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Galli

Γάλλοι, in post-classical authors only). The eunuch priests of Cybelé 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. i. 544, 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, etc., are said to be derived from Phrygian localities; Κυβέλην ἀπὸ τοῦ τόπου, Diod.iii. 58). The Phrygian language was Indo-European, as appears from the extant inscriptions (Rawlinson's Herod. vol. i. App. 666); and the worship of Cybelé has been thought to be also IndoEuropean; Avestan names have been traced in it —Berecyntus=Berezat; Corybantes=Gereuantô (Labatut in Rev. Numism. Belge, 1868, p. 286). Other names, however, are of distinctly Semitic affinities; Rhea perhaps=the Babylonian Ri (Mulita or Mylitta), and Nana more certainly=the Babylonian Nana, modern Syrian Nani.

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 (Ovid, Fast. iv. 363; Plin. H. N. v. 147; Plin. H. N. xi. 261; Plin. H. N. xxxi. 9). A form gallantes, as if from gallare, “to rave like a priest of Cybelé,” is cited from Varro (ap. Non. p. 119, 5). In their wild, enthusiastic, and boisterous rites the Galli recalled the legends of the Corybantes (q.v.). According to an ancient custom, they were always castrated (spadones, semimares, semiviri, nec viri nec feminae), and it would seem that, impelled by religious enthusiasm, they performed this operation on themselves (Ovid, Fast. iv. 237; Plin. H. N. xi. 261; Plin. H. N. xxxv. 165; Martial, iii. 81, xi. 74; Juv.vi. 512 foll.; Catull. Attis). See Rhea.

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 31.9
    • Ovid, Fasti, 4
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