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date: 01 December 2020

Attislocked

  • Francis Redding Walton
  •  and John Scheid

Extract

Attis, in mythology, the youthful consort of *Cybele and prototype of her eunuch devotees. The myth exists in two main forms, with many variants. According to the Phrygian tale (Paus. 7. 17. 10–12; cf. Arn. Adv. nat. 5. 5–7), the gods castrated the androgynous *Agdistis; from the severed male parts an almond tree sprang and by its fruit Nana conceived Attis. Later Agdistis fell in love with him, and to prevent his marriage to another caused him to castrate himself. Agdistis is clearly a doublet of Cybele, though Arnobius brings them both into his account. Ovid (Fast. 4. 221–44) and others change many details, but keep the essential aetiological feature, the self-castration. In a probably Lydian version Attis, like *Adonis, is killed by a boar. The story of Atys, son of *Croesus, who was killed by the Phrygian Adrastus in a boar-hunt (Hdt. 1. 34–35) is an adaptation of this, and attests its antiquity, though the Phrygian is probably the older version.

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