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Mithras


[mythology, history]
\Mi"thras\, n. [L., from Gr. ?.]


The ancient Persian god of light and truth; guardian against evil. Often identified with the sun ("sun god").
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[Greek Mithrs, from Avestan Mithr, and Old Persian Mithra]
[syn: Mithras, Mithra]
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The Romans adapted the cult of Mithra from Persia, renaming the god Mithras.

The Persians, in turn, imported the worship of Mithra from the Indian cult of Mitra.

Mithras is said to have been born from a rock, destined to secure the salvation of the world. To do this he was commanded by the god Apollo to slay the Bull of the Moon (represents the fullness of life). Mithras was reluctant to do this, but acquiesced in deference to the divine will.

Therefore the the central aspect of Roman Mithraic iconography is the image of Mithras killing the bull. Each mithraeum (cave-like temple for the worship of Mithras) presents this icon is a central location.

It is said that December 25th was a Mithraic holy-day (with the obvious implications associated with that date).

Mitra

Mitra was a Vedic god who stood for the sun, and was, with his brother Varuna, the guardian of the cosmic order. He was the god of friendships and contracts, and watched over the daytime hours. He was good-natured and on far better terms with humanity than was his brother. He is seen as a mediator between the gods and man.

In pre-Vedic times Mitra may have been a major diety, but the prominance of his cult faded with the coming of the Indo-Aryans to India.
In the Rig Veda, Mitra is always presented with Varuna, who is said to be his twin (both were of the Adityas).
This god fared far better in Persia under the name of Mithra:

Until the 6th cent. B.C., Mithra was apparently a minor figure in the Zoroastrian system. Under the Achaemenids, Mithra became increasingly important, until he appeared in the 5th cent. B.C. as the (?) principal Persian deity, the god of light and wisdom, closely associated with the sun.


  


  
Links:
Temple of Mithras [click here to open without media]
.Mithras & Jesus (about.com)
The Truth shall be revealed by Time
meditation on Mithra