Eusebeia in Greek means “piety.” Some examples of Hellenic piety are spoken of on the Delphic Maxims page, but what I really wish to do is get into an in-depth evaluation of what it means to be a pious Hellenist, and espouse social and family values in today’s society as a Hellenist.
Hellenismos is very family and community centered. The hearth and home were and are central to Hellenists, and Hestia is a very important, albeit often overlooked goddess. “Honor the hearth” was a Delphic Maxim, as was “Respect your parents”, “Respect the elder”, “Crown your ancestors”, “Guard friendship”, and “Intend to get married”. All of these values stressed respecting your elders and your parents, build a family structure, and to hold friendship and people around you in esteem. Their community stretched to not just their immediate family and community around them but also to the rest of the city-states of Hellas and their government: “Die for your country”, and “Obey the law”.
It was even stressed that you should guard your tongue, and not speak ill of others or gossip: “Speak well of everyone”, “Find fault with no one”, “Be kind to friends”, “Do not oppose someone absent”, and even to the point after they have passed, “Do not make fun of the dead.” A truly pious Hellenist would make note of that, as it is often difficult to “Speak plainly” as the Delphic Maxims state, and balance that with not speaking ill of those who anger or upset us. One can state their anger without speaking ill of the person who caused the grievance, and hence fulfill both maxims.
Being pious meant also meant being hospitable to others, especially guests, a concept known as xenia. This is also referred to as “guest-friendship.” Tales of strangers disguised as the gods arriving to homes to see who would honor xenia and take them in were often told, with those who didn’t punished, and those who did rewarded for their good and pious hearts. To shun strangers in need as well as those in the community was akin to shunning the gods.
For more information, read Jon D. Mikalson’s Athenian Popular Religion.
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