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Great Anatolian mother goddess, accepted into the Greek pantheon at least by the 5th century B.C. and identified with Rhea as the mother of Zeus. She cared for her people in almost all aspects, overseeing fertility, the shepherdless herds of wild beasts, and even success in war. Her worship was marked by frenzied dancing, maenads, and the rythmic clashing of drums and cymbals.

She arrived in Rome during the second Punic war, and became associated with the bona dea, spreading quickly to the provinces. During the later Roman empire, a statue of her in a chariot drawn by lions sat in the middle of the Circus Maximus.

Probably the most famous myth involving Cybele is recorded in Catullus, poem 63, about her follower (or, in some other versions, son), Attis, who, in a fit of ritual madness, castrated himself.

The priests of Cybele (Cybebe in some places) were eunuchs known as Galli (singular: Gallus). Thus, the meter that Catullus 63, as well as the ritual hymns sung to Cybele, were in, was known as Galliambic.

This meter was remarkable in that the last four or five syllables of each line were supposed to all be short, unstressed syllables. This is particularly difficult in Latin, more suited to Greek. The very rapid cadence of the second half of a line was supposed to mimic the rapid clicking of little cymbals.

Cybele was also known as Magna Mater - in Latin, Great Mother. Being from Asia Minor, she is associated by Catullus with the mountain Dindymus in Phrygia.

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