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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Gods, Non-Olympian| ▸ |Cybele||View Options:  |  |  | 

Cybele

Cybele, the Phrygian "Great Mother" earth goddess, was born a hermaphrodite, but castrated by the gods, she became female. Phrygia's only known goddess, she was probably its national deity. Greek colonists in Asia Minor adopted and adapted her Phrygian cult and spread it to mainland Greece and to the more distant western Greek colonies around the 6th century B.C.

In Greece, Cybele became partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, of her possibly Minoan equivalent Rhea, and of the harvest–mother goddess Demeter. Athens, evoked her as a protector, but her most celebrated Greek rites and processions show her as an essentially foreign, exotic mystery-goddess who arrives in a lion-drawn chariot to the accompaniment of wild music, wine, and a disorderly, ecstatic following.

After dire prodigies, including a meteor shower and a failed harvest, seemed to warn of Rome's imminent defeat to Hannibal, the Roman senate consulted the Sibylline oracle. Heeding the oracle's advice, the senate brought worship of Cybele to Rome in 204 B.C. as the first officially sanctioned Eastern cult. After approval, they were dismayed to learn that the priesthood required voluntary self-castration, which was abhorrent to the Romans. Romans were barred from entering the priesthood or even entering the priest's sanctuary. The eunuch priests, recruited from outside Rome, were confined to their sanctuary, leaving only to parade in the streets during festivals in April. Claudius removed the bans on Roman participation, making worship of Cybele and her consort Attis part of the state religion.
Cybele

Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

|Roman| |Egypt|, |Antoninus| |Pius,| |August| |138| |-| |7| |March| |161| |A.D.,| |Roman| |Provincial| |Egypt||drachm|
Cybele, the Phrygian "Great Mother" earth goddess, was born a hermaphrodite, but castrated by the gods, she became female. After dire prodigies, including a meteor shower and a failed harvest, seemed to warn of Rome's imminent defeat to Hannibal, the Roman senate consulted the Sibylline oracle. Heeding the oracle's advice, the senate brought worship of Cybele to Rome in 204 B.C. as the first officially sanctioned Eastern cult. After approval, they were dismayed to learn that the priesthood required voluntary self-castration, which was abhorrent to the Romans. Romans were barred from entering the priesthood or even entering the priest's sanctuary. The eunuch priests, recruited from outside Rome, were confined to their sanctuary, leaving only to parade in the streets during festivals in April. Claudius removed the bans on Roman participation, making worship of Cybele and her consort Attis part of the state religion.Cybele
RX92509. Bronze drachm, RPC Online IV.4 T14962; Dattari-Savio 2689; Geissen 1778; Milne 2330; BMC Alexandria p. 121, 1042; Emmett 1600/20 (R1), aF, well centered, porous, edge splits, beveled obverse edge, weight 24.026 g, maximum diameter 32.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 156 - 28 Aug 157 A.D.; obverse AYT K T AIΛ A∆P - ANTWNINOC, laureate head right; reverse Cybele seated left on throne flanked by two seated lions, wearing chiton and peplos, phiale in right hand, resting arm on drum, L - K (year 20) flanking high across field; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $90.00 (€73.80)
 


Roman Republic, First Triumvirate, A. Plautius, c. 55 B.C.

|99-50| |B.C.|, |Roman| |Republic,| |First| |Triumvirate,| |A.| |Plautius,| |c.| |55| |B.C.||denarius|
In 67 B.C., Aristobulus II rebelled against his older brother Hyrcanus II, the king of Judaea. Both brothers appealed to Pompey's deputy Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, who, bribed by a gift of 400 talents, decided in favor of Aristobulus. When Pompey arrived in Syria in 63 B.C., both brothers sent delegates to Damascus, but Pompey did not make an immediate decision. Aristobulus' followers refused to open the gates of Jerusalem and Romans forces besieged and captured the city. Pompey deemed Hyrcanus II, the elder, weaker brother a more reliable ally. Hyrcanus was restored as high priest, but not as king. Aristobulus was taken to Rome as a prisoner. In 57 B.C. Aristobulus escaped to Judaea and instigated another rebellion. A young cavalry commander, Marc Antony, led several men to scale Aristobulus' fortifications leading to his recapture. At the time this coin was struck in 55 B.C., Aristobulus was a prisoner in Rome. Julius Caesar released him in 49 B.C., hoping to turn Judaea against Pompey, but on his way to Judaea he was poisoned by a Pompey supporter. With help from the Parthians, Aristobulus' son Antigonus rebelled against Rome and became king in 40 B.C. He was defeated by Rome and killed in 37 B.C.

This special issue was struck by an Aedile Curule. Aediles supervised public works and staged games. Since this issue bears turreted Cybele, we may speculate it was to finance a building project.
RR94469. Silver denarius, Crawford 431/1, Sydenham 932, RSC I Plautia 13, BMCRR Rome 3916, Russo RBW 1540, SRCV I 395, Choice gVF, well centered on a broad flan, light tone on mint luster, areas of weak strike, light marks, weight 3.867 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 55 B.C.; obverse AED • CVR • S • C downwards on left, A • PLAVTIVS downwards on right, turreted head of Cybele right, wearing cruciform earring, hair rolled and in knot at the back, locks falling down neck; reverse Bacchius Judaeus (Aristobulus II High Priest and King of Judaea) kneeling right, with left hand holding reins of camel standing right on his far side, raising olive branch in right hand, IVDAEVS upward on right, BACCHIVS in exergue; from an Israeli collection, ex Münzzentrum Rheinland, auction 177 (14 Sep 2016), lot 304; SOLD


Domitia, Augusta, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D., Wife of Domitian, Sala, Lydia

|Other| |Lydia|, |Domitia,| |Augusta,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.,| |Wife| |of| |Domitian,| |Sala,| |Lydia||AE| |21|
Domitia Longina married Domitian in 70 A.D. She became Augusta upon Domitian's accession in 81, and remained so until his assassination in 96 A.D. She was the youngest daughter of the general and consul Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo. Domitia divorced her first husband, Lucius Aelius Lamia Plautius Aelianus in order to marry Domitian in 71 A.D. The marriage produced only one son, whose early death is believed to have been the cause of a temporary rift between Domitia and her husband in 83. She is believed to have died sometime between 126 and 130 A.D.
RP97905. Brass AE 21, GRPC Lydia 3 pl. 267, 44; RPC Online II 1343; SNG Cop 436; SNG Mun 457; Mionnet IV 934; Waddington 6444; Imhoof LS 1; BMC Lydia p. 231, 29, Choice VF/F, near black patina with highlighting earthen deposits, well centered, nice portrait, scratches, weight 4.654 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 180o, Sala (Tepecik, Turkey) mint, 13 Sep 81 - 18 Sep 96 A.D.; obverse CEBACTH ∆OMITIA, draped bust right, hair in elaborate plait; reverse CAΛHNΩN ∆OMITIANOΠO, Kybele seated left on throne, patera in right hand, resting left arm on tympanum (drum) on seat behind, lion at feet on far side; we think this coin nicer than any of the RPC online plate coins, this is the first specimen of this type handled by FORVM; scarce; SOLD







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