Cabiri (Gr. ), certain divinities anciently worshipped in Egypt, Phoenicia, and Greece. Little is positively known respecting them. In Egypt there appear to have been eight; in Greece three, and perhaps more, who have been identified by some with Ceres, Proserpine, and Pluto, or with Jupiter, Minerva, and Mercury, and sometimes with Castor and Pollux and other divinities. The name is probably derived from the Semitic Icdbir (great), a title especially given to Astarte, the Phoenician Venus. They were sometimes called sons of Vulcan, on account of their being proficients in the art of metallurgy. They are represented as dwarfs with protuberant bellies. Sometimes they are represented as kindly, sometimes as malevolent. The rites of the Cabiri were solemnized in secret every year, and lasted for nine days. At Lemnos they were celebrated in the night, women and children as well as men being admitted. , The postulants underwent an examination as to their previous life, and were purified of all their crimes, even if they had committed murder.
At Lemnos, during the nine days and nights, all fires on the island were extinguished, sacrifices were offered to the dead, and a sacred vessel was sent to Delos to bring back fresh fire; the Cabiri being supposed to accompany the vessel, upon the return of which the pure fire was distributed, and a new life was entered upon free from all past stain. There are indications that in some places the rites were attended with obscene orgies. The principal places in which the Cabiri were worshipped were Lemnos, Samothrace, Imbros, Thebes, Anthedon, Per-gamus, Berytus, and Memphis. The Cabiri and their rites form one of the most perplexing subjects connected with Greek mythology.