Mything Words - Pantheon

by Erin on May 16, 2014

It’s time for another mything word! In case you’re wondering, a mything word is one with some type of connection to mythology. Today, I’m taking a look at the word pantheon. While it’s certainly not as common - or trendy - as say selfie, the word has been around long enough to establish a history. And I’d like to explore the rich history of pantheon here.

I typically use the word pantheon at Mythography to refer to a group of gods and goddesses. I have a list of both the Greek and Roman pantheons, for example. But did you know that this wasn’t the original meaning of the word pantheon?

Back in the day, a pantheon was a temple dedicated to “all of the gods”. Our most famous example is called simply the Pantheon, and it’s a building in Rome you can still visit.

In time, the word pantheon evolved to describe those gods and goddesses I mentioned previously. Typically pantheon was used to indicate a collection of Classical - that is, Greek and / or Roman - deities. I sometimes use the word pantheon interchangeably with Olympian on this site when I discuss Greek gods. In this case, the Greek pantheon consists of familiar names like Aphrodite, Athena, Poseidon, and Zeus.

Today, pantheon is sometimes used to designate a group of individuals who are exceptional in some way. Someone might list their personal pantheon of legendary athletes, for example, or a pantheon of brilliant contemporary writers (which in my case would include people such as Michael Chabon and Neal Stephenson).

With this last definition in mind, what’s your personal pantheon of greats?

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