). A Thracian and Phrygian deity, whom the Greeks
usually identified with Dionysus (Diod.iv. 4
), and sometimes also
with Zeus. His orgiastic worship was very closely connected with that of the Phrygian mother
of the gods, Rhea-Cybelé, and of Attis. Along with this it was introduced into
Athens in the fifth century B.C. (Vespae
, 9; Lysistr.
Demos. De Cor.
260). In later times it was widely spread in Rome and Italy,
especially in the latter days of paganism. Like many of the Oriental deities, he represented
the flourishing life of nature, which sinks in death, always to rise again. As an emblem of the yearly renovation of nature, the symbol specially appropriated to him
was the snake. Accordingly, at the celebration of his mysteries, a golden snake was passed
under the clothes and drawn over the bosom of the initiated (Clemens Alexandr.
p. 6). In the Characteres
of Theophrastus, when the
superstitious man “sees a serpent in his house, if it be the red snake, he will
invoke Sabazius” (ch. 28, ed. Jebb).