Homer's Gods, Plato's Gods*


1) Many in number

2) Living immortals (they do not die)

3) Possess bodies

4) More powerful and knowing than mortals

5) Some of them (especially the "Olympians")

    a) are invisible but able to appear when they choose;

    b) interact with human beings


A. Physical

Homer's Gods
Plato's Gods
1. Were born 1. Were never born or childlike
2. Females give birth 2. Females do not get pregnant.
3. Have sex 3. Have no reason for having sex.
4. Eat ambrosia and nector 4. Do not eat (Aristotle's clarification)
5. Take naps 5. Do not sleep (Aristotle's clarification)
6. Take on outward forms of lower animals at will 6. Do not take on outward forms of lower animals
7. Can be injured 7. Cannot be injured

B. Psychological

Homer's Gods
Plato's Gods
feel jealousy do not feel jealousy
... anger ...anger
...desire for revenge ...desire for revenge
...sexual desire ...sexual desire
...fear ...fear
may be partially ignorant are perfectly wise
minds are sometimes enslaved to their passions their minds completely control their bodies

C. Conduct

Homer's Gods
Plato's Gods
1. Generally follow a "tit for tat" ethic 1. Are generous to humans, esp. to persons who love them and try to be like them
2. Engage in deception, adultery, rape, bribery, theft 2. Do not engage in deception, adultery, etc.
3. Use mortals as proxies to fight their battles 3. Don't provoke wars among humans
4. Produce evils as well as goods for humans 4. Bring only good things to human beings

*For purposes of this chart, Hesiod as well as Homer is a source for evidence regarding "Homer's" gods, Aristotle as well as Plato for evidence regarding "Plato's" gods.

For the fuller context behind this chart, see the lecture Did Socrates "Teach New Deities"? or Homer's Gods, Plato's Gods.

To provide feedback on this chart, contact Dr. Jan Garrett.

This chart revised August 5, 2003.