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Zalmoxis, (or Zamolxis, Zalmoxe, Salmoxis) was a semi-mythical social and religious reformer, regarded as the only true God by the Thracian Dacians (known in the Greek records as Getae). According to Herodotus, 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.

Table of contents
1 The man
2 The god
3 Ethymology
4 External links
5 Reference

The man

By the euhemeristic Hellespontine Greeks Herodotus was told that Zalmoxis was really a man, formerly a slave (or disciple) of Pythagoras (who taught him the "sciences of the skies") at Samos, who, having obtained his freedom and amassed great wealth, returned to Thrace, and instructed his fellow-tribesmen in the doctrines of Pythagoras and the arts of civilization and agriculture.

He 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.

He had a subterranean chamber constructed (other accounts say that this it was instead a cave) on the holy mountain of Kogainon, to which he withdrew for three years (some other accounts considered he actually lived in Hades for these three years). After his disappearence, he was considered dead and mourned by his people, but in the fourth year he returned, episode that some considered to be a resurection, thus it was a paralel to Jesus Christ's resurection.

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

Plato says in the "Charmides" dialogue that Zalmoxis was also a great medic that treated the mind as part of healing the whole human being, not only the body, like the Greek medics did.

The god

After the death of Zalmoxis, his cult grew to be in probably one of the earliest monotheistic religion (after Judaism, but probably before Zoroastrianism). During the rule of Burebista, the traditional year of his birth, 713 BC was to be considered the year 1 of the Dacian calendar.

It is probable that Zalmoxis is Sabazius, the Thracian Dionysus or Zeus. Mnaseas of Patrae identified him with Cronos. 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.


The name is believed to be the derived from the Thracian word "zamol" which means "earth" and it may be linked to the underworld experience, although other Greek sources say that it means "bear skin" or "foreign man".

External links