Originally written on January 4, 2021. Updated 2023
Fufluns (or Puphluns) was the Etruscan was a god of plant life, grape harvest, happiness, wine, health, and growth in all things, equivalent to the Greek Dionysus and the Roman Bacchus.
He was worshipped at Populonia, in Tuscany region, central Italy (Etruscan Fufluna or Pupluna) and apparently he is the namesake of that town.
He was the son of the thunder god Tinia and the earth goddess Semia. Taurine sacrifices were performed in his honor, as the bull was the animal consecrated to him.
Fufluns is usually depicted as a beardless youth, but is sometimes rarely shown as an older, bearded man. He was shown in art with the thyrsus, satyrs or maenads.
Fufluns is associated with several other deities in art, including Apulu (Apollo) who is considered his brother and his mother Semla. In association with them, Fufluns was sometimes seen as a chthonic deity associated with the underworld and a character that guided and protected souls. Fufluns was additionally associated with a purely Etruscan goddess named Catha.
Fufluns shares many myths with Dionysus, including the story of his birth, which parallels the story of Zeus and Semele.Like that myth, the pregnant Semla is killed by Tinia in the form of lightning bolt, who then continues to bear Fufluns by sewing the infant into his thigh and later giving birth to him. However, Semla continues to appear in artwork in association with an adult Fufluns after her death, indicating either a resurrection or immortalization of his mother.
Another depiction of a lost myth regarding Fufluns depicts his relationship with Areatha, the Etruscan form of Ariadne. The myth of Fuflun and Areatha itself follows the traditional Greek myth, in which Areatha is abandoned by Theseus after helping him escape the labyrinth of Minos. Fufluns then finds Areatha and falls in love with her, and they later marry.
It is hypothesized that the name “Fufluns” may derive from “puple”, with the meaning of “sprout”.
According to another hypothesis, it could be the adaptation of “poplon”, from which the Umbrian deity Puemune derives, that Sabina of Poimono, to be compared to the Roman goddess of fruits Pomona.
On this day, January 4, people toasted with the black wine obtained from the past harvest, but the celebrations were far from similar to the Roman Bacchanalia: in fact they were reserved for the Etruscan aristocracy and you could only participate if you were initiated.
Images from web – Google Research