The Introduction of the Cult of Cybele at Rome

In 204 BC the Romans brought the cult of Cybele, the eastern goddess of victory, from Pessina, Asia Minor, to Rome. Mantegna has combined the accounts of Ovid, Livy and Appian. Cybele is represented by her sacred stone - 'she fell to earth as a meteor' - and as a bust with a mural crown (associating her with a city state). According to Juvenal, Cornelius Scipio (probably in profile gesturing with his right hand) was the most worthy Roman citizen to receive Cybele.

This is one of four pictures commissioned in 1505 by Francesco Cornaro a Venetian nobleman, who claimed descent from the ancient Cornelii family (prominent in the picture). Mantegna only completed one before his death and Bellini supplied another (Washington, National Gallery).

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
about 1430/1 - 1506
Full title
The Introduction of the Cult of Cybele at Rome
Date made
1505-6
Medium and support
Glue on linen
Dimensions
76.5 x 273 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1873
Inventory number
NG902
Location in Gallery