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Encyclopedia > Mithras
This article is about the Hellenistic and Roman god. For other divine entities with related names, see the general article Mitra. For the butterfly genus, see Mithras (butterfly).
Tauroctony of Mithras at the British Museum London

Mithras was Persian god, the central god of Mithraism, a syncretic Hellenistic mystery religion of male initiates that developed in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC and was practiced in the Roman Empire from the 1st century BC to the 5th century AD. Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... The term Hellenistic (derived from Héllēn, the Greeks traditional self-described ethnic name) was established by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen to refer to the spreading of Greek culture over the non-Greek people that were conquered by Alexander the Great. ... Motto Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR) The Roman Empire at its greatest extent. ... God, as a male deity, contrasts with female deities, or goddesses. While the term goddess specifically refers to a female deity, words like gods and deities can be applied to all gods collectively, regardless of gender. ... *mitra (Proto-Indo-Iranian, nominative *mitras) was an important Indo-Iranian divinity. ... Superfamilies and families Superfamily Hedyloidea: Hedylidae Superfamily Hesperioidea: Hesperiidae Superfamily Papilionoidea: Papilionidae Pieridae Nymphalidae Lycaenidae Riodinidae A butterfly is an insect of the order Lepidoptora. ... For other uses, see Genus (disambiguation). ... Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 522 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (1321 × 1517 pixel, file size: 246 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Photo taken at British Museum by Mike Young I, the creator of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 522 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (1321 × 1517 pixel, file size: 246 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Photo taken at British Museum by Mike Young I, the creator of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. ... A tauroctony was the depiction of Mithras ritually slaying a bull, that is a taurobolium. ... The British Museum in London, England is one of the worlds greatest museums of human history and culture. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Syncretism consists of the attempt to reconcile disparate or contradictory beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. ... The term Hellenistic (derived from Héllēn, the Greeks traditional self-described ethnic name) was established by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen to refer to the spreading of Greek culture over the non-Greek people that were conquered by Alexander the Great. ... This does not cite any references or sources. ... The Mediterranean Sea is an intercontinental sea positioned between Europe to the north, Africa to the south and Asia to the east, covering an approximate area of 2. ... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 2nd century BC started on January 1, 200 BC and ended on December 31, 101 BC. // Coin of Antiochus IV. Reverse shows Apollo seated on an omphalos. ... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 1st century BC started on January 1, 100 BC and ended on December 31, 1 BC. An alternative name for this century is the last century BC. The AD/BC notation does not use a year zero. ... Motto Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR) The Roman Empire at its greatest extent. ... Europe in 450 The 5th century is the period from 401 to 500 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Christian Era. ...

Contents

Attestation

The Romanized Greek Plutarch says that in 67 BC a large band of pirates in Cilicia — on the southeast coast of Anatolia — were practicing "secret rites" of Mithras. It has been suggested that much of the myth and symbolism of Mithraism was influential on the early Christian Church.[1] Mestrius Plutarchus (Greek: Πλούταρχος; 46 - 127), better known in English as Plutarch, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist. ... Centuries: 2nd century BC - 1st century BC - 1st century Decades: 110s BC 100s BC 90s BC 80s BC 70s BC - 60s BC - 50s BC 40s BC 30s BC 20s BC 10s BC Years: 72 BC 71 BC 70 BC 69 BC 68 BC 67 BC 66 BC 65 BC 64... Cilicia as Roman province, 120 AD In Antiquity, Cilicia (Κιλικία) was the name of a region, now known as Çukurova, and often a political unit, on the southeastern coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), north of Cyprus. ... Anatolia and Europe Anatolia (Turkish: from Greek: Ανατολία - Anatolia) is a peninsula of Western Asia which forms the greater part of the Asian portion of Turkey, as opposed to the European portion (Thrace, or traditionally Rumelia). ...


The name Mithras is the Greek nominative form of Mithra, the Zoroastrian yazata that serves as mediator between Ahura Mazda and the earth, the guarantor of human contracts, although in Mithraism much was added to the original elements of Mitra. However, some of the attributes of Roman Mithras may have been taken from other Eastern cults: for example, the Mithraist emphasis on astrology strongly suggests syncretism with star-oriented Mesopotamian or Anatolian religions. At least some of this synthesis of beliefs may have already been underway by the time the cult was adopted in the West. When Mithraism was introduced by Roman legions at Dura-Europos after 168 AD, the god assumed his familiar Hellenistic iconic formula (illustration above right). Compare the very similar Enkidu seal. Mithra (Avestan Miθra, modern Persian مهر Mihr, Mehr, Meher) is an important deity or divine concept (so called Yazata) in Zoroastrianism and later Persian mythology and culture. ... Zoroastrianism was adapted from an earlier, polytheistic faith by Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) in Persia very roughly around 1000 BC (although, in the absence of written records, some scholars estimates are as late as 600 BC). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Zoroastrian angelology. ... Ahura Mazda is the Avestan language name for an exalted divinity of ancient proto-Indo-Iranian religion that was subsequently declared by Zarathustra (Zoroaster) to be the one uncreated creator of all (God). ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Syncretism consists of the attempt to reconcile disparate or contradictory beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. ... This is an article about the ancient middle eastern region. ... Anatolia and Europe Anatolia (Turkish: from Greek: Ανατολία - Anatolia) is a peninsula of Western Asia which forms the greater part of the Asian portion of Turkey, as opposed to the European portion (Thrace, or traditionally Rumelia). ... The Temple of Bel at Dura-Europos Dura-Europos (Fort Europos)[1] was a Hellenistic and Roman walled city built on an escarpment ninety meters above the banks of the Euphrates river. ... The term Hellenistic (established by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen) in the history of the ancient world is used to refer to the shift from a culture dominated by ethnic Greeks, however scattered geographically, to a culture dominated by Greek-speakers of whatever ethnicity, and from the political dominance... Enkidu and Gilgamesh, cylinder seal from Ur III Enkidu (𒂗𒆠𒆕 EN.KI.DU3 Enkis creation) appears in Sumerian mythology as a mythical wild-person raised by animals; his beast-like ways are finally tamed by a courtesan named Shamhat. ...


The mythology surrounding Mithras is not easily reassembled from the enigmatic and complicated iconography. Indeed the dedicatory inscription on a 2nd-3rd century tauroctony discovered in a Mithraeum at Ostia in the 1790s refers to the "incomprehensible deity": INDEPREHENSIVILIS DEI [1]. Apparently the cult of Mithras did not depend, as Christianity did, on the interpretation of revealed texts considered to be divinely inspired, and the textual references are those of Christians, who mention Mithras to deplore him, and neo-Platonists who interpreted Mithraic symbols within their own world-schemes.[2] Look up Iconography in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A tauroctony was the depiction of Mithras ritually slaying a bull, that is a taurobolium. ... Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is an ancient school of philosophy beginning in the 3rd century A.D. It was based on the teachings of Plato and Platonists; but it interpreted Plato in many new ways, such that Neoplatonism was quite different from what Plato taught, though not many Neoplatonists would...


However, we do have a number of dedications from followers of Mithras (mainly addressed to invictus, unconquerable, Mithras), mainly from Roman Britain, the Rhine and Danube area and Italy. These suggest that a large number of his worshippers were low-ranking soldiers (there are very few examples of offerings from higher-ranking soldiers and those may have just been to encourage their men) and slaves, perhaps because a religion with a strict but straight-forward hierarchy allowed them the power they lacked in their everyday lives. Later in the third century Mithraism filtered through to the upper classes and it was even used as a mid-ground argument against Christianity. Roman Britain refers to those parts of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire between 43 and 410. ... The Buxton Memorial Fountain, celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, London. ... Christianity percentage by country, purple is highest, orange is lowest Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Wycliffe Tyndale · Luther · Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch...


Religion

Main article: Mithraism
Mithras and the Bull: fresco from the mithraeum at the town of Doura Europos on the Euphrates river.
Mithras and the Bull: fresco from the mithraeum at the town of Doura Europos on the Euphrates river.

It is difficult for scholars to reconstruct the daily workings and beliefs of Mithraism, as the rituals were highly secret and limited to initiated men only. Mithras was little more than a name until the massive documentation of Franz Cumont's Texts and Illustrated Monuments Relating to the Mysteries of Mithra was published in 1894-1900, followed by an English translation in 1903. This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Image File history File links Fresque_Mithra_Doura_Europos. ... Image File history File links Fresque_Mithra_Doura_Europos. ... Fresco by Dionisius representing Saint Nicholas. ... Surfer Rosa The Euphrates (IPA: /juːˈfreɪtiːz/; Greek: Euphrátēs; Akkadian: Pu-rat-tu; Hebrew: פְּרָת Pĕrāth; Syriac: Prâth; Arabic: الفرات Al-Furāt; Turkish: Fırat; Kurdish: فرهات, Firhat, Ferhat, Azeri: Fərat) is the western of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia (the other... Franz-Valéry-Marie Cumont (Aalst, Belgium, January 3, 1868 - Brussels, August 25, 1947) was a Belgian archaeologist and historian, a philologist and student of epigraphy, who brought these often isolated specialties to bear on the syncretic mystery religions of Late Antiquity, notably Mithraism. ...


Members would ascend through seven grades of initiation, each aligned with a symbol, and a god:

Corax: The Raven[3] with Mercury
Nymphus: The Bridegroom[3] with Venus
Miles: The Soldier[3] with Mars
Leo: The Lion[3] with Jupiter
Perses: The Persian[3] with the Moon
Heliodromus: The Runner of the Sun[3] or the Messenger with the Sun
Pater: The Father[3] with Saturn

Archeological evidence suggests that initiations involved three ordeals that the initiate had to endure: heat, cold, and hunger.[3] Since Father was the highest rank it is obviously one mentioned most frequently in inscriptions, but becoming a Lion was also seen to be very important and was regarded as a watershed in one's authority and responsibility within the cult. Through their association with Jupiter, Lions were aligned with fire and so it would have been inappropriate for them to have been cleansed at their initiation with water. Instead honey was used; it was also put on their tongue to symbolise their pure and cleansing words. This article is about the planet. ... (*min temperature refers to cloud tops only) Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure 9. ... Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the solar system, named after the Roman god of war (the counterpart of the Greek Ares), on account of its blood red color as viewed in the night sky. ... Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure 70 kPa Hydrogen ~86% Helium ~14% Methane 0. ... Apparent magnitude: up to -12. ... Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure 140 kPa Hydrogen >93% Helium >5% Methane 0. ... Archaeology or sometimes in American English archeology (from the Greek words αρχαίος = ancient and λόγος = word/speech) is the study of human cultures through the recovery, documentation and analysis of material remains, including architecture, artefacts, biofacts, human remains, and landscapes. ... For other uses, see Heat (disambiguation) In physics, heat, symbolized by Q, is energy transferred from one body or system to another as a result of a difference in temperature. ... Look up cold in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Hunger is a feeling experienced when the glycogen level of the liver falls below a threshold, usually followed by a desire to eat. ...


Worship

Main article: Mithraeum
Tauroctony, Roman, 3rd century (Museo Archaeologico, Palermo)
Tauroctony, Roman, 3rd century (Museo Archaeologico, Palermo)

Worship took place in a temple, or "mithraeum", an artificial cave probably constructed to resemble the place of Mithras's birth. Although some of these temples were built specifically for the purpose, most of them were rooms inside larger structures which had a different purpose, such as a private home or a bath house. A mithraeum found in the ruins of Ostia Antica, Italy. ... Image File history File links Mithras_tauroctony. ... Image File history File links Mithras_tauroctony. ... A tauroctony was the depiction of Mithras ritually slaying a bull, that is a taurobolium. ...


See also Temple of Mithras, London The present day location of the temple foundations. ...


Other Uses

  • In the computer game Rome: Total War (Barbarian Invasion Expansion Pack), Mithras is a possible pagan entity to be worshipped throughout the Roman Empire.
  • In the computer game Sacrifice, Mithras is The Prophet/Narrator.
  • In the PlayStation 2 game Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, Mithra is an enemy that can be recruited to fight on your side once he has been defeated. Mithra is depicted as a red humanoid with a lion's head and a serpent wrapped around his legs. In reality, this representation is more likely that of Deus Arimanius, the Roman version of the Zoroastrian Ahriman, the source of all evil.
  • In the book American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Mithras is mentioned in passing as the god who originally had the December 25th birthday, before it was appropriated by some Christians. This notion is held due to the testimony of Plutarch, which presents the December 25th birthday as originating in the 1st century BC.[4] The notion of a December 25 birthday for Mithras is also mentioned in the Dan Brown novel, The Da Vinci Code, as well as the Rosemary Sutcliff novel, The Eagle of the Ninth.
  • A secret society of Mithras worshippers in modern times is a major part in the David Morrell thriller "The covenant of the flame"

DC-10, retired from American Airlines fleet at gate McDonnell Douglas was a major American aerospace manufacturer, producing a number of famous commercial and military aircraft. ... The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II[2] is a two-seat supersonic long-range all-weather fighter-bomber originally developed for the U.S. Navy by McDonnell Douglas. ... Vampire: The Masquerade (Revised Edition) cover. ... The Ventrue are a fictional clan of vampires, associated with the Camarilla, from White Wolf Game Studios Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, and Vampire: The Requiem books and role-playing games. ... The term prince, from the Latin root princeps, is used for a member of the highest ranks of the aristocracy or the nobility. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... Rome: Total War is a grand strategy computer game where players fight historical and fictious battles during the era of the Roman Republic, from 270 BCE to 14 CE. The game was developed by Creative Assembly and released on September 22, 2004. ... For other uses, see Sacrifice (disambiguation). ... The PlayStation 2 , abbreviated PS2) is Sonys second video game console, the successor to the PlayStation and the predecessor to the PlayStation 3. ... Angra Mainyu or Ahriman was the evil spirit in the dualistic strain of Zoroastrianism. ... American Gods is a novel by Neil Gaiman. ... Neil Richard Gaiman () (born November 10, 1960) is an English author of science fiction and fantasy short stories and novels, graphic novels, comics, and films. ... Mestrius Plutarchus (Greek: Πλούταρχος; 46 - 127), better known in English as Plutarch, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist. ... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 1st century BC started on January 1, 100 BC and ended on December 31, 1 BC. An alternative name for this century is the last century BC. The AD/BC notation does not use a year zero. ... This article is about the novel. ... The God Who Wasnt There is an independent documentary written and directed by Brian Flemming that questions the historicity of Jesus and examines evidence that supports the theory that the historical Jesus did not exist. ... Brian Flemming Brian Flemming (born 6 June 1966) is an American film director and playwright. ...

Notes

  1. ^ Wright L.M.'Christianity, Astrology And Myth', (2002),Oak Hill Free Press, USA. ISBN 0- 9518796-1-8
  2. ^ Franz Cumont, Textes et mounuments figurés rélatifs aux mystères de Mithra vol. II (Brussels) 1896.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Temple of Mithras Accessed 2007-3-5.
  4. ^ Plutarch, Life of Pompey.
And Mythras was the God of the island Uptopia in the main work (Uptopia, 1516 AC) of Thomas More a contemporary of Erasmus from Rotterdam

Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... This article is about the day. ...

References

  • Richard Gordon, "Image and Value in the Graeco-Roman World, studies in Mithraism and religious art", (contains some seminal essays)
  • David Ulansey, "The Cosmic Mysteries of Mithras"
  • David Fingrut, "Mithraism: The Legacy of the Roman Empire's Final Pagan State Religion" (a high-school level paper that does, however, summarize well the classic work of Cumont)
  • Franz Cumont, The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism.
  • Francis Legge, Forerunners and Rivals of Christianity, From 330 B.C. to 330 A.D. (1914), reprinted in two volumes bound as one, University Books New York, 1964. LC Catalog 64-24125.
  • David Ulansey, The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World. Oxford University Press 1991. ISBN 0-19-506788-6.
  • Vermaseren, M.J. Mithras the Secret God 1963.
  • Payam Nabarz, The Mysteries of Mithras, The Pagan Belief That Shaped the Christian World.
  • D.K. Malloch, "Christ and the Taurobolium" - Lord Mithras in the genesis of Christianity. Lochan Press. Scotland. 2006. ISBN 0-9540786-1-6
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Category:Mithraism

  Results from FactBites:
 
Mithraism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4948 words)
Mithra was worshiped as a god by proto aryan Indo-Iranians and Mithraism is generally considered to be of Persian origins, specifically an outgrowth of Zoroastrian culture, though not of Zoroaster's teachings.
Mithra’s triumph and ascension to heaven were celebrated during the spring equinox, as during Easter, when the sun rises toward its apogee.
Mithraism: Zorostrian Gnosticism According to David Livingstone, an early variation of Mithraism was practiced by Zoroastrian heretics, falsely called "Magi", and influenced the Greek Mysteries of Dionysus.
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Mithraism (3058 words)
Mithraism was emphatically a soldier religion: Mithra, its hero, was especially a divinity of fidelity, manliness, and bravery; the stress it laid on good fellowship and brotherliness, its exclusion of women, and the secret bond amongst its members have suggested the idea that Mithraism was Masonry amongst the Roman soldiery.
Mithra was born of a mother-rock by a river under a tree.
Mithraism had a Eucharist, but the idea of a sacred banquet is as old as the human race and existed at all ages and amongst all peoples.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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