Yes, people today still worship the Greek gods as a cultural or traditional practice. This form of worship of the Greek gods is called Hellenism. Hellenism is an ethnic religion, commonly known or referred to as Hellenismos, Hellenic Polytheism, or Olympanism—worship of the Olympian deities, such as Zeus, Poseidon, and Athena.
This way of worship traditionally gyrates around the Greek gods, ultimately focused on the twelve Olympians, embracing its virtues, values, and sacrificial worship method. In 2005, there was an estimation of over 2,000 citizens of Greece worships the Greek Deities.
The origins of the Greek and Roman deities differ both in creation and time. The Greek gods, in particular, have no specific text or literary introduction. There is no equivalent to the Christian bible or Muslim Quran, but instead, a long tradition of orally shared tales, tracing back to the bronze age.
The exact time of the first genesis story is unknown. Although, it is clear that by the point of homer’s widely famous poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, somewhere around the 8th century BC, readers were expected to know who the deities were, as he gave no introduction despite their use as the main characters.
The first comprehensive account of how both the universe and gods came to be was written by Hesiod, near 700 BC. And later, authors used his work known as theogony, as a foundation for their literature.
Romans and Greek Gods Correspondence
The Romans contrarily based most of their deities on those of the Greeks. At the time that they invaded Greece in 146 BC, the Romans had not yet settled on their advanced system of mythology—because of this, coupled with the fact that roman literature was also less sophisticated than the Greeks. The Romans ultimately adopted the Greek deities and their stories, with only a few notable differences.
For one, the names of the gods differ between the two. Zeus, the Greek king of the gods as an example, parallels the Roman god Jupiter. The same goes for the Greek goddess Aphrodite and the Roman Venus. The Greek hades and the roman Pluto, and so on.
Another distinction was made in the appearance of the deities. For the Greeks, their gods resemble beautiful and stunning human-like beings, based on their personality traits. Meanwhile, the roman gods were more of a concept than a physical entity. This means that their appearance exists further in the individual imaginations of those who worship them.
There are of course other deities outside of the Olympians as well, such as many famous Greek demigods, namely characters like Hades and Achilles. Because the Greeks and Romans of ancient times were polytheistic, meaning they worshipped a plethora of gods, the religious majorities in these same regions today tend to differ significantly.
In our time, roughly 84 per cent of the world population is religious in some way. About 55 per cent of the world is monotheistic, meaning they only worship one God. This group is predominantly made up of faiths such as Christianity and Islam; both of which worship the God of Abraham.
The other main categories of religions in the world today include Reincarnationists, at about 22 per cent of the world’s population, and encompass the faiths of Hinduism and Buddhism.
The latter having stemmed from the former, and folk or ethnic-religions. Folk religions include faiths that have existed long before the main modern religions and makeup about six per cent of the world’s population, with 90 per cent of that being found in Asia. The remaining global population is considered to be unaffiliated.
With these groups rounding out the world’s population, it seems that polytheism quite definitely still exists today, but not necessarily in a high percentage within the people of Greece and Rome, as it once did.
Do People Still Worship The Greek Gods?
In Greece, respectively a whopping 98 per cent of the country today consider themselves Orthodox Christians. While that number is significantly high, there is still a pattern of polytheistic beliefs since 1990. And the leaders of the minority faith claimed in 2005, that somewhere around 2,000 citizens of Greece were followers of the old religion.
Unfortunately, though, it is relatively difficult to get an exact number of devotees. Mostly due to the factor of privacy, when it comes to one’s personal beliefs. Or maybe, likely fearing judgment or discrimination, not all polytheists are open about their faith. Nonetheless, multiple organizations exist in Greece, intending to revive the ancient religion.
One of these groups which goes by the name of Ellinais, known in full as the Holy Association of Greek Ancient Religion Believers, made an important step toward victory when a ruling in 2006 acknowledged them as a cultural organization.
A yearly festival created in 1995 by Dr Triphan Olympios—a professor of philosophy at the University of Stockholm—called the Promethea festival, also exists as a Panhellenic event to celebrate the ancient Greek culture. The festival lasts four days and takes place at the foot of Mount Olympus, attracting both local and foreign attendees annually.
Back in January of 2007, Ellinais held the first Hellenic right at the 1800-year-old temple of Olympian Zeus—since the roman empire banned the ancient Greek religion in the latter half of the 4th century. The celebration lasted 90 minutes and was filled with hymns and dancing, celebrating the union of Zeus and Hera, and calling upon Zeus to bring world peace.
Other festivities of this kind also exist to celebrate different things, such as seasonal changes, rituals, as well as some groups like the supreme council of Hellenic nationals, regularly meeting to attend lectures or perform rights together. If it were up to them, these faithful worshipers would see ancient temples restored and many dreams of being able to execute some of their rituals inside the Parthenon.
While some followers may have more casual faith, others go as far as to even change their names to ones in ancient Greek and utilize the old calendar. Although the prevalent majority deems the polytheists in the region to be crazy, numerous historians even argue that such worshipers are merely glorifying outdated beliefs that had little to do with ethics or morality.
The numbers still estimate that a potential 100,000 people within Greece, have some type of interest in the ancient faith—maybe that is why you are reading this article or browsing through this website.
However, outside of Greece, it is not as easy to find exact or even estimated figures for those who still believe in, either the ancient Greek or Roman deities. The percentage of those people within the world population is likely tiny. Especially, factoring in the reality that over half of the globe is strictly Monotheist, and the other categories include a plethora of faiths.
While the number of Hellenic believers is quite possibly increasing, it is still a slim chance that it will become a predominant religion, even nationally anytime soon or ever.
As authors and filmmakers continue to utilize the ancient Greek and Roman mythological beliefs and stories for entertainment, the uptick of interest in those corresponding faiths is bound to increase, even if that interest never translates into practice. Nonetheless, people will still follow, they will still worship, and they will always believe whatever they want to believe, worship, or follow.