The Glory That Was Greece

regular Olympian deities of historical Greece seem to belong partially, and some wholly, to this earlier civilisation. Poseidon, the sea-god, Hermes, the Arcadian shepherd-god, and Demeter or Mother Earth, are of the latter class, with mysterious forms like the Fates, the Curses, the Harpies, and the Sirens. But there was little exclusiveness about ancient religion; new deities are quite readily accepted into polytheistic systems, though in some cases there was a protracted struggle to keep them out. Hesiod remarks that the deities have many names for a single shape, and often a double name reveals assimilation, such as Phœbus Apollo or Pallas Athene. In most cases, indeed, the great name of an Olympian god covers a host of minor deities with varying and sometimes quite opposite attributes. Thus the national Zeus has swallowed up countless local heroes, as when the Laconians worshipped Zeus Agamemnon.

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