Urban Theoi

One thing that I always loved about Hellenismos is that many of the Theoi (Gods and Goddesses) have both urban and rural aspects and many others are neither inclined toward one place or another; the few Theoi that may even seem “strictly rural” are still very important to urban life. Basically, Hellenismos is a religion that, unlike some other Pagan or Polytheistic religions, makes no pretenses about the alleged virtues of rustic live over city life; all directions of human living are spiritually valid on an equal playing field, so to speak.

Still, though, I like to think that the ancient Hellenistai had been quoted as saying “the Gods of Hellas are the Gods of civilization” for a reason. 😉

One of the most obvious Theoi “of civilization” would be Athene: The namesake for the very large and very ancient city of Athens. The legends behind the founding of Athens state that Athene and Posiedon were feuding over who the city belonged to, and Athene won this dispute with the creation of the olive tree. Also being the Theon of wisdom, Athene seems a natural comrade of large universities and museums, halls of learning and collected wisdom of generations passed and present.

Museums themselves are named for the Mousai, and statues of the Mousai graced the entrance to the Library of Alexandria — Alexandria being the largest city in the world, in the days of the ancient library. The Mousai are the companions to Apollon, a Theos whose domains include education, medicine, and the arts — all institutions that typically experience greater growth, development, and cultivation in large urban areas before such is experienced out in the countryside.

Hestia (and her Roman “equivalent”, Vesta), in ancient times, was believed the heart and hearth of not only every home, but every polis.

Lykia Poet has written a very interesting article in her own blog citing the presence of Aphrodite in every city by way of common doves (commonly known as pigeons). The Cult of Eros and the Cult of Aphrodite have been heavily entwined with each-other, in both ancient and modern times, and while more often pictured with hares on ancient pottery, doves are another animal commonly held sacred to Eros.

Hermes is traditionally associated with messengers, commerce, and living by one’s wits. Urban life is brimming with all of that — not so much in rustic areas. And while city folk depend on farmers and keepers of livestock (another one of Hermes’ domains being cowherds) for food, rural dwellers benefit greatly from the money brought in from the cities — Hermes is a sly one, isn’t He?

Dionysos was honoured both in the woods and in the theatre. Theatres are typically best off in large cities, packing an audience in from wall to bloody wall, bringing in just enough of a din to make the make-believe on stage (or even the screen at our modern cinemas) all the more lively.

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One thought on “Urban Theoi

  1. Thank you for this site. I am a practicing Urban Planner, looking for some way to reconnect the divine to my daily profession. After screening out various sites about [Keith] Urban and God, this site was a welcome find. I’ve just begun to explore the linked resources and past posts. Thank you again for your assistance in my journey.

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