The great gods less or more familiar to us through mythology aren't the sole gods in Antiquity. You need to understand the historical process of invention and development of religion to approch the mentality of the men of yore.
In the age of cities, the god the must important to a citizen was the god protecting his own city. Of course such god was benevolent. But, firstly, the relations with gods were conceived as a trade : the god will help you if you help him. It's the reason behind the sacrificial practices (and you can see that most often in a private context, they promised only to thanks the god, doing the sacrifice after the helpful act was realised). Also, we may see that some still famous gods protected certain cities (by exemple Athena for Athenes or Apollon for Delphes). It's interesting to see that these gods are systematically associated with a surname, which is called an epiklesis. Here intervenes what I said previously about the process of development of religion as a political bound between men (becoming citizens) and cities (becoming alliances, federations, leagues, etc.) : in fact, most of these senior gods were distinct and particular to the isolated group that invented them. Religions of the past, being purely oral, were fluid to a point we have forgotten today. So the comparison between distinct gods and the fusions/assimilations were easy and politically meaningfull. The gods known today are the result of a later process of organisation parallele to the very history of the Mediterranean world.
That's why we may find today these gods cold or crual : in fact, they weren't good or bad, they were just similar to their models, id est the men that invented them. And they created them for a purpose that was entirely different of the one of the christian religion. Antique gods had nothing to do with good, bad, original sin, expiation or redemption. Their purpose was to symbolize the unity of the community, their cult the way to maintain it.
>>570510 It leads to amusing observations, like freshly conquered gallic places becoming allied cities of Rome and, thus, creating their own legend, of fondation, featuring by exemple the superstar of that time, Hercules himself. It was normal.
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