I have always wondered how the Greek city-states managed to keep the same mythology before they got united into the same country. There seems to be no central authority to maintain the beliefs (it is not really an organized religion) but every time you read about Greek mythology, it does seem that everyone believed the same thing.

So I'm wondering if there are actually some differences that are usually ignored or if they actually maintained unity, and in this case, I would be interested in knowing how.

  • thanks for fixing the spelling it seems my spellchecker is broken
    – meneldal
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 21:53

2 Answers 2


The ancient Greek city-states were connected through different customs, although they are often seen as discrete entities. So, even before the city-states started merging with one another, there were common customs and common beliefs.

Since, as you are implying, there was no central authority that "preached" a certain belief, I think you can expect that pantheon of gods would vary in different locations, due to the importance of some gods for whatever reason (e.g. Athena was worshipped greatly in Athens and you can tell that because Parthenon was dedicated to her). There were variations of the Dodecatheon tracing back in older times:

While the number was fixed at twelve, there was considerable variation as to which deities were included. The Dodekatheon of Herodorus of Heraclea included Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hermes, Athena, Apollo, Alpheus, Cronus, Rhea and the Charites. The historian Herodotus states that Heracles was included as one of the Twelve by some. At Kos, Heracles and Dionysus are added to the Twelve, and Ares and Hephaestus are not. For Pindar, the Bibliotheca, and Herodorus, Heracles is not one of the Twelve Gods, but the one who established their cult. Lucian (2nd century AD) includes Heracles and Asclepius as members of the Twelve, without explaining which two had to give way for them.


The pantheon (not necessarily the Dodecatheon) could also vary geographically, depending on the regional landscape and included gods such as rivers, who were worshipped greatly due to their importance to the survival and well-being of people living in the nearby regions.

P.S. The Dodecatheon is a greek word and denotes the set of the twelve main gods.


The sources used for many of the stories are few. Hesiod, is a major source for many of the myths of his time, if there were differences in the tales between the city states he was from (Kimi in the island of Evia), it would be difficult to tell.

We can tell that the myths had differences over time in the sources. We cannot be sure if this was due to different poets/bards who told/wrote the stories or different regions had their own versions.

Places like Volos would place emphasis on certain tales and probably embellish the grandness of the Argonauts.

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