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Cybele

nature, left, attis and afterward

CYBELE, sib'6-1e, a goddess of Asia Minor, like Isis, the symbol of the moon, and what is nearly connected with this, of the fruitfulness of the earth, for which reason she is con founded with Rhea, whose worship originated in Crete, and in whom personified nature was revered. According to Diodorus, Cybele was the daughter of the Phrygian king Mason and his wife, Dindyma. At her birth her father, vexed that the child was not a boy, exposed her upon Mount Cybelus, where she was nursed by lions and panthers and afterward found and brought up by the wives of the herdsmen. She invented fifes and drums, with which she cured the diseases of beasts and children, became inti mate with Marsyas and fell violently in love with Attis. She was afterward recognized and received by her parents. Her father discover ing her love for Attis had him seized and exe cuted, and left his body unburied. The grief of Cybele on this occasion deranged her un derstanding and she began a long search for Attis. In art her original statue was nothing but a dark quadrangular stone. Afterward she was represented as a matron, with a mural crown on her head in reference to the im proved condition of men arising from agricul ture and their union into cities. A common

attribute of the goddess is the veil about her head, which refers to the mysterious and in comprehensible in nature. In her right hand she often holds a staff, as an emblem of her power, and in her left a Phrygian drum. Some times a few ears of corn stand near her. The sun also is sometimes represented in her right hand, and the crescent of the moon in her left. We sometimes see her in a chariot drawn by lions; or else she sits upon a lion, and, as omni potent nature, she holds a thunderbolt; or a lion lies near her. These symbols are all representa tions of her dominion and of the introduction of civilization by her means in the period of bar barism. Her cult was centralized at Phrygia, whence it found its way into Greece, as early as the latter half of the 6th century B.C., and was introduced at Rome in 204 ac. To the Romans she was known as the Great Idamn Mother of the Gods. Under the Roman em pire, it became one of the three most important Roman cults and was of the last pagan wor ships to give way before Christianity. Consult Farnell, (Cults of the Greek (Vol. III, Oxford 1907).