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Palatine Museum

The statue of the Magna Mater

The statue of the Magna Mater (Great Mother) was found in 1872 by Pietro Rosa near the 3rd century BC temple of the same name on the Palatine. Thanks to the two lions which originally flanked the throne, the female figure has traditionally been identified as Cybele, goddess of crops and seeds and personification of the creative force of Nature. However, it seems more likely the statue represents an empress or priestess portrayed in the guise of the Magna Mater; we know from contemporary sources that the image of the goddess present in the temple was aniconic and represented by a black stone (a fragment of meteorite?). The sculptor of the statue, dateable to the 2nd century AD, may have drawn inspiration from an Athenian original of the 5th century BC attributed to Agoracritus or perhaps to his master Phidias. On display at the Palatine Museum.


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The Palatine Museum