Phrygian and Lydian deity, worshipped in other parts of Asia Minor too. By most accounts son of the Mother Goddess Cybele, also known as Agdistis, whom many also identify as Rhea, consort of Cronos. He was born to Nana after she ate the fruit of an almond tree which had sprung from the severed male genitalia of Agdistis, who had been born a hermaphrodite. In the wake of the introduction of Cybele to Rome in 204 BCE, Attis followed as a cult deity but became increasingly important and was eventually widely worshipped as a celestial god, as documented by the Roman poet Catullus. Upon his death he is said to have turned into a pine tree, a tree which became sacred to him.

His major rites were spring rites related to fertility and vegetation and he figures as an archetypical solar god. In many versions of the myths he appears as his mother's lover and his figure bears a strong resemblance to Osiris and Adonis whose equivalent he may be taken as. His mother's jealous love of his beauty made her compel him to castrate himself so that no other woman could have him. From his blood it is said that the violet, a plant characteristic of spring and the earth, sprang. His feast, although less rowdy than its ancient counterpart, survives in the form of the Christian Easter as a celebration of the resurrection of a newer solar deity, Jesus Christ.

His priesthood in Phrygia, the Galli, was made up of eunuchs. Rome and other cultures who adopted him, including the Greeks and Gauls, did not make that a requirement but some people followed that path anyway. On the day the Romans knew as Sanguis, young men would dance in a frenzy and eventually slash their arms and spread their blood around. A few of them would end up castrating themselves and throwing their genitals at the statue of Cybele. These men would then enter a residence and the householders would furnish them with women's clothing, after which they would join the priesthood of Attis.


A Phrygian god, the companion of Cybele who was the Mother of the Gods, whose legend developed with the spread of his cult through the Hellenic world and later in Rome. He was regarded originally as the son of the hermaphrodite Agdistis and Nana the Nymph, or daughter, of the river Sangarius (for the circumstances of this birth, see Agdistis). Attis was loved by Agdistis himself, who later struck him with madness; in this state he castrated himself during an orgy and those who saw him followed his example. This part of the myth is a transposition of the rites which belong to the Asiatic cult practices of Cybele. In his own legend, Attis died of self-mutilation, but, though dead, he still retained a kind of regenerated life, and flowers grew from his tomb.

Ovid tells a markedly different version of the Attis legend. According to him, a boy lived in the Phrygian woods who was so handsome that he was deservedly loved by Cybele with a chaste passion. She resolved never to let him leave her and to make him the guardian of her temple but she laid down a condition, that he should retain his virginity. Attis however, could not reject the love felt for him by the Nymph Sagaritis, whose name echoes that of the river Sangarius. Cybele in her rage felled a tree to which the Nymph's life was closely bound and she struck Attis with madness. During a violent fit, he castrated himself. After his self-inflicted injury Attis seems to have been once more taken into Cybele's service. He was generally portrayed with Cybele in her chariot crossing the Phrygian mountains.


Table of Sources:
- Paus. 7, 17, 10
- Arnobius Adv. Nat. 5, 5ff.
- Ovid, Fast. 4, 223ff.
- Diod. Sic. 3, 58ff.
- Paus. 7, 17, 9ff.
- Serv. on Virgil, Aen. 7, 761
- Lucian, Sacrif. 7

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