Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean, and Archaic Greek Mythology

Minoan Religion and Mythology

Was there a Minoan pantheon?

It is difficult to establish a specific Minoan pantheon. But what can be surmised from Linear B records that followed the Mycenaean conquest of Crete is the influence of Minoan ideas on the later pantheon of the Mycenaeans and other Greeks. In the Linear B tablets we find a hierarchy in which Diwe (Zeus) seems to reign supreme. Era (Hera) is also there, as are Posedaone (Poseidon), Atana Potinija (Athene), Pajawone (Apollo), Atemito (Artemis), Emaa (Hermes), Are or Enuwarijo (Ares), Apaitioji (Hephaistos), Diwonusojo (Dionysos), and perhaps a form of Demeter, whose name, Da-mater, means “Earth Mother” and who, with her daughter might be associated with the inscription Potniai (Ladies), the descendants of the earlier Great Mother, of Crete and the Neolithic tradition. Aphrodite is missing here; she is probably a post-Mycenaean arrival in Greece from Phoenicia via Cyprus, whose many Semitic goddess relatives (e.g., Astarte and Asherah) themselves look back to the ancient Sumerian goddess of love and fertility Inanna (Ishtar).

Because this list emerges from Minoan script adapted to the Mycenaean Greek, we can best call it a Minoan-Mycenaean pantheon, with the emphasis on Mycenaean.


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