Greek Mythology >> Phrygian Gods >> Cybele (Kybele)


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Of Mount Cybele

Cybele riding lion | Athenian red-figure vase fragment | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Cybele riding lion, Athenian red-figure vase fragment, Museum of Fine Arts Boston

KYBELE (Cybele) was the ancient Phrygian Mother of the Gods, a primal nature goddess worshipped with orgiastic rites in the mountains of central and western Anatolia. The Greeks identified her with their own mother of the gods--the Titaness Rhea.

This page describes the myths of Kybele set in her homeland of Phrygia including the distinctly non-Greek myth of her hermaphroditic birth and her love for the youth Attis.

Stories in which Kybele's is conflated with the Greek Rhea can be found on the seperate Rhea-Kybele page.



[1] SKY-GOD & EARTH-GODDESS * (Pausanias 7.17.8)
* Pausanias equates these Phrygian gods with the Greek gods Zeus and Gaia.


[1] KORYBAS (by Iasion *) (Diodorus Siculus 5.48.2)
[2] ALKE-KYBELE (by Olympos) (Diodorus Siculus 5.48.2)
[3] SABAZIOS-DIONYSOS (suggested in Nonnus Dionysiaca 9.136)
[4] MIDAS (Hyginus Fabulae 191 & 274)
* Iasion is the Samothrakian counterpart of Attis and Korybas the first of the Korybantes.


CYBELE. The Thracians conceived the chief divinity of the Samothracian and Lemnian mysteries as Rhea-Hecate, while some of them who had settled in Asia Minor, became there acquainted with still stranger beings, and one especially who was worshipped with wild and enthusiastic solemnities, was found to resemble Rhea. In like manner the Greeks who afterwards settled in Asia identified the Asiatic goddess with Rhea, with whose worship they had long been familiar (Strab. x. p. 471; Hom. Hymn. 13, 31). In Phrygia, where Rhea became identified with Cybele, she is said to have purified Dionysus, and to have taught him the mysteries (Apollod. iii. 5. § 1), and thus a Dionysiac element became amalgamated with the worship of Rhea. Demeter, moreover, the daughter of Rhea, is sometimes mentioned with all the attributes belonging to Rhea. (Eurip. Helen. 1304.) The confusion then became so great that the worship of the Cretan Rhea was confounded with that of the Phrygian mother of the gods, and that the orgies of Dionysus became interwoven with those of Cybele. Strangers from Asia, who must be looked upon as jugglers, introduced a variety of novel rites, which were fondly received, especially by the populace (Strab. 1. c.; Athen. xii. p. 553 ; Demosth. de Coron. p. 313). Both the name and the connection of Rhea with Demeter suggest that she was in early times revered as goddess of the earth . . .

Under the name of Cybele, we find her worship on Mount Sipylus (Paus. v. 13. § 4), Mount Coddinus (iii. 22. § 4), in Phrygia, which had received its colonists from Thrace, and where she was regarded as the mother of Sabazius. There her worship was quite universal, for there is scarcely a town in Phrygia on the coins of which she does not appear. In Galatia she was chiefly worshipped at Pessinus, where her sacred image was believed to have fallen from heaven (Herodian, i. 35). King Midas I. built a temple to her, and introduced festive solemnities, and subsequently a more magnificent one was erected by one of the Attali. Her name at Pessinus was Agdistis (Strab. xii. p. 567). Her priests at Pessinus seem from the earliest times to have been, in some respects, the rulers of the place, and to have derived the greatest possible advantages from their priestly functions. Even after the image of the goddess was carried from Pessinus to Rome, Pessinus still continued to be looked upon as the metropolis of the great goddess, and as the principal seat of her worship. Under different names we might trace the worship of Rhea even much further east, as far as the Euphrates and even Bactriana. She was, in fact, the great goddess of the Eastern world, and we find her worshipped there in a variety of forms and under a variety of names. As regards the Romans, they had from the earliest times worshipped Jupiter and his mother Ops, the wife of Saturn. When, therefore, we read (Liv. xxix. 11, 14) that, during the Hannibalian war, they fetched the image of the mother of the gods from Pessinus, we must understand that the worship then introduced was quite foreign to them, and either maintained itself as distinct from the worship of Ops, or became united with it. A temple was built to her on the Palatine, and the Roman matrons honoured her with the festival of the Megalesia. The manner in which she was represented in works of art was the same as in Greece, and her castrated priests were called Galli.

The various names by which we find Rhea designated, are, "the great mother," "the mother of the gods,"Cybele, Cybebe, Agdistis, Berecyntia, Brimo, Dindymene, "the great Idaean mother of the gods." Her children by Cronos are enumerated by Hesiod : under the name of Cybele she is also called the mother of Alce, of the Phrygian king Midas, and of Nicaea (Diod. iii. 57; Phot. Cod. 224). In all European countries Rhea was conceived to be accompanied by the Curetes, who are inseparably connected with the birth and bringing up of Zeus in Crete, and in Phrygia by the Corybantes, Atys, and Agdistis. The Corybantes were her enthusiastic priests, who with drums, cymbals, horns, and in full armour, performed their orgiastic dances in the forests and on the mountains of Phrygia. The lion was sacred to the mother of the gods, because she was the divinity of the earth, and because the lion is the strongest and most important of all animals on earth, in addition to which it was believed that the countries in which the goddess was worshipped, abounded in lions (comp. Ov. Met. x. 682). In Greece the oak was sacred to Rhea (Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod. i. 1124). The highest ideal of Rhea in works of art was produced by Pheidias; she was seldom represented in a standing posture, but generally seated on a throne, adorned with the mural crown, from which a veil hangs down. Lions usually appear crouching on the right and left of her throne, and sometimes she is seen riding in a chariot drawn by lions.

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.



LOCALE: Phrygia (central Anatolia)

Kybele was the daughter of the Phrygian sky-god and earth-mother. She was born as an hermaphrodite named Agdistis who was castrated by the gods to become the goddess Kybele. The Phrygian sky-god is identified with the Greek Zeus in Pausanias' account of the myth.

Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 17. 8 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The local [Phrygian] legend about him [Attis] being this. Zeus [i.e. the Phrygian sky-god identified with Zeus], it is said, let fall in his sleep seed upon the ground, which in course of time sent up a Daimon, with two sexual organs, male and female. They call the daimon Agdistis [Kybele]. But the gods, fearing Agdistis, cut off the male organ. There grew up from it an almond-tree with its fruit ripe, and a daughter of the river Saggarios (Sangarius), they say, took the fruit and laid it in her bosom, when it at once disappeared, but she was with child. A boy [Attis] was born."


LOCALE: Phrygia (Central Anatolia)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 17. 8 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The local [Phrygian] legend about him [Attis] being this. Zeus [i.e. the Phrygian sky-god identified with Zeus], it is said, let fall in his sleep seed upon the ground, which in course of time sent up a Daimon, with two sexual organs, male and female. They call the daimon Agdistis. But the gods, fearing Agdistis, cut off the male organ. There grew up from it an almond-tree with its fruit ripe, and a daughter of the river Saggarios (Sangarius), they say, took the fruit and laid it in her bosom, when it at once disappeared, but she was with child. A boy was born, and exposed, but wastended by a he-goat. As he grew up his beauty was more than human, and Agdistis [Kybele] fell in love with him. When he had grown up, Attis was sent by his relatives to Pessinos [city in Phrygia], that he might wed the king's daughter. The marriage-song was being sung, when Agdistis appeared, and Attis went mad and cut off his genitals, as also did he who was giving him his daughter in marriage. But Agdistis repented of what she had done to Attis, and persuaded Zeus to grant the body of Attis should neither rot at all nor decay. These are the most popular forms of the legend of Attis."

The Anacreontea, Fragment 12 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (C5th B.C.) :
"Some say the half-woman [i.e. eunuch] Attis went mad shouting for lovely Kybele (Cybele) in the mountains."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 103 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Pines, high-girdled, in a leafy crest, the favourite of the Gods' Great Mother (Grata Deum Matri) [i.e. Cybele], since in this tree Attis Cybeleius (of Cybele) doffed his human shape and stiffened in its trunk."

Ovid, Fasti 4. 222 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"‘What causes the impulse [of Cybele's initiates] to self-castrate?’ I was silent. The Pierid [goddess Muse] began : ‘A woodland Phrygian boy, the gorgeous Attis, conquered the towered goddess with pure love. She wanted to keep him as her shrine's guardian, and said, "Desire to be a boy always." He promised what was asked and declared, "If I lie, let the Venus [i.e. lover] I cheat with be my last." He cheats, and in the Nympha Sagaritis stops being what he was: the goddess' wrath punished him. She slashes the tree and cuts the Naiad down. The Naiad dies: her fate was the tree's. He goes mad, and imagines that the bedroom roof is falling and bolts to Dindymus' heights. He cries, "Away torches!", "Away whips!", and often swears the Palestine goddesses have him. He even hacked his body with a jagged stone, and dragged his long hair in squalid dirt, shouting, "I deserved it; my blood is the penalty. Ah, death to the parts which have ruined me!" "Ah, death to them!" he said, and cropped his groin's weight. Suddenly no signs of manhood remained. His madness became a model: soft-skinned acolytes toss their hair and cut their worthless organs.’"

For MORE information on this Phrygian god see ATTIS


LOCALE: Phrygia (Central Anatolia)

Kybele was the mother of the Phrygian god Sabazios--who the Greeks identified with Dionysos. As the Greek god had a different genealogy, the Phrygian myths were adapted to describe Mother Rhea as his nurse and mentor. The Orgiastic Cult (Orgia) of Dionysos-Sabazios was derived from that of Kybele.

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

Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 13 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[According to Strabo the Orgies of Dionysos were derived from those of the Meter Theon Kybele (Cybele) :] When Pindaros (Pindar) [Greek poet], in the dithyramb which begins with these words, ‘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) [i.e. Kybele (Cybele)], 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 does likewise, in his Bakkhai (Bacchae), citing the Lydian usages at the same time with those of Phrygia, because of their similarity : ‘But ye who left Mount Tmolos (Tmolus), 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 [i.e. Kybele].’
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 . . . ‘the triple-crested Korybantes in their caverns invented this hide-stretched circlet [the tambourine], and blent its Bacchic 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 (Satyrs) obtained it and joined it to the choral dances of the Trieterides, in whom Dionysos takes delight.’"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 9. 136 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[The infant Dionysos is rescued by Hermes when Hera drives his foster-parents Athamas and Ino mad.] She [Hera] would have destroyed the son [Dionysos] of Zeus; but Hermes caught him up, and carried him to the wooded ridge where Kybele (Cybele) dwelt. Moving fast, Hera ran swift-shoe on quick feet from high heaven; but he was before her, and assumed the eternal shape of first-born Phanes [a primordial creator-god]. Hera in respect for the most ancient of the gods, gave him place and bowed before the radiance of the deceiving face, not knowing the borrowed shape for a fraud. So Hermes passed over the mountain tract with quicker step than hers, carrying the horned child folded in his arms, and gave it to Rheia [i.e. Kybele], nurse of lions, mother of Father Zeus, and said these few words to the goddess mother of the greatest : ‘Receive, goddess, a new son of your Zeus! He is to fight with the Indians, and when he has done with earth he will come into the starry sky, to the great joy of resentful Hera! Indeed it is not proper that Ino should be nurse to one whom Zeus brought forth. Let the mother of Zeus be nanny to Dionysos--mother of Zeus and nurse of her grandson!’
This said he put off the higher shape of selfborn Phanes and put on his own form again, leaving Bakkhos (Bacchus) to grow a second time in the Meter's (Mother's) nurture.
The goddess took care of him; and while he was yet a boy, she set him to drive a car drawn by ravening lions. Within that godwelcoming courtyard, the tripping Korybantes (Corybantes) would surround Dionysos with their childcherishing dance, and clash their swords, and strike their shields with rebounding steel in alternate movements, to conceal the growing boyhood of Dionysos; and as the boy listened to the fostering noise of the shields he grew up under the care of the Korybantes like his father.
At nine years old the youngster went a-hunting his game to the kill . . . he would hold lightly aloft stretched on his shoulders a bold fellstriped tiger unshackled, and brought in hand to show Rheia the cubs he had torn newborn from the dam's milky teats. He dragged horrible lions all alive, and clutching a couple of feet in each hand presented them to the Mother that she might yoke them to her car. Rheia looked on laughing with joy, and admired the manliness and doughty feats of young Dionysos; his father Kronion (Cronion) [Zeus] laughed when he saw with delighted eyes Iobakkhos driving the grim lions . . .
Often he stood in the chariot of immortal Rheia, and held the flowing reins in his tenderskin hand, and checked the nimble team of galloping lions . . . Thus he grew up beside cliffloving Rheia, yet a boy in healthy youth, mountainbred."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 9. 206 ff :
"[Semele--the mother of Dionysos, now an Olympian goddess--rebukes Hera :] ‘See [the baby] Dionysos in the arms of your own mother [Rhea], he lies on that cherishing arm! The Dispenser of the eternal universe, the first sown Beginning of the gods, the Allmother, became a nurse for Bromios [Dionysos]; she offered to infant Bakkhos the breast which Zeus High and Mighty has sucked! What Kronides was ever in labour, what Rheia was ever nurse for your boy? But this Kybele (Cybele) who is called your mother brought forth Zeus and suckled Bakkhos (Bacchus) in the same lap! She dandled them both, the son and the father.’"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 1. 20 ff :
"[The infant] Bakkhos (Bacchus) [Dionysos] on the arm of buxom Rheia, stealthily draining the breast of the lion-breeding goddess."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 10. 139 ff :
"Dionysos, in the latitude of Lydia's fields, grew into youthful bloom as tall as he wished, shaking the Euian gear of Rheia Kybele (Cybele)."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12. 330 ff :
"When Bakkhos (Bacchus) saw the [wild] grapes with a bellyful of red juice, he bethought him of an oracle which prophetic Rheia had spoken long ago. He dug into the rock, he hollowed out a pit in the stone with the sharp prongs of his earth-burrowing pick, he smoothed the sides of the deepening hold and made an excavation like a winepress [and made the first ever batch of wine]."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12. 380 ff :
"To Dionysos alone had Rheia given the amethyst, which preserves the winedrinker from the tyranny of madness."
[N.B. The name amethyst means ‘not drunken’ for the stone was reputed to work as a talisman against drunkenness.]

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12. 394 - 13. 18 :
"After the revels over his [Dionysos'] sweet fruit [i.e. wine, newly discovered by the young god], Dionysos proudly entered the cave of Kybeleid (Cybeleid) goddess Rheia [his foster mother], waving bunches of grapes in his flowerloving hand, and taught Maionia (Maeonia) the vigil of his feast. Father Zeus sent Iris to the divine halls of Rheia, to inform wakethefray Dionysos, that he must drive out of Asia with his avenging thyrsus the proud race of Indians untaught of justice . . .
She paddled her way with windswift beat of wings, and entered the echoing den of stabled lions. Noisless her step she stayed, in silence voiceless pressed her lips, a slave before the forest queen. She stood bowing low, and bent down her head to kiss Rheia's feet with suppliant lips. Rheia unsmiling beckoned, and the Korybantes (Corybantes) served her beside the bowl of the divine table. Wondering she drank a sop of the newfound wine, delighted and excited; then with heavy head the spirit told the will of Zeus to the son of Zeus [Dionysos] . . .
At once Rheia Allmother sent out her messenger to gather the host, Pyrrhikhos (Pyrrhichus) [one of the Korybantes], the dancer before her loverattle timbrel, to proclaim the warfare of Lyaios under arms. Pyrrhikhos, gathering a varied army for Dionysos, scoured all the settlements of the eternal word."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 470 ff :
"The grapegrowing land of Bakkhos (Bacchus), where the vinegod first mixed wine for Mother Rheia in a brimming cup, and named the city Kerassai (Cerassae), the Mixings [in Lydia]."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 1 ff :
"[Rheia-Kybele summons an army of rustic deities to her palace in Phrygia for Dionysos' campaign against the Indians :] Then swiftshoe Rheia haltered the hairy necks of her lions beside their highland manger. She lifted her windfaring foot to run with the breezes, and paddled with her shoes through the airy spaces. So like a wing or a thought she traversed the firmament to south, to north, to west, to the turning-place of dawn, gathering the divine battalions for Lyaios: one all-comprehending summons was sounded for trees and for rivers, one call for Neiades (Naiads) and Hadryades, the troops of the forest. All the divine generations heard the summons of Kybele (Cybele), and they came together from all sides. From high heaven to the Lydian land Rheia passed aloft with unerring foot, and returning lifted again the mystic torch in the night, warming the air a second time with Mygdonian [Lydian] fire."
[N.B. She summons the Kabeiroi (Cabeiri), Daktyloi (Dactyls), Telkhines (Telchines), Kyklopes (Cyclopes), Panes, Kentauroi (Centaurs), Nymphai (Nymphs), and others.]

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 247 ff :
"As soon as Dionysos had donned the well-wrought golden gear of war in the Korybantian (Corybantian) courtyard, he left the peaceful precincts of danceloving Rheia and went past Meionia (Maeonia): the warriors with the hillranging Bakkhantes (Bacchantes) hastened to meet the lord of the vine. The drivers of wheeled wagons carried shoots of the new plant of Bakkhos (Bacchus). Many lines of mules went by, with jars of the viney nectar packed on their backs; slow asses had loads of purple rugs and manycoloured fawnskins on their patient backs. Winedrinkers besides carried silver mixingbowls with golden cups, the furniture of the feast. The Korybantes (Corybantes) were busy about the bright manger of the panthers, passing the yokestraps over their necks, and entrusted their lions to ivybound harness when they had fastened this threatening bit in their mouths."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 291 ff :
"[Dionysos prepares to lead his army into battle against the Indians :] Lyaios (Lyaeus) [Dionysos] kept vigil; all night long heaven thundered, threading fiery streaks among the stars; since Rheia then foretold with witnessing flash the bloodshed of the Indian victory. In the morning the god went forth to war."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 15. 123 ff :
"[Dionysos commands his troops to capture the drunken, sleeping Indians :] ‘Take them all prisoners in bloodless conflict: let the Indian bend a slave's knee to mighty Dionysos, and do menial service to my Rheia and her company, shaking the purple thyrsus.’"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 15. 370 ff :
"Rheia Dindymis (of Mount Didymos) upon her lion's car, with her tearless eyes, groaned for the gallant lad [the shepherd Hymnos] so heavily fallen [slain by her votary Nikaia (Nicaea)], even the mother of Zeus, the queen."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 17. 62 ff :
"He [Dionysos] was reminded of the frugal banquet on that bloodless table, when there was a meal for his Mother, Kybele (Cybele) of the highlands."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 20. 35 ff :
"A dream came to Bakkhos (Bacchus)--Eris (Discord) the nurse of war, in the shape of Rheia the loverattle goddess, seated in what seemed to be her lionchariot. Phobos (Rout) drove the team of this dreamchariot, in the counterfeit shape of Attis with limbs like his; he formed the image of Kybele's (Cybele's) charioteer, a softskinned man in looks with shrill tones like the voice of a woman. Gadabout Eris stood by the head of sleeping Bakkhos and reproached him with brawl-inciting voice :‘You sleep, godborn Dionysos! Deriades [King of the Indians] summons you to battle, and you make merry here! Stepmother Hera mocks you, when she sees your Enyo on the run, as you drag your army to dances! I am ashamed to show myself before Kronion [Zeus], I shrink form Hera, I shrink from the immortals, because your doings are not worthy of Rheia. I avoid Ares, destroyer of the Titanes . . . and I fear your sister [Athena] still more . . . The Virgin Archeress [Artemis] denounces Dionysos the dancer, the friend of mountains, when she sees him leaving his thyrsos alone; drives only a weak team of stags, she kills only running hares, she ranges the mountains beside Rheia of the mountains . . . in Olympos I shrink from Leto, still a proud braggart, when she holds up at me the arrow that defended her bed and slew Tityos the lustful giant. I am tortured also with double pain, when I see sorrowing Semele and proud Maias among the stars . . . There may be banquet after battle, there may be dancing after the Indian War in the palace of Staphylos; viols may let their voice be heard again after the victory in the field. But without hard work it is not possible to dwell in the inaccessible heavens. The road to the Blessed is not easy; noble deeds give the only path to the firmament of heaven by God's decree. You too then, endure hardship of every kind. Hera for all her rancour foretells for you the heavenly court of Zeus.’"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 21. 91 ff :
"Rheia of the mountains armed against Arabia [i.e. against King Lykourgos (Lycurgus) who had driven Dionysos into the sea] the sea-god, Earthshaker [Poseidon] who splits the doundations of the earth with a crash, and hurls them about."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25. 185 ff :
"Bakkhos (Bacchus) too when still a young lad, while playing the mountains, grasped a deadly lion by the shaggy throat with one hand, dragged him away and presented him to his mother Rheia, pressing down the maned neck of the gaping beast--dragged him still alive, and fastened him under the yokestrap, put on the guiding bridle over slavish cheeks, then seated high in the ar whipt the back of the frightful creatures."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25. 310 ff :
"While Bakkhos (Bacchus) was thus despondent [after five long years laying siege to the Indian capital], came a messenger in haste through the Skythian mountains from divine Rheia, sterile Attis in his trailing robe, whipping up the travelling team of lions . . . This was the messenger who came driving the car of goddess Kybele (Cybele), to comfort discouraged Lyaios (Lyaeus). Seeing him Dionysos sprang up, thinking perchance he might have brought the allconquering Rheia to the Indian War. Attis checked the wild team, and hung the reins on the handrail, and disclosing the smooth surface of his rosy cheeks, called out a flood of loud words to Bakkhos--‘Dionysos of the vine, son of Zeus, offspring of Rheia! Answer me: when will you destroy the woollyheaded nation of Indians and come back to the Lydian land? Not yet has Rheia seen your blackskin captives; not yet has she wiped off the sweat from your Mygdonian lions after the war, beside the highland manger, where the rich river of Paktolos (Pactolus) runs; but without a sound you roll out the conflict through circuits of everlasting years! Not yet have you brought a herd of eastern lions from India as a token of victory for the breeder of beasts, the mother of the gods! Very well, accept from Hephaistos (Hephaestus) and your immortal Rheia this armour which the Lemnian anvil made; you will see upon it earth and sea, the sky and the company of stars!’
Before he had finished, Bakkhos called out angrily--‘Hard are the gods and jealous . . . Hera keeps me back from victory . . .’
Lydian Attis answered these words of Dionysos : ‘If you carry this starry shield of the sky inviolate, my friend, you need not tremble before the wrath of Ares, or the jealousy of Hera, or all the company of the Blessed, while Allmother Rheia is with you; you need fear no army with bended bows . . .Be of good courage: to the battle again! For my Rheia has prophesied victory for you at last. The war shall not end until the four Seasons complete he sixth year. So much the eye of Zeus and the threads of the unturning Moira (Fate) have granted to the will of Hera; in the seventh lichtgang which follows, you shall destroy the Indian city.’
With these words he handed the shield to Bromios [Dionysos] . . . and guided the hillranging car on the road back to Phrygia . . . There he entered the divine precinct selfbuilt of Rheia, mother of mighty sons. He freed his ravening lions from the yokestraps, and haltered them at the manger which he filled with ambrosial fodder."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 34. 214 ff :
"Vineclad Phrygia, where Rheia dwells who cared for Bromios [Dionysos] in boyhood."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 36. 414 ff :
"And Dionysos amid the anxieties of war [his campaign against the Indians] remembered the prophecy of his own Rheia: that the end of the war would be seen, when Bakkhantes (Bacchantes) fought by sea against Indians."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 43. 440 ff :
"He [Dionysos] entered Maionia (Maeonia), and stood before Rheia his mother, offering royal gifts from the Indian Sea."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 45. 96 ff :
"[Dionysos] whom Rheia mother of the gods nursed with her cherishing milk."


LOCALE: Phrygia (Central Anatolia)

Kybele was sometimes described as the mother of the mythical Phrygian King Midas--the man with the golden touch.

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 191 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Midas, Mygdonian king, son of the Mother goddess of [Mount] Timolus (Matris deae a Timolo) [i.e. Cybele] was taken as judge at the time when Apollo contested with Marsyas, or Pan, on the pipes."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 274 :
"King Midas, a Phrygian, son of Cybele."





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