Mithras: Mysteries and Inititation Rediscovered

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Hopfe ed. Uncovering ancient stones: essays in memory of H. Neil Richardson , Eisenbrauns , pp. Archaeological evidence of Mithraism in Syria is therefore in marked contrast to the abundance of Mithraea and materials that have been located in the rest of the Roman Empire. Both the frequency and the quality of Mithraic materials is greater in the rest of the empire.

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Even on the western frontier in Britain , archaeology has produced rich Mithraic materials, such as those found at Walbrook. Instead, archaeology indicates that Roman Mithraism had its epicenter in Rome. Wherever its ultimate place of origin may have been, the fully developed religion known as Mithraism seems to have begun in Rome and been carried to Syria by soldiers and merchants. None of the Mithraic materials or temples in Roman Syria except the Commagene sculpture bears any date earlier than the late first or early second century.

While little can be proved from silence, it seems that the relative lack of archaeological evidence from Roman Syria would argue against the traditional theories for the origins of Mithraism. Retrieved 4 June We know a good deal about them because archaeology has disinterred many meeting places together with numerous artifacts and representations of the cult myth, mostly in the form of relief sculpture.


Walter de Gruyter. Retrieved 20 March A useful topographic survey, with map, by F. Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries. New York: Oxford UP. However, in the absence of any ancient explanations of its meaning, Mithraic iconography has proven to be exceptionally difficult to decipher. In Lewis M. Neil Richardson. Retrieved 19 March Today more than four hundred locations of Mithraic worship have been identified in every area of the Roman Empire.

Mithraea have been found as far west as Britain and as far east as Dura Europas. Between the second and fourth centuries C.

1. The cult myth

Mithraism may have vied with Christianity for domination of the Roman world. Electronic Journal of Mithraic Studies. Richard Gordon. It is a place where researchers on Roman Mithraism can publish the product of their research and make it freely available for other interested people.

Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition,. For most of the twentieth century the major problem addressed by scholarship on both Roman Mithraism and the Iranian god Mithra was the question of continuity.

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Lewis, Charles Short. Mithra is the next most important deity and may even have occupied a position of near equality with Ahura Mazde. He was associated with the Sun, and in time the name Mithra became a common word for "Sun". Mithra functioned preeminently in the ethical sphere; he was the god of the covenant, who oversaw all solemn agreements that people made among themselves In later times Mithra gave his name to Mithraism , a mystery religion. Journal of Mithraic Studies II : — Porphyry, De abstinentia II.

The Roman cult of Mithras

Mithras-Orion: Greek hero and Roman army god. India's sacred literature refers to him since the hymns of the Rig Veda. But it was in Iran where Mithras rose to the greatest prominence: rebounding after the reforms of Zarathustra, Mithras became one of the great gods of the Achaemenian emperors and to this very day he is worshipped in India and Iran by Parsees and Zarathustrians. The cults of the Roman Empire. The name Mithras comes from a root mei- which implies the idea of exchange , accompanied by an instrumental suffix.

We find him invoked with Varuna in an agreement concluded c. It is the earliest evidence of Mithras in Asia Minor.

Zoroastrianism under Macedonian and Roman rule, Part 1. The theory that the complex iconography of the characteristic monuments of which the oldest belong to the second century A. Nevertheless, as the name Mithras alone shows, this content was of some importance; and the Persian affiliation of the Mysteries is acknowledged in the earliest literary reference to them.

Why was the worship of Mithra so popular?

The Roman cult of Mithras , p. The god's right leg, appearing on the left as one faces the tauroctony, is nearly always straight as it pins the bull's hoof to the ground, while his left leg, which is usually resting on the back or flank of the bull, is bent at the knee with his foot often partially obscured beneath the folds of his tunic.

Anyone familiar with the cult's iconography will immediately recognize this awkward and possibly unnatural posture as a typical or even essential aspect of the tauroctony. The remarkable consistency of this particular feature is underscored by comparison with the subtle variability of others He is wearing a Phrygian cap and a wind-filled cloak, and, most remarkable of all, his head is turned in the other direction as if he would not look at his own deed.

Still, this sacrifice is a guarantee of salvation for the participants. See also William W. Malandra, Cautes and Cautopates Encyclopedia Iranica article. Hic locus est felix, sanctus, piusque benignus: The cult of Mithras in fourth century Rome,Dissertation for the degree of philosophiae doctor PhD. The figure of Mithras himself is usually attired in an oriental costume of Phrygian cap, tunica manicata a long-sleeved tunic , anaxyrides eastern style trousers , and a cape, though in some cases, he is depicted heroically nude or even, in a unique example from Ostia, in what seems to be a Greek chiton.

Like the general trend in Graeco-Roman art, most if not all tauroctony scenes, regardless of the medium they were executed in, were painted, and the different items of Mithras' clothing was usually colored in either blue or red, often, as in the painting at Marino, with most of the costume in red with only the inside of the cape being blue and star-speckled.

The bull was often white, sometimes wearing the dorsuale, the Roman sacrificial band in reds or browns, while the torchbearers could be depicted in a variety of colors with reds and greens being the most common. The religious context of early Christianity: a guide to Graeco-Roman religions. Retrieved 4 September The Religion of the Mithras cult in the Roman empire.

Great Britain: Oxford University Press. Often, the mithraeum was embellished elsewhere with secondary exemplars of the tauroctony, and there also seem to have been small portable versions, perhaps for private devotion. London: Oxford University Press. Studia Archaeologica.

Retrieved 4 October John R Hinnells, ed. Manchester University Press ND. According to some, the lion man is Aion Zurvan, or Kronos ; according to others, Ahriman. Religious diversity in late antiquity. Jason Cooper Mithras: mysteries and initiation rediscovered. The statue is a representation of the Leo degree, internalized. Retrieved 3 April One should bear in mind that the Mithraic New Year began on Natalis Invicti , the birthday of their invincible god, i.

Retrieved 4 July For a time, coins and other monuments continued to link Christian doctrines with the worship of the Sun, to which Constantine had been addicted previously. But even when this phase came to an end, Roman paganism continued to exert other, permanent influences, great and small The ecclesiastical calendar retains numerous remnants of pre-Christian festivals—notably Christmas, which blends elements including both the feast of the Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithra.

Mithras: Kult und Mysterien. The original editor of the text, Albrecht Dieterich, claimed that it recorded an authentic Mithraic ritual, but this claim was rejected by Cumont, who felt that the references to Mithras in the text were merely the result of an extravagant syncretism evident in magical traditions. Until recently, most scholars followed Cumont in refusing to see any authentic Mithraic doctrine in the Mithras Liturgy.

Hinnells, John R.