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Prior to the spread of Christianity, religion in Greece centered around worship of the Greek pantheon, and Greek mythology included many stories to explain historical fact, such as the founding of Thebes or man geting fire at Mount Olympus, though granted mythology, like religious practices, did vary somewhat among the Greeks from place to place.

My question is, did Greeks in ancient (or even more recent) times believe that these things happened, or did they understand that they were just tall tales and myth?

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    I do not know about ancient greeks, but medieval Christians believed in things like Saint James appearing and slaying personally a Muslim army (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_James_Matamoros) or that someone was actively calling the devil by means of witchcraft. I mean, if you believe in witchcraft enough to burn the old lady down the road, believing those mytes as real is not that a big leap. – SJuan76 Mar 31 '16 at 21:53
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    Actually, Wikipedia on Greek Mythology says that belief in myth as fact was an important part of Greek religion and life. – A L Apr 1 '16 at 0:30
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    What percentage of contemporary Americans believes in at least some aspects of Christian mythology as fact? (From Young Earth creationists & Intelligent Designers on to basic articles of faith.) Why should ancient Greeks differ from modern people? – jamesqf Apr 1 '16 at 4:34
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    I do not know why this question was marked duplicate. It is related, but this question asks whether Greek people when practicing Greek religion believed Greek mythology as fact. The other question depends on this one and asks when did all/most Greek historians realize that it was not. Having said that, I do consider the Wikipedia article on Greek Mythology to answer this question here in the affirmative, so no big deal. – A L Apr 1 '16 at 23:40
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    Why shouldn't ancient Greeks believe Greek myths when modern Americans believe the Bible? Umm, because they are two different sets of people and two different sets of stories. I believe the Bible, but I don't believe stories about Santa Clause. Or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I believe that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon but I don't believe that Darth Vader walked on Tatoine. For a variety of reasons. That, it seems to me, is the whole point of the question. – Jay Jun 7 '16 at 5:19