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Ch 1: Bygone Religions

About This Chapter

Watch world religion video lessons and learn about the origins of religion, cults, Greek myth, Meso-American religions and more. These easy-to-follow lessons are just a portion of our online study guide and video collection.

Bygone Religions - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

During this chapter, you will receive a definition of religion and its function in society. Different types of primal religions are explored, along with the mother goddess motif of many earlier religions. You can learn about Babylon, Greek and Roman myths and their relation to religion. Finally, lessons are devoted to analyzing Meso-American religions and rites. This chapter is designed to teach you about:

  • The origins and role of religion in society
  • Types and belief systems of primal religions
  • Significance of the myths of Babylon
  • Greek and Roman myths and epics
  • Religious practices of Meso-America

Video Objective
What Is Religion? - Definition and Role in Society Define religion as a belief system and a way of life, also looking at taboo religions like magic and Animalism.
Theories on the Origins of Religion: Overview Analyze different theories on the origins of religion, including those proposed by Kant, Mueller, Frasier and Marx.
Primal Religions: Types and Practices Identify the types and practices of primal religions, looking at both myths and magic.
Mystery Cults and Early Mother Goddess Explore different mystery cults and the motif of the mother goddess.
Religions of Sumer and Akkad: Definition and History Define and chronicle the religions of Sumer and Akkad.
What Are the Myths of Babylon? - Definition and Significance Explain the myths of Babylon, specifically the myths of creation and flood.
The Epic of Gilgamesh Recount the Epic of Gilgamesh, making connections to the Sumerians' view of the gods.
Greek Myth and Religion Provide a survey of the characters and themes of Greek myth and religion.
Homer's The Odyssey: Greek Epic Analyze the Greek epic, The Odyssey, by Homer.
Roman Myth and Religion Understand Roman myth and religion, looking at its similarities to Greek beliefs.
Gods of the Home: Primal Roman Religious Practices List common Roman religious practices, including beliefs in deities like Saturnus, Deres, Ceres and Flora.
The Religions of Meso-America Explore the religions of Meso-America and the Mayan deities of fertility, death and war.
The Meso-American Religious Rites of Passage Explain the Meso-American religious rites of passage from childhood through adulthood and study how some of these traditions still exist today.

13 Lessons in Chapter 1: Bygone Religions
What Is Religion? - Definition & Role in Society

1. What Is Religion? - Definition & Role in Society

This lesson will focus on the traits of religion. Using the works of Tillich and Noss, it will highlight religion's belief in the supernatural, its inclusion of a moral code, and its use of prescribed ritual acts.

Theories on the Origins of Religion: Overview

2. Theories on the Origins of Religion: Overview

This lesson will explore the many theories on the origins of religion. In doing so, it will highlight the works of Kant, Muller, Frazer, Marx and Freud. It will also explain animism and nature worship.

Primal Religions: Types & Practices

3. Primal Religions: Types & Practices

This lesson will explore the many traits of the primal religions of past and present. In doing so, it will highlight animism, totemism and the use of shamans in the primal religions of the world.

Mystery Cults and the Early Mother Goddess

4. Mystery Cults and the Early Mother Goddess

What kind of problems do we encounter when talking about ancient religions? What are the Mother Goddess figures, and where do they pop up throughout history? Watch this lesson to learn about one of the earliest forms of religious worship.

Religions of Sumer and Akkad: Definition & History

5. Religions of Sumer and Akkad: Definition & History

This lesson will explore the religion of ancient Sumer and its Akkadian empire. In doing this, it will highlight the Sumerian pantheon, their ziggurats, and their belief in the afterlife.

What Are the Myths of Babylon? - Definition & Significance

6. What Are the Myths of Babylon? - Definition & Significance

This lesson will explore the creation myth of ancient Babylon as compiled in the Enuma Elish. In doing this, it will highlight the Babylonian belief in Marduk as the supreme being and the creation of humans to serve him.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

7. The Epic of Gilgamesh

Witness the Epic of Gilgamesh, a story of adventure, love and friendship. This long poem will help us examine the hallmarks of civilization for a Sumerian and the importance of dreams. We'll also cover the Sumerian contributions to the epic form of literature.

Greek Myth and Religion

8. Greek Myth and Religion

This lecture examines the troubles of generalizing Greek religion, before doing just that. It lists the major Olympian gods and their roles. It then explores the function of heroes in Greek religion. Next, the relationship between gods and men is laid out. Finally, it explores aspects of Greek myth that reemerge in Christianity.

The Odyssey: Greek Epic

9. The Odyssey: Greek Epic

This lecture provides a rough outline of the exploits of Odysseus in Homer's epic poem ''The Odyssey''. You'll learn plot details about this epic poem, in addition to hearing about how this important tale relates to Greek culture and literary works throughout history.

Roman Myths and Religion

10. Roman Myths and Religion

This lesson compares Roman gods to their Greek predecessors and enumerates the similarities and differences between Greek and Roman religion. Finally, Roman religion's relationship with mystery cults, especially Christianity, is briefly explored.

Gods of the Home: Primal Roman Religious Practices

11. Gods of the Home: Primal Roman Religious Practices

This lesson will explore the religions of early Rome. In doing this, it will highlight the Roman deities, Janus and Vesta. It will also explain the concept of numina, and the importance of Roman Lares and Penates.

The Religions of Meso-America

12. The Religions of Meso-America

This lesson will explore the bygone religions of Meso-America, specifically the Mayan and Aztec belief systems. In doing this, it will highlight their belief in animism, their sacred calendars, and the use of human sacrifice as a means of worship.

The Meso-American Religious Rites of Passage

13. The Meso-American Religious Rites of Passage

This lesson will explain the Mesoamerican rites of passage. In doing this, it will explore the ancient cultures and ceremonial practices of the Mayan and Aztec people of Mexico and Central America.

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