Thursday, July 15, 2010


Mithras entered the scene as late as during the empire, but his cult is fascinating and still quite mysterious - there's a lot we do not know about it. Here's a short sumemry of what I've read about it, which shouldn't be taken as a full testemony: The cult came from the east and was open only to men. It was centred around ritual dining, seven spheres (it seems to have been a hierarchical religion) and the slaughtering of bulls. The sanctuaries are very easily recognized on the shape (long and thin, often with the spheres easily visible), the dining couches and most of all, they're almost always to be found underground. You can see examples from Ostia here and here to get a better grasp of the general shape.

Statues of Mithras are also easily recognized and quite common; The god, wearing a Phrygian cap, is seen slaughtering a bull which is also bitten by a dog, serpent and scorpion.

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