Sunday, April 27, 2008
Temple of Cybele at Balchik
More Unique Findings Unearthed in Cybele Temple in Bulgaria's Balchik 23 April 2008, Wednesday A total of four antique statues were unearthed in the temple of the Phrygian Goddess Cybele in Bulgaria's coastal town of Balchik on Wednesday. The team of the archaeologists Igor Lazarenko, Elina Mircheva and Radostina Encheva discovered two Cybele's statues and two other, believed to be statues of Aphrodite and Dionysus. During the excavation works, there have been found also two relieves and a limestone slab with a lion embossment. The first finding in the temple, believed to be the biggest one in Bulgaria, was discovered at the end of April last year, when archaeologists found a 30-centimeter-long marble statue of Cybele. "The statue has no head and part of the goddess' palm is also missing," the curator of the local museum Radostina Encheva said. It emerged that a column with a Latin inscription and an architectural element with bulls' heads were discovered on the same spot. Among the other precious findings, discovered on the spot is a 50-centimeter-high Doric column with a well-preserved inscription addressed to the Roman emperor Valerius Licinianus Licinius. The temple's walls were at least 2.5 meters high, and the base of the building is huge, compared to other important buildings of the same age. A huge fire or a disastrous earthquake destroyed the temple, the archaeologists believe. Originally a Phrygian goddess, Cybele was a deification of the Earth Mother who was worshiped in Anatolia from Neolithic times. Like Gaia (the "Earth") or her Minoan equivalent Rhea, Cybele embodies the fertile earth, a goddess of caverns and mountains, walls and fortresses, nature, wild animals. Her title "potnia theron", which is also associated with the Minoan Great Mother, alludes to her ancient Neolithic roots as "Mistress of the Animals". She becomes a life-death-rebirth deity in connection with her consort, her son Attis. *********************************************************************************** From Barbara Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." Cybele Great Mother of the Gods from Ida - Magna Mater Deum Idea - brought to Rome from Phrygia in 204 B.C. Her triumphal procession was "later glorified by marvelous legends, and the poets told of edifying miracles that had occurred during Cybele's voyage."(1) Her holy aniconic image was carried to Rome by order of the Cumaean Sybil, a personification of the same cave-dwelling Goddess herself. As the Great Mother of all Asia Minor, she was worshipped especially on Mt. Ida, Mt. Sipylus, Cyzicus, Sardis, and Pessinus in Galatia.(2) Her festivals were called ludi, "games."(3) A highlight of her worship was the Taurobolium, baptism in the blood of a sacred bull, who represented her dying-god consort, Attis. Her temle stood on the Vatican, where St. Peter's basilica stands today, up to the 4th century A.D. when Christians took it over.(4) She was one of the leading deities of Rome in the heyday of the mystery cults, along with Hecate and Demeter of Eleusis.(5) Variations of Cybele's name - Kubaba, Kuba, Kube - have been linked with the Ka'aba stone at Mecca, a meteoric "cube" that bore the Goddess's symbol and was once known as the Old Woman.(6) Other names for Cybele assimilated her to every significant form of the Great Goddess. She was the Berecynthian Mother (genetrix Berecynthia). She was Rhea Lobrine, Goddess of sacred caves, known as her "marriage bowers."(7) She was called Augusta, the Great One; Alma, the Nourishing One; Sanctissima, the Most Holy One. Roman emperors like Augustus, Claudius, and Antoninus Pius regarded her as the supreme deity of the empire. Augustus established his home facing her temple, and looked upon his wife, the empress Livia Augusta, as an earthly incarnation of her.(8) The emperor Julian wrote an impassioned address to her: Who is then the Mother of the gods? She is the source of the intellectual and creative gods, who in their turn guide the visible gods; she is both the mother and the spouse of the mighty Zeus; she came into being next to and together with the great crator; she is in control of every form of life, and the cause of all generation; she easily brings to perfection all things that are; she is the motherless maiden, enthroned at the side of Zeus, and in very truth is the Mother of all the Gods.(9) Fathers of the Christian church vehemently disagreed. St. Augustine called Cybele a harlot mother, "the mother, not of the gods, but of the demons."(10) One of her names, Antaea, made her the mythical mother of the earth-giant Antaeus, who was invincible as long as his feet remained in contact with his Mother's body, the earth. Heracles conquered him by holding him up in the air. Churchmen believed the powers of witches came from the same sort of contact with Mother Earth. Arresting officers often carried witches to prison in a large basket, so their feet would not touch the ground.(11) There was a Christian sect founded in the 2nd century A.D. by Montanus (Mountain man), a priest of Cybele, who identified Attis with Christ. [Indeed, the similarities in the myths of both gods are compelling]. Montanus maintained that women were agents of the Goddess, and could preach and prophesy as well as men. This contradicted the orthodox Pauline sect, which followed St. Paul's rule that women must never speak publicly on holy subjects.(12) During the 4th century, Montanist Christianity was declared a heresy, and many of its adherents were slain. Some Montanists in Asia Minor were locked in their churches and burned alive.(13) Notes: (1) Cumont, O.R.R.P., 47. (2) Encyc. Brit., "Great Mother of the Gods." (3) James, 246. (4) Clodd, 79; Frazer, G.B., 408. (5) Angus, 143. (6) Vermaseren, 22; Harding, 41. (7) Gaster, 609. (8) Vermaseren, 27, 53, 83, 85, 177-78. (9) Vermaseren, 86-87. (10) Vermaseren, 181. (11) Robbins, 334; Lea unabridged, 814. (12) Reinach, 278. (13) Chamberlin, A.M., ch. 1. Related: Bibi Nani (Cult of Nania). Compare: Kubaba.