An ancient Cretan earth-goddess, daughter of Uranus and Gaia, wife of her brother the Titan Cronus, and by him mother of the Olympian deities Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Hera, Hestia, and Demeter. She was early identified with the Asiatic goddess Cybele, the Great Mother, who was worshipped on mountains in Mysia, Lydian, and Phrygia. Her Cretan Curetes corresponded to the Phrygian Corybantes, many of whom mutilated themselves like Attis in the frenzy of their orgies. The regular priests of Cybele, the Galli, made themselves eunuchs for conscience' sake. A Sibyl-like oracle decreed the introduction of the worship of the Great Mother at Rome in 204 BC, and in 217 a temple was dedicated on the Palatine. The cult became widely extended across the Empire. In the 2nd century AD the rites of the Taurobolia and Criobolia were added, in which candidates were baptized for purification and regeneration with the blood of sacrificial bulls and rams.
Related entry• Rhea, moon of Saturn (Encyclopedia of Science)
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