Florica Bechet, A Fire Sap Willow on the Personality and Family of the Pre-Hellenic Zeus

Florica Bechet - University of Bucharest
TOME LV 2017
p. 29-39
Online publication date: 
Velchanos-Vulcanus, fire, birth, child, fertility.

It is well known that the pre-Hellenic, Minoan civilization was characterized by matriarchy, an obvious trait in the religious field as well, represented by a pantheon governed by a Magna Mater. The male deities were not missing, but they were usually inferior to the female ones, playing rather the part of a drone in a hive, by the almighty queen. One of these male deities, perhaps the most prominent one, was the one that the Greeks would name Zeus the Cretan (Velchanos, by his autochthonous name), whose worship has left important traces in Crete, the cradle of the Minoan civilization. Far from being the thunderous Zeus of the Greeks, Velchanos was represented as a fragile adolescent, seated between the branches of a willow and holding a cock in his hand, image a long while maintained on the coins. The intention of our paper is to highlight the characteristics of this deity, the simbolistics of the objects which define him and the domain he was patronizing, as well as the way Velchanos becomes Vulcan, the patron of fire and thus of handicrafts, once he penetrates the Roman pantheon.

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