Cybele Riding a Lion (Primary Title)
Kybele Riding a Lion (Alternate Title)

Unknown (Artist)

Late 2nd Century AD
Overall: 6 3/4 × 8 × 2 1/2 in. (17.145 × 20.32 × 6.35 cm)

“If ever a foreign-born enemy brings war to Italian lands, he can be driven from Italy and defeated if the Idaean Mother [Kybele] is brought from Pessinus to Rome.” – Livy, History of Rome

During Rome’s war against the Carthaginian general Hannibal, a prophecy was discovered in Rome’s sacred texts, the Sybillene books, that the Romans could defeat a foreign enemy only if they brought the goddess Kybele from Anatolia (in modern Turkey). Thus, in 205 BC, the cult of Kybele (including her priests) was introduced into Rome. This small-scale statue of Kybele (Magna Mater or “Great Mother”) riding on her frequent companion, a lion, was perhaps a votive offering or part of a household shrine.

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Glasgow
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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