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Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)

Perry 436 (Greek Anthology 6.217)

One of the Galli, those priests of the Great Mother Rhea, slipped inside a deserted cave, seeking shelter from the onslaught of a winter storm. Just as the priest was brushing the snow from his hair, a ravenous lion, who was following his trail, burst into the entrance of the cave. The cave offered no other means of escape, but the priest held a huge tambourine in his hand. He struck the instrument with the flat of his palm and the whole cave resounded with the shattering sound. The wild lion could not endure the awesome clatter of the goddess Cybele, so he raced away and fled into the wooded mountainside, terrified by this effeminate servant of the goddess. The priest then hung up these robes and dedicated these fair locks of hair as an offering to the goddess.

Note: The great mother goddess Cybele or Cybebe (who is also referred to by the name Rhea in this poem) was worshipped throughout Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), and her cult then spread to both Greece and Rome. The priests of Cybele, called 'Galli,' were famous for their raucous devotional music (see Fable 6 for the Galli and their tambourines). Several other poems in the Greek Anthology also depict a priest of Cybele confronting a lion: 6.217, 6.218, 6.220 and 6.237.

Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
NOTE: New cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.