ATHENS, Greece — After all these centuries, Zeus may have a few thunderbolts left. A tiny group of worshippers plans a rare ceremony today to honor the ancient Greek gods, at Athens’ 1,800-year-old Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Greece’s Culture Ministry has declared the central Athens site off-limits, but worshippers say they will defy the decision.
“These are our temples and they should be used by followers of our religion,” said Doreta Peppa, head of the Athens-based Ellinais, a group campaigning to revive the ancient religion.
“Of course we will go ahead with the event … we will enter the site legally,” said Peppa, who calls herself a high priestess of the revived faith. “We will issue a call for peace; who can be opposed to that?”
Peppa said the ceremony will be held in honor of Zeus, king of the ancient gods, but did not give other details. The daily Ethnos newspaper, citing the group’s application to the Culture Ministry to use the site, said the 90-minute event would include hymns, dancers, torchbearers and worshippers in ancient costumes.
Greece’s archaic religion is believed to have several hundred official followers, mainly middle-aged and elderly academics, lawyers and other professionals. They typically share a keen interest in ancient history and a dislike for the Greek Orthodox Church.