Galli

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Funerary relief of an Archigallus, mid-2nd century AD, Capitoline Museums, Rome.

The Galli (singular: Gallus) were eunuch priests of the goddess Cybele or Agdistis. They were temple attendants sometimes wandering the streets begging for charity, and in return they told people's fortunes. The Galli wore feminine clothing and grew their hair long, wearing earrings, necklaces, and heavy make-up. At festivals to Cybele and Attis they danced around wildly to loud music and whipped themselves until they bled. The newcomers to the priesthood would voluntarily castrate themselves.

Archigallus[change | edit source]

In Rome, the head of the galli was known as the Archigallus. A number of archaeological finds depict the Archigallus wearing luxurious and extravagant costumes. The Archigallus was always a Roman citizen chosen by Rome's college of priests, and the term of service lasted for life. Along with the institution of the Archigallus came the Phrygianum sanctuary and the rite of the taurobolium, two aspects of the Cybele cult which the Archigallus had responsibility, as well as presiding over the Galli priests.