Etiqueta: cabiros

23 abr 10

Image:Relief Samothrace Louvre Ma697.jpg

Relief from Samothrace in the Louvre showing Agamemnon being initiated into the rites of the Cabeiri.

In Greek mythology, the Cabeiri, (Cabiri, Kabeiroi,[1] Greek: Κάβειροι) were a group of enigmatic chthonic deities. They were worshiped in a mystery cult closely associated with that of Hephaestus, centered in the north Aegean islands of Lemnos and possibly Samothrace —at the Samothrace temple complex— and at Thebes. In their distant origins the Cabeiri and the Samothracian gods may include Hittite, Thracian, proto-Etruscan, or Phrygian elements[citation needed]. The Lemnian cult was always local to Lemnos, but the Samothracian mystery cult spread rapidly throughout the Greek world during the Hellenistic period, eventually initiating Romans.

The ancient sources disagree about whether the deities of Samothrace were Cabeiri or not; and the accounts of the two cults differ in detail. But the two islands are close to each other, at the northern end of the Aegean, and the cults are at least similar, and neither fits easily into the Hellenic pantheon[citation needed]. The accounts of the Samothracian gods, whose names were secret, vary in the number and sexes of the gods, usually between two and four, some of either sex. The number of Cabiri also varied, with some accounts citing four (often a pair of males and a pair of females) of them, and some even more, such as a tribe or whole race of Cabiri, often presented as all male.[2]

The Cabeiri were also worshipped at other sites in the vicinity, including Seuthopolis in Thrace and various sites in Asia Minor.

People who aren’t terrified of snakes know how rarely you come across one and how to behave when you do.

Origin of the Cabeiri

The Cabeiri were possibly originally Phrygian[3] deities and protectors of sailors, who were imported into Greek ritual.[4]

Depiction in literary sources

They were most commonly depicted as two people: an old man, Axiocersus, and his son, Cadmilus. Due to the cult’s secrecy, however, their exact nature and relationship with other ancient Greek and Thracian religious figures remained mysterious. As a result, the membership and roles of the Cabeiri changed significantly over time, with common variants including a female pair (Axierus and Axiocersa) and twin youths who were frequently confused with Castor and Pollux, who were also worshiped as protectors of sailors. The number of Cabiri also varied, with some accounts citing four (often a pair of males and a pair of females) of them, and some even more, such as a tribe or whole race of Cabiri.

….for people who delight in drinking clean, cool stream water. The water from the main supply is also clean as it comes from the same spring.
…Cascada de Samotracia


The Lemnians were originally non-Greek; they were Hellenized after Miltiades conquered the island for Athens in the sixth century BCE. In Lemnos the cult of the Cabeiri survived, according to achaeological evidence, through the conquest: an ancient sanctuary dedicated to the Cabeiri is identifiable by traces of inscriptions, and seems to have survived the program of Hellenization.

The geographer Strabo reported that in Lemnos, the mother (there was no father) of the Cabeiri was Kabeiro (Greek: Καβειρω) herself, a daughter of Proteus (one of the “old men of the sea”) and a goddess whom the Greeks might have called Rhea.

In general Greek myth identifies the Cabeiri as divine craftsmen, sons or grandsons of Hephaestus, who was also chiefly worshipped on Lemnos. Aeschylus wrote a play called the Cabeiri, and the fragments that survive have them as a chorus greeting the Argonauts at Lemnos. showed them as prodigious wine-drinkers, and wine jars are “the only characteristic group of finds” from the Cabeirium of Lemnos. Walter Burkert suggests a raucous, burlesque character to the mysteries of the Cabeiri and notes an inscription at Lemnos indicates parapaizonti, the one who “jests along the way”. First-fruits were offered to Zeus, Apollo, and the Cabeiri; Burkert also sees the offerings to Zeus and Apollo, father and son, as indicating an initiatory ceremony [5]


The Samothracians were also originally non-Greek, and are associated with the Trojans and the Pelasgians; they used a foreign language in the temple through Julius Caesar‘s time.[6]

Samothrace offered an initiatory mystery, which promised safety and prosperity to seamen. The secret of these mysteries has largely been kept; but we know three things about the ritual: the aspirants were asked the worst action they had ever committed.

The archaic sanctuary of Samothrace was rebuilt in Greek fashion; by classical times, the Samothrace mysteries of the Cabeiri were known at Athens, where Herodotus had been initiated. But at the entry to the sanctuary, which has been thoroughly excavated, the Roman antiquary Varro learned that there had been twin pillars of brass. He describes them as Heaven and Earth, denying the vulgar error that they are Castor and Pollux.

The mysteries of Samothrace did not publish the names of their gods; and the offerings at the shrine are all inscribed to the gods or to the great gods rather than with their names. But ancient sources tell us that there were two goddesses and a god: Axieros, Axiocersa, and Axiocersus, and their servant Cadmilus or Casmilus. Karl Kerényi conjectured that Axieros was male, and the three gods were the sons of Axiocersa (Cadmillus, the youngest, was also the father of the three); Burkert disagrees.[7]

In Classical Greek culture the mysteries of the Cabeiri at Samothrace remained popular, though little was entrusted to writing beyond a few names and bare genealogical connections. Seamen among the Greeks might invoke the Cabeiri as “great gods” in times of danger and stress. The archaic sanctuary of Samothrace was rebuilt in Greek fashion; by classical times, the Samothrace mysteries of the Cabeiri were known at Athens. Herodotus had been initiated. But at the entry to the sanctuary, which has been thoroughly excavated, the Roman antiquary Varro learned that there had been twin pillars of brass, phallic hermae, and that in the sanctuary it was understood that the child of the Goddess, Cadmilus, was in some mystic sense also her consort.

Thebes in Boetia

At Thebes in Boetia there are more varied finds than on Lemnos; they include many little bronze votive bulls and which carry on into Roman times, when the traveller Pausanias, always alert to the history of cults, learned that it was Demeter Kabeiriia who instigated the initiation cult there in the name of Prometheus and his son Aitnaios. Walter Burkert (1985) writes, “This points to guilds of smiths analogous to the Lemnian Hephaistos.” The votive dedications at Thebes are to a Kabeiros (Greek: Κάβειρος) in the singular, and childish toys like votive spinning tops for Pais suggest a manhood initiation. Copious wine was drunk, out of characteristic cups that were ritually smashed. Fat, primitive dwarves (similar to the followers of Silenus) with prominent genitalia were painted on the cups.

Thebes is connected to Samothrace in myth, primarily the wedding of Cadmus and Harmonia, which took place there.


The Semitic word kabir (“great”) has been compared to Κάβειροι since at least Joseph Justus Scaliger in the sixteenth century, but nothing else seemed to point to a Semitic origin, until the idea of “great” gods expressed by the Semitic root kbr was definitiely attested for North Syria in the thirteenth century BCE, in texts from Emar published by D. Arnaud in 1985/87 (see Emar). TJ. Wackernagel had produced an Indian etymology in 1907;[8] in 1925 A. H. Sayce had suggested a connection to Hittite habiri (“looters”, “outlaws”), but subsequent discoveries have made this implausible on phonological grounds. Dossein compares Κάβειροι to the Sumerian word kabar, copper.[9]

The name of the Cabeiri recalls Mount Kabeiros, a mountain in the region of Berekyntia in Asia Minor, closely associated with the Phrygian Mother Goddess. The name of Kadmilus (or Kasmilos), one of the Cabeiri who was usually depicted as a young boy, was linked even in antiquity to camillus, an old Latin word for a boy-attendant in a cult, which is probably a loan from the Etruscan language[citation needed], which may be related to Lemnian.[10].


In myth, the Cabeiri bear many similarities to other fabulous races, such as the Telchines of Rhodes, the Cyclopes, the Dactyls, the Korybantes, and the Kuretes. These different groups were often confused or identified with one another since many of them, like the Cyclopes and Telchines, were also associated with metallurgy.

Diodorus Siculus said of the Cabeiri that they were Idaioi dactyloi (“Idaian Dactyls“). The Idaian Dactyls were a race of divine beings associated with the Mother Goddess and with Mount Ida, a mountain in Phrygia sacred to the goddess. Hesychius of Alexandria wrote that the Cabeiri were karkinoi (“crabs“). The Cabeiri as Karkinoi were apparently thought of as amphibious beings (again recalling the Telchines). They had pincers instead of hands, which they used as tongs (Greek: karkina) in metalworking.

It has been suggested that the Orphic mysteries may have had their origins with the Cabeiri.

Maybe the most famous statue of antiquity housed in the Louvre Museum is the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
The remains of the p


  1. ^ Kabeiroi is the transliteration used in John Raffan’s translation of Walter Burkert, Greek Religion (Harvard Univerity Press) 1985, and in most academic discourse.
  2. ^ Burkert, pp 281-84
  3. ^ According to scholia on Apollonius’ Argonautica I. “The Phrygian origin of the Kabeiric cult asserted by Stesimbrotos of Thasos and recently defended by O. Kern cannot, therefore, be rejected a priori“, wrote Giuliano Bonfante, “A Note on the Samothracian Language” Hesperia 24.2 (April 1955, pp. 101-109) p. 108; Bonfante agrees with Jacob Wackernagel that Κάβειροι cannot be Greek; Wackernagel suggested Thracian or Phrygian, two closely related peoples.
  4. ^ “The secret of the mysteries is rendered more enigmatic by the addition of a non-Greek, pre-Greek element” (Burkert 1985:281). Burkert does not intend to suggest that the pre-Greek component was added.
  5. ^ Burkert, Greek Religion, p. 281; .
  6. ^ Burkert, Greek Religion 282, citing Diodorus, 5.47.3, which says that their own language is still used in religion.
  7. ^ Kerényi, Gods of Greece, 86-7; Burkert Greek religion 283 and notes.
  8. ^ Noted by Walter Burkert, The Orientalizing revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age (1992, p 2 note 3).
  9. ^ Buckert, Greek Religion (1985), p. 282 and notes (on page 457.
  10. ^ The Aegean relations of the Etruscan language are denied at some length by Massimo Pallottino, in The Etruscans (tr. 1975) and elsewhere.


External links

  • Peck, Harry Thurston (1898). “Cabeiria“. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Tufts University: Perseus Project. Retrieved on 2008-01-21.

Categories: Greek mythology


En la mitología griega, los Cabiros o Cabirios (en griego antiguo Κάβειροι Kabeiroi) eran un grupo de enigmáticas deidades ctónicas. Fueron adorados en un culto mistérico que tuvo su centro en la isla de Samotracia (Grecia) y estuvo estrechamente relacionado con el mito de Hefesto. El culto se extendió rápidamente por todo el mundo griego durante el período helenístico, siendo finalmente adoptado por los romanos.

Es probable que los Cabiros fueran originalmente deidades frigias de la fertilidad protectores de los marineros, que los griegos importaron a su panteón. La mayoría de las veces se les representa como dos personas: un hombre viejo, Axiocerso, y su hijo, Cadmilo. Sin embargo, debido al secretismo de su culto, su exacta naturaleza y relación con otras antiguas figuras religiosas griegas y tracias permaneció misteriosa.

Como resultado, la afiliación y papel de los Cabiros cambió significativamente con el tiempo, incluyéndose entre las variantes comunes una pareja femenina (Axíero y Axiocersa) y dos jóvenes gemelos que a menudo eran confundidos con Cástor y Pólux, quienes también eran adorados como protectores de los marineros. El número de Cabiros también cambió, con algunas fuentes citando cuatro (a menudo una pareja masculina y otra femenina) e incluso a veces más, como una tribu o raza completa de Cabiros.


Moneda de Eumenes II con las figuras de los Cabiros


La etimología de su nombre es desconocida, siendo probablemente un préstamo del lemnio. La palabra semítica kabir (‘grande’) ha sido comparada con Κάβειροι desde al menos Joseph Justus Scaliger en el siglo XVI,[1] pero nada más parecía señalar a un origen semítico[2] hasta que la idea de los ‘grandes’ dioses expresada por la raíz semítica kbr se vio definitivamente avalada para el norte de Siria en el siglo XIII a. C. en textos de Emar publicados por D. Arnaud en 1985-87. Walter Burkert[3] señala que J. Wackernagel había producido una etimología hindi en 1907, y en 1925 A. H. Sayce había sugerido una relación con el hitita habiri (‘saqueadores’, ‘forajidos’), pero descubrimientos posteriores han hecho esta hipótesis inverosímil por motivos fonológicos.[4]

El nombre de los Cabiros recuerda al de Kabeiros, una montaña de la región de Berecintia en Asia Menor, estrechamente relacionada con la Diosa Madre frigia. El nombre de Cadmilo, uno de los Cabiros que solía se representado como un muchacho joven, estaba relacionado incluso en la antigüedad con camillus, una antigua palabra latina para designar a los niños que asistían en un rito y que es probablemente un préstamo del etrusco.


En los mitos, la Cabiros presentan muchas similitudes con otras razas fabulosas, como los Telquines de Rodas, los Cíclopes, los Dáctilos, los Coribantes y los Curetes. Estos grupos diferentes eran a menudo confundido o identificados unos con los otros debido a que varios de ellos, como los Cíclopes y los Telquines, estaban también asociados con la metalurgia.

Diodoro Sículo dijo de los Cabiros que eran Idaioi dactyloi (‘Dáctilos ideos’). Los Dáctilos ideos eran una raza de seres divinos relacionados con la Diosa Madre del monte Ida, una montaña de Frigia consagrada a la diosa. Hesiquio de Alejandría escribió que los Cabiros era karkinoi (‘cangrejos’). Aparentemente así se les concebía como seres anfibios (recordando de nuevos a los Telquines), con pinzas en lugar de manos que usaban como tenazas (en griego karkina) para trabajar el metal.

Paisaje de la isla de Samotracia.The view of the church of Panaghia Kremniotissa is enchanting and the church is well worth a visit.

El número exacto y nombres de los Cabiros variaba en las diferentes referencias a ellos. Como deidades mistéricas, los Cabiros raramente eran nombrados individualmente, siendo generalmente llamados «grandes dioses». Según algunas fuentes originalmente había dos Cabiros. Éstos llegaron a ser representados en el arte como una pareja de dioses: uno viejo, tumbado y barbudo y otro más joven, de pie. Más tarde fueron cuatro: dos masculinos (Axiocerso y Cadmilo) y dos femeninos (Axiocersa y Axíero). De otras versiones puede inferirse que había una multitud de ellos, como en la de Pausanias, donde son descritos como una raza o tribu y no meramente cuatro individuos. En otro culto posterior, los Cabiros fueron mezclados frecuentemente con los Dioscuros, Cástor y Pólux, y retratados como una pareja de jóvenes casi indistinguibles de ellos.

Se ha sugerido que los misterios órficos pueden haber tenido sus orígenes con los Cabiros.

Culto [editar]

Se han hallado evidencias del culto de los Cabiros en un yacimiento de la Grecia continental, en Tebas, en Tracia (Seutópolis, etcétera) y en Asia Menor, siendo aparentemente las islas de Samotracia y Lemnos los principales centros de adoración.

En Lemnos puede identificarse un antiguo santuario dedicado a los Cabiros gracias a los vestigios de inscripciones, y parece haber sobrevivido a la conquista griega por parte de Miltiades en siglo VI a. C. y a la subsiguiente helenización. El geógrafo Estrabón contó que en Lemnos la madre (no tenían padre) de los Cabiros era Cabiro (en griego Καβειρω), una hija de Proteo y diosa a la que los griegos podrían haber llamado Rea. Esquilo escribió una obra titulada Los Cabiros, y en los fragmentos que se conservan éstos aparecen como un coro dando la bienvenida a los Argonautas en Lemnos. Aquí los misterios de los Cabiros parecen haber tenido unn carácter chillón y burlesco: los único hallazgos característicos son vasijas para el vino y una inscripción en Lemnos alude al parapaizonti, el que ‘bromea por el camino’.[2]

En la Tebas griega hay más hallazgos diversos, que incluyen muchos pequeños toros votivos de bronce y que continuaron hasta la época romana, cuando el viajero Pausanias, siempre alerta a la historia de los cultos, aprendió que fue Deméter Kabeiriia quien instigó el rito de iniciación allí en el nombre de Prometeo y su hijo Etneo. Walter Burkert escribe que «esto señala a los gremios de herreros análogos a los del Hefesto lemnio.»[2] Las dedicatorias votivas en Tebas son al Kabeiros (en griego Κάβειρος) en singular, y juguetes infantiles como trompos votivos para Pais sugieren una iniciación a la edad adulta. Se bebía vino copiosamente, en copas características que se rompían ritualmente. Enanos gordos y primitivos (parecidos a los seguidores de Sileno) con genitales prominentes se pintaban en estas copas.

En la cultura griega clásica los misterios de los Cabiros en Samotracia permanecieron populares, siendo conocidos incluso en Atenas (por ejemplo, Heródoto había sido iniciado en ellos), aunque se confió poco a las escritura salvo unos pocos nombres y relaciones genealógicas simples. Los marinos griegos podían invocar a los Cabiros como «grandes dioses» en momentos de peligro. El santuario arcaico de Samotracia fue reconstruido al estilo griego. Pero en la entrada al santuario, que había sido minuciosamente excavada, el anticuario romano Varrón halló que había habido pilares gemelos de latón, hermas fálicas, y que en el santuario se entendía que el hijo de la Diosa, Cadmilo, era en algún sentido místico también su consorte.

Notas [editar]

  1. Scaliger, Joseph Justus (1565), Coniectanea in in M. Terentium in Lingua Latin.
  2. a b c Burkert, Walter (1985), Greek Religion, Harvard University Press, 457. ISBN 0-674-36281-0.
  3. Burkert, Walter (1992), The Orientalizing revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age, 2, nota 3.
  4. G. Dossin (1953) compara Κάβειροι a la palabra sumeria kabar, ‘cobre’, pero esto es sólo una suposición.

Enlaces externos [editar]

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