, 97 tweets, 26 min read
Was #Jesus a #mythical figure based on the #Phrygian #god #Attis?
Um, #NO, and here is why (#Expanded and #updated)
Originally, Attis was the mortal son of King Croesus. Despite a prophecy warning of his death, Attis was accidentally killed in a boar hunt. In later times, he was seen as the son of Nana, a nymph or female spirit, and Agdistis, a hermaphrodite monster (though technically,
Agdistis was the grandfather; Attis’ father was actually a tree (more on this later). He was the consort (in some accounts lover) of Cybele/Kybele, the Phygrian mother goddess. There are varying accounts as to how he died and what happened afterwards, but he nevertheless went on
to be worshipped as a god in Phrygia (a land located in Asia Minor (Modern Turkey).
So, was Jesus Christ based on Attis?
Short Answer:
Do bears live on Mars?
Long answer:
(Before continuing, I want to warn the reader; some of the details of Attis’ myth are sexually graphic in nature. Its like something that both Salvador Dali, the surrealist artist, and Jerry Springer might come up with if they lived at the same time and worked
together, possibly while snorting crack. Reader discretion is advised).
1. Born on December 25th?
Nope. No mainstream (i.e. non-Jesus Mythicist) book or ancient text makes such a claim.
2. Born of a virgin?
There are some ancient sources that say that Attis was the son of Cybele (Identified by some ancient Greeks and Romans with the goddess Rhea, and by others as the Greek Goddess Demeter.) , and at least one where it is described as a “virgin” conception or birth (though this was
not the mainstream myth). This may be derived from the fact that, in one version of the myth, Cybele is identified with Agdistis (“Agdistis” was at times an alternate name for the goddess Cybele). However, not only would Cybele be in the latter case Attis’ father or grandfather
(more on this later, hope you’re not squeamish) but this conception would be more accurately rendered “sexless” rather than “virgin”.
Because, you see…Cybele was known to have had SEX!
Nope, not kidding Ice Cube.
King Midas, the mythical king who could turn anything he touched into gold, was said to be the son of King Gordius and Cybele (never described as being the product of sexless or virgin conception. To be fair, in another version of the myth, Midas was
adopted by King Gordius). In another version of her myth, she was raped by Zeus. She was also said to have had two husbands (Iasion and Olympos). She bore Iasion a son named Corybas/Korybas, and she bore Olympos and a daughter named Alce-Cybele/Ake-Kybele. Some believe that
the latter story is probably one part of a larger Euhemerist interpretation of Cybele’s myth, ie. to see a more historical reality hidden within the myth. Thus gods could be based on real people, certain events in myth would have actually been more mundane in real life, etc.
However, not only is this not known for sure, but in Diodorus’ Siculus’ (1 century BC Greek Historian) account of the myth, the gods are still listed as…gods, not mortals. Indeed, in some versions of her myth, she is the wife of Cronus, god of time and father of Zeus. The
reason why she was thought to be such is because she was identified by some with Rhea, Cronus’ wife in Greek myth. Though the two goddesses had far different mythologies (thus one of the problems with identifying on god or goddess with another), their stories became so
intertwined that Cybele was eventually seen as Cronus’ wife (Cronus was known to have sex).
Now there is one myth were Cybele is mistaken for a virgin. In this tale, she is the mortal daughter of King Meion and Queen Dindyme. She was left to die in the wilderness after she was
born, but miraculously survived and later had SEX with Attis (who is not her son in this version of the myth). Her father discovers that she is alive, taking her in. He thinks that she is a virgin…till he finds out otherwise.
Thus, we can conclude…that she “got around”.
Not much of a virgin, eh?
Some Jesus Mythicists will protest, saying that, in the version of the myth where Cybele and Agdistis are the same being, that she would have sired Attis long before any of these flings occurred (she’s never pictured as sleeping with her lovers while a hermaphrodite). However,
not only would Cybele be technically Attis father or grandfather instead of mother (you’ll see why later on), there is nothing in the myths that state that she didn’t have sex before she, um…”sired” Attis (Once again, more on this later).
Jesus Mythicists will protest again, saying that both Julian the Apostate and Saint Augustine of Hippo both relate that Cybele was indeed a virgin. True, both Julian the Apostate and Saint Augustine (who called Cybele “Cœlestis”) do state that she was a virgin, but both men lived
in the fourth century AD (Augustine dying in the 5th century), while the texts showing that Cybele was not a virgin predate them by centuries. Indeed, scholars believe that Julian derived Cybele’s virginity from that of the Virgin Mary.
Thus, Paganism was borrowing from Christianity.
Thus, Jesus Mythicists have no case here.
So…what do we know about the birth of Attis?
In some accounts (including the oldest account from Herodotus), Attis is the son of a mortal man (hard for mortal men to be fathers without a combination of women and SEX!). In Herodotus’ account, where Attis is spelled “Atys”, his father is King Croesus, while his mother is
never named. Later, when Herodotus mentions Cybele in connection a battle that King Croesus fought, he never states that she was Attis’ mother. In one version of the myth that Pausanias, the ancient Greek Travelogue cites, Attis is the son of a mortal named Galaus the Phrygian,
and was born a eunuch. In some accounts Attis is simply a foundling, a child left in the wilderness to die (though this detail also pops up in tales where he has a divine mother). In the mainstream myth (which postdates the version of the myth that Herodotus tells) , Zeus
masturbates on Mt. Agdus, which to him looks like the goddess Rhea (his…mother. Cybele was identified with Rhea). His semen hits the land and produces an almond tree. One of its fruits fell on the lap of Nana, a nymph and the daughter of a river god. Thus, she becomes pregnant.
In another, a hermaphrodite monster named Agdistis (Likewise born of Zeus masturbating on Mt. Agdus) was made drunk by the gods (adding wine to the pool where the monster bathed in). They tied Agdistis' genitals to a tree after the monster went to sleep. When Agdistis awoke and
moved, the monster was inevitably castrated. A pomegranate tree (some sources state an almond tree) arose from the severed genitals. Nana gathered its fruit in her lap, one of which disappeared (in one account she pushed the fruit into her womb, possibly hinting at her
kinky nature), and she suddenly became pregnant. Sounds at first like a virgin birth...until you realize one important detail.

Nana is never called a virgin.
Though some modern books state otherwise (Such as M.J. Vermaseren’s “the Legend of Attis in Greek and Roman Art”), we have no ancient sources that state that she was indeed a virgin. Indeed, Nymphs were usually the object of intense sexual desire (this is where the term
“Nymphomaniac” comes from). They were generally amorous, and were often recorded as having sexual relations with mortal men. Indeed, their beauty was enough to drive men insane. There were some virgin nymphs (the Muses, Callisto (the latter of whom was a companion of the virgin
goddess Artemis) but this virginity wasn’t totally safe (Zeus raped Callisto in the form of Artemis) and virgin nymphs were the exceptions, not the rule. Nana is not married already in the myth, but that doesn’t mean that she wasn’t having sex prior to this incident (most, if not
all, sexual relations between nymphs and mortals did not involve a marriage).
Now there is a version of the myth where Nana is the mortal daughter of a king, who flees after her father intends to kill her for what he perceives to be evidence of fornication (i.e. her pregnancy).
In some accounts where she is a nymph, her divine father likewise suspected that she had sex and thus sought to kill her. This is as close to a virgin birth as Attis gets, though we have to remember that just because Nana didn’t sexually conceive Attis doesn’t necessarily mean
that she actually never had sex period, or that she didn’t have sex while pregnant (Yes, some people in the ancient world did have sex outside of marriage. Why do you think the Bible mentions and even condemns the practice? see Deuteronomy 22:28-29, 1 Corinthians 7:1-2, 8-9).
Contrast that to the Biblical evidence for Mary’s virginity (Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-34, 2:1-7). True, she didn’t have a child before Attis, but then again, people have had sex without conceiving a child (even when protection isn’t used), and there are sexual acts that will
never, ever result in a pregnancy.
Thus, we can’t say that Nana was a virgin.
Jesus Mythicists may protest, saying that an ancient inscription from Pereus mentions a goddess named “Atremis-Nana”, thus proving that Nana was a virgin. After all, why would she be identified with
Artemis, a virgin goddess, if she wasn’t a virgin herself?
Well, that depends on which “Nana” is being identified with Artemis.
You see, there were several goddesses named Nana.
The Babylonian goddess Nana (not to be confused with the god Nanna) was often identified with Artemis in Asia Minor (which is why some scholars have identified Artemis-Nana with her, not Nana the mother of Attis). This is intriguing, considering that the Asian version of Artemis
wasn’t a virgin. Indeed, Ancient Armenia also had a mother goddess named Nana as well. Sometimes, ancient gods could share the same name. Indeed, the Sumerian god Nanna (aka Sin), shares the same name as a Norse goddess of vegetation!!!
To be fair, some scholars have tried to connect the dots between Nana, Artemis-Nana and the Phrygian Nymph Nana (and no doubt the Armenian mother goddess Nana), and ancient cultures may have identified one Nana with another. Perhaps the Armenian Nana is a different version of the
Phrygian Nymph Nana.
However, remember the problem of identification; the gods might be identified, but their myths will be different. Artemis is one of the 12 major Olympian deities, while the Phrygian Nana is a nymph, a lesser divinity. Artemis is a twin (her bother is
Apollo), while Nana is never said to have a twin. In all her myths, Artemis is always a deity, while Nana is a mortal in some myths. Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and the Titan Leto, while the Nymph Nana is the daughter of the River God Sangarius. Artemis is a major goddess
that is immortal (i.e. indestructible as well as everlasting), while nymphs like Nana could be killed. Artemis is never a mother, while Nana is. One cannot say that Nana is a virgin because some in the ancient world identified her with Artemis, anymore than we can say that
Artemis is a mother because she is identified with Nana (and as we seen, Nana the Nymph’s identification with Artemis-Nana is tentative). Indeed, Artemis and Nana are different goddesses in the Greek mythos. Thus, not as much of a connection as Jesus Mythicists would hope.
I Haven't even brought up the differences between the Babylonian, Phrygian and Armenian Nanas.
Don't worry, I'm trying to keep this article as short as possible.
You're welcome.
We have no evidence that Nana was a virgin. There is no primary source that states that Nana was a virgin. Attis had a sexless conception to be sure (though the fact that Nana, in one of the versions of the myth, shoves a pomegranate into her womb, shows some odd
sexual connotations), but there are other gods (and monsters) who had sexless conceptions, and many have little to no similarities to Christ at all (Ouranos, Mars, Agdistis, the Gigantes (Giants with serpents for legs), Meliae (Ash tree nymphs), the Erinyes/Furies, Aphrodite
(in one version of her myth), etc.
So much for a virgin birth.
3. Savior slain for mankind?
4. Body represented by bread and wine in a Eucharist/Lord’s Supper?
There was a communal meal where eating and drinking from cymbals was noted. Jesus Mythicists will say that the food “was most likely” (repeat: most likely) bread and wine.
Um, someone should have told them that bread and wine were forbidden at Attis festivals.
The most likely item on the menu in this ritual was…milk.
5. A shepherd?
Yes, Attis was a literal shepherd.
Jesus was called “The Good Shepherd” metaphorically. He was a literal carpenter and Rabbi (Mark 6:3, John 3:1-3).
6. Called “Divine Son” and “Father”?
Attis never had the former title. he was the son of a nymph named Nana and a monster/demon named Agdistis. In some versions Agdistis is identified with Cybele, thus making him the son of two goddesses (Nymphs like Nana were lesser female deities). However, in Herodotus’ account,
he’s the mortal son of a King. In one account, Nana is a mortal (still impregnated by Agdistis’ tree). In another account, he was the son of a mortal named “Galaus the Phrygian”. No divine ancestry is noted in that version either. In another account, he started out life as
simply a mortal foundling.
And as for “father”; He was indeed called “Papas” or Father.
Jesus, i.e. God the Son, was not.
In one version of the myth, Attis has sex with Cybele and they have a child. In this version, Cybele is a mortal (The daughter of King Meion of Phrygia),
though she eventually becomes a goddess in the tale. Some of the ancients identified Attis with Iasion, one of Cybele’s hubbies, and they conceived Corybas. So he was, in at least one version of his myth, a literal father (not in others. Indeed in one account he was born a eunuch
Compare this to Jesus, whom we have no evidence that he was even married, let alone a father.
So, given that Jesus was not called “Father”, and thus no connection with Attis here, why do Jesus Mythicists continue to bring this idea up?
Because Jesus said in John 10:30 “I and the
Father are one.”
I’ll give you a moment to recover from the intellectual equivalent of fart.
Since Jesus was the Son of God, this makes him out to be both a “Divine Son” and “Father”, in the Jesus Mythicist view.
However, Jesus is not the Son of God in the same way that Attis and others with a divine parent were. Jesus isn’t a demigod, or a different god from God the Father; they are a trinity, three persons, one god. This is why Jesus told his disciples to “Go therefore and make
disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19), instead of saying “baptizing them in the NAME of the Father and the NAME of the Son and the NAME of the Holy Spirit.” That’s why he didn’t say “Baptizing
them in the NAMES of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Indeed, Jesus existed long before he was conceived in the womb (John 1:1-3, 8:58), something we cannot say of Attis. The term “Father” was reserved for God the Father, not Jesus. Though they are the same god,
they are different persons within the trinity.
Attis is not part of a trinity. He is a single god, a single person, who just happens to be called “Papas”, and who happens to be a son of a goddess in some versions of his myth.
Thus, no connection between Jesus and Attis.
7. Attis worshippers sacrificed a bull or sheep (the Taurobolium), where initiates were considered born again? Was it referred to as “washed in the blood of the lamb”?
There was a Taurobolium, and it did involve a bull sacrifice (sheep were a less expensive alternative). The
earliest source that discusses this is in the 2nd century AD (postdating the New testament). However, we have no record of this ritual being capable of saving souls until 400 AD.
8. Crucified?
No. In Herodotus’ version, he dies on a boar hunt, courtesy of friendly fire. In the
mainstream version of the myth, Attis fell in love with a nymph and planned to marry her, despite his pledge to the goddess Cybele to remain chaste for her (Cybele actually loved him). She drove him mad, which led to him castrating himself under a pine tree (In some accounts
Agdistis does this), and subsequently bled to death. In one account, after his madness faded and he realized that he had made himself a eunuch, he attempted suicide. However, before he could carry it out, Cybele turned him into a fir tree (no death in this version). In another, a
boar kills him. In another he bled to death and was reborn (No resurrected, mind you. Reborn/reincarnated). Reuniting and reconciling with Cybele.
Poor, poor Attis.
Oh and BTW: did any of those fates sound like a crucifixion?
Ehhhhh nope.
What about the Attis holiday held on March 22nd, where a pine tree was cut down, an effigy of Attis was tied to it? Well, this didn’t represent a crucifixion; it represent Attis death under a tree. The
effigy was tied to it for practical reasons (Remember, together they represent Attis’ death under a tree. The scene wouldn’t look right if the effigy was left behind while the tree was carried away!). The Roman Emperor Claudius was said to have instituted this holiday (41-54 AD)
, but this claim dates back to the 6th century AD. The only Attis festival attested by a 50 AD calendar is one that was held on the 27th.
So, given the facts of the case…why do Jesus Mythicists continue bring Attis and crucifixion up?
Because Jesus cross was metaphorically
likened…to a tree (Acts 5:30).
Attis was said to have turned into a tree or died under one, Jesus’ cross was metaphorical likened to a tree, so there MUST be some kind of connection!
Excuse me while I ram my head into a wall.
8. Resurrected?
Nope. He was reborn (in some sources, he was reborn as a tree. In all sources (including the tree rebirth one), he became a god (seemingly reborn as a god). Reincarnation and apotheosis (becoming a god) are NOT the same things as a resurrection! Some modern
mythology books make this striking mistake, despite the fact that Resurrection, apotheosis and reincarnation have totally different definitions (see your Webster’s dictionary). In one version of the Attis myth, he never died (he turned into a tree before he could commit suicide).
In another, Agdistis asks Zeus to revive Attis. Zeus responds by keeping Attis’ body from decay, making one of his fingers constantly move and his hair to keep growing.
In other words, Zeus did a half-butt job.
Oh and by the way; the oldest texts that speak of Attis having any
9. Killed on a Black Friday?
Nope. There is no Black Friday mentioned in his mythos.
10. Killed on March 25th?
Oh, there was festival called the Hilaria that was celebrated on this date. It implied that Attis returned from the Underworld, but not an execution. Indeed, the earliest attestation of this holiday dates to the 3rd-4rth century AD.
11. His priests were made eunuchs for the
Kingdom of Heaven?
No, they were castrated in homage to the castration of Attis. In early Christianity, all Christians were a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5,9). Early Christians were not Eunuchs. Jesus mentioned that there were men who lived like eunuchs for the sake of the
kingdom of heaven (Matt 19:12), but this is in reference to the Essenes, a Jewish sect whose members most often refused to marry.
Wow…see what happens when you dig into the Hebrew culture which Christianity derived from, instead of trying your best to find a pagan parallel?
Should Jewish culture always be ignored in favor of pagan culture when considering the background of Christianity, which was originally a…Jewish sect?
The Attis Myth has many different versions, and Jesus mythicists will try to take elements out of several of them and combine
them into a narrative that, in their eyes, fits that of Christ in the Gospels. They also ignore parts of these myths that are even more inconvenient for their case. The oldest version of the tale, as told by Herodotus, is ignored. The other account that likewise describe him as
the mortal son of mortals (once again with no supernatural conception) is likewise ignored. The fact that Cybele wasn’t a virgin, that Agdistis (whether identified with Cybele or not) is never called as such in the ancient sources, that Nana is never called as such in the ancient
sources, that Attis was never crucified, that his festivals didn’t indicate that he was crucified, that he was reborn instead of resurrected, that he never had a Lord’s Supper, that any supposed similarities to Christianity post-date the New testament, that Julian the Apostate
mixed Christianity with paganism, etc are also ignored. What’s also ignored is that scholars who study Attis note that the Attis cult borrowed from Christianity, not vice versa.
Jesus was not based on Attis.
Jesus is real, not myth.
Herodotus “The Histories”, 1.36-46, 80
Ovid “Metamorphoses”, 10.103
Ovid “Fasti” 4.179-246
Pausanias "Description of Greece", 7.17.9-13
Diodorus Siculus “Library of History”, 3.58-59, 5.49
Pseudo-Hyginus, “Fabulae”, 191, 274
Nonnus, “Dionysiaca”, 20.35, 25.310
Arnobius, “Against the Heathen”, 5.6
Julian the Apostate “Hymn to the Mother of the Gods”, 166b
Saint Augustine, “City of God”, 2.26
"Titans and Olympians: Greek and Roman Myth" by Tony Allan, Sarah Maitland, and Dr Michael Trapp (consultant), 31, see also 27, 48, 62
“The Age of Fable” by Thomas Bulfinch, 117
“The Legend of Attis in Greek and Roman Art” by M.J. Vermaseren, 1-6
“Cybele and Attis: The Myth and
the Cult” by M.J. Vermaseren, 91
“Cassell Dictionary of Classical Mythology” by Jenny March, 119, see also 32, 81
“The Mythology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained” by Philip Wilkinson (Consultant), 116-17
“The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology” by Arthur Cotterell and Rachel
Storm, 261, 270,272-73, 313, see also 51, 63
“The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology” by Pierre Grimal, 27-28, 69, 112, 393, see also 82-83, 297-98
“Encyclopedia of Gods” by Michael Jordan, 141, 176-77
“A Study of Women in Attic Inscriptions” by Helen McClees, PhD, 25
“Soteriology And Mystic Aspects in the Cult of Cybele and Attis” by Giulia Sfameni Gasparro, 50
“Orion: The Myth of the Hunter and the Huntress” by Joseph Fontenrose, 216
“Emperor and Author: The Writings of Julian the Apostate”
by Nicholas Baker-Brian and Shaun Tougher (Editors), 223-24
“An Encyclopedia of Religions” by Maurice Arthur Canney, 125
“Shattering the Christ Myth” By James Patrick Holding, 299
“Attis, Between Myth and History: King, Priest, and God” By Maria Grazia Lancellotti, 92
“Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World” By David Sacks, Oswyn Murray, Lisa R. Brody, 226
“Nymphomania: A History” By Carol Groneman, 185
“Functional and Dysfunctional Sexual Behavior: A Synthesis of Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology” by Anders Agmo, 430
@thethreadreader untoll please
Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

Enjoying this thread?

Keep Current with Travis Jackson

Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!