As mentioned and discovered by scientists, this writing was inscribed on twelve clay tables in cuneiform that depicted the way of life in Mesopotamia. During this period, a major factor influencing behavior, personal and political decision-making, and material culture was religion. Sumerians had a polytheistic belief system, which means that the people believed and worshipped multiple gods and goddesses.
Within the world’s ancient past, lived ancient civilizations. Throughout ancient history, these civilizations each have a differing belief within a variation of sentient beings. Though when looking through each of these civilizations central beliefs and folklore of their cultures, you are able to see that certain key stories within each of these civilizations seem to show up in other cultures. This is known as cultural diffusion: when the stories of one civilization becomes apart of another civilization. Usually in a revisioned fashion to fit the needs of the civilization.
Both Cultures had many different Gods that they prayed to. More specifically, the Greeks had Gods and Goddesses were people from the Han Dynasty had many different religions since there was a variety of Gods to worship. Still, both made sacrifices to their Gods, had to pray to their Gods when making decisions, and asked their Gods to take care of them in their lives and afterlives. Although, these were not the only things that Han and Greece had in common. In their governments, they had mutual views about who could and couldn't be a part of the regime.
In early literate civilizations, religion was largely characterized by the worship of and reverence for a collective body of deities that explain natural phenomena. These conceptual Gods played an incessant role in developing human consciousness, dictating both human thought and action. It is unsurprising, then, that the Gods of Homer’s Iliad direct the course of the epic’s characters and even the Trojan war itself. Indeed, the Iliad anthropomorphizes these divine beings and frequently showcases their interactions with both one another and the Trojan and Achaean soldiers, whether in the form of direct contact, prayer, or prophecy. Given Homer’s “distinguished, inclusive, and elastic” vision of the gods, Scholar Roy Hack proposes that Homer was a personal polytheist, signified further by his envisioned world being “effectively governed (throughout) by divine power.” Contrary to this, the actions of the Gods in the Iliad are often antithetical to the grandiose descriptions of their reputations and abilities found in other Greek literature.
Further, just as culture changes over time, religious practices and beliefs change simultaneously with our culture. To highlight the diversity and evolution of religion and culture as comparable systems, we can look at ancient Greek, Wiccan, and other Pagan religions. On Thursday, February 1st, Dr. Justin Lewis discussed syncretism (i.e., the amalgamation of many different religions) and polytheism (i.e., the belief or worship of more than one god or goddess) as they existed in ancient Greek religion. Specifically, Lewis described the various depictions of the gods and goddesses, and how different communities believed in and worshipped the gods and goddesses in different ways. For example, people perceived and worshipped the goddess Aphrodite differently in Egypt (i.e., ISIS - Aphrodite) than in Greece, despite both cultures worshipping the same goddess.
Cosmogony is concerned with the origin of the universe. Eschatology is concerned with death, judgement and the afterlife. There exists a plurality of diverse cosmogonies and eschatology’s within the different religions of the world. The variations in myth, symbol and ritual contained in these religions often reflect differences in the environment, the social order, and the economy of the different civilizations to which they belong. This essay seeks to explore the different cosmogonies and eschatology’s of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Ancient Greece and how the myth, symbol and ritual contained in them are directly or indirectly related to the political and physical environment.