Chthonic

Entertainment / Literature / Chthonic: Related to the dead, the grave, the underworld, or the fertility of the earth. In Greek mythology, the Greeks venerated three categories of spirits: (1) the Olympian gods, who were worshipped in public ceremonies--often outdoors on the east side of large columned temples in the agora, (2) ancestral heroes like Theseus and Hercules, who were often worshipped only in local shrines or at specific burial mounds, (3) chthonic spirits, which included (a) earth-gods and death-gods like Hades, Hecate, and Persephone, (b) lesser-known (and often nameless) spirits of the departed, (c) dark and bloody spirits of vengeance like the Furies and Nemesis, and (d) (especially in Minoan tradition) serpents, which were revered as intermediaries between the surface world of the living and the subterranean realm of the dead. This is why snakes were so prominent in the healing cults of Aesclepius. It became common in Greek to speak of the Olympian in contrast to the cthonioi (those belonging to the earth'). See Burkert 199-203 for detailed discussion.

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