THE CAVE OF AMALTHEA
Most French villages now have a church at their centre. It is easy to think that Christian worships dates back for many centuries. But this is not the case. There were many religions that we now choose to call pagan. Some of these were based on ancient beliefs in Gods such as those of the Greeks and Romans. One such cult was based on the Greek, later Roman, tale of Amalthea. Here is the story. We are told that Zeus’s father Cronus sired several children by Rhea,  but swallowed them all as soon as they were born, for he had been told that he was destined to be overthrown by his son.
So, when Zeus was about to be born, Rhea devised a plan to save her new son. She gave birth to him in Crete. She then found a rock about the right size, wrapped it up in swaddling clothes and gave it to Cronus, who promptly swallowed it. Meanwhile she smuggled her baby into a cave where he was cared for by nymphs who provided him with milk from a goat called Amalthea. In Roman mythology, Zeus becomes Jupiter, Chronos becomes Saturn, but the story remains the same involving nymphs, a cave and a goat .

This ceiling decoration shows the infancy of Jupiter, the Roman equivalent to Zeus, who was brought up in hiding, suckled by the goat Amalthea to prevent Saturn from devouring him as he had all of his brothers.


Over the centuries a cult of Amalthea grew and was particularly strong in the Livradois which includes Grandrif. Since Zeus had been brought up in a cave, a cave at the northern end of the village of Grandrif was an obvious place of worship for this cult, the cave of Amalthea. Amongst the objects of worship was, according to tradition, a life sized golden goat.

As Christianity spread, so the church sought to eradicate such cults. In an effort to stamp out the cult of Amalthea in Grandrif the golden goat was buried, it is said, in a deep hole somewhere in the cave.