#50 'A Song to Mithras' by R. Kipling

By: Proserpina , 11:02 PM GMT on January 18, 2013

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Vatican Museum

"A Song to Mithras"

MITHRAS, God of the Morning, our trumpets waken the Wall!
' Rome is above the Nations, but Thou art over all!'
Now as the names are answered, and the guards are marched away,
Mithras, also a soldier, give us strength for the day!

Mithras, God of the Noontide, the heather swims in the heat,
Our helmets scorch our foreheads ; our sandals burn our feet.
Now in the ungirt hour; now ere we blink and drowse,
Mithras, also a soldier, keep us true to our vows !

Mithras, God of the Sunset, low on the Western main,
Thou descending immortal, immortal to rise again !
Now when the watch is ended, now when the wine is drawn,
Mithras, also a soldier, keep us pure till the dawn!

Mithras, God of the Midnight, here where the great bull dies,
Look on Thy children in darkness. Oh take our sacrifice !
Many roads Thou hast fashioned: all of them lead to the Light,
Mithras, also a soldier, teach us to die aright!

Rudyard Kipling

I came across this poem while searching the poem Gunga Din. I was surprised that Kipling wrote the poem “A Song to Mithras’ but it really makes sense since he did favor the theme of ‘soldier’. I knew about Mithras from a course I took eons ago in Comparative Religions. From the above poem arose the idea for this blog.

The Secret Cult of Mithras

Have you ever visited the Baths of Caracalla? Did you see an opera performance there? If so, you were walking or sitting on top of a Mithraeum, a temple dedicated to the god Mithras. While at Caracalla did you visualize the Baths hosting five thousand bathers per day? Well, in the temple below the Baths there was a very secret bath going on as well, a blood bath. Literally.

Mithraism flourished in Rome and throughout the Roman Empire, from the First Century to the end of the Fourth Century. Yes, Mithraism appeared about the same time as Christianity, and both grew side by side. Christian worship was legalized in the Fourth Century when Emperor Constantine the Great issued the Edict of Milan in 313. Around the time of the Edict, Constantine converted from Mithraism, the religion of his father, to Christianity, the religion of his mother.

Mithraism was a ‘mystery cult’ due to the fact that the liturgy and activities of the cult were a secret. To become a member, the person had to participate in a secret initiation ceremony. As a result of the secretive aspect of the cult there is no surviving text of the liturgy, in fact no one knows if there ever was a written text. There are a few written references about Mithraism from writers such as Statius, Plutarch, Porphyry, Tertullian, Origen.

Mithra London

Mithraeum in London

There is however plenty Mithraic Iconography, physical evidence from artifacts, dedicatory inscriptions, and hundreds of underground Mithraea, scattered across the territory of the Roman Empire, from Rome to Turkey to England (along the Hadrian Wall). The area of concentration of Mithraism is most dense in Rome and her port city of Ostia.

San Clemente

Mithraeum beneath the San Clement Church in Rome

Mithraea were located below the ground, in manmade structures or in natural caves. The structures were single rooms, longer than they were wide. Long rock dining benches lined the sides of the Mithraeum, leaving a narrow isle in between. At the end of the isle, opposite the entrance, was the image of Mithras sacrificing a bull (called tauroctony). The ceilings were frequently vaulted, at times with holes to let shafts of light in.

Vatican Museum

From the Vatican Museum

The bull-sacrificing scene is usually carved in stone relief or painted on stone and placed in the Mithraea in a central location. In addition to the central scene there can be smaller scenes representing episodes from Mithras’ life. The most common scene is Mithras being born from a rock, Mithras dragging the bull to a cave, Mithras and the sun god Sol banqueting on the flesh of the bull.

Most followers of Mithraism were Roman soldiers, state bureaucrats, and merchants. In the Fourth Century the cult included a few Emperors and aristocrats. The most notable feature was the exclusion of women. Membership was limited to those who had passed through a secret initiation ritual in the seven successive levels. A mosaic in the Ostia Mithraeum of Felicissimus depicts the seven grades, with heraldic emblems that are connected to the grades or are symbols of the planets. The grades have an inscription besides them commending each grade into the protection of the different planetary gods.

The seven grades were named for one of the planets, and were under the protection of the corresponding planet:

1. Raven (Mercury)
2. Nymphus (Venus)
3. Soldier (Mars)
4. Lion (Jupiter)
5. Persian (Moon)
6. Heliodromus (Sun)
7. Father (Saturn)

There are several theories as to what the tauroctony represents. The current theory held by several scholars is that it represents a star map. The 12 signs of the zodiac and symbols of the sun, moon, and planets often appear together with the tauroctony and elsewhere in Mithraic art. For an in-depth article on this theory please read an article written for Scientific American http://www.mysterium.com/sciam.html ,by David Ulansey. Also, please visit his site http://www.mysterium.com/mithras.html

If the interpretation of the bull-killing scene is that it is an astrological allegory, then according to this view, astrology was central to Mithraism and it provided the specifics of the soul’s celestial journey.

No, I did not forget to write about Caracalla and the ‘blood bath’!

Fossa Sanguinea Caracalla

Fossa Sanguinea

In the Mithraeum underneath the Baths of Caracalla there is a very interesting feature. It is found in the tunnel that runs under the center of the main hall into an adjoining room, it is a fossa sanguinis, the ritual pit over which the bull at the center of the Mithraic cult was slaughtered. After the slaughter, initiates took a bath in the blood!

At least the blood bath was a ritual one and it did not involve human blood!

Baths of Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla Mithraeum was found a hundred years ago. It became a tourist attraction and then it was closed for a while. A few days ago it was reopened and once again curious tourists can visit the place of a once secret mystery cult.

Suggested reading about the reopening of the Mithraeum is found here http://leapwithoutanet.blogspot.it/2013/01/the-se cret-cult-of-mithras.html

Palermo museum
Museum in Palermo, Sicily

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62. seflagamma
8:25 PM GMT on January 26, 2013
{{{Pros}}} I see you posted here also along with those beautiful photos of Koko.

You know you are in my thoughts and I know your heart is breaking....
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 299 Comments: 40926
61. masshysteria
7:03 PM GMT on January 26, 2013
((((((PROS))))) ~

I'm so sorry to learn that it finally became time for Koko to leave you and yours. I know that words alone cannot help the immediate pain of your loss, but we all hope that, in time, you'll find comfort and healing from close family and friends alike. The unconditional love you received from Koko was certainly mutual and reciprocated, as it takes an abundance of love and strength to recognize when one must sacrifice one's own strong emotional attachment in order to help an aged suffering animal find eternal comfort and peace. May time help you heal, love to you all and God Bless!


.....


Member Since: June 21, 2006 Posts: 63 Comments: 7632
60. palmettobug53
6:39 PM GMT on January 26, 2013
You did the right thing, Pros. It is a hard thing to to but it was time.

I know; I've had so many four legged children of my own over the years.

Aqua is right; she won't be alone. All of our animal loving relatives who have passed on will be there to pet her and all of our late beloved pets will be there to play with her until you see her again.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 236 Comments: 25249
59. Proserpina
3:23 PM GMT on January 26, 2013
To those who have been kind enough to leave a comment in regard to Koko, forgive me for not responding at this time but know that I appreciate your kind comments and emails. I lurk on my own blog and do try to get some courage from you all.

I am not trying to be melodramatic but Koko was an essential part for the reason I got up in the morning.
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 174 Comments: 18293
58. aquak9
3:00 PM GMT on January 26, 2013
It was almost a year ago, and I spent the weekend there, and got to see Koko again (the first time being almost six years ago) and when Pros says, all she wanted was to love, and to be loved? So true. Her little dark eyes shown so bright, she smiled and laughed with her eyes, and if you sat on the floor nest to her, you could almost hear her humming happily.

That little pup was just a white furry love-fest. Her white fur was so soft and shiny, with little curly-ques. YOu could twirl her short curls around your finger.

Not wanting to make my MIL sad, just wanted to tell ya'll from a first-hand experience, this was just the sweetest luv-pup ever.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 171 Comments: 26281
57. Ylee
9:48 AM GMT on January 26, 2013
Pros, I'm so sorry. You did the right thing, though. It would have been much worse for all concerned if you held on and let her suffer.

I know you and your hubby love her, and will always miss her, but there has to be an internal relief that it's over. I know that her downward slide took an emotional toll on you, and honestly, I was a bit worried about you packing her up and down the steps.

When it came to taking care of her, you were like RGIII: you left it all on the field, if you know what I mean!

Hugs.
Member Since: February 3, 2011 Posts: 96 Comments: 16032
56. ColoradoKat
6:53 AM GMT on January 26, 2013
{{{{{{{{{{Pros}}}}}}}}}}
I am so, so sorry to hear about your beloved
Koko! What a lucky little dog she was to have
gotten to live her entire life surrounded by
so much love, and how lucky you were to have
that sweet-faced dog love you unconditionally
in return! Dogs just bring so much life and
positive energy into a house. I will miss her,
too. We have all gotten to know her through
your blog.
Rest in Peace, sweet Koko!
BIG HUGS to you, My Friend!
Member Since: December 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4960
55. weatheringpoints
3:55 AM GMT on January 26, 2013

((((Pros)))) I'm so very sorry for your loss of your sweet angel.
Her precious little hearts were to show you how very much she loved you.
Take comfort in knowing her love will be in your heart always.
Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.
Member Since: February 26, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 2028
54. SBKaren
12:17 AM GMT on January 26, 2013
Pros - I am going to miss Koko too, as I felt I got to know her through your writings. How wonderful that that little white ball of fluff touched you both so. What a testament to the power of pet love. Anyone who does not know the love of a pet, is definitely missing something.

I know that your hearts are broken today, the wound is too raw. But with time, you will be able to look back at pictures of Koko and reminisce about all the little comical things that she did. You'll forget about the pain and suffering she endured near her end, and only remember the good healthy times. I'm already doing this with Lucy. It's hard, because the last week or so she was so frail. And it sounds as if for Koko, she had health issues for a while too. What a trooper that she got through them for so long.

It's been exactly a week since our Lucy passed, so I know she knows the ropes well enough to greet Koko over that rainbow bridge. Sort of an ebony and ivory couple they can be - as Lucy was a completely black cat!

My thoughts are with you and your husband at this time. Know that you are both wrapped with love from so many on this site and FB as well. I've read so many posts. You and Koko are so loved.
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14585
53. calpoppy
11:25 PM GMT on January 25, 2013
Koko was a great friend to you and your husband. You gave each other joy! I will miss her too, she has been such a big part of your blog.

Take care Pros! It is going to take some time to get over such a good friend!
Member Since: February 18, 2008 Posts: 55 Comments: 3840
52. GardenGrrl
9:55 PM GMT on January 25, 2013
Prose had to wait a few minutes to write this because my own eyes were filled with tears for your loss. It's not just a pet, it's a piece of your heart.
Hugs and deepest sympathy. -Nanette
Member Since: March 25, 2007 Posts: 257 Comments: 9715
51. shoreacres
9:05 PM GMT on January 25, 2013
Oh,Pros ~ I'm so sorry. All of us have known this day was coming, but it's so painful when it does. Koko was so blessed to have you, especially when it was time to leave. Your love and your strength were such a gift for her, just as her love for you was a gift through all those years.

The photos are so wonderful. Thanks for sharing them with us - we're going to miss her, too.
Member Since: October 4, 2004 Posts: 205 Comments: 15288
KOKOPELLI

My much loved Koko is gone but will always be in my and my husband's heart.

The photos below were taken a few minutes before we left for the vet. My broken heart knew that she would not be coming home.

Photobucket

The rear legs stopped working around midnight. I stayed up with her all night bringing her to the spots she wanted to be moved to. She knew that I would instinctively know what she needed as I and my husband have been her legs for months. She did not give up though, she tried to pull herself forward using the front paws. It was sad and hard to watch.

In addition to having lived to a nice long age for a Bichon, Koko had Cushings Disease and that's what caused the paralysis like condition. Her liver was enlarged as was her heart, also due to the disease. The next step would have probably have been a burst spleen (very painful), heart attack, stroke,.... We just could not let her suffer more with the current symptoms, nor could we let her die in pain with the additional problems that were coming.

Photobucket

Our last moments in the home she graced for fourteen and a half years.

Photobucket

Koko was pure love, she gave unconditionally and wanted to be loved back. Every human being who ever met her fell in love with her instantly. During the years that she was able to walk she made friends up and down the street. Some neighbors would come out to just say hello and pat the affectionate cutie.

As my husband and I were about to leave with our precious baby in our arms, I noticed that her hair and skin formed what I perceive a heart, several hearts actually. Koko's last gift to me.

Photobucket

The tears are many, the pain is real, the incredulity of losing our baby immense. In the 52 years that I have known my husband, I never saw him cry until today. He cried openly at the vet's and privately here at home. Koko was technically my sweetie but she took over my husband heart in a way that I have ever seen in this emotionally strong man.

Dear Koko the tears will flow for a long time and the memory of you will be forever. You were human to me and I love you my sweet angel.
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 174 Comments: 18293
{{{Pros}}}I am so very sorry! I know how you loved her & so did she. She has lots of new friends now, Lucy, Blue, Harley, Socks & Snowball just to mention a few. They are all playing freely with no aches or pain.
Member Since: March 14, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 1434
mom-

there's so many kits and pups up there, for her to run and play with, and Bug's mom, and many happy people who love the furpersons- she will play and be so bouncy

mom I know your heart must be breaking

koko will miss you so much, too
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 171 Comments: 26281
Oh, dearest Pros, I am so sorry.

My Blue and Karen's Lucy will be waiting for her, she will not be alone.

Sending you ((((hugs))))
Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 297 Comments: 26584
My sympathy, Prose, for you and Koko.

Certainly one case of puppy love that's not callow.
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3744
Pros, I am so sorry. She is at peace now. Prayers for you and your grief.
Member Since: August 20, 2009 Posts: 86 Comments: 10130
((((PROS))))

Koko is gone? when did this happen?

I am SO sorry.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 236 Comments: 25249
I hope you are tucked up in a warm bed, all snuggled down, as it seems it is mighty chilly in your area!
I sleep with my window open, 98% of the year.... Last night was one night I wish I hadn't. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped to minus 6C, so I awoke with a cold shoulder! It was hovering around freezing when I went it bed!

Take care - hope you have a Good Friday :-)

Happy belated birthday Mass :-)
Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 297 Comments: 26584
42. Ylee
Stay warm, Pros!
Member Since: February 3, 2011 Posts: 96 Comments: 16032
Hi spathy, Mass, Sandi, Ylee, Alley, Aqua, all is well here. Will talk to you tomorrow.
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 174 Comments: 18293
((((PROS))))) ~

JANUARY 24, 2012


Thanks so much, (((((Pros))))), (my Aquarian soul-sister), for posting that beautiful and meaningful birthday greeting here and on my site! Your thoughts and wishes mean so much and right back at ya! Hope you're feeling up to snuff and have scheduled wonderful celebratory plans of your own for the 28th! I haven't forgotten the fact that there are a few of us, here on WU, celebrating birthdays in short order!

Unfortunately, current outdoor temps of 6 to 8 degrees are hindering any desire for this aging gal to go out and celebrate today. I'd rather remain snuggled inside, layered to the teeth in flannel, while sipping plenty of hot beverages throughout! LOL! Thankfully, this current frigid spell supposedly leaves by tomorrow and could be followed with a gradual warmup to near 50 by next Wednesday! YEAH!!! Bring it on!!! This would certainly would make the perfect belated gift to me or probably anyone else in general. Naturally, I hope your special day, next Monday, brings plenty of warmth, sunshine and major kudos by family and friends alike. I definitely have it marked on my calendar and hope others here do as well.

In the meantime, please take care, stay warm and I look forward to posting again with you and others tomorrow! BIG WARM HUGS TO MELT HEARTS AND WEATHER ALIKE!

..................................
Member Since: June 21, 2006 Posts: 63 Comments: 7632
Happy Birthday Picture Cards
Happy Birthday Pictures


Dear MASS this Birthday Greeting is for you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MASS AND I BIG HUGS.
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 174 Comments: 18293
Hello there,
I am sorry to hear you and hubby had a couple of disappointments yesterday.
At least you have learnt that the restaurant is not worth a second visit and a tea shop that doesn't sell Earl Grey ....ridiculous!! lol

Looking a your gizmo it says you are having 'light snow mist', whatever that is. But if your friend does make it through, I hope you have a good time out at lunch time...and pray the restaurant is better than yesterday!

I am hoping to drive to the next town about lunchtime to find my way to the car park that I should use next week. I begin my jury service on Monday and have to report at 9am. I have no idea where this place is, and although I have worked it out with Google Earth, I will feel happier if I actually know where I am going. I really don't want to be worrying where I have to be, especially on a busy Monday morning when everyone else is rushing to work.
Take care- keep warm!

EDIT - C says he will drive me over there on Saturday, he knows the place, so I can stay home, in the warmth, instead!! Yeah!
Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 297 Comments: 26584
33. Ylee
Hope you are staying warm, Pros!
Member Since: February 3, 2011 Posts: 96 Comments: 16032
Hi there PROS...got out in to the sunshine today even if it was bitterly cold and did a bit of grocery shopping. Had to pick up more kitty food as they need the extra with it this cold. Instead of putting it on my front porch as I have been doing, I took it into the garage and put it all in there for them. That way the bloody birds can't eat it up before they get to it. It really was comfortable out there so I know they should be warm enough. Now with the food there, it will help them even more. I will go back out in a couple of days to add to their larder if need be. I read on FB that little Koko can no longer go for her walks. How sad as she looked so forward to those with you. Poor baby...give her gentle caresses for me.

Been feeling a bit better the last little while. Not so down as I have been. Must be a combination of cabin fever and old age...LOL I actually got into the cleaning mode on the wkd and did a lot into tidying up around here. At least there is some progress...LOL Now all I need is some consistent temps in the 60s and I will be once again a happy camper...I think I am minding the cold more because of the 20 lbs I have recently loss and still working at getting of the next 20. I have learned its easier to set my goals at 20 lbs then at the l00 total I need to lose. Sure would be nice to get back down to pre accident weight for my 65th....I know it would certainly make me feel much better.

Anyway dear one, before I bend your ear too much, I should get going again. Stay warm, stay well and know we are here for ya....BIG HUGS dear friend.
Member Since: April 18, 2007 Posts: 190 Comments: 29424
Sandi, I love the Broom sign! Nice humor on a cold day. The snow is pretty when it comes down but driving on the icy roads after the snow has come down is not fun. Glad that you are back safe and sound.
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 174 Comments: 18293
Brr, that was even colder than we are ...in fact, we are in a tropical heatwave in comparison!! lol

I managed to get out to the supermarket this morning, to top up the fridge and freezer. The main roads were relatively clear, but the estate roads, that hadn't been cleared or gritted, were a little.... hairy!

I had to laugh when walking back to my car in the car park. On the back window of a car next to mine was a sign...
"My other car is a BROOM"!!! lol
Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 297 Comments: 26584
Good morning Sandi. It sure is cold here. On our sunny deck we have temps of 15 F, and wind chill of 3 degrees. You should have seen me when I went out to feed the hungry birds. Hat, glove, and down jacket complemented my heavy long robe. A vision of beauty to rival Michelle's beautiful red gown at the Inauguration. :)
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 174 Comments: 18293
Sandi, when and if you return to Housesteads, maybe you can find one or two Roman historical archaeological finds and photograph them for me/us.

Righteo - I have put it on the 2013 'to do' list :-)

Hope you are feeling a little better today, after sitting reading all day yesterday. At least it will have kept you out of mischief! lol
Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 297 Comments: 26584
Good morning. Yesterday I cuddled up with a book and did not move until I finished reading it. It was about nine pm when I finally put the book down. I read another historical novel, this one takes place in China during the Great Leap Forward movement. The only thing 'great' was the great number of people who died of starvation, about 45 million fatalities. The book that I read is by Lisa See titled 'Dreams of Joy', it is the sequel to 'Shanghai Girls'.
When I was at Tiananmen Square I refused to go inside to 'view' Mao's body. Actually I turned my back to the building where he is displayed like a rare red dodo.

Today I will start another book but have not chosen which one yet. Hopefully something lighter than the one I just finished. I will also watch some of the parade.

Thank you Mass, Bug, Sandi, GG, BF, Shore, Aqua, Rob, for stopping by.

Mass,I am so very sorry for the run of real bad luck. So many bad things have happened around you that it must feel overwhelming. I wish that someone would take some of the burdens off your shoulders. How come you did not go to the hospital when you fainted? That must have been so scary. Please, please, please relax, rest, pamper yourself, eat anything that you really enjoy (fattening or not), just do anything to take care of you! Sending good thoughts and prayers your way. Big hugs.
By the way Mass, at the side of this blog there is a cam site for watching baby hummingbirds. It is really fun to see them preening, etc., and when mom swoops down to feed them it is really exciting. Just click on it and you will be relaxing with baby hummers. :)
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 174 Comments: 18293
Good Morning, (((PROS))) ~

Trying to catch up a bit on the WU blogs after about a three week lapse. I needed to recuperate emotionally and physically from a most difficult past year and, especially, the first three weeks of this new one. (There was a death (and subsequent funeral) of a close elderly relative on my side of the family, which occurred on the same day my elderly F-I-L was finally admitted into a nursing home). A week later, while checking out of my local grocery store (with hubby in toe), I embarrassingly fainted due to probable dehydration and exhaustion. Thank goodness, it wasn't the flu as I made sure we both had our flu shots the end of September. I was grateful that hubby was able to slowly drive us home, (2 miles away) via back country routes, as I was still too whoozy to do so myself and he hadn't driven since his July stroke. Since that moment, I've been taking it much easier at home and am allowing myself to relax and recuperate without further disruptions or interruptions. YEAH!

Sorry I haven't been able to fully read or engage in your seemingly interesting blog about the Mithras. There's always so much to learn about mythology, religion, historical figures or times. Thanks for attempting to broaden my horizons!

Have a decent Sunday! Big weekend ahead!
Member Since: June 21, 2006 Posts: 63 Comments: 7632
Hi, Pros.

Guess what? All this talk of Mithras and me mentioning Mary Stewart's Merlin series caused me to pull out my dog eared copy of 'The Crystal Cave' for a re-read.

It's just as good the umpteenth time around as it was the first!

I find reading about this type of thing very interesting. I guess it's my fascination with ancient times and history.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 236 Comments: 25249
Sandi, Housesteads and all along the Hadrian Wall there are one or two Roman 'reminders' including the remains of the Mithra cult! Here is a little bit from the site you point out:

The Mithraeum

Housesteads Temple 3

DEO SOLI INVICTO MYTRAE SAECVLARI LITORIVS PACATIANVS B F COS PRO SE ET SVIS VSLM
"To the god Mithras the Invincible Sun, [Lord] of the generation, the beneficiarius consularis%uFFFD Litorius Pacatianus willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow for himself and his family."
(RIB 1599; altarstone)

A soldier seconded onto the personal staff or bodyguard of the consular governor, either for distinguished service or as a honorary position.

DEO SOLI INVICTO MITRAE SAECVLARI PVBL PROCVLI NVS > PRO SE ET PROCVLO FIL SVO VSLM D N GALLO ET VOLVSINO COS
"To the god, the Sun Invincible, Mithras, [Lord] of Ages, the centurion Publius Proculinus willingly and deservedly fulfills his vow for himself and his son Proculus, when our lords Gallus and Volusinus were consuls.%uFFFD"
(RIB 1600; altarstone; secondary inscription;%uFFFD dated: AD252)

Imperator Caesar Gaius Vibius Trebonianus Gallus Augustus was consul for the second time, with his colleague Imperator Caesar Gaius Vibius Afinius Gallus Veldumnianus Volusianus Augustus consul for the first time, AD252 (a.u.c. 1005).
The primary inscription reads simply DEO or "to the god".

Situated to the south of the fort was a small temple dedicated to Mithras, the Persian Sun-God. It measured 54 feet in length by 16 feet broad, and had a paved central isle 6%uFFFD feet wide running between platforms raised at least 2 feet high on either side. A sanctuary at the far end of the temple was flanked on each side by a small altar stone, and contained a sculpted relief of the Birth of Mithras. A spring provided the building with running water, which was presumably required for ritual purposes. There is another superb example of a Mithraeum at the nearby fort of Carrawburgh.

D SOLI HERION V L M

"To the god Sol, Herion freely and deservedly offers [this]."
(RIB 1601; altarstone)


Sandi, when and if you return to Housesteads, maybe you can find one or two Roman historical archeological finds and photograph them for me/us.

I did walk on a bridge which was part of the Hadrian Wall. For some reason I cannot remember the name of the pretty town. I do remember that there were lots of Victorian houses in the area of the wall.


Aha moment: The town is Chester and the buildings are the Chester Rows. (I do not know from where my thought of Victorian buildings arose.)
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 174 Comments: 18293
You are up early...:)
I came and followed your links earlier, which then sent me off on on an interesting journey. I thought I knew all about "Housesteads" after visitng it three or four times, but no... I learnt more this morning!

Have a happy Sunday :)
Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 297 Comments: 26584
Shore, that's too funny! John to the rescue! Fuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 174 Comments: 18293
That is funny Shore. I was expecting a biblical John.

In honor of your blog Prose we watched Ghost Busters last night. A mish mash of ancient religions makes for some good comedy. Did you know that Dan Akroyed wrote the outline for the script and they were still writing it right up to the time the filming began. A lot of the movie lines were made up during the scenes.
Member Since: March 25, 2007 Posts: 257 Comments: 9715
LOL. What a cute video.
Member Since: April 29, 2006 Posts: 156 Comments: 18959
Barefoot ~ Ya think? ;)

It's instructive and amusing to read all of this. The various mythic cults - Mithraism, Gnosticism, etc - had a few of the same problems that afflicted the Christian gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke got the story pretty much the same, but not everyone had all of the details, Luke only had some, Matthew had a different tone, etc. Then along came St. John ninety years or so later with his logos theology, and the whole thing became a full-employment program for Biblical scholars!

Speaking of "Along Came John", I haven't thought of that song in years. Of course I had to go looking, and now, if you'll excuse the momentary lapse of high seriousness, we have a musical interlude.

Member Since: October 4, 2004 Posts: 205 Comments: 15288
LOL. Now I see why Prose asked the question the way she did. Possible there is no clear-cut answer.
Member Since: April 29, 2006 Posts: 156 Comments: 18959
Here's one of the most clear-cut descriptions of the relationships among Sol Invictus, Mithra, and Christianity/Christmas I found. Interesting stuff.

In 270 AD, the popularity in the Roman Empire of the Mithraic Mysteries and Mithraism led to Emperor Aurelian's establishment of Sol Invictus ("the unconquered sun") as the Empire's official religion. Mithra, or Mithras, was the Persian sun god, and his worship was very popular throughout the Roman Empire for hundreds of years. In 274 AD, Emperor Aurelian established December 25th, the winter solstice (the shortest solar day of the year under the Julian calendar), as the day the goddess Cybele, the Queen of Heaven, gave birth to the sun, Mithras.

The yearly rebirth of Mithra was viewed as a yearly renewal of the Roman Empire. Mithra, by the way, was born on December 25, of a virgin. His birth was witnessed by shepherds and magicians [magi]. Mithra raised the dead and healed the sick and cast out demons. He returned to heaven at the spring equinox and before doing so had a last supper with his 12 disciples (representing the 12 signs of the zodiac), eating mizd, a piece of bread marked with a cross (an almost universal symbol of the sun). Sound familiar?

Between 320 or 353 C.E., during the reign of Emperor Constantine, the Church decreed that December 25 would become the standard day of observance for the birth of Christ, since this date had long been recognized in antiquity as the return of the sun. Christmas, during the early centuries, was the most variable of the Christian feast days, and was often confused with the Epiphany, and celebrated in the months of April and May. Pope Julius I, in the fourth century commanded a committee of bishops to establish the date of the nativity of Jesus. December 25 (the day of Sol Invictus, the invincible sun) was decided upon. Not coincidentally, that is the day when the "pagan world celebrated the birth of their Sun Gods-Egyptian Osiris, Greek Apollo and Bacchus, Chaldean Adonis, Persian Mithra-when the Zodiacal sign of Virgo (the sun is born of a virgin) rose on the horizon. Thus the ancient festival of the Winter Solstice, the pagan festival of the birth of the Sun, came to be adopted by the Christian Church as the nativity of Jesus, and was called Christmas" (Crosbie).
Member Since: October 4, 2004 Posts: 205 Comments: 15288
Hi Prose,
I believe Mithras and Sol Invictus are/were separate entities/cults. As was Christianity. According to my reference, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the Sol Invictus cult was Syrian in origin and was practiced in Rome as a state religion imposed by emperors one hundred years prior to Constantine's reign. Yes, Sol Invictus' birth date was chosen as Christ's birthday, possibly because it was known, it provided a connection to the old ways, and because, according to the authors, "it conveniently harmonized with the cult of Mithras - which was also prevalent in Rome and the empire at the time and which also involved solar worship."

Who knows? It is interesting. Thanks again for the blog.
Member Since: April 29, 2006 Posts: 156 Comments: 18959
You're definitely right about the KJV and Constantine. Somehow, I got confused (happens more than I'd like to admit) AND I should've checked some more facts. No harm done. Without correction, I will never improve.

loves-
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 171 Comments: 26281
Well, it's just like you girls to over-analyze everything! To us warrior types it's just another cool Kipling poem.
:o)

Have always enjoyed his work.
Interesting blog...Thanks!
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 99 Comments: 32842
I looked up Philocalian and found a site that discusses the calendar.... Here is a quote from that site:

"The first certain record associating December 25 with the birthday of Sol Invictus is the Chronography of AD 354 where, in the part known as the Philocalian Calendar, VIII Kal. Jan. is identified as N INVICTI CM XXX (Natalis Invicti; CM abbreviates circenses missus or circus race, of which there were to be thirty that day). Here, too, is the earliest reference to December 25 as the birthday of Jesus. In a commemoration of Christian martyrs, the notation for VIII Kal. Jan. is natus Christus in Betleem Judeae ("Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea"). Because the Depositio Martyrum was completed in AD 336, the first celebration of Christmas can be dated to that year as well. In the list of consuls, there also is the note dominus Iesus Christus natus est VIII kal. Ian."

Silly me, I thought 'philocalian' referred to a person/name.

I am going back to the site to read all of the info. This is the address of the site: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia _romana/calendar/invictus.html
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 174 Comments: 18293
Hi Aqua, Bug, GG

A Philocalian (ok, I do not know what this is, I need to look the name up) calendar of AD 354 gives a festival of "Natalis Invicti" on December 25. This was a chosen birth day for sun gods by 'pagans'.

Being a sun god, Mithras "Sol Invictus' birthday was celebrated on December 25. Until the Fourth Century there was no official birth date for Jesus. In 230 Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea. One of the decisions made by the Council was to mark December 25 as the birth date of Jesus. Many believe that the Mithras birth date was chosen in order to make Christianity more acceptable to non Christians.

A couple of asides:

The 'pagan' birth day for sun gods seems to coincide with equinoxes and other astrological cyclical events.

Constantine's mother and Constantine himself are considered early Christian Saints.

Romans could and did worship different gods at the same time, so even though Mithras was a monotheistic religion, the worshipers themselves believed in a variety of gods. It seems that Constantine, at some point, worshiped both Mithras and Christ until the age of 42. He had a Christian vision and an ensuing war victory around the age of 42 and that's when he became officially a Christian. Of course, this is info that I have gathered so far. There may be other theories that I have not read yet.

Aqua, by KJV, do you mean the King James Version of the Bible? If so it did not come into being until the early 1600s.
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 174 Comments: 18293

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