Mithras

From Academic Kids

Mithras was the central savior 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. Parthian coins and documents bear a double date with a 64 year interval that represents Mithra's ascension to heaven, traditionally given as the equivalent of 208 BC, 64 years after his birth.

The name Mithras is the Greek masculine form of Mithra, the Persian god who was the mediator between Ahura Mazda and the earth, the guarantor of human contracts, although in Mithraism much was added to the original elements of Mithra. However, some of the attributes of Roman Mithras may have been taken from other Eastern cults: for example, the heavy Mithraist use of astrology strongly suggests syncretism with star-oriented Mesopotamian or Anatolian religions. At least some of this syncretism may have already been underway when the cult was adopted in the West.

The cult surrounding Mithras had many similarities to the early cult of Christianity. Mithras had had twelve followers with whom he had shared a last sacramental meal. He had sacrificed himself to redeem mankind. Descending into the underworld, he had conquered death and had risen to life again on the third day. His many titles included ‘the Truth,’ ‘the Light,’ and ‘the Good Shepherd.’ He was supposed to have been born of a virgin. For those who worshipped him, invoking the name of Mithras healed the sick and worked miracles. Mithras could dispense mercy and grant immortality; to his devotees he offered hope. By drinking his blood and eating his flesh (by proxy, from a slain bull) they too could conquer death. In particular, Mithras's birth was celebrated on December 25 and his followers practiced baptism. Some, particularly secular scholars, see these similarities as evidence that Christianity is actually a religion that evolved out of pagan myths. Others however, point to the lack of evidence that any of these elements were present in the Mithras cult prior to the emergence of Christianity, as evidence that Mithras borrowed from Christianity.

External links

References

  • Franz Cumont, The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism
  • Ulansey, David. The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World. Oxford University Press 1991. ISBN 0195067886.

See also

fr:Mythras it:Mitra (divinitÓ) nl:Mithras sv:Mithras

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