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{woman, child, man}
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Agdistis (Gr. Ἄγδιστις) was a deity of Greek, Roman and Anatolian mythology, possessing both male and female sexual organs, connected with the Phrygian worship of Attis and Cybele.[1] Her androgyny was seen as symbolic of a wild, uncontrolled nature and, as a trait threatening to the gods, was condemned and destroyed by them.[2]


According to Pausanias, on one occasion Zeus unwittingly begot by the Earth a superhuman being which was at once man and woman, and was called Agdistis. In other versions, there was a rock, called "Agdo", on which the Great Mother slept. Zeus impregnated the Great Mother(Gaia), which brought forth Agdistis.[3]

The gods were afraid of the multi-gendered Agdistis. One deity (in some versions Liber, in others Dionysus) put a sleeping draught in Agdistis's drinking well. After the potion had put Agdistis to sleep, Dionysus tied Agdistis's foot to his own male genitalia (αἰδοῖα) with a strong rope. When Agdistis awoke and stood, Agdistis ripped his penis off, castrating himself.[3] The blood from his severed genitals fertilized the earth, and from that spot grew an almond tree. Once when Nana, daughter of the river-god Sangarius, was gathering the fruit of this tree, she put some almonds (or, in some accounts, a pomegranate) into her bosom;[3] but here the almonds disappeared, and she became pregnant with Attis.[4] In some versions, Attis was born directly out of the almond.[3]

Attis was of such extraordinary beauty that when he had grown up Agdistis fell in love with him. His relatives, however, destined him to become the husband of the daughter of the king of Pessinus, and he went accordingly. In some versions, the king betroths Attis to his daughter to punish Attis for his incestuous relationship with his mother.[2] At the moment when the marriage song had commenced, Agdistis appeared, and all of the wedding guests were instantly driven mad, causing both Attis and the king of Pessinus to castrate themselves and the bride to cut off her breasts. Agdistis now repented her deed, and obtained from Zeus the promise that the body of Attis should not become decomposed or disappear. This is the most popular account of an otherwise mysterious affair, which is probably part of a symbolical worship of the creative powers of nature. A hill of the name of Agdistis in Phrygia, at the foot of which Attis was believed to be buried, is also mentioned by Pausanias.[5]

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