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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: May 2011
  • First published in: 1907

CHAPTER I - GE

Summary

The higher cults of Greece, so far as they have been examined, present us with divine personalities too complex and concrete to allow us to regard them merely as the personifications of special departments of nature or of human life. And this will be found true also of the greater number that still remain to be studied. Yet the deities, each and all, are closely concerned with the exercise of certain functions which we may call physical as being those upon which the physical life of man and nature depend. Various practices of primitive vegetation-ritual and a medley of vegetation-myths tend to attach themselves to most of the divinities, whether the goddess or god arose in the first instance from the soil, the sea, or the sky. And we have noticed how vividly the traits of an earth-goddess are apt to appear in the features, as presented in cult and legend, of such personages as Artemis, Aphrodite, and even Athena and Hera. In fact, in regard to the two former, the belief is often borne upon us that we are dealing with highly developed and specialized forms of the primitive earth-goddess. And the worship of the earth is a most important fact to bear in mind as forming a background to much of the bright drama of Greek religion.

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