Western Civilization Monotheism and Polytheism Thesis

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Western Civilization

Monotheism And Polytheism

According to Rita Nosotro, monotheism is the belief in a single, all-powerful god and is derived from the Greek words theos (god) and monos (one). One of the main characteristics of monotheism is that practitioners "believe that God created all reality and is totally self-sufficient" while denying the existence of all other gods. In western culture, there are three main religious systems which practice monotheism, being Christianity, Islam and Judaism. All other religious denominations in western culture sprang from these three religious systems and are still practiced today by billions of people worldwide. In contrast to monotheism, polytheism "is the belief in many gods and goddesses," such as found in the ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, Egypt and Mesopotamia or the "cradle of Western civilization." Also, monotheism is generally based upon the beliefs and tenets of a particular religious work, such as the Holy Bible, the Holy Quran and the Jewish Talmud, while polytheism is generally based on myth, such as found in ancient Greece and Rome ("Monotheism and Polytheism," Internet).

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The religious practice of polytheism is undoubtedly much older than monotheism and has a very long history going back more than 5,000 years and originated in what is now the geographical area of Iraq and Iran, formerly known as the Persian Empire. This place was called Mesopotamia and was dominated by the Sumerians and Babylonians, both of which practiced polytheism. In all Mesopotamian city-states, religion dominated everyday life and determined the various forms of society. The Mesopotamian city-state was under the protection of the god of the city and the king represented this god on earth and served as the steward of his earthly treasures.

TOPIC: Thesis on Western Civilization Monotheism and Polytheism According to Assignment

One of these Mesopotamian gods was known as Enlil who was the god of the city of Nippur of the Sumerian civilization. Also, all Mesopotamian gods had temples dedicated to them in which the citizens of cities like Babylon and Ur worshipped what is called a pantheon of gods and goddesses which protected the land and its people.

Of course, one of the most famous western civilizations of the past which practiced polytheism is ancient Greece with its pantheon of gods and goddesses, such as Zeus, the king of the gods on Mount Olympus, Hera, his wife, Athena, the goddess of wisdom and the protector of the great city-state of Athens, Dionysus, the god of wine, and Poseidon, the god of the seas. For the ancient Greeks, polytheistic religion provided the context for almost all social activity and war was conducted according to the signs of the divine gods which were worshipped by the sacrifice of animals in Greek religious rituals. The basis of all polytheistic Greek religion was myth, coined from the Greek word mythos meaning "story" or "tale," an example being the labors and tribulations of Hercules.

And then there was ancient Rome which borrowed many of the myths from the ancient Greeks and introduced them into its own culture and society. Like the Greeks, the Romans also had a great pantheon of gods and goddesses based upon gods from an earlier civilization known as the Etruscans which was also influenced by Greek polytheism. Most of these gods and goddesses were worshipped in temples, much like the Greeks, and were given Romanized names like Jupiter for Zeus, Juno, his wife for Hera, and Minerva for Athena. As Rome's power increased in the 1st century B.C.E., it quickly adopted the polytheistic gods and heroes of the ancient Greeks and were worshipped in temples within the great city of Rome. Some of these polytheistic gods included Diana, the Roman equivalent of Artemis,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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