19 Facts About Mithraism


Mithraism, known as the Mithraic mysteries or the Cult of Mithras, was a Roman mystery religion centered on the god Mithras.

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Mary Boyce, a researcher of ancient Iranian religions, writes that even though Roman Mithraism seems to have had less Iranian content than historians used to think, nonetheless "as the name Mithras alone shows, this content was of some importance".

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Mithraism is shown as emerging from a rock, already in his youth, with a dagger in one hand and a torch in the other.

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Mithraism is nude, standing with his legs together, and is wearing a Phrygian cap.

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Mithraism's body is a naked man's, entwined by a serpent, with the snake's head often resting on the lion's head.

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Mithraism is usually represented as having four wings, two keys, and a sceptre in his hand.

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Mithraism'storians including Cumont and Richard Gordon have concluded that the cult was for men only.

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Mithraism's case is that far from representing what Mithraists believed, they are merely representations by the Neoplatonists of what it suited them in the late 4th century to read into the mysteries.

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Mithraism identified the ancient Aryan deity who appears in Persian literature as Mithras with the Hindu god Mitra of the Vedic hymns.

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Bivar, L A Campbell, and G Widengren have variously argued that Roman Mithraism represents a continuation of some form of Iranian Mithra worship.

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Mithraism reached the apogee of its popularity during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, spreading at an "astonishing" rate at the same period when the worship of Sol Invictus was incorporated into the state-sponsored cults.

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Religion and its followers faced persecution in the 4th century from Christianization, and Mithraism came to an end at some point between its last decade and the 5th century.

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Mithraism sees iconographic and mythological parallels between the two figures: both are young heroes, carry a dagger, and wear a Phrygian cap.

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Mithraism argues that a literal reading of the tauroctony as a star chart raises two major problems: it is difficult to find a constellation counterpart for Mithras himself and that, unlike in a star chart, each feature of the tauroctony might have more than a single counterpart.

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Mithraism was not an alternative to Rome's other traditional religions, but was one of many forms of religious practice, and many Mithraic initiates can be found participating in the civic religion, and as initiates of other mystery cults.

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Early Christian apologists noted similarities between Mithraic and Christian rituals, but nonetheless took an extremely negative view of Mithraism: they interpreted Mithraic rituals as evil copies of Christian ones.

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Mithraism described these rites as a diabolical counterfeit of the baptism and chrismation of Christians.

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Ernest Renan suggested in 1882 that, under different circumstances, Mithraism might have risen to the prominence of modern-day Christianity.

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Mithraism had backing from the Roman aristocracy during a time when their conservative values were seen as under attack during the rising tides of Christianity.

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