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Cybele

Cybele (sĬb´əlē), in ancient Asian religion, the Great Mother Goddess. The chief centers of her early worship were Phrygia and Lydia. In the 5th cent. BC her cult was introduced into Greece, where she was associated with Demeter and Rhea. The spread of her cult to Rome late in the 3d cent. BC was marked chiefly by her Palatine temple. Cybele was primarily a nature goddess, responsible for maintaining and reproducing the wild things of the earth. As guardian of cities and nations, however, she was also entrusted with the general welfare of the people. She was attended by the Corybantes and Dactyls, who honored her with wild music and dancing. At her annual spring festival, the death and resurrection of her beloved Attis were celebrated. She frequented mountains and woodland areas and was usually represented either riding a chariot drawn by lions or seated on a throne flanked by two lions. Cybele is frequently identified with various other mother goddesses, notably Agdistis.

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Cybele

Cybele

Cybele was the fertility goddess of Phrygia, an ancient country of Asia Minor*. In Greek and Roman mythology, Cybele personified Mother Earth and was worshiped as the Great Mother of the Gods. She was also associated with forests, mountains, and nature. Although usually shown wearing a crown in the form of a city wall or carrying a drum, the goddess may also appear on a throne or in a chariot, accompanied by lions and sometimes bees.

From Asia Minor, Cybele's following spread to Greece, where she was associated with Demeter, the Greek goddess of fruitfulness, and was regarded as the mother of all the gods. Around 200 b.c., the cult of Cybele reached Rome, and she became well known throughout the Roman world.

According to myth, Cybele discovered that her youthful lover Attis was unfaithful. In a jealous rage, she made him go mad and mutilate himself under a pine tree, where he bled to death. Regretting what she had done, Cybele mourned her loss. Zeus* promised her that the pine tree would remain sacred forever.

cult group bound together by devotion to a particular person, belief, or god

rite ceremony or formal procedure

During the Roman empire, followers of Cybele held an annual spring festival dedicated to the goddess. The ceremonies involved cutting down a pine tree that represented the dead Attis. After wrapping the tree in bandages, the followers took it to Cybele's shrine. There they honored the tree and decorated it with violets, which they considered to have sprung from Attis's blood. As part of this religious ceremony, priests cut their arms so that their blood fell on Cybele's altar and the sacred pine tree. They also danced to the music of cymbals, drums, and flutes. During these wild rites, some followers even mutilated themselves, as Attis had. Cybele was usually portrayed by artists in a chariot drawn by lions.

See also Anns.

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

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Cybele

Cybele a mother goddess worshipped especially in Phrygia and later in Greece (where she was associated with Demeter), Rome, and the Roman provinces, with her consort Attis.

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"Cybele." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Cybele

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