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The Greek Gods: Myths and Worship
Monday, March 2, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.
Marble relief portraying the goddess Demeter, left, and daughter Persephone, right (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
The Greek gods were powerful figures, and ancient myths tell us of their capacities to create and manipulate the entire world. Fascinating stories explain how Zeus demonstrated his dominion over mortals and even the other gods by punishing the Titan Prometheus; how the seasons sprang from the abduction of Demeter’s daughter Persephone by Hades; and how Dionysus, the unruly god of wine, led debauched and sometimes deadly celebrations.
But for the ancient Greeks, the gods were more than just characters in exciting narratives. They were also worshipped in a variety of festivals and celebrations that permeated all aspects of daily life in the ancient world. Their myths also explain the origin of sacrificing animals to please the gods, the secretive initiations in honor of Demeter and Persephone, and the challenges of worshipping Dionysus in an organized civic setting. The rituals, in turn, gave participants a way to connect themselves to the gods in the hope of gaining their favor and blessings.
Katherine Wasdin, a classics professor at the University of Maryland, examines Greek myths in the context of the religious worship of the gods.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)