Quotes about traditional polytheism and ancestral religion

“Honor the Gods and local heroes in accordance with ancestral practice”—Dracon of Athens, lawgiver

“Admit that the Gods exist”—Bias of Priene, lawgiver

“Respect and fear the Gods, for this prevents a man from doing or saying anything impious”—Theognis of Megara, poet

“If anyone, no matter who, were given the opportunity of choosing from amongst all the nations in the world the set of beliefs which he thought best, he would inevitably—after careful considerations of their relative merits—choose that of his own country. Everyone without exception believes his own native customs, and the religion he was brought up in, to be the best; and that being so, it is unlikely that anyone but a madman would mock at such things. There is abundant evidence that this is the universal feeling about the ancient customs of one’s country.”—Herodotus of Halicarnassus, historian

“In regard to matters pertaining to the Gods…our ancestors did not worship them or celebrate their rites irregularly or erratically. They did not on a whim send 300 oxen to be sacrificed while omitting the ancestral sacrifices [as the Athenians began to do]. Nor did they celebrate supplementary festivals which incorporated a banquet in an extravagant manner, while doing sacrifices cheaply when it came to the most sacred of their holy rites [likewise an innovation]. Their principal concern was not to omit any of the ancestral practices and not to add anything that was not traditional. For they recognized that piety consists not in paying out large sums of money, but in preserving unchanged the rites which their ancestors had handed down to them.”—Isocrates of Athens, rhetorician

“Impeach those who do not believe in the Divine Beings [i.e. Pericles’ and Protagoras’ skepticism] or teach doctrines relating to the heavens [i.e. Xenophanes’ theology]”—Diopeithes of Athens, seer

“It’s because you say that the Daimonion [divine spirits] comes upon you from time to time. So, on the grounds that you [Socrates] are innovating in religious matters, Meletos lays this charge against you and comes to court”.—Euthyphro of Athens, citizen and character in a Platonic dialogue

“They [Manicheans] have set up new and hitherto unheard of sects in opposition to the older creeds so that they might cast out the doctrines vouchsafed to us in the past by divine favour, for the benefit of their own depraved doctrine…our fear is that with the passage of time, they will endeavour…to infect…our whole empire…as with the poison of a malignant serpent…Ancient religion ought not to be criticized by a new-fangled one”—Diocles (Diocletian), Roman Emperor [in a decree]

“Christians are like a council of frogs in a marsh or a synod of worms on a dung-hill croaking and squeaking ‘for our sakes the world was created!’”—Julian, Roman Emperor

“If I see Mohamed praying at the Kaaba, I will tread on his neck”—Amr ibn Hisham, leader of Meccan polytheists

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not. –Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.”—William Wordsworth, poet

“Our religion is the traditions of our ancestor, the dreams of our old men, and the visions of our sachems; it is written in the hearts of our people”—Seattle of the Suquamish, Chief

“Albanians, you are killing kinfolk,

You’re split in a hundred factions,

Some believe in God or Allah, …

But you’re brothers, hapless people!

You have been duped by priests and imams

To divide you, keep you wretched. …

Wake, Albanian, from your slumber,

Let us, brothers, swear in common

And not look to church or mosque,

The Albanian’s faith is Albanianism!”—Vaso of Shkodra, poet

“The conviction reigns that it is only through the sacrifices and accomplishments of the ancestors that the tribe exists–and that one has to pay them back with sacrifices and accomplishments; one thus recognizes a debt that constantly grows greater, since these ancestors never cease, in their continued existence as powerful spirits, to accord the tribe new advantages and new strength.”—Frederich Nietsche, Philosopher

“Religious innovation is a special problem for polytheists…Every attempt to introduce a new God creates a political and social crisis. New cults seems an obvious key to cultural change in Ancient Greece.”—Doyne Dawson, Historian (as mentioned in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion in his review of Robert Garland’s famous book, Introducing New Gods: The Politics of the Athenian Religion).