“At least I’ve still got my bus-pass”

Does anyone have an image of a sculpture of Attis, slumped down just after castrating himself?  I was searching for images of Attis “reclining”, but found little.  There is one in Vermaseren’s Cybele and Attis, but I don’t have it here.

That one pictured Attis as looking a little depressed. And no wonder.  What was he thinking, we ask?  My guess is in the title.

If I can get a picture, I might run a small caption competition.

Attis Menotyrannus – Lord of the Moon, or Lord of the Months?

Using the Clauss-Slaby database, and searching for ‘attid’ (i.e. attidi or the like), an interesting set of results appear in which Attis is given the title “Menotyrannus”.

All the results are on material found in Rome, and nowhere else.  What does this title mean?

The title seems to be Greek, and might refer (I am told) to the Phyrgian moon-god.  In this context it would relate to the astrological ideas about Attis as the sun, which we saw earlier.  But in the absence of any literary testimony, how can we tell?

These are the results:

Publication: CIL 06, 00499 p 3005, 3757 = CIL 06, 30779c = D 04147 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Matri deum Magnae Idaeae Summae Parenti Hermae et Attidi Menotyranno Invicto Clodius Hermogenianus Caesarius vir clarissimus proconsul Africae praefectus urbis Romae XVvir sacris faciundis taurobolio criobolioque perfecto XIIII Kalendas Augustas diis animae suae mentisque custodibus aram dicavit domino nostro Gratiano Augusto tertium et 3 Aequitio conssulibus

Publication: CIL 06, 00500 p 3005, 3757 = CIL 06, 30779d = D 04148 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Matri deum Magnae Idaeae et Attidi Menotyranno Conservatoribus suis Caelius Hilarianus vir clarissimus duodecimvir urbis Romae pater sacrorum et hieroceryx Invicti Mithrae sacerdos dei Liberi sacerdos deae Hecate domino nostro Gratiano Augusto et Merobaude conssulibus III Idus Maias

Publication: CIL 06, 00501 p 3005, 3757 = CIL 06, 30779e = D 04149 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Matri deum Magnae Idaeae et Attidi Sancto Menotyranno Quintus Clodius Flavianus vir clarissimus pontifex maior XVvir sacris faciundis septemvir epulonum pontifex dei Solis taurobolio criobolioque percepto aram dicavit Nonis Aprilibus FFllavis Merobaude II et Saturnino conssulibus

Publication: CIL 06, 00508 p 3757 = D 04146 = AE 2003, +00151 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Potentissimis Dis Matri deum Magnae et Attidi Menotyranno 3 Serapias honesta femina sacrata deum matris et Proserpinae taurobolium criobolium caernophorum perceptum per Flavium Antonium Eustochium sacerdotem Phryges maximus praesentibus et tradentibus cclarissimorum vvirorum ex amplissimo et sanctissimo collegio XVvirum sacris faciundis die XIII Kalendas Maias cerealibus ddominis nnostris Constantino Maximo Augusto V et Licinio Iuniori Caesari conssulibus

Publication: CIL 06, 00511 p 3005 = CLE 01529 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Matri deum Magnae Idaeae et Attidi Menoturano sacrum nobilis in causis forma celsusque Sabinus hic pater Invicti mystica victor habet sermo duos 3 reservans consimiles aufert3 et veneranda movet Cibeles Triodeia signa augentur meritis simbola tauroboli Rufius Caeionius Caeioni(?) Sabini filius(?) vir classimus pontifex maior hierofanta deae Hecatae augur publicus populi Romani Quiritium pater sacrorum Invicti Mthrae tauroboliatus Matris deum Magnae Idaeae et Attidis Minoturani et aram IIII Idus Martias Gratiano V et Merobaude consulibus dedicabit antiqua generose domo cui regia Vesta pontifici felix sacrato militat igne idem augur triplicis cultor venerande Dianae Persidicique Mithrae antistes Babloniae templi taurobolique simul magni dux mistice sacri

Publication: AE 1953, 00238 = AE 2000, +00136 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Diis Magnis Matri deum Idaeae et Attidi sancto Menotyranno Alfenius Ceionius Iulianus Kamenius vir clarissimus VIIvir epulonum pater et hieroceryx sacrorum Soli Invicti Mithrae hierofanta H{a}ecatae archibucolus dei liberi aram taurobolio criobolioque percepto dicabit! die XIIII Kalendas Augustas domino nostro Gratiano Augusto III et Equitio conssulibus

Publication: CIL 06, 00512 p 3005, 3757 = CLE +00264 = D 04154 = SIRIS 00447 = RICIS-02, 005010212 = AE 2003, +00151 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Matri deum Magnae Idaeae et Attidi Menotyranno dis Magnis et Tutatoribus suis Ceionius Rufius Volusianus vir clarissimus et inlustris ex vicario Asiae et Ceioni Rufi Volusiani viri clarissimi et inlustris ex praefecto praetorio et ex praefecto urbi et Caecinae Lollianae clarissimae et inlustris feminae deae Isidis sacerdotis filius iterato viginti annis expletis taurobolii sui aram constituit et consecravit X Kalendas Iunias domino nostro Valentiniano Augusto IIII et Neoterio conssulibus

Publication: AE 1953, 00237 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Diis! Magnis Matri deum Magnae Idaeae et Attidi Menotyranno Sextius Rusticus vir clarissimus et inlustris pater patrum dei Invicti Mithrae

Publication: AE 1953, 00238 = AE 2000, +00136 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Diis Magnis Matri deum Idaeae et Attidi sancto Menotyranno Alfenius Ceionius Iulianus Kamenius vir clarissimus VIIvir epulonum pater et hieroceryx sacrorum Soli Invicti Mithrae hierofanta H{a}ecatae archibucolus dei liberi aram taurobolio criobolioque percepto dicabit! die XIIII Kalendas Augustas domino nostro Gratiano Augusto III et Equitio conssulibus

Publication: CIL 06, 00499 p 3005, 3757 = CIL 06, 30779c = D 04147 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Matri deum Magnae Idaeae Summae Parenti Hermae et Attidi Menotyranno Invicto Clodius Hermogenianus Caesarius vir clarissimus proconsul Africae praefectus urbis Romae XVvir sacris faciundis taurobolio criobolioque perfecto XIIII Kalendas Augustas diis animae suae mentisque custodibus aram dicavit domino nostro Gratiano Augusto tertium et 3 Aequitio conssulibus

Publication: CIL 06, 00500 p 3005, 3757 = CIL 06, 30779d = D 04148 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Matri deum Magnae Idaeae et Attidi Menotyranno Conservatoribus suis Caelius Hilarianus vir clarissimus duodecimvir urbis Romae pater sacrorum et hieroceryx Invicti Mithrae sacerdos dei Liberi sacerdos deae Hecate domino nostro Gratiano Augusto et Merobaude conssulibus III Idus Maias

Publication: CIL 06, 00501 p 3005, 3757 = CIL 06, 30779e = D 04149 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Matri deum Magnae Idaeae et Attidi Sancto Menotyranno Quintus Clodius Flavianus vir clarissimus pontifex maior XVvir sacris faciundis septemvir epulonum pontifex dei Solis taurobolio criobolioque percepto aram dicavit Nonis Aprilibus FFllavis Merobaude II et Saturnino conssulibus

Publication: CIL 06, 00508 p 3757 = D 04146 = AE 2003, +00151 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Potentissimis Dis Matri deum Magnae et Attidi Menotyranno 3 Serapias honesta femina sacrata deum matris et Proserpinae taurobolium criobolium caernophorum perceptum per Flavium Antonium Eustochium sacerdotem Phryges maximus praesentibus et tradentibus cclarissimorum vvirorum ex amplissimo et sanctissimo collegio XVvirum sacris faciundis die XIII Kalendas Maias cerealibus ddominis nnostris Constantino Maximo Augusto V et Licinio Iuniori Caesari conssulibus

Publication: CIL 06, 00511 p 3005 = CLE 01529 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Matri deum Magnae Idaeae et Attidi Menoturano sacrum nobilis in causis forma celsusque Sabinus hic pater Invicti mystica victor habet sermo duos 3 reservans consimiles aufert3 et veneranda movet Cibeles Triodeia signa augentur meritis simbola tauroboli Rufius Caeionius Caeioni(?) Sabini filius(?) vir classimus pontifex maior hierofanta deae Hecatae augur publicus populi Romani Quiritium pater sacrorum Invicti Mthrae tauroboliatus Matris deum Magnae Idaeae et Attidis Minoturani et aram IIII Idus Martias Gratiano V et Merobaude consulibus dedicabit antiqua generose domo cui regia Vesta pontifici felix sacrato militat igne idem augur triplicis cultor venerande Dianae Persidicique Mithrae antistes Babloniae templi taurobolique simul magni dux mistice sacri

Publication: CIL 06, 00512 p 3005, 3757 = CLE +00264 = D 04154 = SIRIS 00447 = RICIS-02, 005010212 = AE 2003, +00151 Province: Roma Place: Roma
Matri deum Magnae Idaeae et Attidi Menotyranno dis Magnis et Tutatoribus suis Ceionius Rufius Volusianus vir clarissimus et inlustris ex vicario Asiae et Ceioni Rufi Volusiani viri clarissimi et inlustris ex praefecto praetorio et ex praefecto urbi et Caecinae Lollianae clarissimae et inlustris feminae deae Isidis sacerdotis filius iterato viginti annis expletis taurobolii sui aram constituit et consecravit X Kalendas Iunias domino nostro Valentiniano Augusto IIII et Neoterio conssulibus

Herodotus on Attis?

In Herodotus, book 1, 34-45, there is a rambling story about Atys, son of Croesus, accidentally killed by a spear while hunting.  In his Cybele and Attis, M. J. Vermaseren considers whether this is part of the myth of Attis.  This link asserts that it is.

But on looking at the text, the account is very dissimilar from any other account.  Does anything but the similarity of name tie the two together?

Catullus on Attis

One of our earlier sources for Attis is Catullus, poem 63. It’s here in Latin and English (done rather nicely). Edition and translation are not specified, but I think may be an old Loeb edition.

Here’s the English:

Borne in his swift bark over deep seas,
Attis, when eagerly with speedy foot he reached the Phrygian woodland,
and entered the goddess’ abodes, shadowy, forest-crowned;
there, goaded by raging madness, bewildered in mind,
he cast down from him with sharp flint-stone the burden of his member.
So when she felt her limbs to have lost their manbood,
still with fresh blood dabbling the face of the ground,
swiftly with snowy bands she seized the light timbrel,
your timbrel, Cybele, thy mysteries, Mother,
and shaking with soft fingers the hollow oxhide
thus began she to sing to her companions tremulously:
“Come away, ye Gallae, go to the mountain forests of Cybele together,
together go, wandering herd of the lady of Dindymus,
who swiftly seeking alien homes as exiles,
followed my rule as I led you in my train,
endured the fast-flowing brine and the savage seas,
and unmanned your bodies from utter abhorrence of love,
cheer ye your Lady’s heart with swift wanderings.
Let dull delay depart from your mind; go together, follow
to the Phrygian house of Cybele, to the Phrygian forests of the goddess,
where the noise of cymbals sounds, where timbrels re-echo,
where the Phrygian flute-player blows a deep note on his curved reed,
where the Maenads ivy-crowned toss their heads violently,
where with shrill yells they shake the holy emblems,
where that wandering company of the goddess is wont to rove,
whither for us ’tis meet to hasten with rapid dances.”
So soon as Attis, woman yet no true one, chanted thus to her companions,
the revellers suddenly with quivering tongues yell aloud,
the light timbrel rings again, clash again the hollow cymbals,
swiftly to green Ida goes the rout with hurrying foot.
Then too frenzied, panting, uncertain, wanders, gasping for breath,
attended by the timbrel, Attis, through the dark forests their leader,
as a heifer unbroken starting aside from the burden of the yoke.
Fast follow the Gallae their swift-footed leader.
So when they gained the house of Cybele, faint and weary,
after much toil they take their rest without bread;
heavy sleep covers their eyes with drooping weariness,
the delirious madness of their mind departs in soft slumber.
But when the sun with the flashing eyes of his golden face
lightened the clear heaven, the firm lands, the wild sea,
and chased away the shades of night with eager tramping steeds refreshed,
then Sleep fled from wakened Attis and quickly was gone;
him the goddess Pasithea received in her fluttering bosom.
So after soft slumber, freed from violent madness,
as soon as Attis himself in his heart reviewed his own deed,
and saw with clear mind what lie had lost and where he was,
with surging mind again he sped back to the waves.
There, looking out upon the waste seas with streaming eyes,
thus did she piteously address her country with tearful voice:
” O my country that gavest me life! O my country that barest me!
leaving whom, all wretch! as runaway servants leave their masters,
I have borne my foot to the forests of Ida,
to live among snows and frozen lairs of wild beasts,
and visit in my frenzy all their lurking-dens,
— where then or in what region do I think thy place to be, O my country?
Mine eyeballs unbidden long to turn their gaze to thee
while for a short space my mind is free from wild frenzy.
I, shall I from my own home be borne far away into these forests?
from my country, my possessions, my friends, my parents, shall I be?
absent from the market, the wrestling-place, the racecourse, the playground?
unhappy, all unhappy heart, again, again must thou complain.
For what form of human figure is there which I had not?
I, to be a woman–who was a stripling, I a youth, I a boy,
I was the flower of the playground, I was once the glory of the palaestra:
mine were the crowded doorways, mine the warm thresholds,
mine the flowery garlands to deck my house
when I was to leave my chamber at sunrise.
I, shall I now be called–what? a handmaid of the gods, a ministress of Cybele?
I a Maenad, I part of myself, a barren man shall I be?
I, shall I dwell in icy snow-clad regions of verdant Ida,
I pass my life under the high summits of Phrygia,
with the hind that haunts the woodland, with the boar that ranges the forest?
now, now I rue my deed, now, now I would it were undone.”
From his rosy lips as these words issued forth,
bringing a new message to both ears of the gods,
then Cybele, loosening the fastened yoke from her lions,
and goading that foe of the herd who drew on the left, thus speaks:
“Come now,” she says, “come, go fiercely, let madness hunt him hence
bid him hence by stroke of madness hie him to the forests again,
him who would be too free, and run away from my sovereignty.
Come, lash back with tail, endure thy own scourging,
make all around resound with bellowing roar,
shake fiercely on brawny neck thy ruddy mane.”
Thus says wrathful Cybele, and with her hand unbinds the yoke.
The monster stirs his courage and rouses him to fury of heart;
he speeds away, he roars, with ranging foot he breaks the brushwood.
But when he came to the watery stretches of the white-gleaming shore,
and saw tender Attis by the smooth spaces of the sea,
he rushes at him–madly flies Attis to the wild woodland.
There always for all his lifetime was he a handmaid.
Goddess, great goddess, Cybele, goddess, lady of Dindymus
far from my house be all thy fury, O my queen
others drive thou in frenzy, others drive thou to madness.

Sallustius on Attis

The late antique philosopher Sallustius in De diis et mundo also wrote about Attis. The text is online here. I suspect this is the A.D.Nock 1926 translation, but there is an old one somewhere by Thomas Taylor.

To take another myth, they say that the Mother of the Gods seeing Attis lying by the river Gallus fell in love with him, took him, crowned him with her cap of stars, and thereafter kept him with her. He fell in love with a nymph and left the Mother to live with her. For this the Mother of the Gods made Attis go mad and cut off his genital organs and leave them with the nymph, and then return and dwell with her.

Now the Mother of the Gods is the principle that generates life; that is why she is called Mother. Attis is the creator of all things which are born and die; that is why he is said to have been found by the river Gallus. For Gallus signifies the Galaxy, or Milky Way, the point at which body subject to passion begins. Now as the primary gods make perfect the secondary, the Mother loves Attis and gives him celestial powers.

That is what the cap means. Attis loves a nymph: the nymphs preside over generation, since all that is generated is fluid. But since the process of generation must be stopped somewhere, and not allowed to generate something worse than the worst, the creator who makes these things casts away his generative powers into the creation and is joined to the Gods again. Now these things never happened, but always are. And mind sees all things at once, but reason (or speech) expresses some first and others after. Thus, as the myth is in accord with the cosmos, we for that reason keep a festival imitating the cosmos, for how could we attain higher order?

The gallos-priests of Attis

The full text of Lucian De Dea Syria is online here. cc. 50-51 discuss the galli.

50. On certain days a multitude flocks into the temple, and the Galli in great numbers, sacred as they are, perform the ceremonies of the men and gash their arms and turn their backs to be lashed. Many bystanders play on the pipes the while many beat drums; others sing divine and sacred songs. All this performance takes place outside the temple, and those engaged in the ceremony enter not into the temple.

51. During these days they are made Galli. As the Galli sing and celebrate their orgies, frenzy falls on many of them and many who had come as mere spectators afterwards are found to have committed the great act. I will narrate what they do. Any young man who has resolved on this action, strips off his clothes, and with a loud shout bursts into the midst of the crowd, and picks up a sword from a number of swords which I suppose have been kept ready for many years for this purpose. He takes it and castrates himself and then runs wild through the city, bearing in his hands what he has cut off. He casts it into any house at will, and from this house he receives women’s raiment and ornaments. Thus they act during their ceremonies of castration.

52. The Galli, when dead, are not buried like other men, but when a Gallus dies his companions carry him out into the suburbs, and laying him out on the bier on which they had carried him they cover him with stones, and after this return home. They wait then for seven days, after which they enter the temple. Should they enter before this they would be guilty of blasphemy.

There is a question whether this rite relates to Cybele and Attis, depending on whether we identify the Syrian goddess with Cybele.

Julian on Attis

Libanius tells us that, as Julian the Apostate marched to his Persian campaign, he spent one night at Pessinus, the home of the cult of Cybele and Attis, and wrote an essay defending the cult and interpreting its myth in philosophical style.

His oration on the Magna Mater, Oratio 5, is online here. It’s mostly full of allegorising, but begins with a valuable account of the coming of the cult of Cybele to Rome.

I’ve tried to condense a large chunk of the material to the bits which give concrete information about Attis, and paragraphed it for readability:

Who then is the Mother of the Gods? She is the Source of the Intelligible and Creative Powers, which direct the visible ones; she that gave birth to and copulated with the mighty Jupiter: she that exists as a great goddess next to the Great One, and in union with the Great Creator; she that is dispenser of all life; cause of all birth; most easily accomplishing all that is made; generating without passion; creating all that exists in concert with the Father; herself a virgin, without mother, sharing the throne of Jupiter, the mother in very truth of all the gods; for by receiving within herself the causes of all the intelligible deities that be above the world, she became the source to things the objects of intellect.

Now this goddess, who is also the same as Providence, was seized with a love without passion for Attis. … And this the legend aims at teaching when it makes the Mother of the Gods enjoin upon Attis to be her servant, and not to stray from her, and not fall in love with another woman. But he went forward, and descended as far as the boundaries of Matter.

But when it became necessary for this ignorance to cease and be stopped—-then Corybas, the mighty Sun, the colleague of the Mother of the Gods … persuades the lion to turn informer. Who then is this lion? We hear him styled “blazing”—-he must, therefore, I think, be the cause presiding over the hot and fiery element; that which was about to wage war against the Nymph, and to make her jealous of her intercourse with Attis; and who this Nymph is we have already stated.

This lion, the fable tells, lent his aid to the Mother of the Gods … and by his detecting the offence and turning informer, became the author of the castration of the youth. … not without the intervention of the fabled madness of Attis…

It is not therefore unreasonable to suppose this Attis a sixper-natural personage (in fact the fable implies as much), or rather in all respects, a deity, seeing that he comes forth out of the Third Creator, and returns again after his castration, to the Mother of the Gods… the fable styles him a “demi-god,” … The Corybantes… are assigned by the Great Mother to act as his bodyguard…

This great god of ours is Attis; this is the meaning of the “Flight of King Attis” that we have just been lamenting; his “Concealments,” his “Vanishings,” his “Descents into the Cave.” Let my evidence be the time of year when all these ceremonies take place; for it is said that the Sacred Tree is cut down at the moment when the Sun arrives at the extreme point of the equinoctial arc: next in order follows the Sounding of the trumpets, and lastly is cut down the sacred and ineffable Harvest of the god Gallos: after these come, as they say, the Hilaria and festivities.

Now that a “cessation of Indefinity” is meant by the castration so much talked of by the vulgar, is self-evident from the fact that when the Sun touches the equinoctial circle, where that which is most definite is placed (for equality is definite, but inequality indefinite and inexplicable); at that very moment (according to the report), the Sacred Tree is cut down; then come the other rites in their order; whereof some are done in compliance with rules that be holy and not to be divulged; others for reasons allowable to be discussed.

The “Cutting of the Tree;” this part refers to the legend about the Gallos, and has nothing to do with the rites which it accompanies… The rite, therefore, enjoins upon us who are celestial by our nature, but who have been carried down to earth, to reap virtue joined with piety from our conduct upon earth, and to aspire upwards unto the deity, the primal source of being and the fount of life. Then immediately after the cutting does the trumpet give out the invocation to Attis and to those that be of heaven, whence we took our flight, and fell down to earth.

And after this, when King Attis checks the Indefinity by the means of castration, the gods thereby warn us to extirpate in ourselves all incontinence, and to imitate the example, and to run upwards unto the Definite, and the Uniform, and if it be possible, to the One itself; which being accomplished the “Hilaria” must by all means follow. For what could be more contented, what more hilarious than the soul that has escaped from uncertainty, and generation, and the tumult that reigns therein, and hastens upwards to the gods? Of whose number was this Attis, whom the Mother of the Gods would not suffer to advance farther than was proper for him, but turned him towards herself, and enjoined him to check all indefinity.

The discovery of Firmicus Maternus

It is always good to have a clear idea of how a book comes into our hands.

In 1562 Mattias Flacius, who was writing a church history in the Lutheran interest, happened upon a handwritten medieval book at Minden in Germany, which contained an ancient text previously unknown.  The work was De errore profanum religionem (On the error of pagan religion) by Firmicus Maternus, and was dedicated to the emperors Constantius II and Constans. 

Recognising an unpublished text, he sent it to Strasburg, where it was printed with his corrections and notes.  Unfortunately he did his work so poorly that the text was unintelligible in parts.  This was a problem, since the Minden manuscript disappeared soon after Flacius used it.

In 1603 Johannes Wouwer printed another edition at Froben, with his own emendations on the Flacius edition.  This became the basis for study for the next two centuries, and various editions were based on this.

In 1856 Conrad Bursian determined from a catalogue that a manuscript must exist in the Vatican, in Ms. Palatinus Latinus 165.    A collation was obtained and used. 

 The Vatican manuscript is now the only handwritten copy known to have survived the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages.  It was written in Germany in the 9-10th centuries, and is mutiliated at the beginning. 

It contains notes in the hand of Flacius, which shows that this is the “Minden” manuscript.  The Palatine collection in the Vatican comes from Germany.  It consists of manuscripts from the Rhineland Palatinate, from Heidelberg.  Flacius himself may have removed the book from the monks of Minden — he removed books from Fulda — or the Elector Palatine may have done so.  The collection was transferred to the Vatican at the end of the Thirty Years War.  The book has lost some leaves after folio 4, including an important passage on Mithras.

These notes culled from the introduction to the Teubner text by Ziegler, available on Google books, 1905

Attis 3 – Firmicus Maternus

In chapter 3 of his De errore profanum, Firmicus Maternus apparently discusses Attis, although without naming him.  Supposedly it says: 

In the first half of the fourth century CE, Firmicus Maternus reports that “he whom they had buried a little while earlier [Attis] had come to life again.” (from here)

There seems to be no English translation online.  I’ve made one here from the 1905 edition.

III. (1) The Phyrgians who live at Pessinus around the banks of the river Gallus, assign first place to the earth over the other elements, and this they profess (volunt) is the mother of all things. Then, so that they also might have for themselves an order of annual sacred events, they have consecrated the love affair of a rich women, their queen, who chose to punish tyrannically the scorn of an adolescent lover, with annual lamentations.  And to satisfy the irate woman, or to find consolation for her remorse, he whom they had buried a little earlier, they claim that he had come back to life.  And as the soul of the woman burned with the impatience of excessive love, they built temples to the dead youth. Then they profess that the priests appointed should undergo from themselves what the angry woman had done because of the injury to her scorned beauty.  So in the annual sacred rites in honour of the earth the pomp of his funeral is organised, and when men are persuaded that they are honouring the earth, they are (in fact) venerating the death and funeral of a wretch.

(2) Here also, most sacred emperors, in order to shield this error, they profess that these natural sacred rites are also arranged rationally.  They profess that the earth loves its fruits, they profess that Attis is exactly this, which is born from fruits; however the punishment which he sustained, this they profess is what the reaper with his scythe does to the ripe fruits.  They call it his death when the collected seeds are stored; life again, when the sown seeds sprout in the turning of the years.

(3) I would like them now to reply to my inquiry, why have they associated this simple (story of) seed and fruit with a funeral, with death, with scorn, with punishment, with love?  Was there not anything else that might be said? Was there not anything else that poor mortals might do in grateful thanks to the highest God for the crop? So that you can give thanks for the reborn crop, you howl; so that you rejoice, you weep. And you, when you see the true reason, you do not finally repent of doing this, but you do this, so that busyied with the turning seasons, you still flee from life, you pine for death.

(4) Let them tell me, how it benefits the crop, that they renew their tears with yearly howlings, that they groan over the calamities of a reborn corpse, which they say is arranged for a natural reason. You mourn and you wail, and you cover your mourning with another excuse. The farmer knew when he could furrow the earth with a plow, when he could sow the furrows with grain, he knew when to gather the crop ripened by the heat of the sun, he knew when to tread out the dried crop.  This is the natural reason, these are the true sacrificial rites, which are carried out by the yearly labour in men of healthy minds.  The divinity asks for this simplicity, that men should follow the laws ordained of the seasons (temporum) in collecting crops.  Why do they try to explain this order by wretched fictions of a death?  Why is that shielded with tears, which does not need to be shielded? From which let them admit of necessity, that these rites are not held in honour of the crops, but in honour of an unworthy death.

(5) When they say that the earth is the mother of all the gods, and they allot the chief roles to this element, indeed it is mother of their gods, — this we don’t deny or refuse, because from it they are always making their bunch of gods, whether of stone or wood. The sea flows around the whole earth, and again it is held tight by the circle of the encircling embracing Ocean.  The heavens also are covered by the lofty dome, blown through by winds, splashed by rains, and in fear, as shown by tremors of unremitting motion.  What remains to you, who cultivate these things, consider; when your gods reveal their weakness to you in daily declarations.

 

Here is the Latin, from the 1905 Teubner of Ziegler from Archive.org (tided up a bit):

III. Phryges qui Pessinunta incolunt circa Galli fluminis ripas, terrae ceterorum elementorum tribuunt principatum, et hanc volunt omnium esse matrem. Deinde ut et ipsi annuum sibi sacrorum ordinem facerent, mulieris divitis ac reginae suae amorem quae fastus amati adulescentis tyrannice voluit ulcisci, cum luctibus annuis consecrarunt, et ut satis iratae mulieri facerent, aut ut paenitenti solacium quaererent, quem paulo ante sepelierant revixisse iactarunt, et cum mulieris animus ex inpatientia nimii amoris arderet, mortuo adulescenti templa fecerunt. Tunc quod irata mulier pro iniuria spretae fecerat formae, hoc ordinatos a se pati volunt sacerdotes. Sic annuis sacris cum honore terrae istius funeris pompa conponitur, ut cum persuaderetur hominibus quod colant terram, miseri funeris venerentur exitium. Hic quoque sacratissimi imperatores ut error iste celetur, etiam haec sacra physica volunt esse ratione conposita. Amare terram volunt fruges, Attin vero hoc ipsum volunt esse, quod ex frugibus nascitur, poenam autem quam sustinuit hoc volunt esse, quod falce messor maturis frugibus facit. Mortem ipsius dicunt, quod semina collecta conduntur, vitam rursus quod iacta semina annuis vicibus reconduntur. Vellem nunc mihi inquirenti respondeant, cur hanc simplicitatem seminum ac frugum, cum funere, cum morte, cum fastu, cum poena, cum amore iuncxerunt? Itane non erat aliud quod diceretur? Itane non erat quod in agendis deo summo pro frugibus gratiis faceret misera mortalitas? Ut gratias pro renatis frugibus agas ululas, ut gaudeas plangis, nec te cum veram rationem videris, hoc aliquando fecisse paenituit, sed hoc agis ut annuis luctibus occupatas vitam semper fugias mortem requiras. Dicant mihi quid hoc frugibus profuit, ut fletus suos annuis ululatibus renovent, ut renati funeris calamitatibus ingemescant, quod dicant physica ratione conpositum? Lugetis et plangitis, et luctus vestros alia ratione celatis. Novit agricola quando terram aratro dimoveat, novit quando sulcis frumenta committat, novit quando maturatas solis ardoribus colligat segetes, novit quando tostas terat fruges. Haec est physica ratio, haec sunt vera sacrificia, quae ab sanae meniis hominibus annuo labore conplentur, hanc simplicitatem divinitas quaerit, ut homines in colligendis fructibus ordinatis temporum legibus serviant. Cur huic ordini miserae mortis figmenta quaesita sunt? Cur celatur lacrimis quod celari non debuit? Unde confiteantur necesse est, haec sacra non in honorem frugum sed in honorem esse conposita mortis alienae. Nam quod terram matrem esse omnium deorum dicunt qui huic elemento primas tribuunt partes, vere deorum suorum mater est, nec abnuimus aut recusamus, quia ab hac collectos deos suos aut lapideos faciunt semper aut ligneos. Terram omnem circumfluunt maria, et rursus inclusa Oceani ambientis circulo stringitur, caeli etiam rotunda sublimitate operitur, perflatur ventis aspergitur pluviis, et timorem suum assidui motus tremoribus confitetur. Quid vos maneat qui haec colitis considerate, cum dii vestri infirmitatem suam vobis cottidianis confessionibus prodant.

I always sigh on seeing so large a chunk of Latin.

This is a very different earth cult to the one represented in the other sources.

Attis, the sources: part 2

Arnobius the Elder, Against the Pagans, book 5, 5-7 (here) has a long discussion of the cult of Cybele, the Great Mother, of which Attis is a part, and her castrated and infamous priests, the Galli:

5. In Timotheus, who was no mean mythologist, and also in others equally well informed, the birth of the Great Mother of the gods, and the origin of her rites, are thus detailed, being derived-as he himself writes and suggests-from learned books of antiquities, and from his acquaintance with the most secret mysteries:-

Within the confines of Phrygia, he says, there is a rock of unheard-of wildness in every respect, the name of which is Agdus, so named by the natives of that district. Stones taken from it, as Themis by her oracle had enjoined, Deucalion and Pyrrha threw upon the earth, at that time emptied of men; from which this Great Mother, too, as she is called, was fashioned along with the others, and animated by the deity. Her, given over to rest and sleep on the very summit of the rock, Jupiter assailed with lewdest desires. But when, after long strife, he could no accomplish what he had proposed to himself, he, baffled, spent his lust on the stone. This the rock received, and with many groanings Acdestis is born in the tenth month, being named from his mother rock.

In him there had been resistless might, and a fierceness of disposition beyond control, a lust made furious, and derived from both sexes. He violently plundered and laid waste; he scattered destruction wherever the ferocity of his disposition had led him; he regarded not gods nor men, nor did he think anything more powerful than himself; he contemned earth, heaven, and the stars.

6. Now, when it had been often considered in the councils of the gods, by what means it might be possible either to weaken or to curb his audacity, Liber, the rest hanging back, takes upon himself this task. With the strongest wine he drugs a spring much resorted to by Acdestis where he had been wont to assuage the heat and burning thirst roused in him by sport and hunting. Hither runs Acdestis to drink when he felt the need; he gulps down the draught too greedily into his gaping veins. Overcome by what he is quite unaccustomed to, he is in consequence sent fast asleep.

Liber is near the snare which he had set; over his foot he throws one end of a halter formed of hairs, woven together very skilfully; with the other end he lays hold of his privy members. When the fumes of the wine passed off, Acdestis starts up furiously, and his foot dragging the noose, by his own strength he robs himself of his sex; with the tearing asunder of these parts there is an immense flow of blood; both are carried off and swallowed up by the earth; from them there suddenly springs up, covered with fruit, a pomegranate tree, seeing the beauty of which, with admiration, Nana, daughter of the king or river Sangarius, gathers and places in her bosom some of the fruit.

By this she becomes pregnant; her father shuts her up, supposing that she had been debauched, and seeks to have her starved to death; she is kept alive by the mother of the gods with apples, and other food, and brings forth a child, but Sangarius orders it to be exposed.

One Phorbas having found the child, takes it home, brings it up on goats’ milk; and as handsome fellows are so named in Lydia, or because the Phrygians in their own way of speaking call their goats attagi, it happened in consequence that the boy obtained the name Attis.

Him the mother of the gods loved exceedingly, because he was of most surpassing beauty; and Acdestis, who was his companion, as he grew up fondling him, and bound to him by wicked compliance with his lust in the only way now possible, leading him through the wooded glades, and presenting him with the spoils of many wild beasts, which the boy Attis at first said boastfully were won by his own toil and labour. Afterwards, under the influence of wine, he admits that he is both loved by Acdestis, and honoured by him with the gifts brought from the forest; whence it is unlawful for those polluted by drinking wine to enter into his sanctuary, because it discovered his secret.

7. Then Midas, king of Pessinus, wishing to withdraw the youth from so disgraceful an intimacy, resolves to give him his own daughter in marriage, and caused the gates of the town to be closed, that no one of evil omen might disturb their marriage joys.

But the mother of the gods, knowing the fate of the youth, and that he would live among men in safety only so long as he was free from the ties of marriage, that no disaster might occur, enters the closed city, raising its walls with her head, which began to be crowned with towers in consequence. Acdestis, bursting with rage because of the boy’s being torn from himself, and brought to seek a wife, fills all the guests with frenzied madness: the Phrygians shriek aloud, panic-stricken at the appearance of the gods; a daughter of adulterous Gallus cuts off her breasts; Attis snatches the pipe borne by him who was goading them to frenzy; and he, too, now filled with furious passion, raving frantically and tossed about, throws himself down at last, and under a pine tree mutilates himself, saying, “Take these, Acdestis, for which you have stirred up so great and terribly perilous commotions.”

With the streaming blood his life flies; but the Great Mother of the gods gathers the parts which had been cut off, and throws earth on them, having first covered them, and wrapped them in the garment of the dead. From the blood which had flowed springs a flower, the violet, and with this the tree is girt. Thence the custom began and arose, whereby you even now veil and wreath with flowers the sacred pine.

The virgin who had been the bride, whose name, as Valerius the pontifex relates, was Ia, veils the breast of the lifeless youth with soft wool, sheds tears with Acdestis, and slays herself After her death her blood is changed into purple violets.

The mother of the gods sheds tears also, from which springs an almond tree, signifying the bitterness of death. Then she bears away to her cave the pine tree, beneath which Attis had unmanned himself; and Acdestis joining in her wailings, she beats and wounds her breast, pacing round the trunk of the tree now at rest.

Jupiter is begged by Acdestis that Attis may be restored to life: he does not permit it. What, however, fate allowed, he readily grants, that his body should not decay, that his hairs should always grow, that the least of his fingers should live, and should be kept ever in motion; content with which favours, it is said that Acdestis consecrated the body in Pessinus, and honoured it with yearly rites and priestly services.

And:

16. And yet how can you assert the falsehood of this story, when the very rites which you celebrate throughout the year testify that you believe these things to be true, and consider them perfectly trustworthy?

For what is the meaning of that pine which on fixed days you always bring into the sanctuary of the mother of the gods? Is it not in imitation of that tree, beneath which the raging and ill-fated youth laid hands upon himself, and which the parent of the gods consecrated to relieve her sorrow?

What mean the fleeces of wool with which you bind and surround the trunk of the tree? Is it not to recall the wools with which Ia covered the dying youth, and thought that she could procure some warmth for his limbs fast stiffening with cold? What mean the branches of the tree girt round and decked with wreaths of violets? Do they not mark this, how the Mother adorned with early flowers the pine which indicates and bears witness to the sad mishap?

What mean the Galli with dishevelled hair beating their breasts with their palms? Do they not recall to memory those lamentations with which the tower-bearing Mother, along with the weeping Acdestis, wailing aloud, followed the boy? What means the abstinence from eating bread which you have named castus? Is it not in imitation of the time when the goddess abstained from Ceres’ fruit in her vehement sorrow?

17. Or if the things which we say are not so declare, say yourselves-those effeminate and delicate men whom we see among you in the sacred rites of this deity-what business, what care, what concern have they there; and why do they like mourners wound their arms and breasts, and act as those dolefully circumstanced?

What mean the wreaths, what the violets, what the swathings, the coverings of soft wools? Why, finally, is the very pine, but a little before swaying to and fro among the shrubs, an utterly inert log, set up in the temple of the Mother of the gods next, like some propitious and very venerable deity?

For either this is the cause which we have found in your writings and treatises, and in that case it is clear that you do not celebrate divine rites, but give a representation of sad events; or if there is any other reason which the darkness of the mystery has withheld from us, even it also must be involved in the infamy of some shameful deed. For who would believe that there is any honour in that which the worthless Galli begin, effeminate debauchees complete?

And ch. 39:

39. Whence, then, do we prove that all these narratives are records of events? Froth the solemn rites and mysteries of initiation, it is clear, whether those which are celebrated at fixed times and on set days, or those which are taught secretly by the heathen without allowing the observance of their usages to be interrupted.

For it is not to be believed that these have no origin, are practised without reason or meaning, and have no causes connected with their first beginnings. That pine which is regularly born into the sanctuary of the Great Mother, is it not in imitation of that tree beneath which Attis mutilated and unmanned himself, which also, they relate, the goddess consecrated to relieve her grief? That erecting of phalli and fascina, which Greece worships and celebrates in rites every year, does it not recall the deed by which Liber paid his debt?