Go back in time to experience Greek religious practices with Zeus, Athena, Hera and other gods in The Cults of the Greek States, Vol. I, as this book is a survey of the most important texts and monuments of Greek mythology. The book is divided into eleven chapters: the Anionic Age, the Iconic Age, Cronos, Zeus, the Cult Monuments of Zeus, the Ideal Types of Zeus, Hera, the Cult Monuments of Hera, the Ideal Hera, Athena, and the Monuments of Athena Worship.
The Cults of the Greek States, Vol. I starts with Aniconism, which is the absence of icons or objects of religious veneration. Historians cannot pinpoint the precise time when icons began to appear in Greek religion as objects of veneration, however, Farnell identifies early idols and the deity represented by each one. He then moves on to Cronos, thought to be the forerunner of Zeus. Farnell discusses the different theories of Cronos, including the idea that he is the Phoenician god Moloch. Farnell uncovers some religious rituals representing Zeus that were previously unknown, including his sole appearance as an oracle (at Dondonea), as well as human sacrifices to Zeus by the Arcadians. Zeus had a political significance not shared by other Hellenic deities and was also not seen in images or iconography for much longer than other deities. There are photographs and sketches of the ideal image of Zeus that help illustrate these points in the text.
Farnell explains that worship of Hera has been separated from the original inspiration for it, making the symbolism behind Hera-worship harder to define. This explains why even in modern times Hera's mythology does not completely line up with her worship. The illustrations of Hera are excellent and help the reader draw his or her own conclusions. Unlike her counterparts, Athena appears to have no non-Hellenic forebears, leading to the conclusion that she is a wholly Greek creation. Farnell rejects the idea that Athena is associated with any of the natural elements. Instead she is said to be the representation of the city of Athens. Athena is the city-goddess, associated with ideas like wisdom, art and law.
Although the book's tone is scholarly, it is easy to understand and presents its analysis in an engaging way. The Cults of the Greek States, Vol. I is a very readable book that will be of interest to anyone who studies mythology, art, Greeks, history or antiquity.