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Document Details :
Title: A Harpocratic Attis?
Subtitle: Thoughts on a New Discovery from Roman Mainz
Author(s): SATTERTHWAITE, Peter
Volume: 80 Issue: 2 Date: 2021
Recent salvage excavations in Mainz, Germany (Roman Mogontiacum) discovered a limestone relief depicting Attis, the mythical Phrygian shepherd who was worshipped as the consort of Mater Magna. The relief, likely dating to the late first century C.E., was discovered within a barracks building in the Roman castra. Though it depicts an Attis tristis, a very common motif in Roman funerary art, the relief is extraordinary in its portrayal of Attis with his right index finger touching his lips. This gesture is unknown from other images of Attis, but is strongly associated with Harpocrates, the son of the Egyptian goddess Isis. Mater Magna and Isis shared both a sanctuary and a priesthood in Mogontiacum in the first century C.E. This paper argues that the relief deliberately fuses the iconographies of Attis and Harpocrates, which suggests that the connection shared by Mater Magna and Isis in Mogontiacum extended to their male companions.