Phrygian goddess who was incorporated into the Greek pantheon. She was worshipped as a Mother Goddess, and was often identified with the likes of Rhea, Demeter, Hecate or Aphrodite. She was also considered to be the mother of the mystic Dionysos Sabazius, that the Orphic mystery cult principally worshipped.
Cybele fell in love with Atys and made him her priest. Before he took his vows, he could no resist having a final affair with the nymph Sagaritis. In a fit of jealousy, Cybele punished him for this and drove him temporarily insane. When he recovered, Atys was mortified to discover that he had emasculated himself during his insanity. He then wanted to commit suicide, but Cybele turned him into a fir tree. After these events, all priests in Cybeles service had to castrated themselves, and the fir tree became her holy tree.
Another version tells us that Cybele really was the daughter of the Phrygian king Maeon. She eloped with Atys since her family disagreed with their relationship, and for this he king killed Atys. This drove Cybele mad with grief and she would let no one come near the corpse. She roamed the countryside and sang lamentations accompanied by cymbals.
Because Atys was no buried his corpse caused a plague, and on oracle said his remains must be burned to stop the epidemic. The decay was too far gone, though, and an image of him was burned instead. Cybele was from then on worshipped as a goddess.
There is yet another version that tells us Hera was jealous of Atys, and killed him by sending a boar. He was then buried under Mt. Agclistis, and there a cult to him and Cybele was founded.