Zalmoxis (or Salmoxis, Zamolxis, Zamolxe, Samolxis) was, according to Jordan's Getic work, a man and in accordance with the work of Herodotus' Histories, a supposedly Thracian god Romanians as the supreme god of the Geto-Dacian pantheon. Some even consider it facilitated the conversion of the Geto-Dacians, regarded as the ancestors of the Romanian nation, to Christianity; this theory is mostly circulated by the Romanian Orthodox environment because it would show the Romanians' predisposition to Christianity. This idea is in opposition to the opinion of several more recent scientists with more scientific methods stating that the religion of the Getae would have been polytheistic, as were the religions of other Indo-European peoples, and that the Getae were not the historical exception.

Apart from the discussion of the monotheism or polytheism of the Getae, there is also a second discussion concerning the character of the htonic, subterranean, or uranian, celestial, of the deity.

In the Ph.D. thesis dedicated to Zalmoxis, Dan Dana considers that the rest of the historians who mention it, actually copies the content of the Herodotus History.



Image of Zamolxis

Herodotus says some say to Zalmoxis and Gebeleizis, which sparked discussion among scientists to know if there was another name for Zalmoxis, or whether it is the name of another Herodotus-confused Zalmoxis.

Vasile Pârvan, perhaps to "save" the get monotheism, said some scholars attributed arbitrarily to the Geto-Dacians (the Thracians north of the Haemus Mountains - the Balkan Mountains) cultures and deities that were specific to only the southern Thracians under the influence of the Greeks , making Gebeleizis a specific Thracian god. However, the family of the Getae and Thracians remains subject to further discussion.

Herodot's story

In the fourth book of the Histories, Herodot reports the following:

"Before coming to Istru, the first people they subjugated were the Getae who believed in their immortality. The Thracians in Salmydessus, and those who lived above the cities of Apollonia and Mesembria (Scyrmiadae and Nipsaens, as they were called), were joined the king Darius without any conflict, but the Getae, defending themselves obstinately, had been subjugated, although they were the most noble and righteous of all the tribes.

The Gentiles' belief in immortality is the following. They believe that they do not die, but that when they leave this life they go to Zamolxe, which is also called Gebeleisiz by some of them. This god sends a messenger every five years, who is chosen by lot from all over the nation, and is tasked with taking his requests. Their way of sending it is this. Several of them stand, each holding three arrows; others take the man to be sent to Zamolxe, and, balancing his hands and feet, he throws him up so that he falls on the tips of the weapons. If they are pierced and dying, they believe the god is voluntary, but if they do not, they blame the messenger, who (they say) is a bad man: so I choose another to send him to the god. Messages are entrusted while it is still alive. The same people, when thunders and lightning, turns their arrows to heaven, threatening the god; and I also do not think there is any god other than theirs.

I am informed by the Greeks living on the banks of Hellespont and Pontus that this Zamolxe was actually a man, that he lived in Samos, and that while he was there he had been the slave of Pythagoras, the son of Mnesarchus. After gaining his freedom he became rich, and, leaving Samos, he returned to his country. The Thracians at that time lived in a miserable way, and they were a poor and ignorant race; Zamolxe, therefore, who through trade with the Greeks, and especially with the one who was not the most despised of their philosophers, Pythagoras, was familiar with the ionic way of life and with more refined manners than the current among his compatriots, built a room in which occasionally he received and feasted the most important of the Thracians, using the occasion to teach them that neither he, nor the honored guests nor any of their descendants would ever die , but that they will all go to a place where they will live forever enjoying all the possible goods. By doing so, and taking such speeches, he built an underground apartment where, when he had been ready, he hid, disappearing abruptly from the Thracians, who had regretted his loss, and scolded him as a dead man. Meanwhile, he had lived in his secret room for three years, then came out of the hiding place, and he again showed his compatriots, who were thus led to believe what he had taught them. This is the account of the Greeks.As for me, I do not trust too much in this story of Zamolxe and its underground chamber, nor do I put it all in doubt: but I think Zamolxe lived long before Pythagoras. If there ever was a man with this name, or if Zamolxe is nothing but an indigenous god of the Getae, now I say goodbye to him. As for the Getae itself, those who keep and practice the things described above, they have now been diminished by the Persians, and accompanied the army of Darius. "


Nicolae Densuşianu argued that the name comes from "The God of God."

Mircea Eliade asserts that the name of the god came from the frigian zalmos meaning wolf, from which we can say that the name of the deity is actually Zalmoxis, not Zamolxis. But because gecko was not written, getian linguistics remains a very risky test.

Zalmoxis, a bear-god(Bärengott)

Along with the Zalmoxis form, which appears to be the real one (present at Herodotus, Plato, Diodorus of Sicily, Apuleius, Jordan, Porphirios, etc.), the antichrist also knew the form of Zamolxis (Lucian, Diogenes, Laertios, Eliade notes that one of the forms can derive from the metathesis of the other. Porphiros explains the Zalmoxis variant by the word trac zalmos ("skin, fur"), which is given with an anecdote that a bear fur was thrown over Zalmoxis at birth. From this etymology, some authors inferred that Zalmoxis was originally a Bärengott (god-bear). The hypothesis is resumed by Ryhs Carpenter, who places the god get among other "sleeping bears" ("sleeping bears").

The god god

The other etymology interprets the name from the theme of zamol, for which Matthäus Prätorius (1688) proposed the meaning of earth. In 1852, Cless compares Zalmoxis with the Lithuanian god of the earth, Zameluks. Paul Kretschmer, in 1935, produced a linguistic demonstration, discussing in parallel Zemelô (from the Greek-fritish inscriptions in Asia Minor), the earthly trache (earth) and Semele (the goddess of the earth, Dyonisus's mother) terms derived from the theme hence the European, the earth, the earth, the land belonging to the earth (cf. the avestic zam, the earth, the lithuanian žêmé, the letonul zeme, the old prussian same, the semmen, the old Slavic zemlia, the "earth, Neither Kretschmer's hypothesis could be accepted, but Eliade remarked that he had the merit of trying to explain the fact that Zalmoxis and Gebeleizis were in fact names given to a single supreme god.

Brilliant, Sun

Another hypothesis takes into account Zelmo's onomastic part, for example Zelmoutas and in the composite name, with Aelouzelmis, Abro-, Dala-, Dole, Ebry-, Town, the Proto-European * g'hel - "to shine; yellow; green * sun " or * g'el-" clear, bright ". Also in Zalmodeghikos (v. Zalmodegicos); Zermodeghikos and Zoltes . The word * sun is otherwise formed only by the reflexive pronouns "Se" + root "g'hel".

His cult. Rituals. interpretations

In addition to the living impression that Herodotus's text produced in the ancient world, Eliade also observes the coherence of Herodotus' legend:

"The Greeks of Hellespont or Herodotus himself had incorporated everything they had learned about Zalmoxis, about his doctrine and cult in a spiritual horizon of Pitagorian structure. This also meant that the cult of the Geto-Dacian god had faith in the immortality of the soul and some initiatory rites. Beyond the rationalism and evangelism of Herodotus, or his informants, the mystical character of the cult is guessed. This is perhaps the reason why Herodot hesitates to give details (if, however, what is not certain, the ones from whom he learned things and truly spoke to them): His discretion to offer Mysteries is well known. But Herodotus admits he does not believe in the history of Pythagoras' slave Zalmoxis, and that, on the contrary, he is convinced of the primacy of the get the daimon, and this detail is important. " -Mircea Eliade-The History of Beliefs and Religious Ideas, vol. II

As regards the faith of the Getae in Immortality, mentioned by Herodotus, Eliade, following Linforth's studies, makes an essential statement in understanding the Zalmoxian cult, namely that áathanatizein does not mean "believing immortal", but "making immortality". This "immortalization", after the term used by Eliade, "was gained through initiation, which brings the cult established by Zalmoxis closer to Greek and Hellenistic Mysteries." Although the actual ceremonies were not transcribed by historians, the information provided by Herodot indicates, according to Eliade's interpretation, a mytho-ritual scenario of death (occlusion) and return to earth (epiphany). And as to the magical significance of the only ritual transcribed by Herodotus, the sacrifice, Eliade interprets it as meant to "react to the relations between the Getae and their god, as they were originally when Zalmoxis was among them," thus constituting, a "symbolic repetition of the foundation of worship", similarly, only functionally, with the updating of the Way of the Cross in Christianity.

The character of the god has been highlighted by some ancient authors, as well as by many modern scholars who have put him in touch with Dionis and Orpheus and with mythical characters on the other. or highly mythologized, whose main feature was either a shamanic technique, or a mantis, or descents in the Inferno. Mircea Eliade, however, sees in Herodotus' accounts of the cult of Zalmoxis elements that bring him closer to the God of Mysteries.

Similarities of "zalmoxianism" with Christianity

Some historians and theologians (especially Romanians such as Vasile Pârvan and Sorin Paliga, as well as foreigners such as Raffaele Pettazzoni, Jean Coman, Eric Rhode) have some resemblance to "Zalmoxianism" with Christianity, which, in their view, would have facilitated much easier the conversion of Christianity to the people of Daci as to other neighboring peoples (such as the Roman Empire), such as:

  • "Zalmoxian" religion was a monotheist religion (according to Herodotus and some scholars), like Christianity;
  • The Messianic and Prophetic Figure of Zalmoxis, referring to Messianism of Jesus Christ;
  • Belief in the immortality of the soul, in the later life, common in both religions. The soul, freed from the material body, if it had a merciful and humble earthly life, comes into a happy world forever.
  • The defeat of death and the resurrection, a very similar initiatory path for the two religions. If, in the case of Jesus Christ, with death by crucifixion, descend to the hell for three days, and triumph over evil and death, and then the resurrection on the third day; in the case of Zalmoxis, the trial takes 3 years, and the return takes place in the fourth year.

"... He was unseen from the middle of the Thracians, descending into the depths of the underground rooms. (...) Thracians were reluctantly hurt after him and mourned him like a dead man. In the fourth year he again appeared in front of the Thracians and thus believed in all his words. "(Herodotus, Stories)

  • The promotion of virtues in "zalmoxianism", such as gentleness and mercy (slavery was forbidden among the Geto-Dacian population as a result of the teachings invoked by Zalmoxis geto-dacians), abstinence, temperance and humility (given the religious reform initiated by the Zalmoxian priest Deceneu, and by King Dacian Burebista, which prohibited alcohol consumption and despirating, concretely demonstrated by the burning of the vineyards and banning the Dionysian cult, including Dionysian parties) and other virtues, like Christianity;

"Zalmoxis, our king, who is also a god, as we should not try to heal our eyes without first healing our head or head without a body, so we can not try to heal our body without taking care of the soul and just that's why there are many diseases that Greek doctors do not know, because they do not know the whole thing they should be dealing with. For if it is evil, it is impossible for the part to go well. "(Plato);

  • The existence of a moral-religious code and "zalmoxianism," known as "belagian laws" (according to Jordan in his Getic work), somewhat similar to Christian teachings;
  • Monasticism, demonstrated by the archaeological finds in the Ceahlău Massif, Grădiştea Muncelului and the Apuseni Mountains;
  • The absence of idolatry among the Geto-Dacian population;

According to some nationalist-Christian-Orthodox Romanian circles, these similarities between the Zalmoxian cult and Christianity were due to the theological conceptions borrowed from the Judaism of the ancient Jews by Dacian Zalmoxis in the creation of his own cult (such as the concept of monotheism: the existence of a single god , called Demiurge, Messianism, and immortality of the soul after death), as evidenced by Zalmoxis' journeys in several regions of the Near East, such as today's territory of Israel.

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