SABAZIUS, a Phrygian or Thracian deity, frequently identified with Dionysus, sometimes (but less frequently) with Zeus. His worship was closely connected with that of the great mother Cybele and of Attis. His chief attribute as a chthonian god was a snake, the symbol of the yearly renovation of the life of nature. Demosthenes (De corona, p. 313) mentions various ceremonies practised during the celebration of the mysteries of this deity. One of the most important was the passing of a golden snake under the clothes of the initiated across their bosom and its withdrawal from below an old rite of adoption. From Val. Max. i. 3, 2 it has been concluded that Sabazius was identified in ancient times with the Jewish Sabaoth (Zebaoth). Plutarch (Symp. iv. 6) maintains that the Jews worshipped Dionysus, and that the day of Sabbath was a festival of Sabazius. Whether he was the same as Sozon, a marine deity of southern Asia Minor, is doubtful. Some explain the name as the " beer god," from an Illyrian word sabaya, while others suggest a connexion with Safo (god of " health ") or ci/3a$. His image and name are often found on "votive hands," a kind of talisman adorned with emblems, the nature of which is obscure. His ritual and mysteries (Sacra Savadia) gained a firm footing in Rome during the 2nd century A.D., although as early as 139 B.C. the first Jews who settled in the capital were expelled by virtue of a law which proscribed the propagation of the cult of Jupiter Sabazius.
See J. E. Harrison, Prolegomena to Greek Religion (1908), p. 414; H. Usener, Gotternamen (1896), p. 44; F. Cumont, " Hypsistes io Revue de I' instruction publique en Belgique, xl. (1899); C. S. Blinkenberg, Archdologische Studien (1904).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)