It is important to note that the Greek religion was characterized by beliefs and practices of the ancient Hellenes, which were viewed as personal, direct, and present in all aspects of life. Notably, the Greeks did not have a particular term for religion, but used terms, such as eusebeia implying piety and threskeia referring to the cult. It was comprised of many gods who were believed to influence nature significantly. The Greeks archaic period is used to refer to the period between 620 and 480 B.C and is typified by the development of the art through styles, such as pottery and sculpture. The classical period stretches from 490 BCE to 479 BCE. During the Archaic period, the religion was solidified. In fact, the temple underwent many changes and development. The first phase of the Greek temple, Heraion at Samos was built in 8th BCE and was not reincarnated until 530 BCE. The first temple to be built of stones was Heraion at Olympia around 600 BCE, but its lower wall was still wooden.
In the Archaic period sculptures had religious meaning and divine statues were sculpted to resemble a man and were dedicated to a single divinity. The period had images of sacred animals and other objects that had religious meaning. In addition, there were cults and rituals that played significant religious roles. The Presocratic philosophy was stoicism, which emphasized that life should be lived according to the rational order and human beings had to accept the divine will and virtuous actions that are performed for the fulfillment of the intrinsic value. Mystery cult rose during this period, which led to the development of places like Tartarus and Elysium. The healing was associated with Apollo, who was an important and complex deity in the Greek religion. Toward the end of the archaic period, mysteries offered a less intimated relationship with the divine that was the case by most Olympians. There was a lack of an Eleusinian way of life and people began to focus on life after death.
During the beginning of the classical period, Athens was established as the strongest Greek city-states. The traditional religion began to be challenged by rationalist thinkers of the Ionian philosophers. People, such as Heracleitus and Xenophane contemplated the cults and gods. The sophist began to show the importance of the accepted values, and the Parthenon and many Athenian temples began to declare the significance and the power that the Athenians had over the awe gods. During this period, festivals expressed the religious, social aspects and attracted large gatherings. In fact, the religion was characterized by radical changes, whereby games were viewed as special festivals and part of religious events. There were cults of individual noble families who gathered at the syniokismos, whereby the nobles continued to provide the priests with healing cults. However, there were no priestly classes during this time where they could be taught about the cults.
It is crucial to underscore that the Greek religion thrived alongside the civil cults, whereby peasant worshiped the gods they believed were omnipresent, such as Archadian goat-god, nymphs, springs, trees, and the sea. Festivals, such as Dionysia, Anthesteria, Thalysia, Thargelia, among others were honored. In addition, women celebrated Themsophoria to honor the Demeter and remember the passing of Adonis with laments and miniature gardens. Magic and witchcraft were widespread during this period, whereby there were inscriptions on lead tablets.
Thus, the Greek religion has undergone various changes, especially toward the end of the archaic period and the beginning of the classical period. Although there was formal religion during the archaic period, at the beginning of the classical period it was typified by a place of worship, cults were performed by the priest, and the traditional religion was challenged.