The Greeks – unlike the people of many other ancient cultures – depicted their gods mostly in human form. The number of these gods varied, since the cult of a new deity could be founded any time. An important characteristic of ancient Greek religion, like almost all ancient religions, was that people did not “believe” in the existence of gods, but “knew” about it. There were various ways to depict deities depending on the aspect they wanted to emphasise – Apollon was shown differently when he was leading the Muses and when he took revenge for the insults suffered by his mother (see the room of the Niobids).
Honouring the gods was one of the most important ties that united the ancient Greeks, since they lived scattered around the Mediterranean Sea, in a territory stretching from today’s Catalonia to Georgia. Greek deities were worshipped by other peoples as well, like the Romans, who identified them with their own gods – for instance Athena with Minerva and Artemis with Diana.
Rome conquered Hellas (2nd century BC), but it also embraced many aspects of its culture, transforming Greek into Graeco-Roman.