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The Greeks believed that the mental qualifications of their gods were of a much higher order than those of men, but nevertheless, as we shall see, they were not considered to be exempt from human passions, and we frequently behold them actuated by revenge, deceit, and jealousy. They, however, always punish the evil-doer, and visit with dire calamities any impious mortal who dares to neglect their worship or despise their rites.

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In the study of Grecian mythology we meet with some curious, and what may at first sight appear unaccountable notions. Thus we hear of terrible giants hurling rocks, upheaving mountains, and raising earthquakes which engulf whole armies; these ideas, however, may be accounted for by the awful convulsions of nature, which were in operation in pre-historic times. Again, the daily recurring phenomena, which to us, who know them to be the result of certain well-ascertained laws of nature, are so familiar as to excite no remark, were, to the early Greeks, matter of grave speculation, and not unfrequently of alarm.

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Die verschiedenen Völker der Griechen definierten die Zugehörigkeit zu den Hellenen über die verschiedenen Varianten der griechischen Sprache und über den olympischen Kult in der Religion. Religiöse Feste wie die Mysterien von Eleusis, zu denen sich Einwohner aller griechischen Völker versammelten, bildeten eine Einheit stiftende, quasi nationale Manifestation in der politisch zersplitterten und oft durch gegenseitige Konkurrenz oder Krieg geprägten griechischen Welt.