, in post-Roman
authors only), the eunuch priests of Cybele or the Great Mother, whose
worship, so far as it can be. traced historically, had its original seat in
Phrygia (Marmor Parium, ap. C. Müller, Fragm.
[βρέτας θ]εῶν μητρὸς ἐφάνη ἐν
where it is placed under the reign of Erichthonius,
king of Attica, B.C. 1506; Strabo, x. pp. 469, 472, xii. p. 567, where the
names Κυβέλη, Δινδυμήνη,
are said to be derived from Phrygian localities; Κυβέλην ἀπὸ τοῦ τόπου,
). The myths of Marsyas and Hyagnis,
the reputed inventors of the flute, gather round the same region, and are
doubtless connected with the use of that instrument in the orgiastic worship
of Cybele (cf. Dict. Biogr.
). The Phrygian language was Indo-European, as appears
from the extant inscriptions (Rawlinson's Herodotus,
vol. i. App. p. 666); and the worship of Cybele has
been thought to be also Indo-European; Zend names have been traced in
it--Berecyntus = Berezat,
(Labatut in Rev. Numism.
1868, p. 286). Other names, however, are of distinctly
Semitic affinities; Rhea perhaps =the Babylonian Ri (Mulita or Mylitta,
Rawlinson, [p. 1.900]l.c.
and Nana more certainly= the Babylonian Nana,
modern Syrian Nani
(ib. p. 635). Whatever its
origin, this cultus spread rapidly over the whole of Asia Minor: Cyzicus was
one of its oldest seats, where it is visited by Anacharsis in the sixth
century B.C. (Hdt. 4.76
; cf. the οὖρος ἱρὸν μητρὸς Δινδυμήνης,
another was Sardis, where a temple of Κυβήβη
occurs (Hdt. 5.102
); but it
was especially connected in historic times with Pessinus, in the country
afterwards called Galatia, where also, as at Cyzicus, there was a mountain
called Dindymon and where Attis was said to be buried (Paus. 1.4.5
). The name Agdistis was applied both to the mountain
which overhung Pessinus (Strabo xii.
; Paus. l.c.
) and to the goddess herself
(Strabo x. p.469
on Catull. lxiii. p. 202.).
The origin of the name of Galli is not absolutely certain, but it was
doubtless a native Phrygian word: of course it has nothing to do with the
Galatae or Gauls, whose first appearance in these countries dates only from
B.C. 278. There is no reason to reject the tradition which derives it from a
river in Phrygia: there were two small rivers called Gallus, both
tributaries of the Sangarius, and the one which flows by Pessinus must be
meant, whose water was fabled to cause this particular form of religious
madness. (Ov. Fast. 4.363
; Plin. Nat. 5.147
, 11.261, 31.9; Herodian,
1.11; Fest. s. v. Galli.) A form gallantes,
“to rave like a priest of Cybele,” is cited from Varro (ap.
Non.;p. 119,,5). In their wild, enthusiastic, and boisterous rites the Galli
recalled the legends of the Corybantes (Hor.
Carm. 1.16, 5 ff.
; Lucan 1.565
According to an ancient custom, they were always castrated (spadones, semimares, semiviri, nec viri nec
), and it would seem that, impelled by religious
enthusiasm, they performed this operation on themselves (Ov. Fast. 4.237
; Plin. Nat. 11.261
, 35.165; Martial, 3.81
The worship of the Magna Mater was introduced at Rome in B.C. 204, towards
the close of the Second Punic War. In the previous year an oracle had been
produced from the Sibylline books, that the, enemy (Hannibal) might be
driven from Italy if the Idaean mother were brought to Rome from Pessinus;
and an embassy had been sent to Attalus of Pergamum, the only ally the
Romans had in Asia, to request his good offices (Liv.
). Attalus made over to the Romans a sacred stone of no
great size, probably an aërolite, which the Pessinuntines declared
to be the mother of the gods; and on the way the oracle of Delphi was
consulted as to the ceremonies to be observed (100.11). The story of the
selection of P. Scipio (the first who was called Nasica) as “the best
man in the state” for the honour of receiving it, and the ordeal
by which Claudia proved her chastity, is told by Livy in the succeeding
chapters (12-14) and by Ovid in the Fasti.
temple of the Magna Mater was dedicated in B.C. 191, when the same Scipio
was consul (Liv. 36.36
). For the festival then
instituted, the college of priests with an archiqallus
and a sacerdos maxima
head, and the priestly dress, see MEGALESIA; and
cf. Marquardt, Staatsverw.
3.378-9. As might be expected from
their extraordinary fanaticism, the Galli were a poor and despised class of
people; for while no other priests were allowed to beg, the famuli Idaeae matris
were allowed to do so on
certain days (Cic. de Legg.
, § 22; 16.40; AGYRTAE
). The magnificent Attis of Catullus (Carm.
lxiii.) with Ellis' notes, and Ovid's account of the Megalesia (Fast.
4.179-372), should be read in their entirety;
to these, therefore, we have given no detailed references.