This book presents a new reading of the upper panels of Mithraic reliefs. Firmicus Maternus knew a Mithraic prophecy, and the reliefs probably alluded to it. The scenes in the upper panels perfectly correspond to the description of the Golden Age in the prophetic fourth Eclogue of Virgil. Prophecies forecasting a period of evil, the coming of a divine saviour, the final triumph of the better part of humanity, and a period of happiness were many, but this Virgilian poetry is the most appropriate to understand Mithraic scenes. Mithras was indeed the mediator between darkness and light and the Avesta, the Vedas, and Herodotus associate this god with the morning star and the dawn. Mithras was also associated with Venus, Mercury, Apollo, and Eros, who were so important in the Augustan and imperial ideology. Moreover, mediation and harmony were central concepts in the Augustan political programme. These facts encouraged Romans to worship the Persian god. The old question ‘why did the Romans worship a Persian god?’ could receive an answer. As the god of the morning star, protector of rulers, similar to Apollo, arbiter and mediator between opposite elements, and saviour of humankind, he was appropriate to become the god of Augustus and the following emperors.

The Mithraic Prophecy

Mastrocinque
2022

Abstract

This book presents a new reading of the upper panels of Mithraic reliefs. Firmicus Maternus knew a Mithraic prophecy, and the reliefs probably alluded to it. The scenes in the upper panels perfectly correspond to the description of the Golden Age in the prophetic fourth Eclogue of Virgil. Prophecies forecasting a period of evil, the coming of a divine saviour, the final triumph of the better part of humanity, and a period of happiness were many, but this Virgilian poetry is the most appropriate to understand Mithraic scenes. Mithras was indeed the mediator between darkness and light and the Avesta, the Vedas, and Herodotus associate this god with the morning star and the dawn. Mithras was also associated with Venus, Mercury, Apollo, and Eros, who were so important in the Augustan and imperial ideology. Moreover, mediation and harmony were central concepts in the Augustan political programme. These facts encouraged Romans to worship the Persian god. The old question ‘why did the Romans worship a Persian god?’ could receive an answer. As the god of the morning star, protector of rulers, similar to Apollo, arbiter and mediator between opposite elements, and saviour of humankind, he was appropriate to become the god of Augustus and the following emperors.
9781407359137
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/1072849
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