Tag Archives: Mithraism

The Mysteries Of Mithra * G.R.S. Mead (1907)

The Mysteries Of MithraI ran into an old Dutch translation of this little book. I have known about it for a long time, did not buy it when I was studying Mithraism, but I was still curious enough to read it years later. Mead opens with ‘an alternative’ history of Mithraism. Alternative to the scholarly version of Cumont. Mead has not only used archeological sources, but also early written sources and this sheds a nice light on the subject. The booklet is actually a translation of what Dieterich has called the “Mithraic lithurgy”, a short text from the “Papyri Graecae Magicae” (see here and here. Mead’s translation is alright, his explanation is also alright, but not too interesting. He sees the text as Yogo and comes with a too Theosophical explanation of initiation and mysteries. Not a boring read, some interpretations give something to think about, but not a booklet that I would advice if you want to learn something about Mithraism (save for the first part to offer an alternative history).
More about Mithraism on Gangleri.nl you can find by “browsing” for book reviews and I have some articles on the subject in the articles section.

The Mysteries Of Mithra * Franz Cumont (isbn 0468203239)

I can’t even see when the pressing of this little book is. It is a repress of the 1956 English translation of a 1904 French book. It seems that since then there haven’t been any serious books about the Mithraic religion made available. Maybe that is not necessary when this book isn’t let run out of print, since it has everything I have been looking for. The origins of Mithraism, of course the old version, but still (also see my review of “The Mithraic Mysteries” of David Ulansey”). Further how this religion became competition for early Christianity in the Roman empire; the doctrine; liturgy and something about art. Everything with 70 images and an index.

Really a little book that you must have if you want some general info about Mithraism. <2/2/03>

The Origins Of The Mithraic Mysteries * David Ulansey (isbn 019505402)

I actually bought this book because I wanted a reference-book about this extinct mystery-religion that was an early competator of Christianity in the Roman empire. That is not what this book offers though.

Usually the origin of Mithraism is placed in Persia. Mithras would be based upon the Persian god Mithra and the doctrines can be traced back to the also extinct Persian mystery-religion of Zoroaster/Zarathustra. Not so, says the writer of this little book.

Ulansey investigated the symbols and cosmology of Mithraism and came to a quite different conclusion. I suppose most of you have seen the best-known image from the Mithras-religion, Mithras catching a bull and putting a sword in the bull’s neck? Well, a lot of clues can be drawn from this image. On most images (some have been restored incorrectly!) you see Mithras sitting on the bull with his left knee, his right leg straight, having a very typical hat on his head that looks away from the bull. The blood from the bull is sometimes ears of grain. His seed is caught in a cup that is guarded by a lion and a snake and a dog are fighting for content. Further you can see a raven and a scorpion. read more