The two chief deities were Cybele, the Mother, the reproductive and nourishing power of Earth, and Sabazius, the Son, the life of nature, dying and reviving every year (see Great Mother Of The Gods).
The evidence supplied by this and other Cretan sites shows that the principal Minoan divinity was a kind of Magna Mater, a Great Mother or nature goddess, with whom was associated a male satellite.
But more significant still was the order of the Sibylline books in 206 B.C. for the introduction of the worship of the Magna Mater(see Great Mother Of The Gods) from Pessinus and her ultimate installation on the Palatine in 191 B.C.: the door was thus opened to the wilder and more orgiastic cults of Greece and the Orient, which at once laid hold on the popular mind.
Like the Curetes, Dactyli, Telchines and Cabeiri, however, they represent primitive gods of procreative significance, who survived in the historic period as subordinate deities associated with a form of the Great Mother goddess, their relation to the Great Mother of the Gods, Cybele, being comparable with that of Attis.
At Ephesus, where she was adored under the form of a meteoric stone, she was identified with the Greek Artemis (see also Great Mother Of The Gods).
On his proving unfaithful, the Great Mother slays the nymph with whom he has sinned, whereupon in madness he mutilates himself as a penalty.
Like Aphrodite and Adonis in Syria, Baal and Astarte at Sidon, and Isis and Osiris in Egypt, the Great Mother and Attis formed a duality which symbolized the relations between Mother Earth and her fruitage.
His worship was closely connected with that of the great mother Cybele and of Attis.
In 205, alarmed by unfavourable prodigies, the Romans were ordered to fetch the Great Mother of the gods from Pessinus in Phrygia; in the following year the image was brought to Rome, and a lectisternium held.
Various accounts of their origin are given: they were earth-born, sons of Cronus, sons of Zeus and Calliope, sons of Rhea, of Ops, of the Great Mother and a mystic father, of Apollo and Thalia, of Athena and Helios.