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Encyclopedia > Corybantes
Topics in Greek mythology

The Korybantes, called the Kurbantes in (Phrygia), are the crested dancers who worship the Phrygian goddess Cybele with drumming and dancing. The Kuretes are the nine dancers who venerate Rhea the Cretan counterpart of Cybele.

These male dancers in armor, kept time to a drum and the rhythmic stamping of their feet. Dance, according to Greek thought, was one of the civilizing activities, like wine-making or music. The dance in armor (the "pyrrhic dance" or pyrriche) was a male coming-of-age initiation ritual linked to a warrior victory celebration.

The wild ecstasy of their cult can be compared to the female Maenads who followed Dionysus. Ovid in Metamorphoses says they were born from rainwater, Ouranos fertilizing Gaia, which might connect them with the Pelasgian Hyades.

The Phrygian Korybantes were often confused with other ecstatic male confraternities, such as the Idaean Dactyls or the Cretan Kouretes, spirit-youths (kouroi) who acted as guardians of the infant Zeus. In the Greek telling of Zeus' birth, the Kouretes' ritual clashing spears and shields were interpreted as intended to drown out the infant god's cries, and prevent his discovery by his father Cronus.

The French classicist Henri Jeanmaire has convincingly shown that both the Kouretes and Cretan Zeus (called "the greatest kouros" in Cretan hymns) were intimately connected with the transition of young men into manhood in Cretan cities (in Couroi et Courètes: essai sur l'éducation spartiate et sur les rites d'adolescence dans l'antiquité hellénique, Lille, 1939).

Korybantes or Kouretes also presided over the infancy of Dionysus, another god who was born as a babe, and of Zagreus, a Cretan child of Zeus.

Alternatives: Corybants (older English texts), Koryvandes (modern Greek transliteration).

External links

  • Korybantes and Kuretes (http://www.theoi.com/Ouranos/Kouretes.html)
  • Long review (in English) of Paola Ceccarelli, La pirrica nell' antichità greco romana: Studi sulla danza armata, 1998 (http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2000/2000-03-17.html)

  Results from FactBites:
CORYBANTES, Greek Mythology Link. (822 words)
The CORYBANTES are inclined to dancing and to religious frenzy, and worship the Mother of the Gods with orgies.
The CORYBANTES are sometimes said to have been expelled from their country by their father Socus 2, and to have ruled the Euboean battalions that joined Dionysus 2 in his war against the Indians.
Others have said that Cybele (the Mother of the Gods, identified with Rhea 1) was the mother of the CORYBANTES, whom she settled in the island of Samothrace.
  More results at FactBites »



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