Colossal seated statue of Cybele or a Muse?

Early Imperial Period
1st BC or 1st AD

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 092; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 109 (additional published references); Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 041.


Overall: 188 x 104 x 124cm (74 x 40 15/16 x 48 13/16in.) Block (wooden timber base (8 5/8 x 7 3/4 )): 51.4 x 135.9 x 145.7 cm (20 1/4 x 53 1/2 x 57 3/8 in.) Block (Object sits on a concrete on top of wooden base): 126.4 x 86.4 x 62.9 cm (49 3/4 x 34 x 24 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble, from Carrara in northwest Italy

Not On View


The Ancient World



Cybele, the great mother of the gods, also known as Magna Mater, is represented in her customary seated pose in this colossal statue. Probably once enthroned in an elevated position within an Imperial-period temple, the work is said to have been found at Amiternum, in the mountains of central Italy. She was a chaste goddess, a protector of cities, and a bringer of good fortune. It has also been suggested that she might represent a seated Muse.

Assembled from several marble blocks, this statue was executed at the highest level of quality. The goddess-perched on a stool, armless throne, or altar that is partly preserved; perhaps, on her left side she once held a tambourine, the instrument connected with the frenzied music of her worship. A rich cascade of drapery flows across Cybele’s body, the emphatic folds of the fabric creating visual interest, while the semitransparent quality subtly reveals her anatomy-especially her belly, breasts, and knees.

Scientific Analysis:
Harvard Lab No. HI232: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.11 / delta18O -1.83
Harvard Lab No. HI776: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.44 / delta18O -2.36
Attribution - Carrara, Justification - Fine grained marble.


By 1898: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: E.P.W. discovered that it was found at Amiternum (near Aquila) in a field. to the right of the road, the last field before you reach the amphitheatre from Aquila. .....[It was then sold by the owner to a man who took it to Castellamare Adriatico where it was purchased for Warren]. 1898.); 1899: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 32,500.00 (this is the total price for MFA 99.338-99.542)

Credit Line

Henry Lillie Pierce Fund