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KYBELE CULT
 
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Κυβηλη Kybêlê Cybele Cybele
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KYBELE was the great Phrygian mother of the gods, a goddess of fertility, motherhood and the mountain wilds. Her orgiastic cult dominated the central and north-western districts of Asia Minor, and was introduced into Greece via the island of Samothrake and the Boiotian town of Thebes.

Kybele was closely associated with a number of Greek goddesses, firstly Rhea, the Greek mother of the gods (Meter Theon), but sometimes also Demeter (especially in the Samothrakian cult), Aphrodite (on Mt Ida) and Artemis (in Karia).

Kybele was portrayed in classical sculpture as a matronly woman with a turret-crown, enthroned and flanked by lions.


S16.1 METER THEON
S16.2 METER THEON
   

ORGIA OF THE METER THEON

The Orgia (Orgiastic festivals) of the Meter Theon were introduced into Greece from Phrygia via the island of Samothrake. They were closely related to those of Dionysos, whose Phrygian form, Sabazios, was named as a son of the goddess.

The Phrygian Orgia were overseen by eunuch priests called Gallai, who led devotees in nocturnal mountain rites involving much drinking, and frantic dancing accompanied by the music of rattles, kettledrums, flutes and castenets and the ritual cry 'evoe saboe,' 'hyes attes, attes hyes'. Young men armed with shield and sword also performed the high-footed, shield-clashing Korybantic dance (which Greek legend described as the dance of the Kourete-protectors of the infant Zeus). The rites also involved ritual mutulation, ranging from flaggelation to the act of self-castration performed by the Gallai priests.

The Orgia of the Meter Theon were introduced into Greece and Rome in a toned down form to accomodate local sensibilities.

Homeric Hymn 14 to the Mother of the Gods (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
"[The Meter Theon] is well-pleased with the sound of rattles and of timbrels, with the voice of flutes and the outcry of wolves and bright-eyes lions, with echoing hills and wooded coombes."

Pindar, Dithyrambs Heracles the Bold (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"In the adorable presence of the mighty Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods), the prelude is the whirling of timbrels; there is also the ringing of rattles, and the torch that blazeth beneath the glowing pine-trees
There, too, are the loudly sounding laments of the Naides, and there the frenzied shouts of dancers are aroused, with the thong that tosseth the neck on high."

Stesichorus, Fragment 59 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric III) (C7th to 6th B.C.) :
"An ox-eating lion came to the cave-mouth; with the flat of his hand he struck the great timbrel he was carrying, and the whole cave rang with the din: the forest beast could not abide the holy booming of Kybele and raced quickly up the forested mountain, afraid of the goddess' half-woman servant [i.e. a eunuch priest]--who hung up [as a dedication] for Rheia these garments and yellow locks.

Telestes, Frag 810 (from Athenaeus, Scholars at Dinner) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric V) (C5th B.C.) :
"The first to sing to the pipes the Phrygian tune of the Mater Oreias (Mountain Mother) beside the mixing-bowls of the Greeks were the companions of Pelops."
[N.B. Pelops was a mythological Lydian prince who won the throne of Elis and the Peloponnese.]

Greek Lyric V Anonymous, Fragments 1030 (from Hephaestion, Handbook on Metres) (trans. Campbell) (Greek lyric B.C.) :
"Gallai [eunuch priests] of the Meter Oreias (Mountain Mother), thyrsos-loving, racing, by whom instruments and bronze cymbals are clashed."

Aristophanes, Birds 737 ff (trans. O'Neill) (Greek comedy C5th to 4th B.C.) :
"The mighty choirs who extol Kybele on the mountain tops."

Plato, Euthydemus 277 (trans. Lamb) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
"Like the celebrants of the Korybantic rites, when they perform the enthronement of the person whom they are about to initiate. There, as you know, if you have been through it, they have dancing and merrymaking."

"Sokrates: The Korybantian revellers [of the Meter Theon] when they dance are not in their right mind ... by divine inspiration and by possession; just as the Korybantian revellers too have a quick perception of that strain only which is appropriated to the god by whom they are possessed, and have plenty of dances and words for that, but take no heed of any other." - Plato, Ion

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 33 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"He [the young god Dionysos] went to Kybela in Phrygia. There he was purified by Rhea and taught the mystic rites of initiation, after which he received from her his gear and set out eagerly through Thrake [where he introduced the orgiastic cult]."

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1. 1076 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"[The Argonauts celebrate the orgies of the Meter Theon on Mt Didymnos near Kyzikos in Mysia :] Standing in the woods, there was an ancient vine with a massive trunk withered to the roots. They cut this down to make a sacred image of the Mountain Goddess; and when Argos had skilfully shaped it, they set it up on a rocky eminence under the shelter some tall oaks, the highest trees that grow, and made an altar of small stones near by. Then, crowned with oak-leaved, they began the sacrificial rites, invoking the Meter Dindymene (Mother of Mt Dindymos), most worshipful, who dwells in Phrygia; and with her, Titias and Kyllenos. For these two are singled out as dispensers of doom and assessors to the Meter Idaia (Mother of Mt Ida) . . .
Jason, pouring libations on the blazing sacrifice, earnestly besought the goddess to send the stormy winds elsewhere. At the same time, by command of Orpheus, the younger men in full armour moved round in a high-stepping dance, beating their shields with their swords to drown the ill-omened cries that came up from the city, where the people were still wailing for their king [i.e. Kyzikos, king of the Doliones, who was accidentally killed by the Argonauts]. This is why the Phrygians to this day propitiate Rhea with the tambourine and drum. The goddess they invoked observed the flawless sacrifice with pleasure."

Callimachus, Iambi Fragment 193 (trans. Trypanis) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Tossing my hair to honour Kybele to the sound of the Phrygian flute or in trailing robe, alas! To mourn Adonis [i.e. Attis], the slave of the goddess."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 49. 1 - 6 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"The wedding of Kadmos and Harmonia was the first, we are told, for which the gods provided the marriage-feast, and Demeter, becoming enamoured of Iasion, presented him with the fruit of the corn . . . [and] Elektra [queen of Samothrake, presented as a wedding gift] the sacred rites of the Megale Meter Theon (Great Mother of the Gods), as she is called, together with cymbals and kettledrums and the instruments of the ritual . . .
After this Kadmos, they say, in accordance with the oracle he had received, founded Thebes in Boiotia, while Iasion married Kybelê and begat Korybas. And after Iasion had been removed into the circle of the gods, Dardanos and Kybelê and Korybas conveyed to Asia the sacred rites of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) and removed with them to Phrygia.
Thereupon Kybelê, joining herself to the first Olympos, begat Alkê and called the goddess Kybelê after herself; and Korybas gave the name of Korybantes to all who, in celebrating the rites of his mother, acted like men possessed, and married Thebê, the daughter of Kilix.
In like manner he also transferred the flute from Samothrake to Phrygia and to Lyrnessos [in the Troad] the lyre which Hermes gave and which at a later time Akhilleus took for himself when he sacked that city. To Iasion and Demeter, according to the story the myths relate, was born Ploutos or Wealth, but the reference is, as a matter of fact, to the wealth of the corn, which was presented to Iasion because of Demeter’s association with him at the time of the wedding of Harmonia.
Now the details of the initiatory rite are guarded among the matters not to be divulged and are communicated to the initiates alone; but the fame has travelled wide of how these gods appear to mankind and bring unexpected aid to those initiates of their who call upon them in the midst of perils.
The claim is also made that men who have taken part in the mysteries become both more pious and more just and better in every respect than they were before. And this is the reason, we are told, why the most famous both of the ancient heroes and of the demi-gods were eagerly desirous of taking part in the initiatory rite; and in fact Jason and the Dioskouroi, and Herakles and Orpheus as well, after their initiation attained success in all the campaigns they undertook, because these gods appeared to them."

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 7 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Kouretes . . . are called Daimones or ministers of gods by those who have handed down to us the Kretan and the Phrygian traditions, which are interwoven with certain sacred rites, some mystical, the others connected in part with the rearing of the child Zeus in Krete and in part with the Orgia (Orgies) in honor of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) which are celebrated in Phrygia and in the region of the Trojan Ida."

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 9 :
"But the Skepsian [Demetrios of Skepsis, grammarian C2nd B.C.] again states, in opposition to the words of Euripides, that the rites of Rhea were not sanctioned or in vogue in Krete, but only in Phrygia and Troia, and that those who say otherwise are dealing in myths rather than in history, though perhaps the identity of the place-names contributed to their making this mistake. For instance, Ida is not only a Trojan, but also a Kretan, mountain; and Dikte is a place in Skepsia and also a mountain in Krete; and Pytna, after which the city Hierapytna was named, is a peak of Ida. And there is a Hippokorona in the territory of Adramyttion and a Hippokoronion in Krete."

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 12 :
"As for the Berekyntes, a tribe of Phrygians, and the Phrygians in general, and those of the Trojans who live round Ida, they too hold Rhea in honor and worship her with Orgia (Orgies), calling her Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) and Agdistis and Thea Megala Phrygia (Great Goddess of Phrygia), and also, from the places where she is worshipped, Idaia [of Mt Ida in Troia] and Dindymene [of Mt Dindymenos in Phrygia] and Sipylene [of Mt Sipylos in Lydia] and Pessinountis [of Pessinos city in Phrygia] and Kybele and Kybebe [of Mt Kybela in Phrygia]. The Greeks use the same name Kouretes for the ministers of the goddess, not taking the name, however, from the same mythical story, but regarding them as a different set of Kouretes, helpers as it were, analogous to the Satyroi; and the same they also call Korybantes."

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 13 :
"When Pindaros [Greek lyric poet C5th B.C.], in the dithyramb which begins with these words, 1 In earlier times there marched the lay of the dithyrambs long drawn out,' mentions the hymns sung in honor of Dionysos, both the ancient and the later ones, and then, passing on from these, says, `To perform the prelude in thy honor, Megale Meter (Great Mother), the whirling of cymbals is at hand, and among them, also, the clanging of castanets, and the torch that blazeth beneath the tawny pine-trees,' he bears witness to the common relationship between the rites exhibited in the worship of Dionysos among the Greeks and those in the worship of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) among the Phrygians, for he makes these rites closely akin to one another.
And Euripides [Greek tragedian C5th B.C.] does likewise, in his Bakkhai, citing the Lydian usages at the same time with those of Phrygia, because of their similarity : `But ye who left Mt. Tmolos, fortress of Lydia, revel-band of mine [Dionysos], women whom I brought from the land of barbarians as my assistants and travelling companions, uplift the tambourines native to Phrygian cities, inventions of mine and mother Rhea.' And again, `happy he who, blest man, initiated in the mystic rites, is pure in his life ((lacuna)) . . who, preserving the righteous Orgia (Orgies) of the great mother Kybele, and brandishing the thyrsos on high, and wreathed with ivy, doth worship Dionysos. Come, ye Bakkhai, come, ye Bakkhai, bringing down Bromios, god the child of god, out of the Phrygian mountains into the broad highways of Greece.'
And again, in the following verses he connects the Kretan usages also with the Phrygian : `O thou hiding-bower of the Kouretes, and sacred haunts of Krete that gave birth to Zeus, where for me the triple-crested Korybantes in their caverns invented this hide-stretched circlet, and blent its Bakkhic revelry with the high-pitched, sweet-sounding breath of Phrygian flutes, and in Rhea's hands placed its resounding noise, to accompany the shouts of the Bakkhai, and from Meter (Mother) Rhea frenzied Satyroi obtained it and joined it to the choral dances of the Trieterides, in whom Dionysos takes delight.'"

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 15 :
"They [the poets] also invented some of the names by which to designate the ministers, choral dancers, and attendants upon the sacred rites [of Rhea and Dionsysos], I mean Kabeiroi and Korybantes and Panes and Satyroi and Tityroi, and they called the god Bakkhos, and Rhea Kybele or Kybebe or Dindymene according to the places where she was worshipped. Sabazios [i.e. the Phrygian equivalent of Dionysos] also belongs to the Phrygian group and in a way is the child of the Meter (Mother), since he too transmitted the rites of Dionysos."

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 18 :
"The Phrygia [i.e. the rites of Kybele] [are mentioned] by Demosthenes [Athenian statesman C4th B.C.], when he casts the reproach upon Aiskhines' mother and Aiskhines himself that he was with her when she conducted initiations, that he joined her in leading the Dionysiac march, and that many a time he cried out 'evoe saboe,' and 'hyes attes, attes hyes' ; for these words are in the ritual of Sabazios [the Phrygian Dionysos] and the Meter (Mother)."

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 21 :
"The Skepsian [Demetrios grammarian C2nd B.C.] says that it is probable that the Kouretes and the Korybantes were the same, being those who had been accepted as young men, or 'youths,' for the war-dance in connection with the holy rites of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods), and also as korybantes from the fact that they `walked with a butting of their heads' in a dancing way. These are called by the poet betarmones : `Come now, all ye that are the best betarmones of the Phaiakians.' And because the Korybantes are inclined to dancing and to religious frenzy, we say of those who are stirred with frenzy that they are korybantising."

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 22 :
"Some writers say that the name 'Idaian Daktyloi' was given to the first settlers of the lower slopes of Mt. Ida, for the lower slopes of mountains are called 'feet,' and the summits 'heads'; accordingly, the several extremities of Ida (all of which are sacred to the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods)) were called Daktyloi . . . Some call them [the daimones Daktyloi] natives of Ida, others settlers; but all agree that iron was first worked by these on Ida; and all have assumed that they were wizards and attendants of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods), and that they lived in Phrygia about Ida."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 17. 8 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"As to Attis, I could learn no secret about him, but Hermesianax, the elegiac poet [Greek C4th B.C.], says in a poem that he was the son of Kalaus the Phrygian, and that he was a eunuch from birth. The account of Hermesianax goes on to say that, on growing up, Attis migrated to Lydia and celebrated for the Lydians the Orgia (Orgies) of the Meter (Mother); that he rose to such honour with her that Zeus, being wroth at it, sent a boar to destroy the tillage of the Lydians. Then certain Lydians, with Attis himself, were killed by the boar."

Orphic Hymn 14 to Rhea (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"Brass-sounding, honoured, Kronos’ blessed queen, drum-beating, fury-loving, of a splendid mien. Thou joyest in mountains and tumultuous fight, and mankind’s horrid howlings thee delight."

Aelian, Historical Miscellany 9. 8 (trans. Wilson) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"In Korinthos Dionysios [the Younger, deposed tyrant of Syrakousa C4th B.C.,] went through a great variety of experiences in extreme poverty, but ended his days as a mendicant priest of Kybele, playing the drums and accompanied by the aulos."

Ovid, Fasti 4. 181 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[The festival of the Meter Theon in Rome :] April 4 Megalensia Ludi Comitailis . . . Then the Berecyntian flute’s curved horn will blow and the Idaean Mother’s [Rhea’s] feast begin. The eunuchs will parade and pound the hollow drums, and their clashing bronze cymbals will ring. She will ride on the soft necks of her acolytes, howled along the city’s major streets . . . the Great Goddess loves incessant din . . . Her acolytes howl and the maddening flute blows, and dainty hands pound the cowhide drums . . .
`But why do we call the self-castrated Galli, when the Gallic land is far from Phrygia?'`Between,' she says, `green Cybele and high Celaenae [in Phrygia] runs a stream of bad water named Gallus. Its taste causes madness. Keep away, if you want a healthy mind. Its taste causes madness.' `Aren't they ashamed,' I said, `to place a herb salad before the Mistress? Or is there some cause?' `The ancients are said to have dieted on pure milk and on herbs produced by the earth itself, White cheeses,' she says, `are mingled with pounded herbs, so the primal goddess sees primal food.'"

Virgil, Aeneid 3. 111 (trans. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
"The Great Mother, the patron of Cybele, the cymbals of the Corybantes, the grove of Ida, the hush of the faithful which belong to Cybele’s cult."

Propertius, Elegies 3. 17 (trans. Goold) (Roman elegy C1st B.C.) :
"Dircean Thebes will beat the wanton tambourine [in the orgies of Dionysos] . . . nearby, wearing her turreted headdress, the great goddess Cybele will clash her hoarse cymbals to accompany the Idean dance."

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 5. 147 (trans. Rackham) (Roman encyclopedia C1st A.D.) :
"The rivers in it [Phrygia] . . . are the Sangarius and the Gallus; from the latter the priests of the Mother of the Gods [i.e. the Galloi] take their name."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 3. 20 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Dindymus [near Kyzikos in Mysia] where votaries revel with bloodstained arms [i.e. they cut themselves with knives]."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 7. 634 ff :
“The anger of the mournful Matris (Mother) rends every year the frenzied Phyrgians, or as Bellona [i.e. the Phrygian war-goddess Ma] lacerates the long-haired eunuchs."

Statius, Thebaid 10. 170 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"The Idaean Mother [Rhea-Kybele] summons from the terrible shrine the blood-stained Phrygian and makes him unconscious of his knife-hacked arms; he beats the holy pine-brands against his breast, and tosses his gory hair and deadens his wounds by running; all the country-side and the bespattered votary tree [i.e. Kybele’s sacred pine-tree] feels terror, and the panic-stricken lions rear the chariot high."

Statius, Thebaid 12. 224 ff :
"Upon a night in Phrygian Dindymus resounds with wailing, and the crazy leader of the women’s revel speeds to the waters of pine-rearing Simois--she to whom the goddess [Kybele] herself gave the knife, selecting her for bloodshed [i.e. the votaries cut themselves with knives], and marked her with wool-bound wreath [of a priestess]."

Statius, Achilleid 1. 828 ff :
"four times they beat the cymbals of Rhea . . . and complicate their steps, now in such fashion as the Curetes and devout Samothracians use."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 214 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Brassbacked drums, the instruments of Kybelid Rheia."

Suidas s.v. Kybele (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Kybele : Rhea. [So named] from the Kybela mountains; for she is a mountain goddess; that is why she rides in a chariot drawn by a team of lions . . . effeminates [eunuchs] are present in the mysteries of Rhea."


CULT IN ATTIKA (SOUTHERN GREECE)

I) ATHENS Chief City of Attika

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 18 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Just as in all other respects the Athenians continue to be hospitable to things foreign, so also in their worship of the gods; for they welcomed so many of the foreign rites that they were ridiculed therefore by comic writers; and among these were the Thrakian and Phrygian rites. For instance, the Bendideia [i.e. the festival of Thrakian Bendis] are mentioned by Plato, and the Phrygia [Rites of the Meter Phrygia] by Demosthenes, when he casts the reproach upon Aiskhines' mother and Aiskhines himself that he was with her when she conducted initiations, that he joined her in leading the Dionysiac march, and that many a time he cried out 'evoe saboe,' and 'hyes attes, attes hyes' ; for these words are in the ritual of Sabazios and the Meter (Mother)."

Suidas s.v. Barathron (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Barathron (Pit) : A certain well-like and dark chasm in Attika, in which they used to throw evil-doers; in this chasm there were hooks, some on top and some below. There they threw the Phrygian [priest] of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) on the grounds that he had gone mad, when he told them that the mother was coming in search of the maiden. The goddess then was angry and sent a blight of crops to the country; and when they knew the cause [of the blight] through an oracle they covered over the chasm and made the goddess propitious with sacrifices."


CULT IN AKHAIA (SOUTHERN GREECE)

I) PATRAI Chief City of Akhaia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 20. 3 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"On the way to the lower city [of Patrai, Akhaia] there is a sanctuary of the Meter Dindymene (Mother of Mt Dindymenos), and in it Attis too is worshipped. Of him they have no image to show; that of the Meter (Mother) is of stone."

II) DYME Village in Akhaia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 17. 9 :
"They [Dyme, Akhaia] has a sanctuary built for the Meter Dindymene (Mother of Mt Dindymenos) and Attis [her consort]."


CULT IN BOIOTIA (CENTRAL GREECE)

I) THEBES Chief City of Boiotia

The Orgia of the Meter at Thebes were, according to myth, were introduced from the island of Samothrake. See also the Orgia of the Meter (above).

Pindar, Pythian Ode 3. 77 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"But now I wish to voice a prayer to the Meter (Mother), the revered goddess to whom, and to great Pan young maids before my door [in Thebes] at nightfall often sing their praise."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 48. 2 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"[At the wedding of Kadmos, founder of Thebes, and Harmonia :] Elektra [queen of Samothrake, presented them with] the sacred rites of the Megale Meter Theon (Great Mother of the Gods), as she is called, together with cymbals and kettledrums and the instruments of the ritual."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 25. 3 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Crossing the river Dirke [near Thebes] you reach . . . a sanctuary of the Meter Dindymene (Mother of Mt Dindymenos). Pindaros dedicated the image, and Aristomedes and Sokrates, sculptors of Thebes, made it. Their custom is to open the sanctuary on one day in each year, and no more. It was my fortune to arrive on that day, and I saw the image, which, like the throne, is of Pentelic marble."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 25. 5 :
"[In Thebes] you come to a grove of Demeter Kabeiraia [i.e. the Samothrakian goddess, here identified with Demeter] and Kore. The initiated are permitted to enter it. The sanctuary of the Kabeiroi is some seven stades distant from this grove. I must ask the curious to forgive me if I keep silence as to who the Kabeiroi are, and what is the nature of the ritual performed in honour of them and of the Meter (Mother)."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 686 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"A temple stands hidden in shady woods, which once Echion [one of the Spartoi of Thebes] to fulfil a vow had raised to the great Matris Deum (Mother of the Gods) [Rhea] . . . Beside the temple was a dim-lit grotto, a gloomy cavern, roofed with natural rock, an ancient holy shrine, filled by the priest with wooden statues of the gods of old."

Propertius, Elegies 3. 17 (trans. Goold) (Roman elegy C1st B.C.) :
"Dircean Thebes will beat the wanton tambourine [in the orgies of Dionysos] . . . nearby, wearing her turreted headdress, the great goddess Cybele will clash her hoarse cymbals to accompany the Idean dance."


CULT IN THRAKE (NORTH OF GREECE)

I) ENNEA Town in Edonia, Thrake

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E6. 16 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[After the Trojan War] Demophon [the son of Theseus] with a few ships put in to the land of the Thrakian Bisaltians, and there Phyllis, the king's daughter, falling in love with him, was given him in marriage by her father with the kingdom for her dower. Phyllis escorted him [Demophon] as far as the place known as Ennea (the Nine Roads) [a town by the River Strymon in Edonia], where she gave him a cave in which she said there was a sacred object of Meter (Mother) Rhea : he was not to open it unless the time should come when he gave up all hope of returning to her. And Demophon went to Kypros and dwelt there. And when the appointed time was past, Phyllis called down curses on Demophon and killed herself; and Demophon opened the casket, and, being struck with fear, he mounted his horse and galloping wildly met his end; for, the horse stumbling, he was thrown and fell on his sword."


CULT IN SAMOTHRAKE (GREEK AEGEAN)

The Orgiastic Mysteries of Samothrake were closely related to those of the Asian Meter Theon celebrated on Mt Ida in the Troad. The Samothrakian goddess, however, was usually identified with Demeter instead of Rhea. Her consort was a local hero named Iasion (a form of the Phrygian Attis), and the shield-clashing Phrygian Korybantes were replaced by the local Kabeiroi gods.
The relationships of these divinities in the various cults of the Meter are discussed by Strabo (see the Orgia of the Meter above).

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 48. 2 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"[At the wedding of Kadmos and Harmonia :] Elektra [queen of Samothrake, presented them with] the sacred rites of the Megale Meter Theon (Great Mother of the Gods), as she is called, together with cymbals and kettledrums and the instruments of the ritual . . .
Iasion [i.e. the Samothrakian counterpart of Attis] married Kybele and begat Korybas. And after Iasion had been removed into the circle of the gods, Dardanos and Kybele and Korybas conveyed to Asia the sacred rites of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) and removed with them to [Mt Ida in] Phrygia . . . Korybas gave the name of Korybantes to all who, in celebrating the rites of his mother, acted like men possessed."

Statius, Achilleid 1. 828 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
“Four times they beat the cymbals of Rhea . . . and complicate their steps, now in such fashion as the Curetes and devout Samothracians use."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 3. 40 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"The prophetic breezes escorted his [Kadmos’] vessel to the Thrakian coast [of the island of Samothrake], by divine Rheia’s ordinance. The sailors rejoiced to see the sleepless flame of the Samian torch [used in the Samothrakian Mysteries]."

The Samothrakian Orgies were said to have been introduced into Thebes by the mythical hero Kadmos, into the Troad by Dardanos, and to Mount Dindymene in Mysia by the Argonauts. The Asian cults, however, were undoubtably much older than those of Samothrake, despite the locals claims.

For MORE information on the Mysteries of Samothrake see THE KABEIROI and IASION


CULT IN THE TROAD (ASIA MINOR)

See also the Orgia of the Meter (above).

I) MT IDA Mountain in Troad

The most famous of the Orgia of the Meter Theon (after the Phrygia) were held on Mt Ida in the Troad. In Greek Mythology these Idaian rites were established by Troy's first King Dardanos, who introduced them from the island of Samothrake.

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 48. 2 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Iasion [the Samothrakian counterpart of Attis] married Kybele and begat Korybas. And after Iasion had been removed into the circle of the gods, Dardanos and Kybele and Korybas conveyed to Asia the sacred rites of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) and removed with them to [Mt Ida in] Phrygia . . . Korybas gave the name of Korybantes to all who, in celebrating the rites of his mother, acted like men possessed."

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 7 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Orgia (Orgies) in honor of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) are celebrated in Phrygia and in the region of the Trojan Ida."

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 9 :
"But the Skepsian [Demetrios, grammarian C2nd B.C.] again states, in opposition to the words of Euripides, that the rites of Rhea were not sanctioned or in vogue in Krete, but only in Phrygia and Troia [the Troad] . . . Ida is not only a Trojan, but also a Kretan, mountain."

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 22 :
"Ida, which is sacred to the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods)."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 14. 530 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Genetrix Sanctum Deum (holy Mother of the Gods) remembering that on Ida’s peaks those pines were felled, made clashing cymbals fill the air and shrilling fifes."

Ovid, Fasti 4. 181 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Mother always loved Dindymus and Cybele [mountains in Phrygia], Ida’s pleasant springs and Ilium’s realm [Troy] . . . Paean [Apollon] is consulted [by the Romans]. `Fetch the Mother of Gods [bring her cult to Rome],' he says. `She can be found on Ida’s ridge.'"

Virgil, Aeneid 9. 82 ff (trans. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
"In Phrygian Ida . . . Cybele herself, mother of the gods [spake :] `. . . I had a forest of pine trees, cherished for many a year, a plantation high up on the mountain, dusky with glooming spruces and maple wood: men used to bring me offerings there.'"

Seneca, Phaedra 1128 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"The mountain-peaks, lifted to airy heights . . . and the Phrygian grove of mother Cybele, quake beneath the bolt of high-thundering Jove [Zeus]."

Seneca, Troades 70 ff :
"When the Phrygian guest [Paris] touched at Grecian Amyclae, and the waves were cleft by the pine sacred to mother Cybele [i.e. his ship was made of pine cut from Kybele's forests on Mount Ida]."

II) Near LAMPSAKOS Town in the Troad

Strabo, Geography 13. 1. 17 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"As for 'the mountain of Tereia,' some say that it is . . . a hill forty stadia from Lampsakos [in the Troad], on which there is a temple sacred to the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods), entitled Tereia's temple."

III) ANDEIRA Village in the Troad

Strabo, Geography 13. 1. 67 :
"Below Andeira [in the Troas] is a temple sacred to the Meter Theon Andeirene (Mother of the Gods of Andeira), and also a cave that runs underground as far as Palaia. Palaia is a settlement so named, at a distance of one hundred and thirty stadia from Andeira. The underground passage became known through the fact that a goat fell into the mouth of it and was found on the following day near Andeira by a shepherd who happened to have come to make sacrifice."


CULT IN MYSIA & BITHYNIA (ASIA MINOR)

See also the Orgia of the Meter (above).

I) KYZIKOS & MT DINYMENOS Town & Mountain in Mysia

Mount Dindymenos near Kyzikos was named after the famous Phrygian mountain (of the same name), which was the seat of the cult of the cult of Kybele in that country. The cult of the goddess on Kyzikan Dindymenos was said to have been founded by the Argonauts in Greek myth.

Herodotus, Histories 4. 76. 2 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"When Anakharsis was coming back to the Skythian country after having seen much of the world in his travels and given many examples of his wisdom, he sailed through the Hellespontos and put in at Kyzikos; where, finding the Kyzikenes celebrating the feast of the Mother of the Gods with great ceremony, he vowed to this same Meter (Mother) that if he returned to his own country safe and sound he would sacrifice to her as he saw the Kyzikenes doing, and establish a nightly rite of worship. So when he came to Skythia, he hid himself in the country called Woodland (which is beside the Race of Akhilleus, and is all overgrown with every kind of timber); hidden there, Anakharsis celebrated the goddess' ritual with exactness, carrying a small drum and hanging images about himself."

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1. 1076 - 1152 (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"For twelve days after this [i.e. the landing of the Argonauts in Kyzikos] there was foul weather day and night, and the Argonauts were unable to put out. But towards the end of the next night, while Akastos and Mopsos watched over their comrades, who had long been fast asleep, a halcyon hovered over the head of Aison’s son [Jason] an din its piping voice announced the end of the gales. Mopsos heard it and understood the happy omen. So when the sea-bird, still directed by a god, flew off and perched on the mascot of the ship, he went over to Iason, who lay comfortably wrapped in fleeces, woke him quickly with a touch and said : `My lord, you must climb this holy peak to propitiate Rhea, Meter (Mother) of all the happy gods, whose lovely throne is Dindymon itself--and then the gales will cease. I learnt this from a halcyon just now: the sea-bird flew above you as you slept and told me all. Rhea’s dominion covers the winds, the sea, the whole earth, and the gods’ home on snow-capped Olympos. Zeus himself, the son of Kronos, gives place to her when she leaves her mountain haunts and rises into the broad sky. So too do the other blessed ones; all pay the same deference to that dread goddess.'
This was welcome news to Iason [Jason], who leaps up from his bed rejoicing. He hastily woke the rest and told them how Mopsos had interpreted the signs. They set to work at once. The younger men took some oxen from the stalls and began to drive them up the steep path to the top of Dindymon . . .
Standing in the woods, there was an ancient vine with a massive trunk withered to the roots. They cut this down to make a sacred image of the Mountain Goddess; and when Argos had skilfully shaped it, they set it up on a rocky eminence under the shelter some tall oaks, the highest trees that grow, and made an altar of small stones near by. Then, crowned with oak-leaved, they began the sacrificial rites, invoking the Meter Dindymene (Mother of Mt Dindymos), most worshipful, who dwells in Phrygia; and with her, Titias and Kyllenos. For these two are singled out as dispensers of doom and assessors to the Meter Idaia (Mother of Mt Ida) from the many Idaian Daktyloi of Krete. They were borne in the Diktaian cave by the Nymphe Ankhiale as she clutched the earth of Oaxos with both her hands.
Iason, pouring libations on the blazing sacrifice, earnestly besought the goddess to send the stormy winds elsewhere. At the same time, by command of Orpheus, the younger men in full armour moved round in a high-stepping dance, beating their shields with their swords to drown the ill-omened cries that came up from the city, where the people were still wailing for their king [i.e. Kyzikos, king of the Doliones, who was accidentally killed by the Argonauts]. This is why the Phrygians to this day propitiate Rhea with the tambourine and drum.
The goddess they invoked must have observed the flawless sacrifice with pleasure, for her own appropriate signs appeared. The trees shed abundant fruit; the earth at their feet adorned itself with tender grass; beasts left their lairs and thickets and came to them with wagging tails. And these were no her only miracles. Until that day there had been no running water on Dindymon. But now, with no digging on their part, a stream gushed out for them from the thirsty peak. And it did not cease to flow; the natives of the place still drink from it. They call it Iason’s Spring.
As a finish to the rites, they held a feast on Arktonoros (Bear Mountain) in honour of Rhea and sang the praises of the venerable goddess. By dawn the wind had dropped and they rowed off from the peninsular."

Strabo, Geography 12. 8. 11 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Kyzikos [in the land of the Doliones, Mysia] is an island in the Propontis, being connected with the mainland by two bridges . . .  One part of the city is on level ground and the other is near a mountain called Arkton-oros (Bear Mountain). Above this mountain lies another mountain, Dindymos; it rises into a single peak, and it has a temple of the Metros Theon Dindymene (Dindymean Mother of the Gods), which was founded by the Argonauts."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 46. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The people of Kyzikos . . . took away from Prokonnesos an image of the Meter Dindymene (Mother of Mt Dindymenos). The image is of gold, and its face is made of hippopotamus’ teeth instead of ivory."

Propertius, Elegies 3. 22 (trans. Goold) (Roman elegy C1st B.C.) :
"Where lies the isthmus [of Kyzikos in Mysia] which is washed by the waters of Propontis, the statue of Dindymene Cybele wrought upon a sacred vine-stock."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 3. 20 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Cyzicus [a Mysian king] upon his swift horse shook Dindymus [i.e. the cult centre of Kybele] where votaries revel with bloodstained arms [i.e. they cut themselves with knives], and wearied the woods, he was betrayed by his too great love of the chase; for with his javelin he slew a lion that was wont to bear its mistress [Rhea] through the cities of Phrygia and was now returning to the bridle. And now (madman!) hath he hung from his doorposts the mane and the head of his victim, a spoil to bring sorrow to himself and shame upon the goddess. But she, nursing her great rage, beholds from the cymbal-clashing mountain the ship [of the Argonauts] with its border of kingly shields, and devises against the hero deaths and horrors unheard of: how in the night to set allied hands at strife in unnatural war, how to enmesh the city in cruel error [i.e. the Argonauts accidentally killed Kyzikos in a confused night-time battle]."


CULT IN TEUTHRANIA (ASIA MINOR)

I) PERGAMON Chief City of Teuthrania

Strabo, Geography 13. 2. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Aspordenon, the rocky and barren mountain round Pergamon, Asporenon, and the temple of the Meter Theon Asporene (Mother of the Gods at Aspordenon)."


CULT IN LYDIA (ASIA MINOR)

See also the Orgia of the Meter (above).

I) SARDEIS Chief City of Lydia

Herodotus, Histories 5. 102. 1 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"In the fire at Sardeis, a temple of Kybebe, the goddess of that country, was burnt, and the Persians afterwards made this their pretext for burning the temples of Hellas."

Plutarch, Life of Themistocles 31. 1 (trans. Perrin) (Greek historian C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"When he [Themistokles, Athenian statesman C5th B.C.] had come to Sardeis [in Lydia] and was viewing at his leisure the temples built there and the multitude of their dedicatory offerings, and saw in the temple of the Meter (Mother) the so-called [statue of the] Water-carrier,--a maid in bronze, two cubits high, which he himself, when he was water commissioner at Athens."

II) MT SIPYLOS Mountain in Lydia

The most famous of the Lydian Orgia of the Meter Theon were held on Mt Siypylos.

Telestes, Frag 810 (from Athenaeus, Scholars at Dinner) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric V) (C5th B.C.) :
"The first to sing to the pipes the Phrygian tune of the Mater Oreias (Mountain Mother) beside the mixing-bowls of the Greeks were the companions of Pelops."
[N.B. In myth Pelops was a native of Lydian Mount Sipylos who emigrated to the Greek Peloponnese.]

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 12 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Phrygians in general ... hold Rhea [Kybele] in honor and worship her with Orgia (Orgies), calling her Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) ... from the places where she is worshipped ... [including] Sipylene [of Mt Sipylos in Lydia]."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 17. 8 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Hermesianax, the elegiac poet [C4th B.C.], says . . . Attis migrated to Lydia [from Phrygia] and celebrated for the Lydians the Orgia (Orgies) of the Meter (Mother); that he rose to such honour with her that Zeus, being wroth at it, sent a boar to destroy the tillage of the Lydians. Then certain Lydians, with Attis himself, were killed by the boar."

III) MAGNESIA Town in Ionia / Lydia

Strabo, Geography 14. 1. 40 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The first city one comes to after Ephesos is Magnesia, which is an Aiolian city . . . Here was also the temple of Dindymene Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods). According to tradition, the wife of Themistokles [Athenian statesman C5th B.C.], some say his daughter, served as a priestess there. But the temple is not now in existence, because the city has been transferred to another site."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 22. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The Magnesians, who live to the north of Mount Sipylos, have on the rock Koddinos the most ancient of all the images of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods). The Magnesians say that it was made by Broteas the son of [the mythical Lydian king] Tantalos."

Plutarch, Life of Themistocles 30. 1 (trans. Perrin) (Greek historian C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"While Themistokles [Athenian statesman C5th B.C. who was living in exile at the Persian court] was asleep at midday before, it is said that the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) appeared to him in a dream and said : `O Themistokles, shun a head of lions, that thou mayest not encounter a lion. And for this service to thee, I demand of thee Mnesiptolema to be my handmaid.'
Much disturbed, of course, Themistokles, with a prayer of acknowledgment to the goddess, forsook the highway, made a circuit by another route, and passing by that place, at last, as night came on, took up his quarters.
Now, since one of the beasts of burden which carried the equipage of his tent had fallen into the river, the servants of Themistokles hung up the curtains which had got wet, and were drying them out. The Pisidians, at this juncture, sword in hand, made their approach, and since they could not see distinctly by the light of the moon what it was that was being dried, they thought it was the tent of Themistokles, and that they would find him reposing inside. But when they drew near and lifted up the hanging, they were fallen upon by the guards and apprehended. Thus Themistokles escaped the peril, and because he was amazed at the epiphany of the goddess, he built a temple in Magnesia in honor of Dindymene, and made his daughter Mnesiptolema her priestess."


CULT IN KARIA (ASIA MINOR)

I) Near LARISSA Village in Karia

Strabo, Geography 9. 5. 19 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[There is] a village Larisa thirty stadia distant from Tralleis [in Lydia, Asia Minor], above the city, on the road which runs through Mesogis towards the Kaÿster Plain near the temple of the Meter Isodromes (Isodromian Mother), which in its topographical position and its goodly attributes is like Larisa Kremaste, for it has an abundance of water and of vineyards."


CULT IN PHRYGIA (ASIA MINOR)

See also the Orgia of the Meter (above).

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 7 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Orgia (Orgies) in honor of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) are celebrated in Phrygia and in the region of the Trojan Ida."

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 9 :
"But the Skepsian [Demetrios, grammarian C2nd B.C.] again states, in opposition to the words of Euripides, that the rites of Rhea were not sanctioned or in vogue in Krete, but only in Phrygia and Troia."

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 12 :
"As for the Berekyntes, a tribe of Phrygians, and the Phrygians in general, and those of the Trojans who live round Ida, they too hold Rhea in honor and worship her with Orgia (Orgies), calling her Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) and Agdistis and Thea Megala Phrygia (Great Goddess of Phrygia), and also, from the places where she is worshipped, Idaia [of Mt Ida in Troia] and Dindymene [of Mt Dindymenos in Phrygia] and Sipylene [of Mt Sipylos in Lydia] and Pessinountis [of Pessinos city in Phrygia] and Kybele and Kybebe [of Mt Kybela in Phrygia]."

Apuleius, The Golden Ass 11. 5 ff (trans. Walsh) (Roman novel C2nd A.D.) :
"In one place the Phrygians, first-born of men, call me Pessinuntine Mother of the Gods."

I) MT DINDYMENOS & PESSINOS Mountain & City in Phrygia

The most famous of the Orgia of the Meter Theon were those of the Phrygian Mount Dindymenos. Dindymenos was described as the throne and native residence of the goddess.

Herodotus, Histories 1. 80. 1 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"[The river] Hermos flows from the mountain sacred to the Meter Dindymene (Mother of Mt Dindymenos) and empties into the sea near the city of Phokaia."

Strabo, Geography 12. 5. 3 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Pessinos [in Phrygia] is the greatest of the emporiums in that part of the world, containing a temple of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods), which is an object of great veneration. They call her Agdistis. The priests were in ancient times potentates, I might call them, who reaped the fruits of a great priesthood, but at present the prerogatives of these have been much reduced, although the emporium still endures. The sacred precinct has been built up by the Attalic kings in a manner befitting a holy place, with a sanctuary and also with porticos of white marble. The Romans made the temple famous when, in accordance with oracles of the Sibylla, they sent for the statue of the goddess there, just as they did in the case of that of Asklepios at Epidauros. There is also a mountain situated above the city, Dindymon, after which the country Dindymene was named, just as Kybele was named after Kybela. Near by, also, flows the Sangarios River; and on this river are the ancient habitations of the Phrygians, of Midas, and of Gordios."

Ovid, Fasti 4. 181 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Mother always loved Dindymus and Cybele [mountains in Phrygia]."

II) MT KYBELA Mountain in Phrygia

Strabo, Geography 12. 5. 3 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"There is also a mountain [in Phrygia] . . . [the Meter Theon] Kybele was named after, Mt Kybela."

Ovid, Fasti 4. 181 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Mother always loved Dindymus and Cybele [mountains in Phrygia]."

Virgil, Aeneid 3. 111 ff (trans. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
"The Great Mother, the patron of Cybele, the cymbals of the Corybantes."

Suidas s.v. Kybele (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Kybele : Rhea. [So named] from the Kybela mountains; for she is a mountain goddess; that is why she rides in a chariot drawn by a team of lions . . . effeminates are present in the mysteries of Rhea."

III) R PENKELAS River in Phrygia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 32. 3 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The Phrygians on the river Penkelas, and those [Greek settlers] who came to this land originally from the Azanians in Arkadia, show visitors a cave called Steunos, which is round, and handsome in its loftiness. It is sacred to Meter (Mother), and there is an image of her."


CULT IN LATIUM (CENTRAL ITALY)

I) ROME Chief City of Latium

Strabo, Geography 12. 5. 3 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Pessinos [in Phrygia] is the greatest of the emporiums in that part of the world, containing a temple of the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods) . . . The Romans made the temple famous when, in accordance with oracles of the Sibylla, they sent for the statue of the goddess there, just as they did in the case of that of Asklepios at Epidauros."

Ovid, Fasti 4. 181 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
“[In the Roman festival calendar :] April 4 Megalensia Ludi Comitailis . . . Then the Berecyntian flute’s curved horn will blow and the Idaean Mother’s [Kybele's] feast begin. The eunuchs will parade and pound the hollow drums, and their clashing bronze cymbals will ring. She will ride on the soft necks of her acolytes, howled along the city’s major streets. The stage roars, the shows call . . .
I have much to ask, but the cymbal’s clash and the claw-pipe’s chilling noise scare me. `Give me, goddess, someone to interview.' Cybele saw her erudite granddaughters [i.e. the Muses] and made them help. `Remember your orders, Helicon’s nurselings : disclose why the Great Goddess loves incessant din.' [For the story of the birth of Zeus and the clashing of the Kouretes--see Rhea and the birth of her children on the Rhea myths page] . . .
`Why do fierce lions strangely submit their manes to her arcing yoke?' I stopped. She started : `It’s thought she tamed their wildness. Her own chariot testifies to this.' `But why is her head burdened with a turreted crown? Or did she turret the primal cities?' She nodded.
`What causes the impulse to self-castrate?' I was silent. [Ovid tells the story of Kybele's love for Attis--see Kybele and Attis on the Kybele myths page] . . .
`Tell me this, too, my work’s guide, where she came from. Or has she always been in our city [of Rome]?' `The Mother always loved Dindymus and Cybele, Ida’s pleasant springs and Ilium’s realm [Troy]. When Aeneas ferried Troy to Italy’s fields, the goddess almost trailed his sacred ship, but felt that fate did not demand her godhead yet for Latium, and kept her usual haunts. Later, when mighty Rome had seen five centuries and reared her head above a mastered world, a priest inspects the Euboean song’s [i.e. the Delphic oracle's] fateful words. They say the inspection yielded this : " Your mother is missing. Find you mother, Roman. Chaste hands must receive her when she comes." The dark oracle’s riddles baffle the Fathers : What mother was missing? What place to search? Paean [Apollon] is consulted. "Fetch the Mother of Gods," he says. "She can be found on Ida’s ridge." Leaders are sent. Attalus then held Phrygia’s sceptre; he spurns the request of Ausonian men. I’ll sing of marvels. The earth shook and rumbled long, and the goddess uttered this from her shrine : "I wanted this search. Do not delay; I want to go. Rome is a worthy place for any god." Her voice jerked Attalus with fear. "Depart," he said; "You will still be ours : Phrygian men formed Rome."
`At once [in 240 BC] countless axes cut down the pine groves used for the pious Phrygian’s escape. A thousand hands gather. A hollow ship painted with burnt colours holds the [ancient statue of the] Mother of Gods. She is freighted through her son’s waters most safely, and nears the long strait of Phrixus' sister [the Hellespont]. She passes wide Rhoeteum and Sigeum’s beaches, Tenedos and Eetion's old realm, the Cyclades receive her, with Lesbos left behind, then the waves breaking on Carystos' shoals. She passed the Icarian sea . . . then she leaves Crete to port, Pelops’ waves to starboard, and heads for Venus’ sacred Cythera. Next the Trinacian sea . . . She skirts Africa’s seas and glimpses Sardinia’s realm to port and reaches Ausonia [Rome].
`She had arrived at the mouth where the Tiber splits seaward and swims more unconfined. All the knights, the grave senate, mingling with the plebs, meet her at the mouth of the Tuscan stream. With them parade mothers, daughters and wives, and those whose virginity serves the sacred hearth [the Vestals]. The men tire their arms pulling heartily on the rope; the foreign ship barely breaks the waves. The earth had long been dry, drought had charred the grass; the loaded ship sat in muddy shoals. All of those at the scene work more than their share and encourage the strong rope-men with shouts. The ship sits like an island fixed in mid-ocean; men stand dumbed by the portent, and quake. Claudia Quinta traced her line to lofty Clasus, and her beauty equalled her noble birth. She was chaste, but not believed . . . As she advances from the line of chaste mothers and her hands scoop the pure stream water, she daps her head thrice, thrice lifts her hands to heaven. (All those watching consider her witless.) She kneels, fixes her gaze on the divine image, undoes her hair and delivers these words : "Gentle Mother, womb of the gods, accept the prayers of your suppliant, on one condition. I’m called unchaste. If you condemn me, I’ll confess, and forfeit life on a goddess' verdict. But if the charge is wrong, you will warrant my life by action and follow chaste my chaste hands." So she spoke and with little effort pulled the rope. I’ll speak of marvels, but the stage attests them. The goddess is moved and follows her leader, follows and lauds her. Sounds of joy rise starward.
`They reach the bend in the river (the ancients called it Tiber’s Hall), where it veers toward the left. Night came: they tether the rope to an oak tree’s stump, eat, and yield their bodies to weightless sleep. Light came : they untie the rope from the oak tree’s stump, but first made a hearth and offered incense, first crowned the ship and sacrificed flawless heifer which knew no labour or sex. There is a place where gliding Almo meets the Tiber, losing its smaller name in the great river. Here a silver-haired priest, robed in purple, bathed the Mistress and her emblems in Almo’s stream. Her acolytes howl and the maddening flute blows, and dainty hands pound the cowhide drums. Claudia advances in a crowd, beaming joy, finally thought chaste on a goddess’ word. The goddess rode enthroned in a cart through the Porta Capena, her ox-team strewn with fresh flowers. Nasica received her. Her shrine’s founder is unknown: Augustus now, before him Metellus.'
Erato stopped. There is a pause for final questions. `Tell me,' I say, `Why she requests small change.' `People gave coppers, from which Metellus built her shrine. The custom of giving change continues.' I ask why men entertain each other more often at this time and attend special banquets. `Since Berecyntia did well in changing homes, they seek the selfsame luck by changing homes.' I had begun to ask why the Megalensia are our city’s first shows, when the goddess sensed it : `She bore the gods, They deferred to their parent, and the Mother receives the first tribute.' `But why do we call the self-castrated Galli, when the Gallic land is far from Phrygia?' `Between,' she says, `green Cybele and high Celaenae runs a stream of bad water named Gallus. Its taste causes madness. Keep away, if you want a healthy mind. Its taste causes madness.' `Aren’t they ashamed,' I said, `to place a herb salad before the Mistress? Or is there some cause?' `The ancients are said to have dieted on pure milk and on herbs produced by the earth itself, White cheeses,' she says, `are mingled with pounded herbs, so the primal goddess sees primal food.'"

Propertius, Elegies 4. 11 ff (trans. Goold) (Roman elegy C1st B.C.) :
"Claudia, peerless servant of the tower-crowned goddess, who took hold of the cable and moved the grounded Cybele [to Rome]."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 8. 240 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"When the holy Almo washes away Mygdonian sorrows [i.e. the image of the goddess Kybele was washed in the River Almo, a tributary of the Tiber], and Cybele now is glad and festal torches gleam in the city streets, who would think that cruel wounds have lately gushed in her temples? Or who of the votaries themselves remember them?"


CULT TITLES OF KYBELE

The first of her titles referred to her as the great mother goddess:--

Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Μητηρ Mêtêr Mater Mother
Μητηρ Θεων Mêtêr Theôn Mater Theon Mother of the Gods
Μητηρ Μεγαλη Mêtêr Megalê Mater Megala Great Mother
Μητηρ Ισοδρομη Mêtêr Isodromê Mater Isodrome Fast-Paced Mother

Many of her titles were derived the names of her sacred Asian mountains. Many of these titles were prefixed with the term "Meter", so "Meter Dindymene", the Dindymenian Mother:--

Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Μητηρ Ορειης Mêtêr Oreiês Mater Oreîas Mountain Mother
(mêtêr, oros)
Κυβελη Kybelê Cybele, Cybela Of Mount Kybela
(in Phrygia)
Κυβηβη Kybêbê Cybebe Of Mount Kybelon
(in Phyriga)
Αγδιστις Agdistis Agdistis Of Mount Agdistis
(in Phrygia)
Δινδυμηνη Dindymênê Dindymene Of Mount Dindymos
(in Phrygia)
Βερεκυντια Berekyntia Berecyntia Of Mount Berekyntos
(in Phrygia)
Ιδαια Idaia Idaea Of Mount Ida
(in the Troad)
Τηρεια Têreia Terea Of Mount Tereia
(in the Troad)
Ασπορηνη Asporênê Asporena Of Mount Aspordenon
(in Teuthrania)
Σιπυληνη Sipylênê Sipylene Of Mount Sipylos
(in Lydia)
Πεσσινουντις Pessinountis Pessinuntis Of Pessinos
(city in Phrygia)
Ανδειρηνη Andeirênê Andeirene Of Andeira
(town in the Troad)

She was, first and foremost, a Phrygian goddess, so in addition to the various titles derived from specific Phrygian locales she was also titled simply the Phrygian, Phrygia.
Below are also some general cult terms:--

Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Φρυγια Phrygia Phrygia Festival of the
Phrygian Goddess
Οργια Orgia Orgia Orgies, Orgiastic
Rites
Μητρωιον Mêtrôion Metroeum Temple of the
Mother
Μεγαλεσια Megalesia Megalesia Festival of the
Great Goddess

ENCYCLOPEDIA KYBELE TITLES

ANTAEA (Antaia), a surname of Demeter, Rhea, and Cybele, probably signifies a goddess whom man may approach in prayers. (Orph. Hymn. 40. 1; Apollon. i. 1141; Hesych. s. v.)

BERECY′NTHIA (Berekunthia), a surname of Cybele, which she derived either from mount Berecynthus, or from a fortified place of that name in Phrygia, where she was particularly worshipped. Mount Berecynthus again derived its name from Berecynthus, a priest of Cybele. (Callim. Hymn. in Dian. 246; Serv. ad Aen. ix. 82, vi. 785; Strab. x. p. 472; Plut. de Flum. 10.)

BRIMO (Brimô), the angry or the terrifying, occurs as a surname of several divinities, such as Hecate or Persephone (Apollon. Rhod. iii. 861, 1211; Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 1171), Demeter (Arnob. v. p. 170), and Cybele. (Theodoret. Ther. i. 699.)

DINDYME′NE (Dindumênê or Dindumenê), a surname of Cybele, derived either from mount Dindymus in Phrygia, where a temple was believed to have been built to her by the Argonauts (Apollon. Rhod. i. 985, with the Schol.; Strab. xii. p. 575; Callim. Epigr. 42; Horat. Carm. i. 16. 5; Catull. 63, 91; Serv. ad Aen. ix. 617), or from Dindyme, the wife of Maeon and mother of Cybele. (Diod. iii. 58.)

PESSINU′NTIA (Pessinountia or Pessinonntis), a surname of Cybele, which she derived from the town of Pessinus, in Galatia. (Cic. De Harusp. Resp. 13; Liv. xxix. 10; Strab. xii. p. 567; Herodian, i. 11.)

PHRY′GIA (Phrugia). Phrygia is used for Cybele, as the goddess who was worshipped above all others in Phrygia (Virg. Aen. vii. 139; Strab. x. p. 469).

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


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