Ludi Megalenses MMDCCLXVII (2767) AUC (Nova Roma)/Certamen historicum

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Salvete omnes!

This year's Ludi will consist of a Certamen historicum about the Magna Mater and Cult of Cybele. There will be a daily round of 10 questions for six days. The answer submissions will be due in no later than NOON ROME TIME on Thursday, April 10th.


Please forward your answers to: lvtriarius AT yahoo DOT com

The Rules:

  • 1. One point will be awarded for each correct answer.
  • 2. For detailed questions and answers, 1 extra bonus point may be awarded per question to the contestant with the most comprehensive answer, covering all the required parts of the question, where work submitted from multiple contestants is somewhat equaled amongst them.
  • 3. Answers will not be accepted after NOON ROME TIME on Thursday, April 10th, when the daily answers will be posted on the NR wiki.
  • 4. Winners will be announced on April 10th.
  • 5. The Curule Aedile is the final authority in any disputed answers, and may refer the decision to another for clarification.

Send answers daily to lvtriarius AT yahoo DOT com

Submissions will not be accepted once answers are posted to this page (SHORTLY AFTER NOON ROME TIME the following day)

Certamen historicum - Day 1 (April 4th)


1. What were three primary events that occurred that caused Rome to officially adopt the Cult of the Magna Mater?

Meteor shower, failed harvest, famine

2. Which Roman Emperor claimed the Magna Mater as one of his ancestors?


3. The cult object brought to Rome was what?

A black meteoric stone

4. The cult object originally belonged to which Roman ally?

The Kingdom of Pergamum

5. The Magna Mater’s chariot was drawn by what animals?


6. Who was chosen to meet the goddess at Ostia?

Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica

7. Who could observe the Megalesia procession, but by their own laws, were forbidden to participate in it or to know her mysteries?

Roman citizens

8. Who was forbidden to observe the Megalesia procession or any of the Ludi proceedings?


9. Who was the Magna Mater considered to be the Mother-Goddess of?

Troy or Illium, all the gods, Iuppiter, all things

10. Who was the consort of Cybele?


Certamen historicum - Day 2 (April 5th)


11. Where were the Magna Mater and her priests confined to within the city of Rome?

The Palatine precinct

12. What was the name of her eunuch Phrygian priests?


13. In Virgil’s Aeneid who is Cybele the mother of?


14. In the Aeneid for what purpose does she give the Trojans her sacred tree?


15. In the Aeneid what did she beg Iuppiter to do for the Trojans?

Protect the ships

16. Who sponsored the Magna Mater’s celebrations?

The upper class

17. Who was generally tasked with organizing the Megalesia?

Plebian Aediles

18. What sacred structure is built on top of the original temple of the Magna Mater?

St. Peters Cathedral in the Vatican is built right on top of the old temple of Magna Mater

19. What names were used by the Arabians for the Magna Mater?

Kubaba and Kuba

20. What did the major festival to the Magna Mater on March 25th represent?

It was celebrated to commemorate the castration and death of Attis

Certamen historicum - Day 3 (April 6th)


21. How was each temple to the Magna Mater organized in relation to the other temples?

Each temple was independent of each other, although some temples had more influence than others

22. What were the ceremonial events that the Cannophori carried out on the March 25th Festival?

The Cannophori carried reeds and stalks to the temple together with the idol of Attis. The taurobolium was performed, and the genitals of the bull was thrown into a cave or well consecrated to Magna Mater. After three days of sorrow and grief for Attis, the carnival returned with Hilaria, the Day of Joy as Attis was resurrected and fertility yet again reigned thanks to the power of Magna Mater.

23. What were the four (4) priestly ranks in each MM Temple, from highest to lowest status?

The High Priestess, who had the greatest status, (2) followed by the Archigalli, (3) ordinary priestesses, and (4) the lowest were the galli.

24. How were new initiates of the cult inducted into the priesthood?

After showing true devotion to Magna Mater a member of the cult could apply to become part of the priesthood. This was often planned from the birth for the children of the priestesses. The initiate was baptised in the taurobolium, and males castrated themselves in front of the idol of the goddess and threw their genitals into the sacred cave. After that the initiates were left in the temple during the night. In many cases they saw visions sent by the Goddess, affirming their initiation. Initiates not deemed worthy by the goddess were sometimes found slain in the morning.

25. What was the name used by the Greeks to represent the Magna Mater?

Gaia, Ga, or Ge; Rhea (Minoans); Kybele (Phrygians); Kavav or Kufav (Lydians)

26. What was the name used by the Babylonians to represent the Magna Mater?

Damkina, Ninmenna, Ki

27. What was the name used by the Sumerians to represent the Magna Mater?

Gatumdu, Ninhursag, Ninmah, Ninth, Mamma, Mami, Aruru

28. What types of offerings were especially reserved for the Magna Mater?

Flowers and seeds, corn, cheese, parts of the hunted animal, bull, ram

29. When and why was it decided that the Magna Mater had to come to Rome?

In the year 204 BC, the Punic War resulted in disasterous consequences for both the Roman army, and the safety and security of Rome herself. Many people were losing hope; their religious faiths were waning. In a search for solutions to these bleak circumstances, the Oracles of the Sibylline Books were consulted. They revealed that the Carthaginians could be defeated only if the Magna Mater was brought from Pessinus, Phrygia to Rome. Apollo's Oracle of Delphi was consulted also, and this advice was no different from that of the Sibylline consultation: Magna Mater had to arrive in Rome.

30. What Carthaginian leader was terrorizing the Roman Countryside?

Hannibal Barca

Certamen historicum - Day 4 (April 7th)


31. Who led the delegation sent to initially negotiate the transport of the Goddess to Rome?

M. Valerius Laevinus

32. How many were on the delegation?


33. Where did the delegation go and who did they see?

To Pessinus to see the ruler, King Attalus of Perganum, and an ally of Rome.

34. Besides Rome, what countries were the MM temples primarily located in?

They were located mainly in Phrygia, Greece and Italy.

35. What was the name used by the Egyptians to represent the Magna Mater?

Isis; however, some sources say Isis and the Magna Mater were different deities, depending on the location within Egypt.

36. What was the name used by the Latins to represent the Magna Mater?

Terra Mater

37. What was the name used by the Akkadians to represent the Magna Mater?

Ishtar, Astarte, Belet-Ili; however, some ancient sources state that Ishtar/Astarte was her daughter

38. When was the Magna Mater born?

She was not born, but has existed since the beginning of time.

39. Who dedicated the first temple to the Magna Mater in Rome, and where was it dedicated?

The praetor M. Junius Brutus IV dedicated the first temple on the Palatine Hill.

40. When was the first temple to the Magna Mater in Rome dedicated?

10th or 11th April of 191 BCE

Certamen historicum - Day 5 (April 8th)


41. Who started the construction on the first temple to the Magna Mater on the Palatine Hill?

Censors M. Livius Salinator and C. Claudius Nero

42. How long did the construction on the temple on the Palatine take?

13 years

43. During the Second Punic War, why was Hannibal resigned to fight his campaign on land, instead of on water?

He was unwilling to engage the superior Roman fleet.

44. During the First Punic War, what type of ship was invented by the Romans that allowed them to develop a superior navy?


45. What was the name of the device aboard the new ship that allowed the boarding of enemy ships?

The corvus

46. Where did the Romans get the design from?

A captured Carthaginian ship

47. Where did the design originate from?


48. In 211 BCE, Hannibal marched his army around the walls of Rome but, undermanned and ill-equipped, did not lay siege to the city. Knowing that the Carthaginian general looked to Spain for supplies and men, Rome appointed Publius Cornelius Scipio as proconsul with imperium over Spain. What was unusual about his appointment?

It was illegal – he had never been consul.

49. On the day Hannibal marched around Rome, what activity did the Romans engage in to show their contempt for him?

Certain he would not be staying long, the Romans sold the land his army was encamped on at public auction.

50. What is the Samothrakian name for Attis?


Certamen historicum - Day 6 (April 9th)


51. According to Ovid in his Metamorphoses, what tree was the favorite of the Great Mother, since in this tree Attis Cybeleius doffed his human shape and stiffened in its trunk?

The Pine Tree

52. According to Telestes, who were the first to sing to the pipes the Phrygian tune of the Mountain Mother beside the mixing-bowls of the Greeks?

The companions of Pelops, a mythological Lydian prince who won the throne of Elis and the Peloponnese.

53. According to Ovid and Pliny, where do the Galli get their name, since Gallia is so far from Phrygia, and why should one stay away from it?

The stream/river Gallus in Phrygia. Its taste causes madness.

54. On her procession upriver from Ostia to Rome, at what ancient name place and overnight stopover point, being a bend in the river Tiber, did the procession anchor and spend the night?

Tiber’s Hall

55. At the intersection of the Tiber and what other river did the silver-haired priest in purple robes stop the procession and bathe the Mistress and her emblems in the water before proceeding onward to the city?

The river Almo

56. Once reaching Rome, what did the goddess ride through, enthroned in a cart, her ox-team strewn with fresh flowers, before she was received into the city?

The Porta Capena

57. Where in Phrygia was a temple was believed to have been built to her by the Argonauts?

Mount Dindymus

58. What is the surname of Cybele, which she derived from the town of Pessinus in Galatia?

Pessinuntia, Pessinountia or Pessinonntis

59. Who was the wife of Maeon and mother of Cybele?


60. According to Seneca in Troades, when the Phrygian guest, Paris, touched at Grecian Amyclae, and the waves were cleft by the pine sacred to mother Cybele, his ship was made of pine cut from where?

Cybele's forests on Mount Ida

Certamen historicum - Day 7 (April 10th)


Contestant Standings

Contestant Day 1 Pts Day 2 Pts Day 3 Pts Day 4 Pts Day 5 Pts Day 6 Pts Bonus Pts Total Pts
C. Claudius Quadratus 10 7 9 10 6 7 1 50
Sex. Laelia Macra 10 8 9 27
John L. Barbato 10 8 7 1 26
G. Marcius Crispus 10 10


Congratulations goes out to all those who participated in the Certamen historicum, with special congratulations to the following winners:

  • 2nd Place: SEX. LAELIA MACRA
  • 3rd Place: JOHN L. BARBATO

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