Mother Goddess (Latin, Mater dea). The pagans gave the name of mother to certain goddesses-of the first rank, particularly to Cybele, Ceres, Juno, and Vesta. Cicero speaks of a famous temple erected in the city of Engyum, in Sicily, to the Great Mother, or simply The Mothers. Concerning this temple, the Engyans entertained a strange superstition. It was confidently affirmed that certain goddesses, called The Mothers, frequently appeared there. They relate a story of one Nicius, a man of wit, and a considerable person of the city, who had frequently laughed at this pretended apparition. One day, as he was haranguing in public, he fell down, roared like a madman, and rent his clothes in pieces. Upon this he was thought possessed by the furies, and every one acknowledged the vengeance of the injured goddesses. However, it was found afterwards that this was only a pretended delirium, and an expedient to deliver himself out of the hands of his persecutors, who had thoughts of destroying him, under pretence of punishing him for his impiety in denying the apparition of The Mothers; for, being suffered to go out of the city, he made his escape to the Roman general Marcellus. In that temple were shown javelins and brazen helmets, with inscriptions which made some believe that Murunes and Ulysses had consecrated these to the goddesses styled The Mothers. See Broughton, Bibliotheca Historico-Sacra, 2:145.