When did the Hellenic faith die?

Jul 2014
651
Messinia
#1
Was it true there were still isolated believers of the old gods in the hitherlands of Greece by 1000AD?

Christianity was dominant already by 1000AD. Were the old believers seen with the 'backwards provincial' stereotype? Or was the Hellenic stragglers by 1000AD a myth?
 
Mar 2013
972
Breakdancing on the Moon.
#3
The Hellenic stragglers re: 1000AD is a myth, yes. Kaldellis talks about this a bit in his new book, Romanland. What was happening the Mani was quite a bit more complicated than that.

It's hard to give an actual hard date. If it helps, the kind of religious practice we're familiar with from the late archaic and classical begins to break down very rapidly in the Hellenistic era. That's not to say it *dies* but it changes. By the early Roman era patterns of cultic worship have actually changed a great deal. Most scholars argue that this is due to both the weakening of the polis and the internal divisions (phratries etc) which sustained a lot of everyday religion. It's hard to over emphasise the importance of the Polis to Greek religion as we know it.

We then get a rise of mystery cults, individual charismatic gurus, philosophical and literary interpretation etc until Christianity comes.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,860
Republika Srpska
#4
Constantine VII Porphyrogenetos seems to indicate that Basil I Christianized at least some of the Maniots:

"They were idolaters and worshippers of images after the fashion of the ancient Hellenes; and they were baptized and became Christians in the reign of glorious Basil."
 

athena

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
5,032
Eugene, Oregon
#6
Aristotle and others dropped superstitious notions because of their studies and philosophical arguments. They never were superstitious as the Christians. Their most important stories were from Homer and they were about being good human beings, not exactly theology (the study of God). I do not believe their gods are supernatural beings. Perhaps in ancient times, some people did, but what they had was nothing like the Church of Rome and belief in supernational powers of good and evil. But the Athenians were much more secular than Christians and their gods lead them away from the kingdom order of the God of Abraham religions. Their doctors and philosophers such as Aristotle discouraged superstitious notions.

Each god and goddess is an archetype and we can be benefited by understanding them and doing incantations to benefit from them. The power is in our own minds. This may seem the same as praying Jesus for help, but it is fundamentally very different.
 
Last edited:

athena

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
5,032
Eugene, Oregon
#7
The Hellenic stragglers re: 1000AD is a myth, yes. Kaldellis talks about this a bit in his new book, Romanland. What was happening the Mani was quite a bit more complicated than that.

It's hard to give an actual hard date. If it helps, the kind of religious practice we're familiar with from the late archaic and classical begins to break down very rapidly in the Hellenistic era. That's not to say it *dies* but it changes. By the early Roman era patterns of cultic worship have actually changed a great deal. Most scholars argue that this is due to both the weakening of the polis and the internal divisions (phratries etc) which sustained a lot of everyday religion. It's hard to over emphasise the importance of the Polis to Greek religion as we know it.

We then get a rise of mystery cults, individual charismatic gurus, philosophical and literary interpretation etc until Christianity comes.

Spart never cared much about the gods. Athens changed its education when it began colonizing. As the US has done, it moved from education for individual growth, to a focus on technology, so it could send out people trained to replicate Athens bureaucratic order. That change in the purpose of education changed the culture and broke the cultural bonds of the former Athens.
 
Jan 2016
1,127
Victoria, Canada
#9
Thank you for the responses.

So would it be safe to say that some parts of southern Greece still believed in the Pagan faith well into the 900's?
Constantine VII singles out just one small town in Greece, Maina, as still practising hellenic paganism in the 9th century, and claims that these pagans were christianized by Basil I, so even in the previous century "some parts of southern Greece" would likely be a vast overstatement. There were probably some isolated communities of Slavic pagans in 10th century Greece (although I don't believe they're specifically mentioned by any of our sources), but that's a different issue. Here's the full account from De Administrando Imperio by the way:



Note that the "local inhabitants" (presumably of surrounding villages and towns) were already Christians, having singled the citizens of Maina out as "Hellenes" -- that is, pagans -- even despite the absence of direct imperial authority in the region through the 8th and most of the 7th century.
 
Last edited:
Jul 2014
651
Messinia
#10
Constantine VII singles out just one small town in Greece, Maina, as still practising hellenic paganism in the 9th century, and claims that these pagans were christianized by Basil I, so even in the previous century "some parts of southern Greece" would likely be a vast overstatement. There were probably some isolated communities of Slavic pagans in 10th century Greece (although I don't believe they're specifically mentioned by any of our sources), but that's a different issue. Here's the full account from De Administrando Imperio by the way:



Note that the "local inhabitants" (presumably of surrounding villages and towns) were already Christians, having singled the citizens of Maina out as "Hellenes" -- that is, pagans -- even despite the absence of direct imperial authority in the region through the 8th and most of the 7th century.
Thank you for the quote.

Any idea when that quote was made?
 

Similar History Discussions