The ancient Greeks believed in Polytheism. Greek mythology consists of stories and fables surrounding various Greek gods, goddesses, and other heroes.
These mythical anecdotes partook in the religion the ancient Greeks believed in. Popular Greek gods included Zeus, Apollo, and Aphrodite.
Many ancient Greek cultures also formed cults and indulged in ritualistic practices. Greek mythology was also rampant with significant symbolism.
Listed below are the top 8 most important Ancient Greek Symbols of Strength:
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Labrys was the term given to a double-headed ax. The classical Greeks called it the ‘Pelekys’ or the ‘Sagaris,’ while the Romans called it a ‘bipennis.’ (1) The labrys is one of the oldest Greek symbols with a multitude of mythological and religious connotations.
Greek mythology states the ‘Pelekys’ to be the ‘symbol of Zeus.’ Zeus was the king of the gods of Mount Olympus. He was the ancient Greek god of thunder, lightning, and the heavens. The labrys was also seen as a symbol of protection.
Archeologists have found that double axes were worshipped on the altar of Knossos as protective deities or lightning gods. Stone axes were also worn to glorify and charm thunder gods. (2)
2. The Labyrinth
The name labyrinth is derived from the Greek word ‘Labyrinthos,’ which refers to a maze-like structure with a singular path running through it. The labyrinth symbol goes back to the Neolithic age and was an important Greek symbol of strength.
This classic symbol was used in body art, to decorate church walls, and even pots and baskets. This design was also made in tiles and Mosaic. At times, it was created on floors large enough to be walked on. For the ancient Greeks, this symbol also accompanied women or goddesses.
It never accompanied a male god. A deeper meaning of the labyrinth is connected to a powerful feminine life-giving force. The center of the labyrinth was seen as a matrix for the Goddess. (3)
3. The Bull
The Bull has been used to symbolize strength and power in many old-world cultures. The Greco-Romans had deep symbolic significance on many levels. It was primarily connected to the chief deity Zeus. (4)
The ancient Greeks considered the Bull to be highly noble. Dionysus was seen as the god of fertility and life. He is also known as ‘the Horned Deity,’ ‘Son of a Cow,’ ‘Horned Child,’ and ‘the Noble Bull.’ Many inscriptions have been found referring to the ‘Noble Bull.’ Classical Greece saw the existence of many Bull cults. (5)
Within the realm of Greek mythology, Zeus ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus. He was known as the ‘Father of Gods and men.’ (6) One of the most prominent figures of Greek mythology, Zeus’ home was on Mount Olympus, which was the highest Greek mountain.
It was believed that from the Summit of the mountain, Zeus could see everything. He governed everything that was going on, he punished those who were evil, and rewarded the good. Zeus was also known as the protector of cities, properties, and homes.
He was depicted as a mature man with a sturdy body and a dark beard. Many symbols associated with Zeus include a lightning bolt, an eagle, and a royal scepter. (7)
One of the most recognized names within Greek mythology, Greek goddess Aphrodite is known for her attractive appearance. Many gods and mortals were known to fall in love with her.
Many scholars believe that worshipping Aphrodite was a concept that stemmed from the east. Several of Aphrodite’s attributes resemble those of ancient middle eastern goddesses. Aphrodite was worshipped by everyone. She was also called ‘Pandemos,’ meaning for all people. (8) Aphrodite represented eternal youth, love, and beauty.
He was also the god of medicine and healing, of music, poetry, and the arts. One of the most loved of all gods, Apollo was worshipped at Delos and Delphi along with many other important Greek sanctuaries.
Apollo is also one of the primary protagonists in the Iliad, in one of Homer’s accounts of the Trojan war. Homer has also described Apollo as the ‘far shooter,’ ‘rouser of armies,’ and the ‘far worker.’ (10)
An ancient Greek symbol, the Caduceus symbol is a winged staff that has two serpents intertwining around it. This ancient symbol was associated with trade and commerce. It was also linked to eloquence and negotiation.
In ancient Greece, two serpents that were intertwined were not viewed in a negative light. They symbolized regeneration and rebirth, among many other things. In Greek mythology, the Caduceus is known to be carried by the Greek god Hermes in his left hand.
Hermes was known to be the messenger of the Greek gods, the protector of merchants, and a guide for the dead. The Caduceus is also sometimes linked to being a traditional symbol of medicine. (11)
8. Hercules’ Knot
Also known as the knot of Hercules, the Love Knot, or the Marriage Knot, this ancient Greek symbol stands for undying commitment and love. This knot is formed with two ropes intertwined with each other.
It also stands for the fertility of the god Hercules. This symbol was extremely popular amongst both the Greeks and the Romans as a token of life. It was also worn as a protective amulet. Hercules ‘knot is also the origin of the phrase ‘tying the knot’ that implies getting married.
Symbols give insight into ancient cultures, their rituals, and the prevalent mythical concepts of the time. Greek myths spread well beyond the Hellenistic world. They were adopted by the ancient Romans and also impacted modern western cultural movements, such as the Renaissance.
Greek mythology is full of religious and cultural symbols that reflect the common ideology of the era. Which of these Greek symbols of strength were you aware of?
Let us know in the comments below!
- The Symbol of the Bull as an Art Form. Gary L. Nofke. Eastern Illinois University.
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