glossary

A reference to the Cubic Stone of Yesod. Historically, a large black stone, a meteorite, that some describe from its image on coins and in sculpture as shaped like a bee-hive; others as phallic. This stone first appears in history atop its altar in the temple of Emesa on coins minted in the reign of Caracalla. It was taken by Varius Avitus Bassianus, Roman emperor (218-222), during his own reign, to Rome, and placed in a huge temple dedicated to it on the Palatine hill. Each summer, of the three he spent there, he led the stone in ceremonial procession, attended by musicians and dancers, to another palace in a garden at the outer edge of Rome. At the end of summer he would take it back to the Palatine. This is recorded in his coinage, as well as in the written sources. Varius was appointed priest of the sun-god Elagabal, whose name he adopted. Heliogabalus lived in Rome as an oriental despot and, giving himself up to detestable sensual pleasures, degraded the imperial office to the lowest point by most shameful vices, which had their origin in certain rites of oriental naturalistic religion.

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