Many of you are wondering, who are the Dacians?

They are not very popular in non-Romanian history, the Dacians are an ancient people that the car brand Dacia is based on:

Herodotus called the Thracians "the second-most numerous people after the Indians". He said that the Thracians could become the world's greatest power if they weren't disunited. Strabon, the Greek geographer, reminded that the Dacian King Burebista imposed exercises of abstention from wine: "Coming to the rule of his nation, which was tired of frequent wars, Burebista rose so much through exercises of abstinence from wine and obedience to the commandments, that in a few years he pledged a strong state and subjected most of the neighboring populations to the Getae, becoming feared even by the Romans".

There is a dispute among scholars about the relations between the Getae and Dacians, with some claiming they are the same people while others claiming they are different tribes, the contemporary sources label them as the same people but called different names by different nations. Roman author Pliny the Eldar mentioned that: "though various races have occupied the adjacent shores; at one spot the Getae, by the Romans called Daci". Greek historian Appian wrote in his work "Roman History" that: "going beyond these rivers in places they rule some of the Celts over the Rhine and the Getae over the Danube, whom they call Dacians". Cassius Dio, Roman statesman and historian of Greek and Roman origin, wrote that: "I call the people Dacians, the name used by the natives themselves as well as by the Romans, though I am not ignorant that some Greek writers refer to them as Getae, whether that is the right term or not".

The history of Geto-Dacians starts with the Greek colonies on the Black Sea coast, known as Pontus Euxinus. Where they established the colonies: Tomis, Histria and Calatis. When the Thracians came into contact with the Greeks, the Greek historian Herodotus was the first to mention the Getae north of Danube, according to Herodotus "the Getae are the bravest and the justest of the Thracians".

The Dacian kingdom reached its maximum extent under King Burebista in 82 BC. During the Roman Civil War between Caesar and Pompei, King Burebista allied with Pompey. As consequence, Caesar planned a campaign against the Kingdom of Dacia. This war never came to pass because both King Burebista and Julius Caesar were assassinated in the same year, 42 BC.

In 87 AD, the Dacians invaded the Roman province of Moesia, this caused the Roman Emperor Domician to wage war on them. The Roman Empire beat the Dacians back over the Danube river, only to suffer a disastrous defeat while pursuing them and agreed to a humiliating treaty where the Roman Empire would pay tribute 8 million sestercies every year. In return, Dacia acceped the status of being a Roman client kingdom.

After two decades of respite, the Roman Empire under Emperor Tranjan would wage war against Dacia. During these wars, called the Daco-Roman wars, the Dacians often used shock troops armed with two-handed swords called Falx that were so effective at piercing Roman helmets that they were modified with a pair of crossbars over the dome of the helmet to mitigate the damage from this weapon. However, the might of the Roman Empire combined with a competent emperor was too much. King Decebalus took his own life while being pursued rather than being captured and paraded through the streets of Rome.

"We have conquered even these 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 Zamolxis 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." - Emperor Trajan

The banner of the Dacian pantheon can be the Dacian Draco, a dragon with a wolf head:

The Dacian mythology has one central element - their special relationship with the wolf. The Dacians called themselves "daoi" meaning "wolves" or "ones the same with wolves". Dacians draw their name from a god or a legendary ancestor who appeared as a wolf.

The Dacians originally venerated a small number of gods but with well-defined responsabilities: Gebeleizis, Bendis, Derzelas, Sabazios, Dionysus, Kotys and Pleistoros. As well as mythological creatures such as the Great White. Following the advent of the Prophet Zamolxis in Dacia, the Dacian religion became monotheistic, this prophet being divinized after death and considered the new supreme god.

Pre-Zamolxis Gods:

1. Gebeleizis -> Dacian God of thunder, lightning and rain, the supreme deity before Zamolxis. Often depicted with a spear, lightning or arch in his hands battling a snake.

His attribute is the eagle and he represents the clear sky. Everything that disturbs his harmony: storms, clouds, have to be combated. The Dacians used to shoot arrows towards the sky, in the clouds, to help Gebeleizis to drive them away.

2. Bendis -> Dacian goddess of the moon, forests and charms, love and maternity.

The goddess Bendis is corresponding to Artemis, in the Greek mythology, or Diana, in the Roman mythology. Herodotus wrote that this goddess is adored by the Dacian women. Her cult survived during the period of Roman occupation, in the form of Roman godess Diana.

3. Derzelas -> God of health, abundance, underworld and human spirit's vitality. Often represented riding a horse.

Derzelas is a dual god, he is considered the patron of health and human vitality as well as an infernal divinity, the god of the underworld. The Roman colonists in Dacia considered him similar with Hercules. Games called Darzaleia were held in his honor every five years, possibly attended by Roman Emperor Gordian III in 238 AD. The God was depicted with the Horn of Abundance in his left hand.

4. Sabazios -> The horseman and sky-father god of the Dacians.

In the Roman times he is shown always on horseback, as a nomadic horseman god, wielding his characteristic staff of power. Small votive hands, typically made of copper or bronze, are often associated with the cult of Sabazios. Many of these hands have a small perforation at the base which suggests they may have been attached to wooden poles and carried in processions. After Christianity was adopted, the symbolism of Sabazios continued as representations of Saint George slaying the dragon.

5. Dionysus -> God of the grape harvest, wine, fertility and theatre. Taken from the Greeks.

6. Kotys -> The mother-goddess.

Kotys was worshipped in a festival known as the Cotyttia. The Greeks considered Kotys to be an aspect of Persephone.

7. Pleistoros -> The god of war.

Post-Zamolxis Gods:

8. Zamolxis -> God of Life and Death, supreme deity, who gradually took the place of other gods and became the only deity.

Herodotus was told by the Euhemeristic Pontic Greeks that Zamolxis was a Dacian man, formerly a disciple of Pythagoras, who taught him the “sciences of the skies” at Samos. Zamolxis was manumitted and amassed great wealth, returned to his country and instructed his people, the Dacians, about the immortality of the soul. According to Herodotus, at one point Zamolxis 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.

Zamolxis then had a subterranean chamber constructed (other accounts say that it was a natural cave) to which he withdrew for 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 Dacians, who were thus convinced about his teachings, an episode that some considered to be a resurrection.

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. During the rule of Burebista between 82 - 40 BC, the traditional year of Zamolxis' birth, 713 BC, was considered the first year in the Dacian calendar.

9. The Great White -> According to the legend of the Great White Wolf, Zamolxis turned a priest into a wolf to protect Dacia from invaders.

The legend says that in long forgotten times, one of Zamolxis’ priests was walking the lands of Dacia without ever stopping, to help the ones that needed it and telling the Geto-Dacians that Zamolxis was watching over them. Even though the priest was still young, his hair and beard were white as snow, and his faith, courage and power were known not only to people and Zamolxis, but to animals as well. Zamolxis, realizing his priest valor, asks him to live close to Him, at the mountain Kogaionon. Far away from people, the priest continued to preach as before, to the forest animals. In a short time, the animals of Dacia, started to listen to the priest and to consider him their master. The most he was loved by the wolfs, as they were the only ones without a leader, only hunger holding them in packs.

After a time, Zamolxis talks to his priest and decides the time has come for the priest to work for him in a new way, and transforms him in an animal. But not any animal, but in the feared and respected animal of Dacia, a White Wolf, big and powerful, ordering him to bring together all the wolfs of the forests to help defend the lands. In this way, every time the Dacians were in danger, the wolfs came to help. It was enough to hear the calling of the Great White Wolf, and wherever they were, the wolfs would run to help the people that became their brothers. The White Wolf, however, was judge, condemning the cowards and untrustworthy.

One day, Zamolxis, calls his priest to him, giving him the possibility to choose for the last and final time between being man or wolf. With extreme sadness in his heart, knowing what was to follow, the priest decides to stand by his God, hoping to help more the lands and people of Dacia.

The Great White Wolf, considered the king of wolfs, fought next to the Dacians when their capital, Sarmisegetuza, fell to the Romans. The legends are many, from the god Apollo, to the Dacians to Christianity, the wolf seems to go from millennium to millennium as symbol of these lands.

In the old forests of the mountains, under the sky filled of stars,
In the warm breeze of the winds of freedom, the ones with a pure heart,
Can still hear today the Great White Wolf calling for the battles.
The Earth, the leaves, the sky know Him too well.
Can you hear it?
The sacred legends of the Free Dacians

Regardless of the faithfulness of most Geto-Dacians, wolves and the Great White Wolf, the Romans managed to infiltrate whiting them and as the invasion was getting closer, they manage to put in the hearts of some cowards the mistrust of Zamolxis. This way, some Dacians are starting to fear that Zamolxis won’t stand by them in battle and the cowards, lost in fear, start killing all the wolves in their path hoping that one of these will be the Great White Wolf, whose head they could offer the Romans in exchange for their lives. The wolves, as many as they were left, ran to the hearts of the mountains, never to come again in the middle of the brothers who betrayed them. The Great White Wolf and Zamolxis go inside the Sacred Mountain from where they watch with tears in their hearts as the Geto-Dacians are defeated by the Romans because of their own betrayal.

The symbol of the Wolf as defender of these lands does not stop to the Geto-Dacians. In other later legends, Saint Andrew was sent to preach in the ‘lands of the wolves’ and was protected on his path towards the Dacian sanctuaries by the Great White Wolf. Also, older yet, one of the versions in regards to the name of the Dacians, considers the word daoi, coming from one of the Thracian dialects, meaning wolf. This attribution is connected by some authors to the Dacians role as Defenders of the Sky and Earth.