Temples of Cybele in Rome

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A number of temples to Cybele in Rome have been identified. Originally an Anatolian mother goddess, the cult of Cybele was formally brought to Rome during the Second Punic War (218 to 201 BCE) after a consultation with the Sibylline Books.

Circus Maximus[edit]

A shrine of Cybele in the Circus Maximus, mentioned in the Notitia (Reg. XI), and by Tertullian.[1] The reliefs representing the circus[2] and a mosaic at Barcelona,[3] represent Cybele sitting on a lion on the spina of the circus, just east of its centre.[4]


Annually, on 27 March, the sacred black stone of the Magna Mater was brought from her temple on the Palatine to where the brook of the Almo (now called the Acquataccio) crossed the via Appia south of the Porta Capena, for the ceremony of "lavatio" (washing). Although there are numerous references to this ceremony, it seems to have constituted a "locus sacratus" or sacred place rather than a permanent building, as supported by the lack of archaeological evidence for it.

Palatine Hill[edit]

Sacra Via[edit]

A tholos, adorned with frescoes, at the top of the Sacra via, where the Clivus Palatinus branched off to the south.[5] Its approximate site is also probably indicated by the Haterii relief on which, to the immediate left of the arch of Titus, is a statue of the Magna Mater seated under an arch at the top of a flight of thirteen steps.[6] Spano believes the arch to be a Janus erected at the four cross-roads near the meta sudans – perhaps on or near the site of the arch of Constantine. He does not even quote the passage of Martial.[7] A passage in Cass. Dio[8] is generally supposed to refer to this temple.

Vatican Hill[edit]

A shrine on the right bank of the River Tiber, near the racecourse of Caligula (Gaianum), known from several inscriptions on fragmentary marble altars,[9] dating from 305 to 390 CE, all but one of which were found under the façade of S. Peter's in 1609.[10] This shrine is probably the Frigianum (Phrygianum) of the Not.[11] If an inscription on an altar at Lyon of the time of Hadrian refers to this shrine,[12] it would indicate that this was an important religious centre.[13]


  • Cicero De Natura Deorum III.52; Ovid Fasti IV.337‑340;
  • Mart. III.47.2; Stat. Silv. V.1.222;
  • Lucan I.600; Sil. Ital. VIII.363;
  • Ammian. XXIII.3.7; Vib. Sequester 2;1 Fast. Philoc. ad VI Kal. Apr., CIL I2 pp260, 314;
  • Pol. Silv. Fast. Rust. ib. p261;
  • ib. VI.10098 =33961 = Carm. epig. 1110;
  • Prud. Peristeph. X.160; HJ 215.


  1. ^ de spect. 8: frigebat daemonum concilium sine sua Matre: ea itaque illic praesidet Euripo
  2. ^ cf. HJ 138, n68
  3. ^ cf. ib. n69
  4. ^ HJ 131, 40; RE III.2574; Rosch. II.1667‑1668
  5. ^ Mart. I.70.9‑10: flecte vias hac qua madidi sunt tecta Lyaei et Cybeles picto stat Corybante tholus
  6. ^ Mon. d. Inst. V.7; Mitt. 1895, 25‑27; Altm. 71‑72; Rosch. II.2917
  7. ^ Atti Accad. Napoli XXIV. (1906, II.) 227‑262
  8. ^ XLVI.33.3: ὣσπερ τό τε τῆς Μητρὸς τῶν θεῶν ἄγαλμα τὸ ἐν τῷ Παλατίῳ ὄν (πρὸς γὰρ τοι τὰς τοῦ ἡλίου ἀνατολὰς πρότερον βλέπων πρὸς δυσμὰς ἀπὸ ταὐτομάτου μετεστράφη
  9. ^ CIL VI.497‑504 p.326
  10. ^ Severano, Sette Chiese, 95; cf. also NS 1922, 81; DAP 2.XV.271‑278; JHS 1923, 194
  11. ^ Reg. XIV
  12. ^ CIL XIII.1751: L. Aemilius Carpus IIIIIIvir Aug. item dendrophorus vires excepit et a Vaticano transtulit
  13. ^ RhM 1891, 132; HJ 659; Rosch. II.2917