Origin of the Greek Pantheon

Nov 2016
One can assume that the Indo-European Proto-Zeus had some analogies to the weather god Teshub, the supreme male god of the Indo-European Hittites, who founded their empire in Anatolia around 1700 BCE after the Achaeans, closely related to them, subdued the indigenous population in Hellas around 1900 BCE and imposed their own heavenly god on it. The Hittites worshipped a sun goddess as the main goddess, who was the Paredra, i.e. partner of Teshub. However, they had not brought their high goddess from the southern Russian steppes to Anatolia, but had taken her from the Magna Mater cult of the Anatolians (Sun Goddess of Arinna) and made her their supreme state deity. Similarly, the Achaeans imported their Proto-Zeus and sooner or later connected him with the autochthonous Great Goddess - Hera or her earlier form - who, however, was subordinated to the male god. Why the Hittites, who like all Indo-Europeans originally knew no sun goddess of their own, decided to place an alien sun goddess at the top of their pantheon in place of their weather god Teshub, deserves a separate investigation (fascination, calculation or Mesopotamian/Egyptian influence - the sky goddesses there - ?).

In any case, the original Zeus conception has no more to do with the Zeus conception of the classical Greek period than the tribal conception of God of the Israelites, as expressed in the Moses books, with the philosophically elaborated Christian conception of God in the 4th century CE. Characteristic for the classical Zeus are:


Zeus´ position as king of a (Greek) pantheon. This leading position has only been firmly established since Hesiods ´Theogonie´ and ´Erga´, i.e. since the 8th century. The rest of the Pantheon is composed mainly or completely of autochthonous Mediterranean deities, which were taken over by the conquerors.

Very striking is the strong tendency of this God to rape goddesses (and a god), e.g. his wife Hera, his sister Demeter, his daughter Persephone, his daughter Nemesis, the human woman Europa, the god Ganymede, as well as, in Orphic mythology, his own mother Rhea, and the nymph Kallisto. This mythological accumulation of the rape motive in the highest god of the patriarchal Greeks can only be understood as a glorification of sexual violence (with one exception against women). Accordingly, the rape of minor girls in Greek antiquity was only considered a property offence (depreciation) and was punishable by a fine (payable to the father).


Zeus´ position within a genealogy of gods, whose members are also predominantly or completely, apart from Zeus, of autochthonous helladic origin. For example:


Rhea, the mother of Zeus, who has Minoan roots and, as well as Athena (according to Herodotus), goes back to that Cretan mountain and mother goddess, who had a relationship with a son-lover, who is interpreted with broad scientific consensus as a Cretan version of Zeus. The integration of this Cretan mother goddess and her son-lover into the Greek pantheon resulted in the genealogical construction of Rhea's mother relationship with Zeus, the king of the gods.


Hera, the wife of Zeus, who, as already mentioned, in her early form in Helladic territory first stood at the centre of the cult worship of a Great Goddess = Magna Mater. (Other helladic variants of the Magna Mater are: Aphrodite, Demeter, Persephone, Artemis, Athena and Semele, partly also integrated into the Pantheon). Hera's regional-historical priority over Zeus is also shown by the fact that the goddess was already worshipped in the Hera temple on Samos in pre-Indo-European times and that this temple was for a long time the largest Greek temple at all. Also, the oldest temple in Olympia was not dedicated to Zeus, but to Hera. Despite his patriarchal relationship to Hera, the mythological Zeus is conspicuous by his notorious cheating, which Hera always gets up to again. This construction reverses the polygamy of the archaic Great Goddess, who chooses and changes her partners in the context of the ritual Sacred Marriage - in contrast to Zeus however legitimately.


Dionysos, a son of Zeus, who had also been at the centre of an autochthonous mystery cult since pre-Indo-European times and was integrated into the Pantheon late (instead of the goddess Hestia). The inclusion in Greek mythology happens through an absurd construction: Zeus kills more or less accidentally, i.e. due to an intrigue of the jealous Hera, the pregnant goddess Semele and carries the surviving embryo, Dionysos, in his thigh.

For the deities mentioned, as they appear in classical mythology, the same applies of course as for Zeus: Although they are partially rooted in older ideas, they have nothing in common with these, apart from a few elementary characteristics, whereby in the case of the female deities these characteristics can be determined more precisely than with the Indo-European Proto-Zeus, of which apart from the name and the only limitedly meaningful attribute of the celestial or weather deity nothing is known at all.
Likes: Ario
Nov 2016
From what little i know is that majority of the their pantheon is actually Anatolian in origin.
"Majority"? There is no evidence for that. The Helladic mother goddess type (e.g. Hera) surely goes back to the type of Great Goddess that originated in Anatolia (see Catal Hüyük). So we can say Hera as spouse of Zeus rooted in a Helladic mother goddess, which rooted in the Anatolian Great Goddess, which rooted in the Paleolithic fore-mother.

Apart from this very indirect connection, there is only little concrete evidence for a connection of Greek mythology to Anatolia:

Category:Anatolian characters in Greek mythology - Wikipedia
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