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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Cabiri \Ca*bi"ri\ (k[.a]*b[imac]"r[imac]), prop. n. pl. [ NL., fr. Gr. Ka`beiroi.] (Myth.) Certain deities originally worshiped with mystical rites by the Pelasgians in Lemnos and Samothrace and afterwards throughout Greece; -- also called sons of Heph[ae]stus (or Vulcan), as being masters of the art of working metals. [Written also Cabeiri.]
--Liddell & Scott.


n. (context Greek mythology English) A group of enigmatic chthonic deity worshipped by a mystery cult closely associated with that of Hephaestus.


In Greek mythology, the Cabeiri, Cabiri or Kabiri (, Kábeiroi) were a group of enigmatic chthonic deities. They were worshiped in a mystery cult closely associated with that of Hephaestus, centered in the north Aegean islands of Lemnos and possibly Samothrace—at the Samothrace temple complex—and at Thebes. In their distant origins the Cabeiri and the Samothracian gods may include pre-Greek elements, or other non-Greek elements, such as Hittite, Thracian, proto- Etruscan or Phrygian. The Lemnian cult was always local to Lemnos, but the Samothracian mystery cult spread rapidly throughout the Greek world during the Hellenistic period, eventually initiating Romans.

The ancient sources disagree about whether the deities of Samothrace were Cabeiri or not; and the accounts of the two cults differ in detail. But the two islands are close to each other, at the northern end of the Aegean, and the cults are at least similar, and neither fits easily into the Olympic pantheon: the Cabeiri were given a mythic genealogy as sons of Hephaestus. The accounts of the Samothracian gods, whose names were secret, differ in the number and sexes of the gods: usually between two and four, some of either sex. The number of Cabeiri also varies, with some accounts citing four (often a pair of males and a pair of females), and some even more, such as a tribe or whole race of Cabeiri, often presented as all male.

The Cabeiri were also worshipped at other sites in the vicinity, including Seuthopolis in Thrace and various sites in Asia Minor. According to Strabo, Cabeiri are most honored in Imbros and Lemnos but also in other cities too.

Usage examples of "cabeiri".

Their cult at an early date was united with that of Demeter and Kore, with the result that two pairs of Cabeiri appeared, Hephaestus and Demeter, and Cadmilus and Kore.

Roman antiquarians identified the Cabeiri with the three Capitoline deities or with the Penates.

In Lemnos an annual festival of the Cabeiri was held, lasting nine days, during which all the fires were extinguished and fire brought from Delos.

Cabeiri was Camillus, a son of Hephaestus, the Cabeiri have been thought to be, like the Corybantes, Curetes and Dactyli, demons of volcanic fire.

In 1888 interesting details as to the Boeotian cult of the Cabeiri were obtained by the excavations of their temple in the neighbourhood of Thebes, conducted by the German archaeological institute.

The identification of the three Capitoline deities with the Penates, and of these with the Cabeiri, tended to increase this feeling.