Marble statuette of the Cybele from Nicaea in ...
Marble statuette of the Cybele from Nicaea in Bithynia (Istanbul Archaeology Museum), wearing the polos on her head (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cybele was a Mother Goddess with local manifestations in Asia Minor, Greece and Rome. Some scholars believe that she originated in Anatolia around 6000 BCE. She appears in literature and sculpture from about the 5th century BCE onward. She presides over the gods, humans and beasts.

The lion was her sacred symbol. In statues, reliefs and coins she’s often depicted seated on a throne with a lion on either side.

Sir William Smith in his Smaller Classical Dictionary says

The Corybantes were her enthusiastic priests, who with drums, cymbals, horns, and in full armour, performed their orgiastic dances. In Rome the Galli were her priests.¹

In Rome she was introduced as an official state religious figure and hence closely regulated and officiated by upper class priests.

Today, some people are drawn to her cult and, perhaps, numinous power – or what they believe is her numinous power. So her worship continues in the 21st century among New Age and neoPagan religious groups.²

¹ Sir William Smith, Smaller Classical Dictionary [revised by E. H. Blakeny and JohnWarrington], New York: Dutton, 1958.

² See


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