Hellenismos believes in free will of humanity; not even the Gods can end the will of a human being, but they can certainly influence the lives we live and instil in us through our environment a need to serve, a need to find Them, a need to honour Them. They might have been doing that since the reign of the ancient Hellenes, but we have only restored the ancient practices a few decades ago, and before that, I doubt anyone really knew what to do with that wiring and just channelled it into Christianity, or in beautiful poetry like from those who were later remarked on as being 'pagan' because they related so well to the societies of years past.

The concept of free will was a grateful one to the ancient Hellenic philosophers. After all, free will in a religious world poses a problem: if you believe in the Gods, and that the Gods have powers beyond ours--foresight, mostly, and a claim to the end of our lives--how can you make the case for free will? If I believe my fate has been foretold at birth by the Moirae, then how can I claim to have full control over my own actions?

In the early days, a form of compatibilism was found where the idea that causal determinism and logical necessity are compatible with free will. Yes, the Moirae predict our deaths, but we are free to do whatever we want in between, and the way we die is of our choosing as well, it has simply been foretold when/what will happen. Because we are not privy to that information, we are not influenced by it.

As time and philosophy progressed, great thinkers like Anaximander and Heraclitus around the sixth century BC--who collectively came to be known as 'physiologoi' or 'cosmologists'--came up with theories to grapple with the supernatural as it ruled over the natural while leaving free will intact. Their resolution was to assign earthy causes to physical events like floods, taking them out of the realm of the supernatural and into the realm of the natural. Their thinking lead to a dualism: it separated the mind from the body and left both open to be influenced by different forces.

In a quest to give humanity back a sense of responsibility for their own actions, materialist philosophers Democritus and Leucippus posed a new theory: that everything--including humans--existed from atoms from the same source. The way these atoms moved and reacted to each other controlled causal laws. This is an incredibly simple explanation of a mechanism I might devote an entire blog post on soon, so just take it as is: we are all made of the same stuff, and the way all that stuff reacts together causes us to experience certain things.

Interestingly enough, this way of thinking led Leucippus to create two dogmas of determinism that go entirely against the concept of free will: the dogma of physical determinism and the dogma of logical necessity. Especially the latter is interesting. It reads:

"Nothing occurs at random, but everything for a reason and by necessity." 
οὐδὲν χρῆμα μάτην γίνεται, ἀλλὰ πάντα ἐκ λόγου τε καὶ ὑπ’ ἀνάγκης

In light of Democritus theory of the atoms and their causal connection, the dogma makes sense: everything has a cause, which means there is a single source where all action originated from. This way of thinking also paved the way for later idea of a single God who put into motion the universe.

It were great thinkers like the Pythagoreans, Socrates,  Plato, and Aristotle who attempted to reconcile an element of human freedom with material determinism and causal law, in order to hold man responsible for his actions. Aristotle, especially, introduced the notion of 'accidents' into Leucippus' thinking, paving the way for an element of chance to be introduced into the theory. He was aware of the human need for repetition and predictability, but also felt that some things just happened, without anyone having a hand in it. It was still a causal connection, but it was an unintended one; an accident. In his Physics and Metaphysics he states the following:

"It is obvious that there are principles and causes which are generable and destructible apart from the actual processes of generation and destruction; for if this is not true, everything will be of necessity: that is, if there must necessarily be some cause, other than accidental, of that which is generated and destroyed. Will this be, or not? Yes, if this happens; otherwise not." (Book VI, 1027a29)

Aristotle's views were the foundation for a slew of new theories that built upon his, the most famous, perhaps, being Epicurus, who thought human agents had the ability to transcend necessity and chance. He argued that as atoms moved through the void, there were occasions when they would 'swerve' from their otherwise determined paths, thus initiating new causal chains. We now know that atoms do now swerve, but they do move unpredictably whenever they are in close contact with other atoms. Only very large objects are not bound by this unpredictable behaviour because their momentum is too great to veer them off course before collision. Epicurus' intuition of a fundamental randomness was thus correct, and paved the way for Lucretius, who saw the randomness as enabling free will.

"If all motion is always one long chain, and new motion arises out of the old in order invariable, and if first-beginnings do not make by swerving a beginning of motion so as to break the decrees of fate, whence comes this free will?"

It was the Stoic school of philosophy that solidified the idea of natural laws controlling all things, including the mind. Their influence persists to this day, in philosophy and religion, even though most of their work on free will has been lost--most likely to the Christian church, who preached a dogma of determinism by way of an omnipotent God.

There is much more to say about the concept of free will--especially in view of philosophy--but perhaps it's interesting to look at the practical side a moment. Mythology dictates that our fate is pre-destined, although we can fail to live up to it. Fate, here, is often a promise of greatness; heroes are told they will be heroes but must work for it, requiring the help of the Gods to rise above their own potential. Others have been granted potential by becoming kings and queens, but squander it by petty human behaviour. Often, these mythological figures end up punished by the Gods. We don't know if this was pre-determined, but the Gods never give us the idea they were aware of the coming failures of these men and women.

Free will is powerful: it gives us the agency we need to aspire to greatness. It gives us a sense of control over our lives. We choose to become servants to the Gods--we are not forced to do so, even though it might be destined we become servants; this makes all the difference in our joy of the execution of the Divine will. If we felt pressured and ordered into it, we would not find the same joy in it as we do now we are free to choice our path--or believe we are free to choose our path. Personally, I believe in accidents, and I think that sometimes, the universe drops the ball on us. Sometimes, things go wrong. We are then put at the mercy of the Gods to fix the ramifications of whatever pothole our lives hit, and this is why we built kharis with Them. My life may have been mapped out in advance, but I need help along the way to get to the destination the Gods have in store for me. This is a large reason why I serve, and while this way of thinking is not for everyone, it's my (free) will to do so--and I do so gladly.