The Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting a large area in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. They spoke the Thracian language – a scarcely attested branch of the Indo-European language family.
The first historical record about thracians is found in the Bible. Their ancestor was Tiras. He was, according to Genesis 10 and Chronicles 1, the last son of Japheth. Tiras became ancestor of the "Thirasians" (Thracians) — a "flame-haired" (red or blond haired) people.
In Greek mythology, Thrax (by his name simply the quintessential Thracian) was regarded as one of the reputed sons of the god Ares. In the Alcestis, Euripides mentions that one of the names of Ares himself was Thrax since he was regarded as the patron of Thrace (his golden or gilded shield was kept in his temple at Bistonia in Thrace).
Several Thracian graves or tombstones have the name Rufus inscribed on them, meaning "redhead" – a common name given to people with red hair. Ancient Greek artwork often depicts Thracians as redheads Rhesus of Thrace, a mythological Thracian King, derived his name because of his red hair and is depicted on Greek pottery as having red hair and beard.Ancient Greek writers also described the Thracians as red haired. A fragment by the Greek poet Xenophanes describes the Thracians as blue-eyed and red haired:
Bacchylides described Theseus as wearing a hat with red hair, which classicists believe was Thracian in origin. Other ancient writers who described the hair of the Thracians as red include Hecataeus of Miletus, Galen, Clement of Alexandria, and Julius Firmicus Maternus....Men make gods in their own image; those of the Ethiopians are black and snub-nosed, those of the Thracians have blue eyes and red hair.
A lot of greek gods actualy have Thracian roots. Here are some examples :
1 ) Ares - is the son of Zeus and Hera. He is one of the Twelve Olympians . He is considered murderous and bloody. He was caught having sex with Aphrodite, and fled to his homeland of Thrace. In the Trojan war, he fought on the side of Troy.
|Ares - roman representation|
2) Dionysos - was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy. In its fully developed form, his central cult imagery shows his triumphant, disorderly arrival or return, as if from some place beyond the borders of the known and civilized. His procession (thiasus) is made up of wild female followers (maenads) and bearded satyrs with erect penises. Some are armed with the thyrsus, some dance or play music. The god himself is drawn in a chariot, usually by exotic beasts such as lions or tigers, and is sometimes attended by a bearded, drunken Silenus. This procession is presumed to be the cult model for the human followers of his Dionysian Mysteries. In his Thracian mysteries, he wears the bassaris or fox-skin, symbolizing a new life. Dionysus is represented by city religions as the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and thus symbolizes everything which is chaotic, dangerous and unexpected, everything which escapes human reason and which can only be attributed to the unforeseeable action of the gods.
3 ) Artemis - was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women. She often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. The cult of godess Artemis was actually "taken" from the Thracian Pantheon, the "Original" form was that of Bendis.
|Artemis - modern representation|
4 ) Apollo - is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. As the patron of Delphi, Apollo was an oracular god—the prophetic deity of the Delphic Oracle. Medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius, yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague. Amongst the god's custodial charges, Apollo became associated with dominion over colonists, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks. As the leader of the Muses and director of their choir, Apollo functioned as the patron god of music and poetry. Hermes created the lyre for him, and the instrument became a common attribute of Apollo. Hymns sung to Apollo were called paeans.
5) Hephaestus - As a smithing god, Hephaestus made all the weapons of the gods in Olympus. He served as the blacksmith of the gods, and was worshipped in the manufacturing and industrial centres of Greece, particularly Athens. The cult of Hephaestus was based in Lemnos. Hephaestus's symbols are a smith's hammer, anvil, and a pair of tongs.
It is important to know that the workshipers from the Lemnos Island were called "Sinti" and they were thracians.
|Hephaestus - modern representation|
6) Hades was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. In Mythology, Hades (the "unseen") the god of the underworld, was a son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. He had three sisters, Demeter, Hestia, and Hera, as well as two brothers, Zeus, the youngest of the three, and Poseidon, collectively comprising the original six Olympian gods. Upon reaching adulthood, Zeus managed to force his father to disgorge his siblings. After their release the six younger gods, along with allies they managed to gather, challenged the elder gods for power in the Titanomachy, a divine war.
|Ares - modern representation|
Orphism is the name given to a set of religious beliefs and practices originating in the ancient Greek and the Hellenistic world, as well as by the Thracians, associated with literature ascribed to the mythical poet Orpheus, who descended into Hades and returned. Orphics also revered Persephone (who annually descended into Hades for a season and then returned) and Dionysus or Bacchus (who also descended into Hades and returned). Orpheus was said to have invented the Mysteries of Dionysus. Poetry containing distinctly Orphic beliefs has been traced back to the 6th century BC or at least 5th century BC, and graffiti of the 5th century BC apparently refers to "Orphics".
The Orphic theogonies are genealogical works similar to the Theogony of Hesiod, but the details are different. They are possibly influenced by Near Eastern models. The main story is this: Dionysus (in his incarnation as Zagreus) is the son of Zeus and Persephone; Zeus gives his inheritance of the throne to the child, as Zeus is to leave due to Hera's anger over a child being born by another mother; Titans are enraged over the proclamation of attendance and under Hera's instigation decide to murder the child, Dionysus is then tricked with a mirror and children's toys by the Titans who murder and consume him. Athena saves the heart and tells Zeus of the crime who in turn hurls a thunderbolt on the Titans. The resulting soot, from which sinful mankind is born, contain the bodies of the Titans and Dionysus. The soul of man (Dionysus factor) is therefore divine, but the body (Titan factor) holds the soul in bondage. Thus it was declared that the soul returns to a host ten times, bound to the wheel of rebirth .
Semele - daughter of the Boeotian hero Cadmus and Harmonia, was the mortal mother of Dionysus by Zeus in one of his many origin myths. In another version of his mythic origin, he is the son of Persephone. The name "Semele", like other elements of Dionysiac cult, is not Greek but Thracian;, derived from a PIE root meaning "earth". Her son was a god who died in order to be reborn.
It seems that certain elements of the cult of Dionysos and Semele were adopted by the Thracians from the local populations when they moved to Asia Minor, where they were named Phrygians.These were transmitted later to the Greek colonists. Herodotus, who gives the account of Cadmus, estimates that Semele lived sixteen hundred years before his time, or around 2000 BC.
Cybele was an originally Anatolian mother goddess. Little is known of her oldest Anatolian cults, other than her association with mountains, hawks and lions. She may have been Phrygia's State deity; her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor, and spread from there to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies from around the 6th century BC.
In Rome, Cybele was known as Magna Mater ("Great Mother"). The Roman State adopted and developed a particular form of her cult, and claimed her conscription as a key religious component in their success against Carthage during the Punic Wars. Roman mythographers reinvented her as a Trojan goddess, and thus an ancestral goddess of the Roman people by way of the Trojan prince Aeneas .
The romans wanted to make this link between them and the Thracian Trojans because they knew that the Thracian Trojans led the known world when they have reached the peak of their power in XII B.C and with this link the romans wanted to prove their place as an leader in the known world in II B.C.
Derzelas - Thracian chthonic god of abundance and the underworld, health and human spirit's vitality, probably related with gods such as Hades, Zalmoxis, Gebeleizis.
Darzelas las was often depicted in himation, holding cornucopiae with altars by his side. There was a temple dedicated to him with a cult statue, and games (Darzaleia) were held in his honor every five years, possibly attended by Gordian III in 238 AD.
Kotys - a goddess worshipped with much revelry by Thracian tribes such as the Edonians in the festival Cotyttia. A cult of Cottyto existed in classical Athens. According to Greek sources her priests were called baptes or "washers" because their pre-worship purification rites involved bathing. Her worship included midnight orgies (orgia).
Zibelthiurdos (Zibelthurdos or Zbelsurdos) was a Thracian god of storm and lightning like god Gebeleizis.
Gebeleizis was a god worshiped by the Getae, probably related to the Thracian god of storm and lightning, Zibelthiurdos. He was represented as a handsome man, sometimes wearing a beard. The lightning and thunder were his manifestations.
|Hand of Sabazios|
Sabazios - was the nomadic horseman and sky father god of the Thracians. In Indo-European languages, such as Phrygian, the -zios element in his name derives from dyeus, the common precursor of Latin deus ('god') and Greek Zeus.
It seems likely that the migrating Phrygians brought Sabazios with them when they settled in Anatolia in the early first millennium BCE, and that the god's origins are to be looked for in Macedonia and Thrace. The recently discovered ancient sanctuary of Perperikon in modern day Bulgaria is believed to be that of Sabazios. The Macedonians were also noted horsemen, horse-breeders and horse-worshippers up to the time of Philip II, whose name signifies "lover of horses".
Pleistoros - acording to Herodot , he was an Thracian God of War, his workshipers were thracians called "pleistoi", whom they brought sacrifices. Priests were recruited among nobles, some of whom were warriors.
But the Thracians were not only politeistic people, also among them have existed monoteistic tribes like Dacians and Getae, Their God was Zamolxe.
Herodotus writes about Zalmoxe in book 4 of his Histories:
The Getae are the bravest of the Thracians and the most just. They believe they are immortal in the following sense: they think they do not die and that the one who dies joins Zalmoxis, a divine being; some call this same divine being Gebeleizis. Every four years, they send a messenger to Zalmoxis, who is chosen by chance. They ask him to tell Zalmoxis what they want on that occasion. The mission is performed in the following way: men standing there for that purpose hold three spears; other people take the one who is sent to Zalmoxis by his hands and feet and fling him in the air on the spears. If he dies pierced, they think that the divinity is going to help them; if he does not die, it is he who is accused and they declare that he is a bad person. And, after he has been charged, they send another one. The messenger is told the requests while he is still alive.
Lactantius (an early Christian author 240 – 320 AD), referring to Getae's faith, provide an approximate translation of Julian the Apostate writing, who put these words in [emperor] Traian's mouth:
We have conquered even these Getai (Dacians), the most warlike of all people that have ever existed, not only because of the strength in their bodies, but, also due to the teachings of Zalmoxis who is among their most hailed. He has told them that in their hearts they do not die, but change their location and, due to this, they go to their deaths happier than on any other journey."