People have questioned this author saying, “Why do you capitalize the word God when virtually no-one else does?" The scholars do not capitalize it, and authors who do so are thought of as simply expressing their ignorance and lack of sophistication.

Very ancient Greek was originally all capital letters; the small case letters were the invention of the Alexandrian scholars, expanded in the Byzantine era, and once the small-case letters became the convention, it is true that they did not capitalize the word θεός, nor any of its forms, and when the ancient texts are translated, the word θεὸς is never God with a capital G, but god with a small-case g, that is, with certain exceptions.

Most Christian authors capitalize the word out of respect for their deity, but there is more to this idea. The Christians, from the beginning, made a point of stating that, not only is their deity superior, but that this deity is the only true God. Thus, we have religious exclusivism, and once the Roman Empire became Christian, and this religion was, for all practical purposes, imposed on the populace, this exclusivity extended into every aspect of life - including especially scholarship. When Christianity spread into England, scholars writing in the English language have been Christian, almost exclusively, many from the 19th century were even clerics. This being the case, it would be obvious why they would translate the word with a capital letter for their deity, but not do so for deities of other religions. Consequently, a convention has been established in the English language which favors one religion over the others: if a deity exists, a word which refers to such a deity is capitalized, and it would be improper to begin such a word with a small-case letter, and that deity can only refer to the Judeo-Christian god.

We are told in some modern grammatical texts that it is improper to capitalize the word unless it refers to the monotheistic deity, and some of these manuals will even state that the word should be capitalized for the deity of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims only; it is said in those exact words, and some will even spell it out, that the word, when it refers to a deity of polytheistic religions should not be capitalized. To avoid this being called religious chauvinism, or at least this is how I see it, other grammatical texts give a different explanation, they say that the word is capitalized only when it is used as a name, yet I have seen translations where the word God is used as a name for Zeus, but it is rarely if ever capitalized.

The word God is a type of epithet - it is descriptive, it means something; a God is a divine being who is deathless, and unlike mortals, is free from the circle of births, and this is a very special quality, worthy of the greatest respect; and such beings have many other glorious qualities - all of them. There are various reasons offered why the deities of polytheistic religions are not “worthy” to have this word capitalized, often centering on literal interpretations of mythology, but when deity is properly understood, every one is worthy of the greatest veneration. There are a handful of scholars who understand the difference between the literal interpretation of mythology, and the actual meaning of these stories, but no scholar is going to translate θεὸς using a capital letter, regardless of the private beliefs of that scholar, because his or her work would not be taken seriously, and accusations of loss of "scholarly distance” would be leveled at such a scholar.

In translations of Plato and the various Platonic philosophers, you will frequently find the word in the singular, sounding suspiciously Christian, and, in such instances, the translators often capitalize it. These philosophers seem to be referring to deity in general, or sometimes to the Demiourgos, or sometimes even to τὸ Ἑν, “the One,” which they also capitalize. Therefore, the translators pick up this practice (I assume from centuries of texts and commentary by Christian authors) and apply it to texts of the various Platonic philosophers, who have interesting things in common with the Christian theologians. Or are they capitalizing it because it is being used as a name?

So how can someone writing about ancient Greek religion approach this? Well, to virtually every author, the solution is simple: don’t capitalize the word. But perhaps we could reconsider. Some individuals propose that you should capitalize the word God only when it refers to Zeus, who is the highest (ὕπατος) of all deities, but that the other Gods are inferior. While there is some truth to this view, it is disrespectful of deities in general, who are free from the circle of births and have capabilities of the highest order.

Some people believe that capitalizing the word God is, simply, excessive, and that a resulting text looks strange or overly religious or fanatical; and, because a writer can extend the capitalization to a whole host of words, there is something to be said for this argument. Therefore, a balance must be found, and this author tends to minimize capitalization, restricting it mostly to this word only. However, since I am one of a very few writers who capitalize the word, it jumps out at the reader; it is not what the reader expects, but I say this is perfectly “okay.”

The purpose of this little essay is simply to explain why the present author capitalizes the word θεὸς for any God. I do so out of respect. I am perfectly aware that the scholars do not do so, and why they do not do so; their situation is completely different from mine. I am a religious author who never intends to teach at a university. While you will discover in my writing considerable content normally only found in scholastic books and essays, ultimately, I speak from inside the religion, from a believer’s perspective, and, since I am a holder of this tradition, I would feel untrue to myself if I did not capitalize θεὸς for each and every deity, despite the fact that this practice has made me subject to ridicule. Regarding other writers from our religion, I do not walk in their shoes and, therefore, I do not judge them, but this is my answer to the queries I have received.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.

How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.

What are the Orphic Fragments? The Orphic Fragments of Otto Kern.

This logo is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllôn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

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