When all that there is; similar to the Christian

When given the opportunity to take a
semester abroad in Italy and learn about their history, culture, and religion,
there is no way a person could give that up. Religion has always been a huge
topic when looking at a culture history; for it is what helps shape them into
the civilization they were and now are. Being in Italy, right on the Mediterranean,
I knew they were going to have a history, but they didn’t have the history that
originally came to my mind.

Syracuse,
the town we are living in, has been around since 18,000 BC; known as Before
Christ or Before Common Era (BCE). Syracuse has been dominated by many
surrounding areas until 1860 when various kingdoms came together to become
Italy.  The “Golden Age” of Syracuse
happened when Ancient Greece was colonized and made it the “one of the most
influential cities in the western world”. 
After ancient Greece came, the Romans arrived around 214 B.C. Long after
came the “Barbarians” then the Byzantines, Saracens, Normans, Swabians,
Angevins, Aragonese, and finally the Bourbon’s. All of these invasions had a
huge impact on Syracuse’s religious views and customs.

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The Ancient
Greek and Roman dominations made the Greek religion and Roman religion. These
religions are very similar, especially since the Romans “stole” the Greeks’ gods
and goddesses and gave them different names, because they weren’t smart enough to
make their own.  Like any other religion
the Greeks and Romans had created myths and etiological myths to helps
communicate meanings and explain how things came to be by using these gods and goddesses.
The first gods were Ouranos, the sky, and Gaea, the earth. According to the
Greeks, they created all that there is; similar to the Christian creation
story. They also told stories that relate to humans; like the story of Cupid
and Psyche to help demonstrate that the soul will do whatever it takes for
love. Another way their religions are similar to modern religions is the way their
gods and goddesses are anthropomorphic; in other words, human-like. The Greeks
and Romans believed their gods and goddesses were real and helped watch over
them.

Even though
the Romans “stole” the Greeks religion, they did morph it and add on to make it
seem like a different religion. The Greek mythology was told about in the Iliad
by Homer and the Romans’ were told in the Aeneid. The Romans also took the
names of the Greeks gods and goddesses are renamed them and even changed their
traits. Greek gods were given physical appearances while the Roman gods did
not. The Greek gods were based of of human personality trait but the Romans
renamed them based on objects or actions. Examples of the Greek gods and their
Roman counterparts include: Poseidon and Neptune, Zeus and Jupiter, Athena and
Minerva, and Eros and Cupid.

Not only
were their gods and goddesses different in names and traits, but so was the different
roles of the religions. The Greeks emphasized physical life on Earth and are
remembered for their good deeds. The Romans however, did quite the opposite and
emphasized the afterlife; the Romans did good deeds to get in to heaven and to
please the gods. Another difference is the mortals themselves. Greek mythology
tells that mortals are just as important as the gods but the Romans believed a
mortals’ life did not matter once their secure spot in heaven was achieved.

There are so
many contributing factors in these two religions and this is just the beginning
of the religious background of Syracuse. These two religions helped shape the Mediterranean
to all its glory today by giving us the remaining artifacts of temples, amphitheaters,
sport and sacrifice areas, fountains, and the stories that are still told
today. Syracuse wouldn’t be the same if the Greeks or Romans, or anybody else,
never invaded this area to begin with. From the words of Heather Reid, “Invade
Sicily. Everyone else has done it!” I am beyond grateful to be given the chance
to be able to learn about the greatest ancient religions in the places that
they started in. It is really interesting to see how similar and yet how
different these religions compare to more modern religions such as Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam; all religions that also made their impact on the
Mediterranean.