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Herodotus describes a particularly interesting religious practice of the Getae where they would send a messenger chosen by lot to Zalmoxis every five years. This messenger would be told what the Getae wanted to happen and he would be swung and thrown into the air so that when he came down he would land on the points of upturned spears held by his compatriots.

The messenger’s departure from the mortal realm was seen as a favourable omen, however if he survived he was considered to be of poor character.


Picture credit: “The Golden Helmet of Coţofeneşti – National Museum of Romanian History (11321201516)” by Jorge Láscar from Australia – The Golden Helmet of Coţofeneşti – National Museum of Romanian History. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Golden_Helmet_of_Co%C5%A3ofene%C5%9Fti_-_National_Museum_of_Romanian_History_(11321201516).jpg#/media/File:The_Golden_Helmet_of_Co%C5%A3ofene%C5%9Fti_-_National_Museum_of_Romanian_History_(11321201516).jpg