RELIGION IN THE ANCIENT WORLD:
RELIGION (from the Latin Religio, meaning ‘restraint,’ or Relegere, according to Cicero, meaning ‘to repeat, to read again,’ or, most likely, Religionem, ‘to show respect for what is sacred’) is an organized system of beliefs and practices revolving around, or leading to, a transcendent spiritual experience. There is no culture recorded in human history which has not practiced some form of religion.
In ancient times, religion was indistinguishable from what is known as ’mythology’ in the present day and consisted of regular rituals based on a belief in higher supernatural entities who created and continued to maintain the world and surrounding cosmos. These entities were anthropomorphic and behaved in ways which mirrored the values of the culture closely (as in Egypt) or sometimes engaged in acts antithetical to those values (as one sees with the gods of Greece). Religion, then and now, concerns itself with the spiritual aspect of the human condition, gods and goddesses (or a single personal god or goddess), the creation of the world, a human being’s place in the world, life after death, eternity, and how to escape from suffering in this world or in the next; and every nation has created its own god in its own image and resemblance.