Why could Ancient Greek religion be considered contradictory?
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The ancient Greeks believed that the gods on Olympus, from Zeus and Hera down the hierarchy to the lesser deities, not only lived their own lives, with their disagreements, infidelities, and rivalries, but also brought their battles to the earth plane, exercising their will on human events. The Iliad and Odyssey, on one level a rivalry built on lust, promises, and bravado, on another level was an Olympic struggle among immortals—Aphrodite, Poseidon,etc., acted out by interventions in the Trojan war, Odyssey’s return to Ithaca, etc. At the same time, Greek philosophers, rhetoricians, and moralists were advocating right action on the part of humans--bravery, loyalty, honesty, etc.—advocating free will. These two areas are contradictory—either the gods are manipulating our lives, or we are free to choose our actions. Worship of the Olympian gods was required—Socrates was ordered to commit suicide because he questioned, and preached to the Greek masses to question, the rights and powers of the gods.