Cybele (/ˈsɪbɪli/; Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya "Kubileya/Kubeleya Mother", perhaps "Mountain Mother"; Lydian Kuvava; Greek: Κυβέλη Kybele, Κυβήβη Kybebe, Κύβελις Kybelis) is an Anatolian mother goddess; she may have a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük, where statues of plump women, sometimes sitting, have been found in excavations. She is Phrygia's only known goddess, and was probably its state deity. Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies around the 6th century BC.
In Greece, Cybele met with a mixed reception. She was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her possibly Minoan equivalent Rhea, and the harvest–mother goddess Demeter. Some city-states, notably Athens, evoked her as a protector, but her most celebrated Greek rites and processions show her as an essentially foreign, exotic mystery-goddess who arrives in a lion-drawn chariot to the accompaniment of wild music, wine, and a disorderly, ecstatic following. Uniquely in Greek religion, she had a eunuch mendicant priesthood. Many of her Greek cults included rites to a divine Phrygian castrate shepherd-consort Attis, who was probably a Greek invention. In Greece, Cybele is associated with mountains, town and city walls, fertile nature, and wild animals, especially lions.
In Rome, Cybele was known as Magna Mater ("Great Mother"). The Roman state adopted and developed a particular form of her cult after the Sibylline oracle recommended her conscription as a key religious ally in Rome's second war against Carthage. Roman mythographers reinvented her as a Trojan goddess, and thus an ancestral goddess of the Roman people by way of the Trojan prince Aeneas. With Rome's eventual hegemony over the Mediterranean world, Romanized forms of Cybele's cults spread throughout the Roman Empire. The meaning and morality of her cults and priesthoods were topics of debate and dispute in Greek and Roman literature, and remain so in modern scholarship.
No contemporary text or myth survives to attest the original character and nature of Cybele's Phrygian cult. She may have evolved from a statuary type found at Çatalhöyük in Anatolia, dated to the 6th millennium BC and identified by some as a mother goddess. In Phrygian art of the 8th century BC, the cult attributes of the Phrygian mother-goddess include attendant lions, a bird of prey, and a small vase for her libations or other offerings.
The inscription Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya at a Phrygian rock-cut shrine, dated to the first half of the 6th century BC, is usually read as "Mother of the mountain", a reading supported by ancient classical sources, and consistent with Cybele as any of several similar tutelary goddesses, each known as "mother" and associated with specific Anatolian mountains or other localities: a goddess thus "born from stone". She is ancient Phrygia's only known goddess, and was probably the highest deity of the Phrygian state.
In the 2nd century AD, the geographer Pausanias attests to a Magnesian (Lydian) cult to "the mother of the gods", whose image was carved into a rock-spur of Mount Sipylus. This was believed to be the oldest image of the goddess, and was attributed to the legendary Broteas. At Pessinos in Phrygia, the mother goddess—identified by the Greeks as Cybele—took the form of an unshaped stone of black meteoric iron, and may have been associated with or identical to Agdistis, Pessinos' mountain deity. This was the aniconic stone that was removed to Rome in 204 BC.
Images and iconography in funerary contexts, and the ubiquity of her Phrygian name Matar ("Mother"), suggest that she was a mediator between the "boundaries of the known and unknown": the civilized and the wild, the worlds of the living and the dead. Her association with hawks, lions, and the stone of the mountainous landscape of the Anatolian wilderness, seem to characterize her as mother of the land in its untrammeled natural state, with power to rule, moderate or soften its latent ferocity, and to control its potential threats to a settled, civilized life. Anatolian elites sought to harness her protective power to forms of ruler-cult; in Lydia, her cult had possible connections to the semi-legendary king Midas, as her sponsor, consort, or co-divinity. As protector of cities, or city states, she was sometimes shown wearing a mural crown, representing the city walls. At the same time, her power "transcended any purely political usage and spoke directly to the goddess' followers from all walks of life".
Some Phrygian shaft monuments are thought to have been used for libations and blood offerings to Cybele, perhaps anticipating by several centuries the pit used in her taurobolium and criobolium sacrifices during the Roman imperial era. Over time, her Phrygian cults and iconography were transformed, and eventually subsumed, by the influences and interpretations of her foreign devotees, at first Greek and later Roman.
From around the 6th century BC, cults to the Anatolian mother-goddess were introduced from Phrygia into the ethnically Greek colonies of western Anatolia, mainland Greece, the Aegean islands and the westerly colonies of Magna Graecia. The Greeks called her Mātēr or Mētēr ("Mother"), or from the early 5th century Kubelē; in Pindar, she is "Mistress Cybele the Mother". Walter Burkert places her among the "foreign gods" of Greek religion, a complex figure combining the Minoan-Mycenaean tradition with the Phrygian cult imported directly from Asia Minor. In Greece, as in Phrygia, she was a "Mistress of animals" (Potnia Therōn), with her mastery of the natural world expressed by the lions that flank her, sit in her lap or draw her chariot. She was readily assimilated to the Minoan-Greek earth-mother Rhea, "Mother of the gods", whose raucous, ecstatic rites she may have acquired. As an exemplar of devoted motherhood, she was partly assimilated to the grain-goddess Demeter, whose torchlight procession recalled her search for her lost daughter, Persephone.
As with other deities viewed as foreign introductions, the spread of Cybele's cult was attended by conflict and crisis. Herodotus says that when Anacharsis returned to Scythia after traveling and acquiring knowledge among the Greeks in the 6th century BC, his brother, the Scythian king, put him to death for joining the cult. In Athenian tradition, the city's metroon was founded around 500 BC to placate Cybele, who had visited a plague on Athens when one of her wandering priests was killed for his attempt to introduce her cult. The account may have been a later invention to explain why a public building was dedicated to an imported deity, as the earliest source is the Hymn To The Mother Of The Gods (362 AD) by the Roman emperor Julian. Her cults most often were funded privately, rather than by the polis. Her "vivid and forceful character" and association with the wild set her apart from the Olympian gods.
Cybele's early Greek images are small votive representations of her monumental rock-cut images in the Phrygian highlands. She stands alone within a naiskos, which represents her temple or its doorway, and is crowned with a polos, a high, cylindrical hat. A long, flowing chiton covers her shoulders and back. She is sometimes shown with lion attendants. Around the 5th century BC, Agoracritos created a fully Hellenised and influential image of Cybele that was set up in the Athenian agora. It showed her enthroned, with a lion attendant, and a tympanon, the hand drum that was a Greek introduction to her cult and a salient feature in its later developments.
For the Greeks, the tympanon was a marker of foreign cults, suitable for rites to Cybele, her close equivalent Rhea, and Dionysus; of these, only Cybele holds the tympanon herself. In Greek myth, a connection between Cybele and Dionysus may not date any earlier than the 1st century BC: in the Bibliotheca formerly attributed to Apollodorus, Cybele is said to have cured Dionysus of his madness. Their cults, however shared several characteristics: the foreigner-deity arrived in a chariot, drawn by exotic big cats (Dionysus by tigers, Cybele by lions), accompanied by wild music and an ecstatic entourage of exotic foreigners and people from the lower classes. By the end of the 1st century BC, their rites In Athens, and elsewhere, were sometimes combined; Strabo notes that Rhea-Cybele's popular rites in Athens might be held in conjunction with Dionysus' procession. Like Dionysus, Cybele was regarded as having a distinctly un-Hellenic temperament, simultaneously embraced and "held at arm's length" by the Greeks.
In contrast to her public role as a protector of cities, Cybele was also the focus of mystery cult, private rites with a chthonic aspect connected to hero cult and exclusive to those who had undergone initiation, though it is unclear who Cybele's initiates were. Reliefs show her alongside young female and male attendants with torches, and vessels for purification. Literary sources describe joyous abandonment to the loud, percussive music of tympanon, castanets, clashing cymbals and flutes, and to the frenzied "Phrygian dancing", perhaps a form of circle-dancing by women, to the roar of "wise and healing music of the gods".
Conflation with Rhea led to Cybele's association with various male demigods who served Rhea as attendants, or as guardians of her son, the infant Zeus, as he lay in the cave of his birth. In cult terms, they seem to have functioned as intercessors or intermediaries between goddess and mortal devotees, through dreams, waking trance or ecstatic dance and song. They include the armed Kouretes, who danced around Zeus and clashed their shields to amuse him; their supposedly Phrygian equivalents, the youthful Corybantes, who provided similarly wild and martial music, dance and song; and the dactyls and Telchines, magicians associated with metalworking.
Cybele's major mythographic narratives attach to her relationship with Attis, who is described by ancient Greek and Roman sources and cults as her youthful consort, and as a Phrygian deity. In Phrygia, "Attis" was both a commonplace and priestly name, found alike in casual graffiti, the dedications of personal monuments and several of Cybele's Phrygian shrines and monuments. His divinity may therefore have begun as a Greek invention based on what was known of Cybele's Phrygian cult. His earliest certain image as deity appears on a 4th-century BC Greek stele from Piraeus, near Athens. It shows him as the Hellenised stereotype of a rustic, eastern barbarian; he sits at ease, sporting the Phrygian cap and shepherd's crook of his later Greek and Roman cults. Before him stands a Phrygian goddess (identified by the inscription as Agdistis) who carries a tympanon in her left hand. With her right, she hands him a jug, as if to welcome him into her cult with a share of her own libation. Later images of Attis show him as a shepherd, in similar relaxed attitudes, holding or playing the syrinx (panpipes). In Demosthenes' On the Crown (330 BC), attes is "a ritual cry shouted by followers of mystic rites".
Attis seems to have accompanied the diffusion of Cybele's cult through Magna Graecia; there is evidence of their joint cult at the Greek colonies of Marseilles (Gaul) and Lokroi (southern Italy) from the 6th and 7th centuries BC. After Alexander the Great's conquests, "wandering devotees of the goddess became an increasingly common presence in Greek literature and social life; depictions of Attis have been found at numerous Greek sites". When shown with Cybele, he is always the younger, lesser deity, or perhaps her priestly attendant; the difference is one of relative degree, rather than essence, as priests were sacred in their own right and were closely identified with their gods. In the mid 2nd century, letters from the king of Pergamum to Cybele's shrine at Pessinos consistently address its chief priest as "Attis".
Romans knew Cybele as Magna Mater ("Great Mother"), or as Magna Mater deorum Idaea ("great Idaean mother of the gods"), equivalent to the Greek title Meter Theon Idaia ("Mother of the Gods, from Mount Ida"). Rome officially adopted her cult during the Second Punic War (218 to 201 BC), after dire prodigies, including a meteor shower, a failed harvest and famine, seemed to warn of Rome's imminent defeat. The Roman Senate and its religious advisers consulted the Sibylline oracle and decided that Carthage might be defeated if Rome imported the Magna Mater ("Great Mother") of Phrygian Pessinos. As this cult object belonged to a Roman ally, the Kingdom of Pergamum, the Roman Senate sent ambassadors to seek the king's consent; en route, a consultation with the Greek oracle at Delphi confirmed that the goddess should be brought to Rome. The goddess arrived in Rome in the form of Pessinos' black meteoric stone. Roman legend connects this voyage, or its end, to the matron Claudia Quinta, who was accused of inchastity but proved her innocence with a miraculous feat on behalf of the goddess. Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica, supposedly the "best man" in Rome, was chosen to meet the goddess at Ostia; and Rome's most virtuous matrons (including Claudia Quinta) conducted her to the temple of Victoria, to await the completion of her temple on the Palatine Hill. Pessinos' stone was later used as the face of the goddess' statue. In due course, the famine ended and Hannibal was defeated.
Most modern scholarship agrees that Cybele's consort (Attis) and her eunuch Phrygian priests (Galli) would have arrived with the goddess, along with at least some of the wild, ecstatic features of her Greek and Phrygian cults. The histories of her arrival deal with the piety, purity and status of the Romans involved, the success of their religious stratagem, and power of the goddess herself; she has no consort or priesthood, and seems fully Romanised from the first. Some modern scholars assume that Attis must have followed much later; or that the Galli, described in later sources as shockingly effeminate and flamboyantly "unRoman", must have been an unexpected consequence of bringing the goddess in blind obedience to the Sibyl; a case of "biting off more than one can chew". Others note that Rome was well versed in the adoption (or sometimes, the "calling forth", or seizure) of foreign deities, and the diplomats who negotiated Cybele's move to Rome would have been well-educated, and well-informed. Romans believed that Cybele, considered a Phrygian outsider even within her Greek cults, was the mother-goddess of ancient Troy (Ilium). Some of Rome's leading patrician families claimed Trojan ancestry; so the "return" of the Mother of all Gods to her once-exiled people would have been particularly welcome, even if her spouse and priesthood were not; its accomplishment would have reflected well on the principals involved and, in turn, on their descendants. The upper classes who sponsored the Magna Mater's festivals delegated their organisation to the plebeian aediles, and honoured her and each other with lavish, private festival banquets from which her Galli would have been conspicuously absent. The goddess herself was contained within her Palatine precinct, along with her priesthood, at the geographical heart of Rome's most ancient religious traditions. She was promoted as patrician property; a Roman matron – albeit a strange one, "with a stone for a face" – who acted for the clear benefit of the Roman state.
Augustan ideology identified Magna Mater with Imperial order and Rome's religious authority throughout the empire. Augustus claimed a Trojan ancestry through his adoption by Julius Caesar and the divine favour of Venus; in the iconography of Imperial cult, the empress Livia was Magna Mater's earthly equivalent, Rome's protector and symbolic "Great Mother"; the goddess is portrayed with Livia's face on cameos and statuary. By this time, Rome had absorbed the goddess's Greek and Phrygian homelands, and the Roman version of Cybele as Imperial Rome's protector was introduced there.
Imperial Magna Mater protected the empire's cities and agriculture — Ovid "stresses the barrenness of the earth before the Mother's arrival. Virgil's Aeneid (written between 29 and 19 BC) embellishes her "Trojan" features; she is Berecyntian Cybele, mother of Jupiter himself, and protector of the Trojan prince Aeneas in his flight from the destruction of Troy. She gives the Trojans her sacred tree for shipbuilding, and begs Jupiter to make the ships indestructible. These ships become the means of escape for Aeneas and his men, guided towards Italy and a destiny as ancestors of the Roman people by Venus Genetrix. Once arrived in Italy, these ships have served their purpose and are transformed into sea nymphs.
Stories of Magna Mater's arrival were used to promote the fame of its principals, and thus their descendants. Claudia Quinta's role as Rome's castissima femina (purest or most virtuous woman) became "increasingly glorified and fantastic"; she was shown in the costume of a Vestal Virgin, and Augustan ideology represented her as the ideal of virtuous Roman womanhood. The emperor Claudius claimed her among his ancestors. Claudius promoted Attis to the Roman pantheon and placed his cult under the supervision of the quindecimviri (one of Rome's priestly colleges).
The Megalesia festival to Magna Mater commenced on April 4, the anniversary of her arrival in Rome. The festival structure is unclear, but it included ludi scaenici (plays and other entertainments based on religious themes), probably performed on the deeply stepped approach to her temple; some of the plays were commissioned from well-known playwrights. On April 10, her image was taken in public procession to the Circus Maximus, and chariot races were held there in her honour; a statue of Magna Mater was permanently sited on the racetrack's dividing barrier, showing the goddess seated on a lion's back.
Roman bystanders seem to have perceived Megalesia as either characteristically "Greek"; or Phrygian. At the cusp of Rome's transition to Empire, the Greek Dionysius of Halicarnassus describes this procession as wild Phrygian "mummery" and "fabulous clap-trap", in contrast to the Megalesian sacrifices and games, carried out in what he admires as a dignified "traditional Roman" manner; Dionysius also applauds the wisdom of Roman religious law, which forbids the participation of any Roman citizen in the procession, and in the goddess's mysteries; Slaves are forbidden to witness any of this. In the late republican era, Lucretius vividly describes the procession's armed "war dancers" in their three-plumed helmets, clashing their shields together, bronze on bronze, "delighted by blood"; yellow-robed, long-haired, perfumed Galli waving their knives, wild music of thrumming tympanons and shrill flutes. Along the route, rose petals are scattered, and clouds of incense arise. The goddess's image, wearing the Mural Crown and seated within a sculpted, lion-drawn chariot, is carried high on a bier. The Roman display of Cybele's Megalesia procession as an exotic, privileged public pageant offers signal contrast to what is known of the private, socially inclusive Phrygian-Greek mysteries on which it was based.
The Principate brought the development of an extended festival or "holy week" for Cybele and Attis in March (Latin Martius), from the Ides to nearly the end of the month. Citizens and freedmen were allowed limited forms of participation in rites pertaining to Attis, through their membership of two colleges, each dedicated to a specific task; the Cannophores ("reed bearers") and the "Dendrophores ("tree bearers").
Scholars are divided as to whether the entire series was more or less put into place under Claudius, or whether the festival grew over time. The Phrygian character of the cult would have appealed to the Julio-Claudians as an expression of their claim to Trojan ancestry. It may be that Claudius established observances mourning the death of Attis, before he had acquired his full significance as a resurrected god of rebirth, expressed by rejoicing at the later Canna intrat and by the Hilaria. The full sequence at any rate is thought to have been official in the time of Antoninus Pius (reigned 138–161), but among extant fasti appears only in the Calendar of Philocalus (354 AD).
Significant anniversaries, stations and participants in the goddess' 204 arrival – including her ship, which would have been thought a sacred object – may have been marked from the beginning by minor, local or private rites and festivals at Ostia, Rome, and Victoria's temple. Cults to Claudia Quinta are likely, particularly in the Imperial era. Rome seems to have introduced evergreen cones (pine or fir) to Cybele's iconography, based at least partly on Rome's "Trojan ancestor" myth, in which the goddess gave Aeneas her sacred tree for shipbuilding. The evergreen cones probably symbolised Attis' death and rebirth. Despite the archaeological evidence of early cult to Attis at Cybele's Palatine precinct, no surviving Roman literary or epigraphic source mentions him until Catullus, whose poem 63 places him squarely within Magna Mater's mythology, as the hapless leader and prototype of her Galli.
Rome's strictures against castration and citizen participation in Magna Mater's cult limited both the number and kind of her initiates. From the 160's AD, citizens who sought initiation to her mysteries could offer either of two forms of bloody animal sacrifice – and sometimes both – as lawful substitutes for self-castration. The Taurobolium sacrificed a bull, the most potent and costly victim in Roman religion; the Criobolium used a lesser victim, usually a ram. A late, melodramatic and antagonistic account by the Christian apologist Prudentius has a priest stand in a pit beneath a slatted wooden floor; his assistants or junior priests dispatch a bull, using a sacred spear. The priest emerges from the pit, drenched with the bull's blood, to the applause of the gathered spectators. This description of a Taurobolium as blood-bath is, if accurate, an exception to usual Roman sacrificial practice; it may have been no more than a bull sacrifice in which the blood was carefully collected and offered to the deity, along with its organs of generation, the testicles.
The Taurobolium and Criobolium are not tied to any particular date or festival, but probably draw on the same theological principles as the life, death and rebirth cycle of the March "holy week". The celebrant personally and symbolically took the place of Attis, and like him was cleansed, renewed or, in emerging from the pit or tomb, "reborn". These regenerative effects were thought to fade over time, but they could be renewed by further sacrifice. Some dedications transfer the regenerative power of the sacrifice to non-participants, including emperors, the Imperial family and the Roman state; some mark a dies natalis (birthday or anniversary) for the participant or recipient. Dedicants and participants could be male or female.
The sheer expense of the Taurobolium ensured that its initiates were from Rome's highest class, and even the lesser offering of a Criobolium would have been beyond the means of the poor. Among the Roman masses, there is evidence of private devotion to Attis, but virtually none for initiations to Magna Mater's cult. In the religious revivalism of the later Imperial era, Magna Mater's notable initiates included the deeply religious, wealthy and erudite praetorian prefect Praetextatus; the quindecimvir Volusianus, who was twice consul; and possibly the Emperor Julian. Taurobolium dedications to Magna Mater tend to be more common in the Empire's western provinces than elsewhere, attested by inscriptions in (among others) Rome and Ostia in Italy, Lugdunum in Gaul, and Carthage, in Africa.
"Attis" may have been a name or title of Cybele's priests or priest-kings in ancient Phrygia. Most myths of the deified Attis present him as founder of Cybele's Galli priesthood but in Servius' account, written during the Roman Imperial era, Attis castrates a king to escape his unwanted sexual attentions, and is castrated in turn by the dying king. Cybele's priests find Attis at the base of a pine tree; he dies and they bury him, emasculate themselves in his memory, and celebrate him in their rites to the goddess. This account might attempt to explain the nature, origin and structure of Pessinus' theocracy. A Hellenistic poet refers to Cybele's priests in the feminine, as Gallai. The Roman poet Catullus refers to Attis in the masculine until his emasculation, and in the feminine thereafter. Various Roman sources refer to the Galli as a middle or third gender (medium genus or tertium sexus). The Galli's voluntary emasculation in service of the goddess was thought to give them powers of prophecy.
Pessinus, site of the temple whence the Magna Mater was brought to Rome, was a theocracy whose leading Galli may have been appointed via some form of adoption, to ensure "dynastic" succession. The highest ranking Gallus was known as "Attis", and his junior as "Battakes". The Galli of Pessinus were politically influential; in 189 BC, they predicted or prayed for Roman victory in Rome's imminent war against the Galatians. The following year, perhaps in response to this gesture of goodwill, the Roman senate formally recognised Illium as the ancestral home of the Roman people, granting it extra territory and tax immunity. In 103, a Battakes traveled to Rome and addressed its senate, either for the redress of impieties committed at his shrine, or to predict yet another Roman military success. He would have cut a remarkable figure, with "colourful attire and headdress, like a crown, with regal associations unwelcome to the Romans". Yet the senate supported him; and when a plebeian tribune who had violently opposed his right to address the senate died of a fever (or, in the alternative scenario, when the prophesied Roman victory came) Magna Mater's power seemed proven.
In Rome, the Galli and their cult fell under the supreme authority of the pontifices, who were usually drawn from Rome's highest ranking, wealthiest citizens. The Galli themselves, though imported to serve the day-to-day workings of their goddess's cult on Rome's behalf, represented an inversion of Roman priestly traditions in which senior priests were citizens, expected to raise families, and personally responsible for the running costs of their temples, assistants, cults and festivals. As eunuchs, incapable of reproduction, the Galli were forbidden Roman citizenship and rights of inheritance; like their eastern counterparts, they were technically mendicants whose living depended on the pious generosity of others. For a few days of the year, during the Megalesia, Cybele's laws allowed them to leave their quarters, located within the goddess' temple complex, and roam the streets to beg for money. They were outsiders, marked out as Galli by their regalia, and their notoriously effeminate dress and demeanour, but as priests of a state cult, they were sacred and inviolate. From the start, they were objects of Roman fascination, scorn and religious awe. No Roman, not even a slave, could castrate himself "in honour of the Goddess" without penalty; in 101 BC, a slave who had done so was exiled. Augustus selected priests from among his own freedmen to supervise Magna Mater's cult, and brought it under Imperial control. Claudius introduced the senior priestly office of Archigallus, who was not a eunuch and held full Roman citizenship.
The religiously lawful circumstances for a Gallus's self-castration remain unclear; some may have performed the operation on the Dies Sanguinis ("Day of Blood") in Cybele and Attis' March festival. Pliny describes the procedure as relatively safe, but it is not known at what stage in their career the Galli performed it, or exactly what was removed, or even if all Galli performed it. Some Galli devoted themselves to their goddess for most of their lives, maintained relationships with relatives and partners throughout, and eventually retired from service. Galli remained a presence in Roman cities well into the Empire's Christian era. Some decades after Christianity became the sole Imperial religion, St Augustine saw Galli "parading though the squares and streets of Carthage, with oiled hair and powdered faces, languid limbs and feminine gait, demanding even from the tradespeople the means of continuing to live in disgrace".
Magna Mater's temple stood high on the slope of the Palatine, overlooking the valley of the Circus Maximus and facing the temple of Ceres on the slopes of the Aventine. It was accessible via a long upward flight of steps from a flattened area or proscenium below, where the goddess's festival games and plays were staged. At the top of the steps was a statue of the enthroned goddess, wearing a mural crown and attended by lions. Her altar stood at the base of the steps, at the proscenium's edge. The first temple was damaged by fire in 111 BC, and was repaired or rebuilt. It burnt down in the early Imperial era, and was restored by Augustus; it burned down again soon after, and Augustus rebuilt it in more sumptuous style; the Ara Pietatis relief shows its pediment. The goddess is represented by her empty throne and crown, flanked by two figures of Attis reclining on tympanons; and by two lions who eat from bowls, as if tamed by her unseen presence. The scene probably represents a sellisternium, a form of banquet usually reserved for goddesses, in accordance with "Greek rite" as practiced in Rome. This feast was probably held within the building, with attendance reserved for the aristocratic sponsors of the goddesses rites; the flesh of her sacrificial animal provided their meat.
From at least 139 AD, Rome's port at Ostia, the site of the goddess's arrival, had a fully developed sanctuary to Magna Mater and Attis, served by a local Archigallus and college of dendrophores (the ritual tree-bearers of "Holy Week").
Ground preparations for the building of St Peters' basilica on the Vatican Hill uncovered a shrine, known as the Phrygianum, with some 24 dedications to Magna Mater and Attis. Many are now lost, but most that survive were dedicated by high-status Romans after a taurobolium sacrifice to Magna Mater. None of these dedicants were priests of the Magna Mater or Attis, and several held priesthoods of one or more different cults.
Near Setif (Mauretania), the dendrophores and the faithful (religiosi) restored their temple of Cybele and Attis after a disastrous fire in 288 AD. Lavish new fittings paid for by the private group included the silver statue of Cybele and her processional chariot; the latter received a new canopy with tassels in the form of fir cones. Cybele drew ire from Christians throughout the Empire; when St. Theodore of Amasea was granted time to recant his beliefs, he spent it by burning a temple of Cybele instead.
Cybele's major myths deal with her own origins, and her relationship with Attis. The most complex, vividly detailed and lurid accounts of this myth were produced as anti-pagan polemic in the late 4th century, by the Christian apologist Arnobius.
For Lucretius, Magna Mater "symbolised the world order". Her image held aloft signifies the Earth, which "hangs in the air". She is the mother of all, and the yoked lions that draw her chariot show the offspring's duty of obedience to the parent. She herself is uncreated, and thus essentially separate from and independent of her creations.
In the early Imperial era, the Roman poet Manilius inserts Cybele as the thirteenth deity of an otherwise symmetrical, classic Greco-Roman zodiac, in which each of twelve zodiacal houses (represented by particular constellations) is ruled by one of twelve deities, known in Greece as the Twelve Olympians and in Rome as the Di Consentes. Manilius has Cybele and Jupiter as co-rulers of Leo (the Lion), in astrological opposition to Juno, who rules Aquarius. Modern scholarship remarks that as Cybele's Leo rises above the horizon, Taurus (the Bull) sets; the lion thus dominates the bull. Some of the possible Greek models for Cybele's Megalensia festival include representations of lions attacking and dominating bulls. The festival date coincided, more or less, with events of the Roman agricultural calendar (around April 12) when farmers were advised to dig their vineyards, break up the soil, sow millet "and – curiously apposite, given the nature of the Mother's priests – castrate cattle and other animals."
Cybele ( SIB-ə-lee minor planet designation: 65 Cybele) is one of the largest asteroids in the Solar System and is located in the outer asteroid belt. It gives its name to the Cybele group of asteroids that orbit outward from the Sun from the 2:1 orbital resonance with Jupiter. The X-type asteroid has a relatively short rotation period of 6.0814 hours. It was discovered by Wilhelm Tempel in 1861, and named after Cybele, the earth goddess.Agdistis
Agdistis (Ancient Greek: Ἄγδιστις) was a deity of Greek, Roman and Anatolian mythology, possessing both male and female sexual organs. She is closely associated with the Phrygian goddess Cybele. Her androgyny was seen as symbolic of a wild and uncontrollable nature. It was this trait which was threatening to the gods and ultimately led to her destruction.Aion (deity)
Aion (Greek: Αἰών) is a Hellenistic deity associated with time, the orb or circle encompassing the universe, and the zodiac. The "time" represented by Aion is unbounded, in contrast to Chronos as empirical time divided into past, present, and future. He is thus a god of the ages, associated with mystery religions concerned with the afterlife, such as the mysteries of Cybele, Dionysus, Orpheus, and Mithras. In Latin the concept of the deity may appear as Aevum or Saeculum. He is typically in the company of an earth or mother goddess such as Tellus or Cybele, as on the Parabiago plate.Alke
In Greek mythology, the name Alke (Ancient Greek: Ἁλκή means "prowess, courage"), also transliterated as Alce, may refer to:
Alke, the spirit and personification of the abstract concept of courage and battle-strength. In the Iliad, she was depicted on Athena's aegis alongside Ioke, Eris and Phobos.
Alke, daughter of Cybele and Olympus. She was given a second name, Cybele, after her mother.
Alke, an Amazon.
Alke, one of Actaeon's dogs.Alma mater
Alma mater (Latin: alma mater, lit. 'nourishing mother'; pl. [rarely used] almae matres) is an allegorical Latin phrase for a university, school, or college that one formerly attended. The phrase is variously translated as "nourishing mother", "nursing mother", or "fostering mother", suggesting that a school provides intellectual nourishment to its students. Fine arts will often depict educational institutions using a robed woman as a visual metaphor.
Before its current usage, alma mater was an honorific title for various Latin mother goddesses, especially Ceres or Cybele, and later in Catholicism for the Virgin Mary. It entered academic usage when the University of Bologna adopted the motto Alma Mater Studiorum ("nurturing mother of studies"), which describes its heritage as the oldest operating university in the Western world. It is related to alumnus, a term used for a university graduate that literally means a "nursling" or "one who is nourished".The term is primarily used by American universities and colleges, and the term is relatively un-used in British, Australian and New Zealand universities.Attis
Attis (; Greek: Ἄττις, also Ἄτυς, Ἄττυς, Ἄττης) was the consort of Cybele in Phrygian and Greek mythology. His priests were eunuchs, the Galli, as explained by origin myths pertaining to Attis and castration. Attis was also a Phrygian god of vegetation. In his self-mutilation, death and resurrection he represents the fruits of the earth which die in winter only to rise again in the spring.The 19th-century identification with the name Atys encountered in Herodotus (i.34–45) as the historical name of the son of Croesus ("Atys the sun god, slain by the boar's tusk of winter") is mistaken.Cybele-class mine destructor vessel
The Cybele class was a class of trimaran ships, constructed by the Royal Navy during World War II for the purpose of clearing minefields. Referred to as Mine Destructor Vessels, two ships of the class, HMS Cybele and HMS Cyrus were built in 1944; one was lost following D-Day, while the other survived the war only to be scrapped shortly thereafter.Cybele (sculpture)
Cybele is an outdoor bronze sculpture by French artist Auguste Rodin, installed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, in the U.S. state of Texas.Cybele asteroid
Cybele asteroids (also known as the "Cybeles") are a dynamical group of asteroids, named after the asteroid 65 Cybele. Considered by some as the last outpost of an extended asteroid belt, the group consists of nearly 2000 members and a few collisional families. The Cybeles are in a 7:4 orbital resonance with Jupiter. Their orbit is defined by an osculating semi-major axis of 3.28 to 3.70 AU, with an eccentricity of less than 0.3, and an inclination less than 25°.The dynamical Cybele group is located adjacent to the outermost asteroid belt, beyond the Hecuba gap – the 2:1 resonant zone with Jupiter, where the Griqua asteroids are located – and inside the orbital region of the Hilda asteroids (3:2 resonance), which are themselves followed by the Jupiter trojans (1:1 resonance) further out.Dactyl (mythology)
In Greek mythology, the Dactyls (; from Ancient Greek: Δάκτυλοι Dáktuloi "fingers") were the archaic mythical race of male beings associated with the Great Mother, whether as Cybele or Rhea. Their numbers vary, but often they were ten spirit-men so like the three Korybantes, the Cabeiri or the Korybantes that they were often interchangeable. The Dactyls were both ancient smiths and healing magicians. In some myths, they are in Hephaestus' employ, and they taught metalworking, mathematics, and the alphabet to humans.
When Ankhiale knew her time of delivery was come, she went to Psychro Cave on Mount Ida. As she squatted in labor she dug her fingers into the earth (Gaia), which brought forth these daktyloi Idaioi (Δάκτυλοι Ἰδαῖοι "Idaean fingers"), thus often ten in number, or sometimes multiplied into a race of ten tens. Three is just as often given as their number. They are sometimes instead numbered as thirty-three.
When Greeks offered a most solemn oath, often they would press their hands against the earth as they uttered it.Galli
A Gallus (pl. Galli) was a eunuch priest of the Phrygian goddess Cybele and her consort Attis, whose worship was incorporated into the state religious practices of ancient Rome.Korybantes
According to the Greek mythology, the Korybantes (; Greek: Κορύβαντες) were the armed and crested dancers who worshipped the Phrygian goddess Cybele with drumming and dancing. They are also called the Kurbantes in Phrygia. The conventional English equivalent is "Corybants".List of Eternals
The Eternals are a fictional race of cosmic beings appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The following is a list of known Eternals in the Marvel Universe.Ma (goddess)
Ma was a local goddess at Comana in Cappadocia. Her name Ma means "Mother", and she also had the epithets "Invincible" and "Bringer of Victory".Mount Ida
In Greek mythology, two sacred mountains are called Mount Ida, the "Mountain of the Goddess": Mount Ida in Crete; and Mount Ida in the ancient Troad region of western Anatolia (in modern-day Turkey) which was also known as the Phrygian Ida in classical antiquity and is the mountain that is mentioned in the Iliad of Homer and the Aeneid of Virgil. Both are associated with the mother goddess in the deepest layers of pre-Greek myth, in that Mount Ida in Anatolia was sacred to Cybele, who is sometimes called Mater Idaea ("Idaean Mother"), while Rhea, often identified with Cybele, put the infant Zeus to nurse with Amaltheia at Mount Ida in Crete. Thereafter, his birthplace was sacred to Zeus, the king and father of Greek gods and goddesses.Nana (Greek mythology)
In Greek mythology, Nana (Greek: Νάνα) was a daughter of the Phrygian river-god Sangarius, identified with the river Sakarya located in present-day Turkey.
She became pregnant when an almond from an almond tree fell on her lap. The almond tree had sprung from the spot where the hermaphroditic Agdistis was castrated, becoming Cybele, the Mother of the Gods.
Nana abandoned the baby boy, who was tended by a he-goat. The baby, Attis, grew up to become Cybele's consort and lover.Rhea (mythology)
Rhea (; Ancient Greek: Ῥέα [r̥é.aː]) is a character in Greek mythology, the Titaness daughter of the earth goddess Gaia and the sky god Uranus as well as sister and wife to Cronus. In early traditions, she is known as "the mother of gods" and therefore is strongly associated with Gaia and Cybele, who have similar functions. The classical Greeks saw her as the mother of the Olympian gods and goddesses, but not as an Olympian goddess in her own right. The Romans identified her with Magna Mater (their form of Cybele), and the Goddess Ops.Sundays and Cybele
Sundays and Cybele is a 1962 French film directed by Serge Bourguignon. Its original French title is Les dimanches de Ville d'Avray (Sundays in Ville d'Avray), referring to the Ville-d'Avray suburb of Paris. The film tells the tragic story of a young girl who is befriended by an innocent but emotionally disabled veteran of the French Indochina War. The film is based on a novel by Bernard Eschasseriaux, who collaborated on the screenplay.Tympanum (hand drum)
In ancient Greece and Rome, the tympanum or tympanon (Ancient Greek: τύμπανον), was a type of frame drum or tambourine. It was circular, shallow, and beaten with the palm of the hand or a stick. Some representations show decorations or zill-like objects around the rim. The instrument was played by worshippers in the rites of Dionysus, Cybele, and Sabazius.The instrument came to Rome from Greece and the Near East, probably in association with the cult of Cybele. The first depiction in Greek art appears in the 8th century BC, on a bronze votive disc found in a cave on Crete that was a cult site for Zeus.