Gods

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Hermes adorned many public buildings in Philippopolis. This relief is part of the decoration of the city stadium. Plovdiv Archaeological MuseumHermes adorned many public buildings in Philippopolis. This relief is part of the decoration of the city stadium. Plovdiv Archaeological Museum

The most popular of them, second only to Apollo, was Hermes. The god of theft and trade had old connections in Thracian society - Herodotus tells that he was the patron deity of Thracian aristocracy. Hermes appeared on coins of Philippopolis, and on bronze and marble statues, and several public buildings were adorned with hermae, two-faced statues of the god with erect phalluses. People passing by, especially women, used to touch them believing they brought good luck and fertility. The rite was common throughout the empire and in big cities annual and cocky processions were organized in Hermes's honor.

Some of the gods and goddesses in Philippopolis had come from more distant lands, like the Middle East and Egypt. The Phrygian Cybele, known also as the Mother of Gods, received a warm welcome in the 2nd Century, as she was similar to the Thracian Great Goddess. She had a shrine in the vicinities of Philippopolis and many of her worshipers were Thracians. The case with the deity, known usually as the Syrian Goddess, might be the same. Regarded as an analogue of the Thracian Great Goddess, in Philippopolis she had a temple and a priest.

The case of Sabazios is more peculiar. His cult is thought to have originated in Thrace and brought to Asia Minor long before the arrival of the common era. There it morphed and changed, and returned back during the Roman epoch. In Philippopolis and its environs Sabazios had plenty of followers who dedicated to him inscriptions of gratefulness and the characteristic bronze hands in a gesture of blessing.

 

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