At the beginning of the 7th century BC, we assist at the birth of the polis on the islands of Rhodes and Crete, after a long fermentation period following the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization. The commercial activity of Lindos and the unstable demographic condition of Crete were the two main factors that led to many people from different ethnic origin and social class, to emigrate and follow the flow of Greek colonization in the West.
Based on their knowledge of the area, thanks to exchanges that the Aegean merchants had already had with Sicily in previous centuries, the colonists under the leadership of the two settlers, Antiphemos of Lindos and Entimos of Crete (probably from Gortyn), founded on the south coast of the island, at the mouth of the eponymous river, the mixed colony of Gela (688 BC).
The cornerstone of the social class of the new town was evidently the Pantheon, resulting in the coexistence of ancient cults of Cretan and Rhodian origin. With the passage of time, these cults evolved and crystallized as a reflection of the new order of things that the Deinomenides dynasty imposed after painful stasis in the middle of the 6th century and the first tyrannies of Pantares’ sons in the early 5th century.
Founded in 580 BC by a mixed group of settlers originating primarily from Gela, Akragas inherited, according to Thucydides, the “Geloan Laws”. Among the deities included in the pantheon of the sub-colony, traces of Cretan religiosity recognized as endangered in Gela’s metropolis during the social and national crisis of the first half of the 6th century, found fertile ground here and flourished.
Starting with the analysis of literary and archaeological evidence, noting similarities in the religious sphere between the islands of the Aegean (Rhodes and Crete) and Siceliot colonies, reveals the form of Velchanos, the young god of eternal regeneration, of Cretan origin, who was revered and remembered in many ways by some of the population of Akragas. With the disappearance of the Cretan “phratry” after the fall of the polis to the Carthaginians (406 BC), only a distant echo of the god survived and was collected (and misunderstood) by later literary sources.