How did different pantheons interact?

Aug 2013
3
East Meadow, NY
I am terribly sorry if there is another topic about this, but I promise I did look.

My question, in better detail, is how did the ancients believe their pantheons interacted with one another? Being that the Romans adopted many foreign deities, it seems like a safe assumption that they must have believed these deities were just as real as their own. With that said, did they (any ancient society) believe that their Gods would have had dealings with the Gods of their neighbors? Be it allies, enemies or whatever?

The reason I ask (and I know this isn't a scholarly source) is I remember when watching season two of HBO's Rome however many years ago, Lucius Vorenus warns Titus Pullo not to anger the Egyptian Gods, basically that they were very old and powerful. So did the Gods war with their peoples against each other? Did they just exert influence? What was the thinking on this?

Despite being most interested in Rome, I would appreciate any information you could provide on how any ancient people felt on this matter. Thanks in advance for your time.
 

tornada

Ad Honoris
Mar 2013
15,398
India
The Greeks loved equating foreign gods with theirs. Megasthenes equated Krishna (of India) to Dionysus.

Also The Indo-Greeks started depicting Zeus and Buddha in similar icons.

The peacock became Hera's bird after Alexander's visit to India.

Isis was a pretty huge deity in Rome, so was Mithras (an eastern deity)

The interaction between pantheons wasn't usually depicted as warfare. More often than not, the two groups would try to assimilate each other's deities by creating equations which merged these various deities into amalgamated wholes. Like Krishna and Heracles or Krishna and Dionysus.

Alexander is said to have believed that Perseus and Heracles both had their adventures in India, which is why he was eager to go there (after he had conquered Persia)
 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
The Greeks and particularly the Romans had a tendency to equate foreign gods with their own, and they even did this with each other - Greece's Zeus was Rome's Jupiter. Other foreign gods, however, maintained their identities in Roman eyes, notably Isis and Epona, and in some respects the Judeo-Christian God.

Being members of other pantheons, Isis and Epona were accepted by the Romans; worshipping them was even 'fashionable' to a degree; on the other hand, the invisible God of the Jews and the Christians was viewed, at best with a vague sense of respect (in the case of Judaism), and open mockery and suspicion (in the case of Christianity).
 

dreamregent

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
4,410
Coastal Florida
My question, in better detail, is how did the ancients believe their pantheons interacted with one another?
You might want to explore the term [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syncretism"]syncretism[/ame]. This phenomenon appears to predate recorded history...though, you can't really tell that from the wiki article. Also, you can see this within single pantheons as well. They tend to change over time as older gods are relegated to the background or "supervisory" positions and new gods/goddesses come to the forefront as people move around and new peoples are brought into the fold. There are also a lot of cases where multiple gods were simply combined into one.
 
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Nov 2012
429
Wiltshire
Unlike in our culture today, which is dominated by monotheistic religions, in the ancient world theological confrontations focused on which deities were more powerful, rather than which existed.
 
Mar 2011
845
[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretatio_graeca"]Interpretatio graeca - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
The Hittites had one of the more interesting approaches to encounters with foreign cults. They simply adopted all of the foreign gods as their own. They literally had thousands of gods, so many in fact that there might be multiple storm gods, or harvest gods, ect.
 
Sep 2012
339
Brazil
Just down my road here in Brazil you can worship the syncretism of Yoruba Gods with Catholic Saints. They just accept that different cultures have different names of the same beings or forces, and the combined knowledge can help better understand the divine.
 
Jun 2013
29
Las Vegas, Nevada
I heard of a roman practice, where they would ask their enemy's god to switch to their side. Granted there are only two accounts of the Romans doing this. During the siege of Veii and the siege of Carthage. They asked the god Juno (both cities worshipped her), that if they would leave the opposing city and join the Romans, they would build her a nice temple back in Rome.