Zalmoxis (Greek Ζάλμοξις, also known as Salmoxis, Σάλμοξις, Zamolxis, Ζάμολξις, orSamolxis Σάμολξις) was a legendary social and religious reformer, regarded as the only true god by the Thracian Dacians (also known in the Greek records as Getae Γέται). According to Herodotus (IV. 95 sq.), the Getae, who believed in the immortality of the soul, looked upon death merely as going to Zalmoxis, as they knew the way to become immortals.


Herodotus was told by the Euhemeristic Pontic Greeks that Zalmoxis was really a man, formerly a disciple of Pythagoras, who taught him the "sciences of the skies" at Samos. Zalmoxis was manumitted and amassed great wealth, returned to his country and instructed his people, the Getae, about the immortality of the soul. Zenon reiterates the idea that Zalmoxis was Pythagoras' slave.

However, Herodotus, who declines to commit himself as to the existence of Zalmoxis, expresses the opinion that in any case Zalmoxis must have lived long before the time of Pythagoras.

According to Herodotus, at one point Zalmoxis traveled to Egypt and brought the people mystic knowledge about the immortality of the soul, teaching them that they would pass at death to a certain place where they would enjoy all possible blessings for all eternity.

Zalmoxis then had a subterranean chamber constructed (other accounts say that it was a natural cave) on the holy mountain of Kogaion, to which he withdrew for three years (some other accounts considered he actually lived in Hades for these three years).

After his disappearance, he was considered dead and mourned by his people, but after three years he showed himself once more to the Getae, who were thus convinced about his teachings: an episode that some considered to be a resurrection (Thus he can be seen a life-death-rebirth deity, parallel to Tammuz or Jesus.)

Plato says in the "Charmides" dialogue that Zalmoxis was also a great physician who took a holistic approach to healing body and mind; not just the body, as was the Greek practice.


After the death of Zamolxis, his cult grew into a popular religion. During the rule of Burebista, priest Deceneu impose a series of reforms in Dacian cult, one of them being the restriction of wine consumption.

Aristotle equates Zamolxis with Phoenician "Okhon" and Libyan "Atlas".

It is possible that Zamolxis is Sabazius, the Thracian Dionysus or Zeus. Mnaseas of Patrae identified him with Cronos (Hesychius also has polytonic|Σάλμοξις· ὁ Κρόνος). In Plato he is mentioned as skilled in the arts of incantation.

His realm as a god is not very clear, as some considered him to be a sky-god, a god of the dead or a god of the Mysteries.


A number of etymologies have been given for the name. Diogenes Laertius (3rd century-4th century AD) claimed that "Zalmoxis" meant "bear skin". In his "Vita Pythagorae", Porphyrius (3rd century) says that "zalmon" is the Thracian word for "hide" (polytonic|τὴνγὰρ δορὰν οἱ Θρᾷκες ζαλμὸν καλοῦσιν). Hesychius (ca. 5th century) has "zemelen" (ζέμελεν) as a Phrygian word for "foreign slave".

The correct spelling of the name is also uncertain. Manuscripts of Herodotus' "Historiae" have all four spellings, viz. "Zalmoxis", "Salmoxis", "Zamolxis", "Samolxis", with a majority of manuscripts favouring "Salmoxis". Later authors show a preference for "Zamolxis". Hesychius quotes Herodotus, using "Zalmoxis".

The "-m-l-" variant is favoured by those wishing to derive the name from a conjectured Thracian word for "earth", "*zamol". Comparisons have also been made with the name of Zemelo, the Phrygian goddess of the earth, and with the Lithuanian chthonic god Zjameluks. However, this etymology is probably incorrect.

The "-l-m-" variant is admitted to be the older form and the correct form by the majority of Thracologists, as this is the form found in the older Herodotus manuscripts and other ancient sources. The "-l-m-" form is further attested in Daco-Thracian in "Zalmodegikos", the name of a Getic King; and in Thracian "zalmon", 'hide', and "zelmis", 'hide' (PIE "*kel-", 'to cover'; cf. English "helm").

Zalmoxis in popular culture

* Romanian rock band Sfinx worked from around 1975 through 1978 on what became one of the most appreciated Romanian progressive rock LPs, "Zalmoxe". It was based on lyrics by poet Alexandru Basarab (actually a pen name for Adrian Hoajă), which retold the story of Zalmoxis's existence. However, the album was banned on being released for about three years and was eventually shortened drastically by political censorship with the Communist regime.


* Eliade, Mircea. "Zalmoxis, the vanishing God"
* Kernbach, Victor. "Miturile Esenţiale", Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică, Bucharest, 1978
* Popov, Dimitar. "Bogat s mnogoto imena" ("The God with Multiple Names"), Sofia, 1995
* Venedikov, Ivan. "Mitove na bulgarskata zemya: Mednoto Gumno" ("Myths of the Bulgarian Land: The Copper Threshing Floor"), Sofia, 1982

External links

* [ "History" by Herodotus, about Zalmoxis]
*citation|author=Jordanes |url= |title=Getica 39 |editor-last=Mierow, where Zalmoxes is transformed into a king of the Goths
* [ Is the Story of Zalmoxis a Parallel for Christianity?]
* [ Journey to the Land of the Cloud Rovers] - slideshow of Dacian fortresses and the Getae - Requires Macromedia Shockwave.
* [ Listen to the "Zalmoxe" album by Romanian band Sfinx] (stream)

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать реферат

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Zalmoxis — (en griego antiguo Ζάλμοξις, también conocido como Salmoxis, Σάλμοξις, Zamolxis, Ζάμοξλις, o Samolxis Σάμοξλις) fue un legendario reformador social y religioso, considerado como el único Dios verdadero por los tracios dacios, así como por los… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Zalmoxis — (griechisch Ζάλμοξις), auch Salmoxis (Σάλμοξις), Zamolxis (Ζάμολξις) oder Samolxis (Σάμολξις) ist eine Gottheit der Geten in der antiken Mythologie, welcher den Verstorbenen das ewige Leben schenkt. Herodot zufolge wurde dem Zalmoxis alle… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Zalmoxis — apparaît la première fois chez Hérodote qui l appelle Salmoxis (Σάλμοξις) et affirme qu esclave affranchi de Pythagore, il est retourné dans son pays gète et a enseigné par une tromperie la croyance dans l immortalité à ses compatriotes et à… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Zalmoxis — {{Zalmoxis}} Gott der thrakischen Geten, der den Verstorbenen ewiges Leben schenkt. Zu ihm wurde nach Herodot alle fünf Jahre ein Bote entsandt, dem jeder seine Bitten und Wünsche mitgeben konnte. Diesen Boten packte man an Händen und Füßen und… …   Who's who in der antiken Mythologie

  • Zalmoxis — Zalmoxis, so v.w. Zamolxis …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Zalmoxis — Zalmoxis, s. Zamolxis …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Zalmoxis — Zạlmoxis,   Zạmolxis, ein thrakischer Erdgott. Nach Herodot glaubten die thrakischen Geten an ein Weiterleben der Seele nach dem Tod beim Gott Zalmoxis. Die Griechen sahen in Zalmoxis einen Religionsstifter, der nach einer Lehrzeit als Sklave… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Papilio zalmoxis — Taxobox name = status = image caption = Papilio zalmoxis regnum = Animalia phylum = Arthropoda classis = Insecta ordo = Lepidoptera familia = Papilionidae genus = Papilio species = P. zalmoxis binomial = Papilio zalmoxis binomial authority =… …   Wikipedia

  • Papilio zalmoxis — ? Papilio zalmoxis Самец Научная классификация …   Википедия

  • List of Zalmoxidae species — This is a list of the described species of the harvestman family Zalmoxidae. The data is taken from Joel Hallan s Biology Catalog.* Absonus M. A. González Sponga, 1987:* Absonus ayalai M. A. González Sponga, 1987 Venezuela:* Absonus caracasensis… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”