The New Student's Reference Work/Idol
I′dol, an image made to represent a divine being and be adored as such. Worshiping such an object as a god is idolatry. To these images and the objects of nature, as the sun, the moon, the stars, air, water, fire and other elements, divine honors were given by the most ancient nations. Nature-worship or the worship of the various objects in the world around us may be traced to the Phœnicians, who made gods of the sun, moon and stars. The origin of animal worship can be traced to the Egyptians, who made gods of oxen, birds, crocodiles, serpents and still lower forms of animal life. Man-worship had its origin in Greece and Rome, and is familiar to us through their mythology. Among the chief gods of Greece were Zeus (Jove or Jupiter), the god of the sky; Neptune, the ruler of the sea; Apollo, the god of light; Mars, god of war. Idols most often are imitations of the human form in wood or stone, made colossal or monstrous to give added dignity or power. To savage minds the animal is the equal of man; so we sometimes find that their idols were grotesque figures, half-human and half-animal. See Early History of Mankind and Primitive Culture by E. B. Tylor.