How did ancient Greek “hero-cults” originate?



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    To the ancient greeks, a “hero” was someone who led such a remarkable life that he or she had risen to something between a man and a god, a demi-god.  Some of the cults developed from clans who claimed ancestry to a certain hero, but most were civic or regional.  The greeks believed that since a hero was able to rise above his/her status as a human, he or she had power over existing humans local to his/her tomb.  With the exception of a few remarkable heroes, such as Herakles (Roman: Hercules), heroes did not rise up to become gods on Olympus, so their power existed in the ground, where their bodies lay.  They could manifest themseves as snakes if angered, or could send lice or disease to those who angered them.

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