Seller: highrating_lowprice (20,576) 100%, Location: Rego Park, New York, Ships to: Worldwide, Item: 321329560716 Item: i38098 Authentic Ancient Coin of: Greek city of Amisos in Pontus Bronze 25mm (20.08 grams) Struck Late 2nd - early 1st century B.C. Time of Mithradates VI the Great Reference: Sear 3638; B.M.C. 13.20,80-82 Youthful bust of Mithras right, wearing Persian head-dress. Quiver , with strap; AMI - ΣOY across field. You are bidding on the exact item pictured, provided with a Certificate of Authenticity and Lifetime Guarantee of Authenticity. The Mithraic Mysteries were a mystery religion practiced in the Roman Empire from about the 1st to 4th centuries AD. The name of the Persian god Mithr adapted into Greek as Mithras, was linked to a new and distinctive imagery. Writers of the Roman Empire period referred to this mystery religion by phrases which can be anglicized as Mysteries of Mithras or Mysteries of the Persians; modern historians refer to it as Mithraism, or sometimes Roman Mithraism. The mysteries were popular in the Roman military . Double-faced Mithraic relief. Rome, 2nd to 3rd century AD (Louvre Museum) Worshippers of Mithras had a complex system of seven grades of initiation , with ritual meals. Initiates called themselves syndexioi, those "united by the handshake". They met in underground temples (called mithraea ), which survive in large numbers. The cult appears to have had its centre in Rome . Numerous archeological finds, including meeting places, monuments, and artifacts, have contributed to modern knowledge about Mithraism throughout the Roman Empire. The iconic scenes of Mithras show him being born from a rock, slaughtering a bull, and sharing a banquet with the god Sol (the Sun). About 420 sites have yielded materials related to the cult. Among the items found are about 1000 inscriptions, 700 examples of the bull-killing scene (tauroctony), and about 400 other monuments. It has been estimated that there would have been at least 680-690 Mithraea in Rome. No written narratives or theology from the religion survive, with limited information to be derived from the inscriptions, and only brief or passing references in Greek and Latin literature . Interpretation of the physical evidence remains problematic and contested. The Romans themselves regarded the mysteries as having Persian or Zoroastrian sources. Since the early 1970s, however, the dominant scholarship has noted dissimilarities between Persian Mithra-worship and the Roman Mithraic mysteries, and the mysteries of Mithras are now generally seen as a distinct product of the Roman Imperial religious world . In this context, Mithraism has sometimes been viewed as a rival of early Christianity . Mithras killing the bull. (Louvre-Lens) The name Mithras Bas-relief of the tauroctony of the Mithraic mysteries, Metz , France. The name Mithras (Latin, equivalent to Greek "Μίθρας",) is a form of Mithra , the name of an Old Persian god. (This point has been understood by Mithras scholars since the days of Franz Cumont .) An early example of the Greek form of the name is in a 4th-century BC work by Xenophon , the Cyropaedia , which is a biography of the Persian king Cyrus the Great . The exact form of a Latin or classical Greek word varies due to the grammatical process of declension . There is archeological evidence that in Latin worshippers wrote the nominative form of the god's name as "Mithras". However, in Porphyry 's Greek text De Abstinentia («Περὶ ἀποχῆς ἐμψύχων»), there is a reference to the now-lost histories of the Mithraic mysteries by Euboulus and Pallas, the wording of which suggests that these authors treated the name "Mithra" as an indeclinable foreign word. Related deity-names in other languages include Sanskrit Mitra (मित्रः) , the name of a god praised in the Rig Veda . In Sanskrit , "mitra" means "friend" or "friendship". the form mi-it-ra-, found in an inscribed peace treaty between the Hittites and the kingdom of Mitanni , from about 1400 BC. Modern historians have different conceptions about whether these names refer to the same god or not. John R. Hinnells has written of Mitra / Mithra / Mithras as a single deity worshipped in several different religions. On the other hand, David Ulansey considers the bull-slaying Mithras to be a new god who began to be worshipped in the 1st century BC, and to whom an old name was applied. Iconography Relief of Mithras as bull-slayer from Neuenheim near Heidelberg , framed by scenes from Mithras' life Much about the cult of Mithras is only known from reliefs and sculptures. There have been many attempts to interpret this material. Mithras-worship in the Roman Empire was characterized by images of the god slaughtering a bull. Other images of Mithras are found in the Roman temples, for instance Mithras banqueting with Sol, and depictions of the birth of Mithras from a rock. But the image of bull-slaying (tauroctony) is always in the central niche. Textual sources for a reconstruction of the theology behind this iconography are very rare. (See section Interpretations of the bull-slaying scene below.) The bull-slaying scene In every Mithraeum the centrepiece was a representation of Mithras killing a sacred bull, called the tauroctony. The image may be a relief, or free-standing, and side details may be present or omitted. The centre-piece is Mithras clothed in Anatolian costume and wearing a Phrygian cap ; who is kneeling on the exhausted bull, holding it by the nostrils with his left hand, and stabbing it with his right. As he does so, he looks over his shoulder towards the figure of Sol. A dog and a snake reach up towards the blood. A scorpion seizes the bull's genitals. A raven is flying around or is sitting on the bull. Three corns of wheat are seen coming out from the bull's tail, sometimes from the wound. The bull was often white. The god is sitting on the bull in an unnatural way with his right leg constraining the bull's hoof and the left leg is bent and resting on the bull's back or flank. The two torch-bearers are on either side, dressed like Mithras, Cautes with his torch pointing up and Cautopates with his torch pointing down. Sometimes Cautes and Cautopates carry shepherds' crooks instead of torches. Tauroctony from the Kunsthistorisches Museum The event takes place in a cavern, into which Mithras has carried the bull, after having hunted it, ridden it and overwhelmed its strength. Sometimes the cavern is surrounded by a circle, on which the twelve signs of the zodiac appear. Outside the cavern, top left, is Sol the sun, with his flaming crown, often driving a quadriga . A ray of light often reaches down to touch Mithras. Top right is Luna , with her crescent moon, who may be depicted driving a biga . In some depictions, the central tauroctony is framed by a series of subsidiary scenes to the left, top and right, illustrating events in the Mithras narrative; Mithras being born from the rock, the water miracle, the hunting and riding of the bull, meeting Sol who kneels to him, shaking hands with Sol and sharing a meal of bull-parts with him, and ascending to the heavens in a chariot. In some instances, as is the case in the stucco icon at Santa Prisca mithraeum, the god is shown heroically nude. Some of these reliefs were constructed so that they could be turned on an axis. On the back side was another, more elaborate feasting scene. This indicates that the bull killing scene was used in the first part of the celebration, then the relief was turned, and the second scene was used in the second part of the celebration. Besides the main cult icon, a number of mithraea had several secondary tauroctonies, and some small, portable versions, probably meant for private devotion have also been found. The banquet The second most important scene after the tauroctony in Mithraic art is the so-called banquet scene. The banquet scene features Mithras and the Sun god banqueting on the hide of the slaughtered bull. On the specific banquet scene on the Fiano Romano relief, one of the torchbearers points a caduceus towards the base of an altar, where flames appear to spring up. Robert Turcan has argued that since the caduceus is an attribute of Mercury , and in mythology Mercury is depicted as a psychopomp , the eliciting of flames in this scene is referring to the dispatch of human souls and expressing the Mithraic doctrine on this matter. Turcan also connects this event to the tauroctony: the blood of the slain bull has soaked the ground at the base of the altar, and from the blood the souls are elicited in flames by the caduceus. Birth from a rock Right: Mithras born from the rock (marble, 180–192 AD), from the area of S. Stefano Rotondo, Rome Mithras is depicted as being born from a rock. He is shown as emerging from a rock, already in his youth, with a dagger in one hand and a torch in the other. He is nude, is wearing a Phrygian cap and is holding his legs together. However, there are variations and sometimes he is shown as coming out of the rock as a child and in one instance he has a globe in one hand, sometimes a thunderbolt is seen. There are also depictions in which flames are shooting from the rock and also from Mithras' phrygian cap. One statue had its base perforated so that it could serve as a fountain and the base of another has the mask of the water god. Sometimes he also has other weapons like bows and arrows and there are also animals like dog, serpent, dolphin , eagle, some other birds, a lion, crocodile, lobster and snail around. On some reliefs, there is a bearded figure identified as Oceanus , the water god, and on some there are the four wind gods. In these reliefs, the four elements could be invoked together. Sometimes Victoria, Luna , Sol and Saturn also seem to play a role. Saturn particularly appears to hand over the dagger to Mithras so that he could perform his mighty deeds. In some depictions Cautes and Cautopates are also present and sometimes they become shepherds. On some occasions, an amphora is seen, and a few instances show variations like an egg birth or a tree birth. Some interpretations show that the birth of Mithras was celebrated by lighting torches or candles Drawing of the leontocephaline found at the mithraeum of C. Valerius Heracles and sons, dedicated 190 AD at Ostia Antica , Italy (CIMRM 312) Lion-headed figure One of the most characteristic features of the Mysteries is the naked lion-headed (leontocephaline) figure often found in Mithraic temples. He is entwined by a serpent, (or two serpents, like a caduceus ) with the snake's head often resting on the lion's head. The lion's mouth is often open, giving a horrifying impression. He is usually represented having four wings, two keys (sometimes a single key) and a scepter in his hand. Sometimes the figure is standing on a globe inscribed with a diagonal cross. In the figure shown here, the four wings carry the symbols of the four seasons and a thunderbolt is engraved on the breast. At the base of the statue are the hammer and tongs of Vulcan , the cock and the wand of Mercury . A more scarcely represented variant of the figure with a human head is also found Although animal-headed figures are prevalent in contemporary Egyptian and Gnostic mythological representations, an exact parallel to the Mithraic leontocephaline figure is not found. The name of the figure has been deciphered from dedicatory inscriptions to be Arimanius (though the archeological evidence is not very strong), which is nominally the equivalent of Ahriman , a demon figure in the Zoroastrian pantheon. Arimanius is known from inscriptions to have been a god in the Mithraic cult (CIMRM 222 from Ostia, 369 from Rome, 1773 and 1775 from Pannonia). While some scholars identify the lion-man as Aion (Zurvan, or Kronos) others assert that it is Ahriman. There is also speculation that the figure is the Gnostic demiurge , (Ariel) Ialdabaoth . Although the exact identity of the lion-headed figure is debated by scholars, it is largely agreed that the god is associated with time and seasonal change. Rituals and worship According to M.J.Vermaseren, the Mithraic New Year and the birthday of Mithras was on December 25. However, Beck disagrees strongly. Clauss states: "the Mithraic Mysteries had no public ceremonies of its own. The festival of natalis Invicti [Birth of the Unconquerable (Sun)], held on 25 December, was a general festival of the Sun, and by no means specific to the Mysteries of Mithras." Mithraic initiates were required to swear an oath of secrecy and dedication, and some grade rituals involved the recital of a catechism, wherein the initiate was asked a series of questions pertaining to the initiation symbolism and had to reply with specific answers. An example of such a catechism, apparently pertaining to the Leo grade, was discovered in a fragmentary Egyptian papyrus (P.Berolinensis 21196), and reads: ... He will say: 'Where ... ? ... he is/(you are?) there (then/thereupon?) at a loss?' Say: ... Say: 'Night'. He will say: 'Where ... ?' ... Say: 'All things ...' (He will say): '... you are called ... ?' Say: 'Because of the summery ...' ... having become ... he/it has the fiery ... (He will say): '... did you receive/inherit?' Say: 'In a pit'. He will say: 'Where is your ...?... (Say): '...(in the...) Leonteion.' He will say: 'Will you gird?' The (heavenly?) ...(Say): '... death'. He will say: 'Why, having girded yourself, ...?' '... this (has?) four tassels. Very sharp and ... '... much'. He will say: ...? (Say: '... because of/through?) hot and cold'. He will say: ...? (Say): '... red ... linen'. He will say: 'Why?' Say: '... red border; the linen, however, ...' (He will say): '... has been wrapped?' Say: 'The savior's ...' He will say: 'Who is the father?' Say: 'The one who (begets?) everything ...' (He will say): '('How ?)... did you become a Leo?' Say: 'By the ... of the father'. ... Say: 'Drink and food'. He will say '...?' '... in the seven-... Almost no Mithraic scripture or first-hand account of its highly secret rituals survives; with the exception of the aforementioned oath and catechism, and the document known as the Mithras Liturgy , from 4th century Egypt, whose status as a Mithraist text has been questioned by scholars including Franz Cumont. The walls of Mithraea were commonly whitewashed, and where this survives it tends to carry extensive repositories of graffiti ; and these, together with inscriptions on Mithraic monuments, form the main source for Mithraic texts. Nevertheless, it is clear from the archeology of numerous Mithraea that most rituals were associated with feasting – as eating utensils and food residues are almost invariably found. These tend to include both animal bones and also very large quantities of fruit residues. The presence of large amounts of cherry-stones in particular would tend to confirm mid-summer (late June, early July) as a season especially associated with Mithraic festivities. The Virunum album, in the form of an inscribed bronze plaque, records a Mithraic festival of commemoration as taking place on 26 June 184. Beck argues that religious celebrations on this date are indicative of special significance being given to the Summer solstice ; but equally it may well be noted that, in northern and central Europe, reclining on a masonry plinth in an unheated cave was likely to be a predominantly summertime activity. For their feasts, Mithraic initiates reclined on stone benches arranged along the longer sides of the Mithraeum – typically there might be room for 15–30 diners, but very rarely many more than 40 men. Counterpart dining rooms, or triclinia were to be found above ground in the precincts of almost any temple or religious sanctuary in the Roman empire, and such rooms were commonly used for their regular feasts by Roman 'clubs', or collegia . Mithraic feasts probably performed a very similar function for Mithraists as the collegia did for those entitled to join them; indeed, since qualification for Roman collegia tended to be restricted to particular families, localities or traditional trades, Mithraism may have functioned in part as providing clubs for the unclubbed. However, the size of the Mithraeum is not necessarily an indication of the size of the congregation. Each Mithraeum had several altars at the further end, underneath the representation of the tauroctony; and also commonly contained considerable numbers of subsidiary altars, both in the main Mithraeum chamber, and in the ante-chamber or narthex. These altars, which are of the standard Roman pattern, each carry a named dedicatory inscription from a particular initiate, who dedicated the altar to Mithras "in fulfillment of his vow", in gratitude for favours received. Burned residues of animal entrails are commonly found on the main altars indicating regular sacrificial use. However, Mithraea do not commonly appear to have been provided with facilities for ritual slaughter of sacrificial animals (a highly specialised function in Roman religion), and it may be presumed that a Mithraeum would have made arrangements for this service to be provided for them in co-operation with the professional victimarius of the civic cult. Prayers were addressed to the Sun three times a day and Sunday was especially sacred. It is doubtful whether Mithraism had a monolithic and internally consistent doctrine. It may have varied from location to location. However, the iconography is relatively coherent. It had no predominant sanctuary or cultic centre; and, although each Mithraeum had its own officers and functionaries, there was no central supervisory authority. In some Mithraea, such as that at Dura Europos wall paintings depict prophets carrying scrolls, but no named Mithraic sages are known, nor does any reference give the title of any Mithraic scripture or teaching. It is known that intitates could transfer with their grades from one Mithraeum to another. Temples of Mithras Temples of Mithras are sunk below ground, windowless, and very distinctive. In cities, the basement of an apartment block might be converted; elsewhere they might be excavated and vaulted over, or converted from a natural cave. Mithraic temples are common in the empire; although unevenly distributed, with considerable numbers found in Rome, Ostia , Numidia , Dalmatia , Britain and along the Rhine/Danube frontier; while being somewhat less common in Greece , Egypt , and Syria . According to Walter Burkert, the secret character of Mithriac rituals meant that Mithraism could only be practiced within a Mithraeum. Some new finds at Tienen show evidence of large scale feasting and the mystery religion may not have been as secretive as was generally believed. For the most part, Mithraea tend to be small, externally undistinguished, and cheaply constructed; the cult generally preferring to create a new centre rather than expand an existing one. The Mithraeum represented the cave in which Mithras carried and then killed the bull; and where stone vaulting could not be afforded, the effect would be imitated with lath and plaster. They are commonly located close to springs or streams; fresh water appears to have been required for some Mithraic rituals, and a basin is often incorporated into the structure. There is usually a narthex or ante-chamber at the entrance, and often other ancillary rooms for storage and the preparation of food. The extant mithraea present us with actual physical remains of the architectural structures of the sacred spaces of the Mithraic cult. Mithraeum is a modern coinage and mithraists referred to their sacred structures as speleum or antrum (cave), crypta (underground hallway or corridor), fanum (sacred or holy place), or even templum (a temple or a sacred space). In their basic form, Mithraea were entirely different from the temples and shrines of other cults. In standard pattern Roman religious precincts, the temple building functioned as a house for the god; who was intended to be able to view through the opened doors and columnar portico, sacrificial worship being offered on an altar set in an open courtyard; potentially accessible not only to initiates of the cult, but also to colitores or non-initiated worshippers. Mithraea were the antithesis of this. Degrees of initiation In the Suda under the entry "Mithras", it states that "no one was permitted to be initiated into them (the mysteries of Mithras), until he should show himself holy and steadfast by undergoing several graduated tests." Gregory Nazianzen refers to the "tests in the mysteries of Mithras". There were seven grades of initiation into the mysteries of Mithras, which are listed by St. Jerome. Manfred Clauss states that the number of grades, seven, must be connected to the planets. A mosaic in the Ostia Mithraeum of Felicissimus depicts these grades, with heraldic emblems that are connected either to the grades or are just symbols of the planets. The grades also have an inscription besides them commending each grade into the protection of the different planetary gods. In ascending order of importance the initiatory grades were: Grade Symbols Planet/tutelary deity Corax , Corux or Corvex (raven or crow) beaker , caduceus Mercury Nymphus, Nymphobus (Bridesman) lamp , hand bell , veil , circlet or diadem Venus Miles (soldier) pouch , helmet , lance , drum , belt , breastplate Mars Leo (lion) batillum , sistrum , laurel wreath , thunderbolts Jupiter Perses (Persian) akinakes , Phrygian cap , sickle , sickle moon and stars , sling pouch Luna Heliodromus (sun-runner) torch , images of the sun god , Helios whip , robes Sol Pater (father) patera , Mitre , shepherd's staff , garnet or ruby ring , chasuble or cape , elaborate robes jewel encrusted with metallic threads Saturn Elsewhere, as at Dura-Europos Mithraic graffiti survive giving membership lists, in which initiates of a Mithraeum are named with their Mithraic grades. At Virunum, the membership list or album sacratorum was maintained as an inscribed plaque, updated year by year as new members were initiated. By cross-referencing these lists it is sometimes possible to track initiates from one Mithraeum to another; and also speculatively to identify Mithraic initiates with persons on other contemporary lists - such as military service rolls, of lists of devotees of non-Mithraic religious sanctuaries. Names of initiates are also found in the dedication inscriptions of altars and other cult objects. Clauss noted in 1990 that overall, only about 14% of Mithriac names inscribed before 250 identify the initiates grade - and hence questioned that the traditional view that all initiates belonged to one of the seven grades. Clauss argues that the grades represented a distinct class of priests, sacerdotes. Gordon maintains the former theory of Merkelbach and others, especially noting such examples as Dura where all names are associated with a Mithraic grade. Some scholars maintain that practice may have differed over time, or from one Mithraea to another. The highest grade, pater, is far the most common found on dedications and inscriptions - and it would appear not to have been unusual for a Mithraeum to have several persons with this grade. The form pater patrum (father of fathers) is often found, which appears to indicate the pater with primary status. There are several examples of persons, commonly those of higher social status, joining a Mithraeum with the status pater - especially in Rome during the 'pagan revival' of the 4th century. It has been suggested that some Mithraea may have awarded honorary pater status to sympathetic dignitaries. The initiate into each grade appears to have required to undertake a specific ordeal or test, involving exposure to heat, cold or threatened peril. An 'ordeal pit', dating to the early 3rd century, has been identified in the Mithraeum at Carrawburgh . Accounts of the cruelty of the emperor Commodus describes his amusing himself by enacting Mithriac initiation ordeals in homicidal form. By the later 3rd century, the enacted trials appear to have been abated in rigor, as 'ordeal pits' were floored over. Ritual re-enactments Activities of the most prominent deities in Mithraic scenes, Sol and Mithras, were imitated in rituals by the two most senior officers in the cult's hierarchy, the Pater and the Heliodromus. The initiates held a sacramental banquet, replicating the feast of Mithras and Sol. Reliefs on a cup found in Mainz ,appear to depict a Mithraic initiation. On the cup, the initiate is depicted as led into a location where a Pater would be seated in the guise of Mithras with a drawn bow. Accompanying the initiate is a mystagogue , who explains the symbolism and theology to the initiate. The Rite is thought to re-enact what has come to be called the 'Water Miracle', in which Mithras fires a bolt into a rock, and from the rock now spouts water. Roger Beck has hypothesized a third processional Mithraic ritual, based on the Mainz cup and Porphyrys. This so-called Procession of the Sun-Runner features the Heliodromus, escorted by two figures representing Cautes and Cautopates (see below) and preceded by an initiate of the grade Miles leading a ritual enactment of the solar journey around the mithraeum, which was intended to represent the cosmos. Consequently it has been argued that most Mithraic rituals involved a re-enactment by the initiates of episodes in the Mithras narrative, a narrative whose main elements were; birth from the rock, striking water from stone with an arrow shot, the killing of the bull, Sol's submission to Mithras, Mithras and Sol feasting on the bull, the ascent of Mithras to heaven in a chariot. A noticeable feature of this narrative (and of its regular depiction in surviving sets of relief carvings) is the complete absence of female personages. Membership Only male names appear in surviving inscribed membership lists. Historians including Cumont and Richard Gordon have concluded that the cult was for men only The ancient scholar Porphyry refers to female initiates in Mithraic rites. However, the early 20th-century historian A.S. Geden writes that this may be due to a misunderstanding. According to Geden, while the participation of women in the ritual was not unknown in the Eastern cults, the predominant military influence in Mithraism makes it unlikely in this instance. It has recently been suggested by David Jonathan that "women were involved with Mithraic groups in at least some locations of the empire." Soldiers were strongly represented amongst Mithraists; and also merchants, customs officials and minor bureaucrats. Few, if any, initiates came from leading aristocratic or senatorial families until the 'pagan revival' of the mid 4th century; but there were always considerable numbers of freedmen and slaves. Ethics Clauss suggests that a statement by Porphyry, that people initiated into the Lion grade must keep their hands pure from everything that brings pain and harm and is impure, means that moral demands were made upon members of congregations. A passage in the Caesares of Julian the Apostate refers to "commandments of Mithras". Tertullian , in his treatise 'On the Military Crown' records that Mithraists in the army were officially excused from wearing celebratory coronets; on the basis that the Mithraic initiation ritual included refusing a proffered crown, because "their only crown was Mithras". History and development Mithras before the Mysteries Mithras-Helios, in Phrygian cap with solar rays, with Antiochus I of Commagene. (Mt Nemrut, first century BC) According to the archaeologist Maarten Vermaseren, 1st century BC evidence from Commagene demonstrates the "reverence paid to Mithras" but does not refer to "the mysteries". In the colossal statuary erected by King Antiochus I (69–34 BC) at Mount Nemrut , Mithras is shown beardless, wearing a Phrygian cap , and was originally seated on a throne alongside other deities and the king himself. On the back of the thrones there is an inscription in Greek, which includes the name Apollo Mithras Helios in the genitive case (Ἀπόλλωνος Μίθρου Ἡλίου). Vermaseren also reports about a Mithras cult in 3rd; century BC. Fayum. R. D. Barnett has argued that the royal seal of King Saussatar of Mitanni from c. 1450 BC. depicts a tauroctonous Mithras. Beginnings of Roman Mithraism The origins and spread of the Mysteries have been intensely debated among scholars and there are radically differing views on these issues. According to Clauss mysteries of Mithras were not practiced until the 1st century AD. According to Ulansey, the earliest evidence for the Mithraic mysteries places their appearance in the middle of the 1st century BC: the historian Plutarch says that in 67 BC the pirates of Cilicia (a province on the southeastern coast of Asia Minor) were practicing "secret rites" of Mithras. However, according to Daniels, whether any of this relates to the origins of the mysteries is unclear. The unique underground temples or Mithraea appear suddenly in the archaeology in the last quarter of the 1st century AD. Earliest archaeology Inscriptions and monuments related to the Mithraic Mysteries are catalogued in a two volume work by Maarten J. Vermaseren, the (or CIMRM) Corpus Inscriptionum et Monumentorum Religionis Mithriacae. The earliest monument showing Mithras slaying the bull is thought to be CIMRM 593, found in Rome. There is no date, but the inscription tells us that it was dedicated by a certain Alcimus, steward of T. Claudius Livianus. Vermaseren and Gordon believe that this Livianus is a certain Livianus who was commander of the Praetorian guard in 101 AD, which would give an earliest date of 98-99 AD. Five small terracotta plaques of a figure holding a knife over a bull have been excavated near Kerch in the Crimea , dated by Beskow and Clauss to the second half of the 1st century BC, and by Beck to 50 BC-50 AD. These may be the earliest tauroctonies, if they are accepted to be a depiction of Mithras. The bull-slaying figure wears a Phrygian cap, but is described by Beck and Beskow as otherwise unlike standard depictions of the tauroctony. Another reason for not connecting these artifacts with the Mithraic Mysteries is that the first of these plaques was found in a woman's tomb. An altar or block from near SS. Pietro e Marcellino on the Esquiline in Rome was inscribed with a bilingual inscription by an Imperial freedman named T. Flavius Hyginus, probably between 80-100 AD. It is dedicated to Sol Invictus Mithras. CIMRM 2268 is a broken base or altar from Novae/Steklen in Moesia Inferior, dated 100 AD, showing Cautes and Cautopates. Other early archaeology includes the Greek inscription from Venosia by Sagaris actor probably from 100–150 AD; the Sidon cippus dedicated by Theodotus priest of Mithras to Asclepius, 140-141 AD; and the earliest military inscription, by C. Sacidius Barbarus, centurion of XV Apollinaris, from the bank of the Danube at Carnuntum , probably before 114 AD. According to C.M.Daniels, the Carnuntum inscription is the earliest Mithraic dedication from the Danube region, which along with Italy is one of the two regions where Mithraism first struck root. The earliest dateable Mithraeum outside Rome dates from 148 AD. The Mithraeum at Caesarea Maritima is the only one in Palestine and the date is inferred. Earliest cult locations According to Roger Beck, the attested locations of the Roman cult in the earliest phase (c. 80–120 AD) are as follows: Classical literature about Mithras and the Mysteries Mithras and the Bull: This fresco from the mithraeum at Marino, Italy (third century) shows the tauroctony and the celestial lining of Mithras' cape. According to Boyce, the earliest literary references to the mysteries are by the Latin poet Statius, about 80 AD, and Plutarch (c. 100 AD). Statius The Thebaid (c.80 AD) an epic poem by Statius , pictures Mithras in a cave, wrestling with something that has horns. The context is a prayer to the god Phoebus . The cave is described as persei, which in this context is usually translated "Persian", however according to the translator J.H.Mozley it literally means "Persean", referring to Perses the son of Persius and Andromeda ; this Perses being the ancestor of the Persians according to Greek legend. Plutarch The Greek biographer Plutarch (46 - 127 AD) says that "secret mysteries... of Mithras" were practiced by the pirates of Cilicia , the coastal province in the southeast of Anatolia , who were active in the 1st century BC: "They likewise offered strange sacrifices; those of Olympus I mean; and they celebrated certain secret mysteries, among which those of Mithras continue to this day, being originally instituted by them." He mentions that the pirates were especially active during the Mithridatic wars (between the Roman Republic and King Mithridates VI of Pontus ) in which they supported the king. The association between Mithridates and the pirates is also mentioned by the ancient historian Appian . The 4th century commentary on Vergil by Servius says that Pompey settled some of these pirates in Calabria in southern Italy. Dio Cassius The historian Dio Cassius (2nd to 3rd century AD) tells how the name of Mithras was spoken during the state visit to Rome of Tiridates I of Armenia , during the reign of Nero. (Tiridates was the son of Vonones II of Parthia , and his coronation by Nero in 66 AD confirmed the end of a war between Parthia and Rome.) Dio Cassius writes that Tiridates, as he was about to receive his crown, told the Roman emperor that he revered him "as Mithras". Roger Beck thinks it possible that this episode contributed to the emergence of Mithraism as a popular religion in Rome. Porphyry The philosopher Porphyry (3rd-4th century AD) gives an account of the origins of the Mysteries in his work De antro nympharum (The Cave of the Nymphs). Citing Eubulus as his source, Porphyry writes that the original temple of Mithras was a natural cave, containing fountains, which Zoroaster found in the mountains of Persia. To Zoroaster, this cave was an image of the whole world, so he consecrated it to Mithras, the creator of the world. Later in the same work, Porphyry links Mithras and the bull with planets and star-signs: Mithras himself is associated with the sign of Aries and the planet Mars, while the bull is associated with Venus . Porphyry is writing close to the demise of the cult, and Robert Turcan has challenged the idea that Porphyry's statements about Mithraism are accurate. His case is that far from representing what Mithraists believed, they are merely representations by the Neoplatonists of what it suited them in the late 4th century to read into the mysteries. However, Merkelbach and Beck believe that Porphyry's work "is in fact thoroughly coloured with the doctrines of the Mysteries." Beck holds that classical scholars have neglected Porphyry's evidence and have taken an unnecessarily skeptical view of Porphyry. According to Beck, Porphyry's De antro is the only clear text from antiquity which tells us about the intent of the Mithriac Mysteries and how that intent was realized. David Ulansey finds it important that Porphyry "confirms... that astral conceptions played an important role in Mithraism." Mithras Liturgy In later antiquity, the Greek name of Mithras (Μίθρας) occurs in the text known as the Mithras Liturgy , part of the Paris Great Magical Papyrus (Paris Bibliotheque Nationale Suppl. gr. 574); here Mithras is given the epithet "the great god", and is identified with the sun god Helios . There have been different views among scholars as to whether this text is an expression of Mithraism as such. Franz Cumont argued that it isn't; Marvin Meyer thinks it is; while Hans Dieter Betz sees it as a synthesis of Greek, Egyptian, and Mithraic traditions. Later history The first important expansion of the mysteries in the Empire seems to have happened quite quickly, late in the reign of Antoninus Pius (b. 121 CE, d. 180 CE) and under Marcus Aurelius . By this time all the key elements of the mysteries were in place. Sol Invictus from the Archaeological Museum of Milan (Museo archeologico) Mithraism reached the apogee of its popularity during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, spreading at an "astonishing" rate at the same period when Sol Invictus became part of the state. At this period a certain Pallas devoted a monograph to Mithras, and a little later Euboulus wrote a History of Mithras, although both works are now lost. According to the 4th century Historia Augusta , the emperor Commodus participated in its mysteries but it never became one of the state cults. The end of Roman Mithraism It is difficult to trace when the cult of Mithras came to an end. Beck states that "Quite early in the [fourth] century the religion was as good as dead throughout the empire." Inscriptions from the 4th century are few. Clauss states that inscriptions show Mithras as one of the cults listed on inscriptions by Roman senators who had not converted to Christianity, as part of the "pagan revival" among the elite. Ulansey holds that "Mithraism declined with the rise to power of Christianity, until the beginning of the fifth century, when Christianity became strong enough to exterminate by force rival religions such as Mithraism." According to Speidel, Christians fought fiercely with this feared enemy and suppressed it during the 4th century. Some Mithraic sanctuaries were destroyed and religion was no longer a matter of personal choice. According to Luther H. Martin, Roman Mithraism came to an end with the anti-pagan decrees of the Christian emperor Theodosius during the last decade of the 4th century. At some of the mithraeums which have been found below churches, for example the Santa Prisca mithraeum and the San Clemente mithraeum, the ground plan of the church above was made in a way to symbolize Christianity's domination of Mithraism. According to Mark Humphries, the deliberate concealment of Mithraic cult objects in some areas suggests that precautions were being taken against Christian attacks. However, in areas like the Rhine frontier, purely religious considerations cannot explain the end of Mithraism and barbarian invasions may also have played a role. There is virtually no evidence for the continuance of the cult of Mithras into the 5th century. In particular large numbers of votive coins deposited by worshippers have been recovered at the Mithraeum at Pons Sarravi (Sarrebourg) in Gallia Belgica, in a series that runs from Gallienus (253-68) to Theodosius I (379-395). These were scattered over the floor when the Mithraeum was destroyed, as Christians apparently regarded the coins as polluted; and they therefore provide reliable dates for the functioning of the Mithraeum. It cannot be shown that any Mithraeum continued in use in the 5th century. The coin series in all Mithraea end at the end of the 4th century at the latest. The cult disappeared earlier than that of Isis. Isis was still remembered in the middle ages as a pagan deity, but Mithras was already forgotten in late antiquity. Cumont stated in his book that Mithraism may have survived in certain remote cantons of the Alps and Vosges into the 5th century. Interpretations of the bull-slaying scene David Ulansey finds astronomical evidence from the mithraeum itself. He reminds us that the Platonic writer Porphyry wrote in the 3rd century AD that the cave-like temple Mithraea depicted "an image of the world" and that Zoroaster consecrated a cave resembling the world fabricated by Mithras. The ceiling of the Caesarea Maritima Mithraeum retains traces of blue paint, which may mean the ceiling was painted to depict the sky and the stars. Beck has given the following celestial anatomy of the Tauroctony: Component of Tauroctony Celestial Counterpart Bull Taurus Sol Sun Luna Moon Dog Canis Minor , Canis Major Snake Hydra , Serpens , Draco Raven Corvus Scorpion Scorpius Wheat's ear (on bull's tail) Spica Twins Cautes and Cautopates Gemini Lion Leo Crater Crater Cave Universe Several celestial identities for the Tauroctonous Mithras (TM) himself have been proposed. Beck summarizes them in the table below. Ulansey has proposed that Mithras seems to have been derived from the constellation of Perseus , which is positioned just above Taurus in the night sky. He sees iconographic and mythological parallels between the two figures: both are young heroes, carry a dagger and wear a Phrygian cap. He also mentions the similarity of the image of Perseus killing the Gorgon and the tauroctony, both figures being associated with underground caverns and both having connections to Persia as further evidence. Michael Speidel associates Mithras with the constellation of Orion because of the proximity to Taurus, and the consistent nature of the depiction of the figure as having wide shoulders, a garment flared at the hem, and narrowed at the waist with a belt, thus taking on the form of the constellation. Beck has criticized Speidel and Ulansey of adherence to a literal cartographic logic, describing their theories as a "will-o'-the-wisp" which "lured them down a false trail." He argues that a literal reading of the tauroctony as a star chart raises two major problems: it is difficult to find a constellation counterpart for Mithras himself (despite efforts by Speidel and Ulansey) and that unlike in a star chart, each feature of the tauroctony might have more than a single counterpart. Rather than seeing Mithras as a constellation, Beck argues that Mithras is the prime traveller on the celestial stage (represented by the other symbols of the scene), the Unconquered Sun moving through the constellations. But again, Meyer holds that the Mithras Liturgy reflects the world of Mithraism and may be a confirmation for Ulansey's theory of Mithras being held responsible for the precession of equinoxes. Mithras and other gods Mithras riding bull Main article: Mithras in comparison with other belief systems The cult of Mithras was part of the syncretic nature of ancient Roman religion . Almost all Mithraea contain statues dedicated to gods of other cults, and it is common to find inscriptions dedicated to Mithras in other sanctuaries, especially those of Jupiter Dolichenus. Mithraism was not an alternative to Rome's other traditional religions, but was one of many forms of religious practice; and many Mithraic initiates can also be found participating in the civic religion , and as initiates of other mystery cults. Mithraism and Christianity Early Christian apologists noted similarities between Mithraic and Christian rituals, but nonetheless took an extremely negative view of Mithraism: they interpreted Mithraic rituals as evil copies of Christian ones.For instance, Tertullian wrote that as a prelude to the Mithraic initiation ceremony, the initiate was given a ritual bath and at the end of the ceremony, received a mark on the forehead. He described these rites as a diabolical counterfeit of the baptism and chrismation of Christians. Justin Martyr contrasted Mithraic initiation communion with the Eucharist : Wherefore also the evil demons in mimicry have handed down that the same thing should be done in the Mysteries of Mithras. For that bread and a cup of water are in these mysteries set before the initiate with certain speeches you either know or can learn. Marvin Meyer comments that "early Christianity ... in general, resembles Mithraism in a number of respects – enough to make Christian apologists scramble to invent creative theological explanations to account for the similarities." Ernest Renan suggested in 1882 that, under different circumstances, Mithraism might have risen to the prominence of modern-day Christianity. Renan wrote: "if the growth of Christianity had been arrested by some mortal malady, the world would have been Mithraic…" However, this theory has since been contested: Leonard Boyle wrote in 1987 that "too much ... has been made of the 'threat' of Mithraism to Christianity," pointing out that there are only fifty known mithraea in the entire city of Rome. J. A. Ezquerra holds that since the two religions did not share similar aims, there was never any real threat of Mithraism taking over the Roman world. According to Mary Boyce, Mithraism was a potent enemy for Christianity in the West, though she is skeptical about its hold in the East.Filippo Coarelli (1979) has tabulated forty actual or possible Mithraea and estimated that Rome would have had "not less than 680–690" mithraea. Lewis M. Hopfe states that more than 400 Mithraic sites have been found. These sites are spread all over the Roman empire from places as far as Dura Europos in the east, and England in the west. He too says that Mithraism may have been a rival of Christianity. David Ulansey thinks Renan's statement "somewhat exaggerated", but does consider Mithraism "one of Christianity's major competitors in the Roman Empire". Ulansey sees study of Mithraism as important for understanding "the cultural matrix out of which the Christian religion came to birth". On the basis of his astronomical interpretation of Mithraism, Ulansey argues for a "profound kinship between Mithraism and Christianity", in that Mithras, like Jesus Christ, was considered to be "a being from beyond the universe". Ulansey suggests that these two figures, Mithras and Jesus, "are to some extent both manifestations of a single deep longing in the human spirit". Mithridates VI King of Kings Mithridates VI from the Musée du Louvre Reign 120–63 BC Successor Pharnaces II of Pontus Father Mithridates V of Pontus Mother Laodice VI Mithridates VI or Mithradates VI (Greek: Μιθραδάτης), from Old Persian Mithradatha, "gift of Mithra "; 134–63 BC, also known as Mithradates the Great (Megas) and Eupator Dionysius, was king of Pontus and Armenia Minor in northern Anatolia (now Turkey ) from about 120–63 BC. Mithridates is remembered as one of the Roman Republic ’s most formidable and successful enemies, who engaged three of the prominent generals from the late Roman Republic in the Mithridatic Wars : Lucius Cornelius Sulla , Lucullus and Pompey . He was also the greatest ruler of the Kingdom of Pontus. Ancestry, family and early life Mithridates was a prince of Persian and Greek ancestry. He claimed descent from Cyrus the Great , from the family of Darius the Great , the Regent Antipater and from the generals of Alexander the Great and later kings: Antigonus I Monophthalmus and Seleucus I Nicator . Mithridates was born in the Pontic city of Sinope , and was raised in the Kingdom of Pontus . He was the first son and among the children born to Laodice VI and Mithridates V of Pontus (reigned 150–120 BC). His father, Mithridates V, was a prince and the son of the former Pontic Monarchs Pharnaces I of Pontus and his wife-cousin Nysa . His mother, Laodice VI, was a Seleucid Princess and the daughter of the Seleucid Monarchs Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his wife-sister Laodice IV . Mithridates V was assassinated in about 120 BC in Sinope , poisoned by unknown persons at a lavish banquet which he held. In the will of Mithridates V, he left the Kingdom to the joint rule of Laodice VI, Mithridates and his younger brother, Mithridates Chrestus . Mithridates and his younger brother were both under aged to rule and their mother retained all power as regent. Laodice VI’s regency over Pontus was from 120 BC to 116 BC (even perhaps up to 113 BC) and favored Mithridates Chrestus over Mithridates. During his mother’s regency, he escaped from his mother's plots against him, and went into hiding. Mithridates emerged from hiding and returned to Pontus between 116 BC and 113 BC and was hailed King. He removed his mother and brother from the throne, imprisoning both, and became the sole ruler of Pontus. Laodice VI died in prison of natural causes. Mithridates Chrestus may have died in prison from natural causes or was tried for treason and executed. Mithridates gave both a royal funeral. Mithridates first married his younger sister Laodice , aged 16. He married her to preserve the purity of their bloodline, and to co-rule over Pontus, to ensure the succession to his legitimate children, and to solidify his claim to the throne. Early reign Map of the Kingdom of Pontus, Before the reign of Mithridates VI (dark purple), after his conquests (purple), his conquests in the first Mithridatic wars (pink), as well as Pontus' ally the Kingdom of Armenia (green). Mithridates entertained ambitions of making his state the dominant power in the Black Sea and Anatolia . After he subjugated Colchis , the king of Pontus clashed for supremacy in the Pontic steppe with the Scythian King Palacus . The most important centres of Crimea , Tauric Chersonesus and the Bosporan Kingdom readily surrendered their independence in return for Mithridates' promises to protect them against the Scythians, their ancient enemies. After several abortive attempts to invade the Crimea, the Scythians and the allied Rhoxolanoi suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Pontic general Diophantus and accepted Mithridates as their overlord. The young king then turned his attention to Anatolia, where Roman power was on the rise. He contrived to partition Paphlagonia and Galatia with King Nicomedes III of Bithynia . It soon became clear to Mithridates that Nicomedes was steering his country into an anti-Pontic alliance with the expanding Roman Republic. When Mithridates fell out with Nicomedes over control of Cappadocia , and defeated him in a series of battles, the latter was constrained to openly enlist the assistance of Rome. The Romans twice interfered in the conflict on behalf of Nicomedes (95 – 92 BC), leaving Mithridates, should he wish to continue the expansion of his kingdom, with little choice other than to engage in a future Roman-Pontic war. Mithridatic Wars The next ruler of Bithynia, Nicomedes IV of Bithynia , was a figurehead manipulated by the Romans. Mithridates plotted to overthrow him, but his attempts failed and Nicomedes IV, instigated by his Roman advisors, declared war on Pontus. Rome itself was involved in the Social War , a civil war with its Italian allies. Thus, in all of Roman Asia Province there were only two legions present in Macedonia. These legions combined with Nicomedes IV's army to invade Mithridates' kingdom of Pontus in 89 BC. Mithridates, however, won a decisive victory, scattering the Roman-led forces. His victorious forces were welcomed throughout Anatolia. The following year, 88 BC, Mithridates orchestrated a massacre of Roman and Italian settlers remaining in several Anatolian cities, essentially wiping out the Roman presence in the region. This episode is known as the Asiatic Vespers. The Kingdom of Pontus comprised a mixed population in its Ionian Greek and Anatolian cities. The royal family moved the capital from Amasya to the Greek city of Sinope . Its rulers tried to fully assimilate the potential of their subjects by showing a Greek face to the Greek world and an Anatolian face to the Eastern world. Whenever the gap between the rulers and their Anatolian subjects became greater, they would put emphasis on their Persian origins. In this manner, the royal propaganda claimed heritage both from Persian and Greek rulers, including Cyrus the Great , Darius I of Persia , Alexander the Great and Seleucus I Nicator . Mithridates too posed as the champion of Hellenism , but this was mainly to further his political ambitions; it is no proof that he felt a mission to promote its extension within his domains. Whatever his true intentions, the Greek cities (including Athens ) defected to the side of Mithridates and welcomed his armies in mainland Greece, while his fleet besieged the Romans at Rhodes . Neighboring King of Armenia Tigranes the Great , established an alliance with Mithridates and married one of Mithridates’ daughters, Cleopatra of Pontus . They would support each other in the coming conflict with Rome. The Romans responded by organising a large invasion force to defeat him and remove him from power.The First Mithridatic War , fought between 88 BC and 84 BC, saw Lucius Cornelius Sulla force Mithridates VI out of Greece proper. After victory in several battles, Sulla received news of trouble back in Rome posed by his enemy Gaius Marius and hurriedly concluded peace talks with Mithridates. As Sulla returned to Italy Lucius Licinius Murena was left in charge of Roman forces in Anatolia. The lenient peace treaty, which was never ratified by the Senate, allowed Mithridates VI to recoup his forces. Murena attacked Mithridates in 83 BC, provoking the Second Mithridatic War from 83 BC to 81 BC. Mithridates scored a victory over Murena's green forces before peace was again declared by treaty. When Rome attempted to annex Bithynia (bequested to Rome by its last king) nearly a decade later, Mithridates VI attacked with an even larger army, leading to the Third Mithridatic War from 73 BC to 63 BC. First Lucullus and then Pompey were sent against Mithridates VI, who surged back to retake his kingdom of Pontus, but was at last defeated by Pompey. After his defeat by Pompey in 63 BC, Mithridates VI fled with a small army from Colchis (modern Georgia) over the Caucasus Mountains to Crimea and made plans to raise yet another army to take on the Romans. His eldest living son, Machares , viceroy of Cimmerian Bosporus, was unwilling to aid his father. Mithridates had Machares killed, and Mithridates took the throne of the Bosporan Kingdom . Mithridates then ordered the conscriptions and preparations for war. In 63 BC, Pharnaces II of Pontus , one of his sons, led a rebellion against his father, joined by Roman exiles in the core of Mithridates' Pontic army. Mithridates withdrew to the citadel in Panticapaeum , where he committed suicide. Pompey buried Mithridates in the rock-cut tombs of his ancestors in Amasya, the old capital of Pontus . Assassination conspiracy During the time of the First Mithridatic War, a group of Mithridates' friends plotted to kill him. These were Mynnio and Philotimus of Smyrna, and Cleisthenes and Asclepiodotus of Lesbos . Asclepiodotus changed his mind and became an informant . He arranged to have Mithridates hide under a couch to hear the plot against him. The other conspirators were tortured and executed . However, this was not enough for Mithridates, who also killed all of the plotters' families and friends. Propaganda Where his ancestors pursued philhellenism as a means of attaining respectability and prestige among the Hellenistic kingdoms, Mithridates VI made use of Hellenism as a political tool. As protector of Greek cities on the Black Sea and in Asia against barbarism, Mithridates VI logically became protector of Greece and Greek culture, and would use this stance in his clashes with Rome. Strabo mentions that Chersonesus buckled under the pressure of the barbarians and asked Mithridates VI to become its protector (7.4.3. c.308). The most impressive symbol of Mithridates VI's approbation with Greece (Athens in particular) appears at Delos : a heroon dedicated to the Pontic king in 102/1 by the Athenian Helianax, a priest of Poseidon Aisios. A dedication at Delos , by Dicaeus, a priest of Sarapis , was made in 94/93 BC on behalf of the Athenians, Romans, and "King Mithridates Eupator Dionysus." Greek styles mixed with Persian elements also abound on official Pontic coins – Perseus was favored as an intermediary between both worlds, East and West. Certainly influenced by Alexander the Great , Mithridates VI extended his propaganda from "defender" of Greece to the "great liberator" of the Greek world as war with Roman Republic became inevitable. The Romans were easily translated into "barbarians", in the same sense as the Persian Empire during the war with Persia in the first half of the 5th century BC and during Alexander's campaign. How many Greeks genuinely bought into this claim will never be known. It served its purpose, however. At least partially because of it, Mithridates VI was able to fight the First War with Rome on Greek soil, and maintain the allegiance of Greece. His campaign for the allegiance of the Greeks was aided in no small part by his enemy Sulla, who allowed his troops to sack the city of Delphi and plunder many of the city's most famous treasures to help finance his military expenses. Death When Mithridates VI was at last defeated by Pompey and in danger of capture by Rome, he is alleged to have attempted suicide by poison; this attempt failed, however, because of his immunity to the poison. According to Appian's Roman History, he then requested his Gaul bodyguard and friend, Bituitus, to kill him by the sword: Mithridates then took out some poison that he always carried next to his sword, and mixed it. There two of his daughters, who were still girls growing up together, named Mithridates and Nysa, who had been betrothed to the kings of [Ptolemaic] Egypt and of Cyprus, asked him to let them have some of the poison first, and insisted strenuously and prevented him from drinking it until they had taken some and swallowed it. The drug took effect on them at once; but upon Mithridates, although he walked around rapidly to hasten its action, it had no effect, because he had accustomed himself to other drugs by continually trying them as a means of protection against poisoners. These are still called the Mithridatic drugs. Seeing a certain Bituitus there, an officer of the Gauls, he said to him, "I have profited much from your right arm against my enemies. I shall profit from it most of all if you will kill me, and save from the danger of being led in a Roman triumph one who has been an autocrat so many years, and the ruler of so great a kingdom, but who is now unable to die by poison because, like a fool, he has fortified himself against the poison of others. Although I have kept watch and ward against all the poisons that one takes with his food, I have not provided against that domestic poison, always the most dangerous to kings, the treachery of army, children, and friends." Bituitus, thus appealed to, rendered the king the service that he desired. (XVI, §111) Cassius Dio Roman History, on the other hand, records his death as murder: Mithridates had tried to make away with himself, and after first removing his wives and remaining children by poison, he had swallowed all that was left; yet neither by that means nor by the sword was he able to perish by his own hands. For the poison, although deadly, did not prevail over him, since he had inured his constitution to it, taking precautionary antidotes in large doses every day; and the force of the sword blow was lessened on account of the weakness of his hand, caused by his age and present misfortunes, and as a result of taking the poison, whatever it was. When, therefore, he failed to take his life through his own efforts and seemed to linger beyond the proper time, those whom he had sent against his son fell upon him and hastened his end with their swords and spears. Thus Mithridates, who had experienced the most varied and remarkable fortune, had not even an ordinary end to his life. For he desired to die, albeit unwillingly, and though eager to kill himself was unable to do so; but partly by poison and partly by the sword he was at once self-slain and murdered by his foes. (Book 37, chapter 13) At the behest of Pompey, Mithridates' body was later buried alongside his ancestors (in Sinope, Book 37, chapter 14). Mount Mithridat in the central Kerch and the town of Yevpatoria in Crimea commemorate his name. Mithridates' antidote Main article: Mithridate In his youth, after the assassination of his father Mithridates V in 120 BC, Mithridates is said to have lived in the wilderness for seven years, inuring himself to hardship. While there, and after his accession, he cultivated an immunity to poisons by regularly ingesting sub-lethal doses of the same. He invented a complex "universal antidote" against poisoning; several versions are described in the literature. Aulus Cornelius Celsus gives one in his De Medicina and names it Antidotum Mithridaticum, whence English mithridate . Pliny the Elder's version comprised 54 ingredients to be placed in a flask and matured for at least two months. After Mithridates' death in 63 BC, many imperial Roman physicians claimed to possess and improve on the original formula, which they touted as Mithradatium. In keeping with most medical practices of his era, Mithridates' anti-poison routines included a religious component; they were supervised by the Agari, a group of Scythian shamans who never left him. Mithridates was reportedly guarded in his sleep by a horse, a bull, and a stag, which would whinny, bellow, and bleat whenever anyone approached the royal bed. Mithridates as polyglot In Pliny the Elder 's account of famous polyglots , Mithridates could speak the languages of all the twenty-two nations he governed. This reputation led to the use of Mithridates' name as title in some later works on comparative linguistics, such as Conrad Gessner 's Mithridates de differentis linguis, (1555), and Adelung and Vater's Mithridates oder allgemeine Sprachenkunde (1806–1817). Wives, mistresses and children Mithridates VI had wives and mistresses, by whom he had various children. The names he gave his children are a representation of his Persian, Greek heritage and of his ancestry. First wife, his sister Laodice . They were married from 115/113 BC till about 90 BC. Mithridates with Laodice had various children: Sons: Mithridates, Arcathius , Machares and Pharnaces II of Pontus Daughters: Cleopatra of Pontus (sometimes called Cleopatra the Elder to distinguish her from her sister of the same name) and Drypetina (a diminutive form of "Drypetis"). Drypetina was Mithridates VI’s most devoted daughter. Her baby teeth never fell out, so she had a double set of teeth . Second wife, the Greek Macedonian Noblewoman, Monime . They were married from about 89/88 BC till 72/71 BC. By whom, he had: Daughter: Athenais , who married King Ariobarzanes II of Cappadocia Third wife, Greek woman Berenice of Chios , married from 86–72/71 BC Fourth wife, Greek woman Stratonice of Pontus , married from after 86–63 BC Son: Xiphares Fifth wife, unknown Sixth wife, Caucasian woman Hypsicratea , married from an unknown date to 63 BC One of his mistresses was the Galatian Celtic Princess Adobogiona . By Adobogiona, Mithridates had two children: a son called Mithridates I of the Bosporus and a daughter called Adobogiona. His sons born from his concubine were Cyrus, Xerxes, Darius, Ariarathes IX of Cappadocia , Artaphernes, Oxathres, Phoenix (Mithridates’ son by a mistress of Syrian descent) and Exipodras. His daughters born from his concubine were Nysa, Eupatra, Cleopatra the Younger, Mithridates and Orsabaris . Nysa and Mithridates, were engaged to the Egyptian Greek Pharaohs Ptolemy XII Auletes and his brother Ptolemy of Cyprus . In 63 BC, when the Kingdom of Pontus was annexed by the Roman general Pompey the remaining sisters, wives, mistresses and children of Mithridates VI in Pontus were put to death. Plutarch writing in his lives (Pompey v.45) states that Mithridates' sister and five of his children took part in Pompey's triumphal procession on this return to Rome in 61 BC. The Cappadocian Greek nobleman and high priest of the temple-state of Comana, Cappadocia Archelaus had descended from Mithridates VI. He claimed to be a son of Mithridates VI, however chronologically Archelaus may have been a maternal grandson of the Pontic King, who his father was Mithridates VI’s favorite general may have married one of the daughters of Mithridates VI. Literature The poet A. E. Housman alludes to Mithridates' antidote, also known as mithridatism , in the final stanza of his poem "Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff" in A Shropshire Lad . There was a king reigned in the East: There, when kings will sit to feast, They get their fill before they think With poisoned meat and poisoned drink. He gathered all that springs to birth From the many-venomed earth; First a little, thence to more, He sampled all her killing store; And easy, smiling, seasoned sound, Sate the king when healths went round. They put arsenic in his meat And stared aghast to watch him eat; They poured strychnine in his cup And shook to see him drink it up: They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt: Them it was their poison hurt. –I tell the tale that I heard told. Mithridates, he died old. – A. E. Housman , A Shropshire Lad Ralph Waldo Emerson included his "Mithridates" in his 1847 "Poems". The legend also appears in Alexandre Dumas 's novel The Count of Monte Cristo . The demise of Mithridates VI is detailed in the 1673 play Mithridate written by Jean Racine . This play is the basis for several 18th century operas including one of Mozart's earliest, known most commonly by its Italian name, Mitridate, re di Ponto (1770). He is the subject of the opera Mitridate Eupatore (1707) by Alessandro Scarlatti . In The Grass Crown , the second in the Masters of Rome series, Colleen McCullough , the Australian writer, describes in detail the various aspects of his life – the murder of Laodice (sister-wife of Mithridates VI of Pontus) , and the Roman Consul who, quite alone and surrounded by the Pontic army, ordered Mithridates to leave Cappadocia immediately and go back to Pontus – which he did. Wordsworth, amidst casting about for poetic themes in The Prelude : Sometimes, more sternly moved, I would relate How vanquished Mithridates northward passed, And, hidden in the cloud of years, became Odin, the Father of a race by whom Perished the Roman Empire. – William Wordsworth , The Prelude Bk i vv 186 ff In Dorothy L. Sayers ' Detective Novel "Strong Poison", from 1929, the protagonist, Lord Peter Wimsey , refers to Mithridates' measures to survive poisoning; as well as Albert Einstein 's theory of Special Relativity , when the protagonist warns not to trust someone who looks straight in your eye, as they're trying to distract you from seeing something, "..even the path light travels is bent". James Joyce alludes to Mithridates' immunity to poison in his love poem Though I Thy Mithridates Were. The Last King is an historical novel by Michael Curtis Ford about the King and his exploits against the Roman Republic. Mithridates is a major character in Poul Anderson 's novel The Golden Slave. Mithridates of Pontus is mentioned by E. E. "Doc" Smith in Triplanetary , the first novel of the famous Lensman science fiction series. In the story, Mithridates was supposed to be one of the humans possessed by a member of an evil alien race bent on remaking human civilization into its own image. In the novel Mithridates is Dead (Spanish: Mitrídates ha muerto ), Ignasi Ribó traces parallels between the historical figures of Mithridates and Osama Bin Laden . Within a postmodern narrative of the making and unmaking of history, Ribó suggests that the September 11 attacks on the United States closely paralleled the massacre of Roman citizens in 88 B.C. and prompted similar consequences, namely the imperialist overstretch of the American and Roman republics respectively. Furthermore, he suggests that the ensuing Mithridatic Wars were one of the key factors in the demise of Rome's republican regime, as well as in the spread of the Christian faith in Asia Minor and eventually throughout the whole Roman Empire. The novel implies that the current events in the world might have similar unforeseen consequences. Preceded by Mithridates V King of Pontus 120–63 BC Succeeded by Pharnaces II Samsun is a city in northern Turkey , on the coast of the Black Sea , with a population of over 1 million. It is the capital city of Samsun Province and an important port . Samsun was founded as the colony Amisos (alternative spelling Amisus, Eis Amison - meaning to amisos took the name Samsunta or Samsus (Eis Amison - Samson - Samsounta) as in Greek + ounta "Greek toponomical suffix". ) by settlers from Miletus in the 7th century BC. Samsun Location of Samsun Coordinates: 41°17′N 36°20′E // History Samsun's original name was Enete (from Hitits.) Samsun's ideal combination of fertile ground and shallow waters attracted numerous traders. Greek colonists settled in the 6th century BC and established a flourishing trade relationship with the ancient peoples of Anatolia . At that time, Samsun was part of the Greek colony of Amisus. In the 3rd century BC, Samsun came under the expanded rule of the Kingdom of Pontus . The Kingdom of Pontus had been part of the empire of Alexander the Great . However, the empire was fractured soon after Alexander's death in the 4th century BC. At its height, the kingdom controlled the north of central Anatolia and mercantile towns on the northern Black Sea shores. The Romans took over in 47 BC, and were replaced by the Byzantines after the fall of Rome. In 1200 Samsun was captured by the Seljuks , to be later taken over by the İlhanlılar . Samsun was incorporated into the network of Genoese trading posts and was taken by the Ottomans in the beginning of the 15th century. Before leaving, the Genoese razed the town. Atatürk founded the Turkish republic movement at Samsun and it served as its base during the Turkish War of Independence. For more details on this topic, see Turkish War of Independence . The city is both an Eastern Orthodox and a Roman Catholic titular see . Geography Samsun is situated between two river deltas which jut into the Black Sea . It is located at the end of an ancient route from Cappadocia : the Amisos of antiquity lay on the headland northwest of the modern city. To Samsun's west, lies the Kızılırmak ("Red River", the Halys of antiquity), one of the longest rivers in Anatolia and its fertile delta. To the east, lie the Yeşilırmak ("Green River", the Iris of antiquity) and its delta. The history of Ancient Greek coinage can be divided (along with most other Greek art forms) into four periods, the Archaic , the Classical , the Hellenistic and the Roman . The Archaic period extends from the introduction of coinage to the Greek world during the 7th century BC until the Persian Wars in about 480 BC. The Classical period then began, and lasted until the conquests of Alexander the Great in about 330 BC, which began the Hellenistic period, extending until the Roman absorption of the Greek world in the 1st century BC. The Greek cities continued to produce their own coins for several more centuries under Roman rule. The coins produced during this period are called Roman provincial coins or Greek Imperial Coins. Ancient Greek coins of all four periods span over a period of more than ten centuries. Weight standards and denominations Above: Six rod-shaped obeloi (oboloi) displayed at the Numismatic Museum of Athens , discovered at Heraion of Argos . Below: grasp of six oboloi forming one drachma Electrum coin from Ephesus , 620-600 BC, known as Phanes' coin . Obverse: Stag grazing, ΦΑΝΕΩΣ (retrograde). Reverse: Two incuse punches. The basic standards of the Ancient Greek monetary system were the Attic standard, based on the Athenian drachma of 4.3 grams of silver and the Corinthian standard based on the stater of 8.6 grams of silver, that was subdivided into three silver drachmas of 2.9 grams. The word drachm (a) means "a handful", literally "a grasp". Drachmae were divided into six obols (from the Greek word for a spit ), and six spits made a "handful". This suggests that before coinage came to be used in Greece, spits in prehistoric times were used as measures of daily transaction. In archaic/pre-numismatic times iron was valued for making durable tools and weapons, and its casting in spit form may have actually represented a form of transportable bullion , which eventually became bulky and inconvenient after the adoption of precious metals. Because of this very aspect, Spartan legislation famously forbade issuance of Spartan coin, and enforced the continued use of iron spits so as to discourage avarice and the hoarding of wealth. In addition to its original meaning (which also gave the euphemistic diminutive "obelisk", "little spit"), the word obol (ὀβολός, obolós, or ὀβελός, obelós) was retained as a Greek word for coins of small value, still used as such in Modern Greek slang (όβολα, óvola, "monies"). The obol was further subdivided into tetartemorioi (singular tetartemorion) which represented 1/4 of an obol, or 1/24 of a drachm. This coin (which was known to have been struck in Athens , Colophon , and several other cities) is mentioned by Aristotle as the smallest silver coin.:237 Various multiples of this denomination were also struck, including the trihemitetartemorion (literally three half-tetartemorioi) valued at 3/8 of an obol.: Denominations of silver drachma Image Denomination Value Weight Dekadrachm 10 drachmas 43 grams Tetradrachm 4 drachmas 17.2 grams Didrachm 2 drachmas 8.6 grams Drachma 6 obols 4.3 grams Tetrobol 4 obols 2.85 grams Triobol (hemidrachm) 3 obols 2.15 grams Diobol 2 obols 1.43 grams Obol 4 tetartemorions 0.72 grams Tritartemorion 3 tetartemorions 0.54 grams Hemiobol 2 tetartemorions 0.36 grams Trihemitartemorion 3/2 tetartemorions 0.27 grams Tetartemorion 0.18 grams Hemitartemorion ½ tetartemorion 0.09 grams Archaic period Archaic coinage Uninscribed electrum coin from Lydia , 6th century BCE. Obverse: lion head and sunburst Reverse: plain square imprints, probably used to standardise weight Electrum coin from Ephesus , 620-600 BC. Obverse: Forepart of stag. Reverse: Square incuse punch. The first coins were issued in either Lydia or Ionia in Asia Minor at some time before 600 BC, either by the non-Greek Lydians for their own use or perhaps because Greek mercenaries wanted to be paid in precious metal at the conclusion of their time of service, and wanted to have their payments marked in a way that would authenticate them. These coins were made of electrum , an alloy of gold and silver that was highly prized and abundant in that area. By the middle of the 6th century BC, technology had advanced, making the production of pure gold and silver coins simpler. Accordingly, King Croesus introduced a bi-metallic standard that allowed for coins of pure gold and pure silver to be struck and traded in the marketplace. Coins of Aegina Silver stater of Aegina, 550-530 BC. Obv. Sea turtle with large pellets down center. Rev. incuse square with eight sections. After the end of the Peloponnesian War , 404 BC, Sea turtle was replaced by the land tortoise . Silver drachma of Aegina, 404-340 BC. Obverse: Land tortoise . Reverse: inscription AΙΓ[INAΤΟΝ] ([of the] Aeg[inetans]) "Aegina" and dolphin. The Greek world was divided into more than two thousand self-governing city-states (in Greek , poleis), and more than half of them issued their own coins. Some coins circulated widely beyond their polis, indicating that they were being used in inter-city trade; the first example appears to have been the silver stater or didrachm of Aegina that regularly turns up in hoards in Egypt and the Levant , places which were deficient in silver supply. As such coins circulated more widely, other cities began to mint coins to this "Aeginetan" weight standard of (6.1 grams to the drachm), other cities included their own symbols on the coins. This is not unlike present day Euro coins, which are recognisably from a particular country, but usable all over the Euro zone . Athenian coins, however, were struck on the "Attic" standard, with a drachm equaling 4.3 grams of silver. Over time, Athens' plentiful supply of silver from the mines at Laurion and its increasing dominance in trade made this the pre-eminent standard. These coins, known as "owls" because of their central design feature, were also minted to an extremely tight standard of purity and weight. This contributed to their success as the premier trade coin of their era. Tetradrachms on this weight standard continued to be a widely used coin (often the most widely used) through the classical period. By the time of Alexander the Great and his Hellenistic successors , this large denomination was being regularly used to make large payments, or was often saved for hoarding. Classical period A Syracusan tetradrachm (c. 415–405 BC) Obverse: head of the nymph Arethusa , surrounded by four swimming dolphins and a rudder Reverse: a racing quadriga , its charioteer crowned by the goddess Victory in flight. Tetradrachm of Athens, (5th century BC) Obverse: a portrait of Athena , patron goddess of the city, in helmet Reverse: the owl of Athens, with an olive sprig and the inscription "ΑΘΕ", short for ΑΘΕΝΑΙΟΝ, "of the Athenians " The Classical period saw Greek coinage reach a high level of technical and aesthetic quality. Larger cities now produced a range of fine silver and gold coins, most bearing a portrait of their patron god or goddess or a legendary hero on one side, and a symbol of the city on the other. Some coins employed a visual pun: some coins from Rhodes featured a rose, since the Greek word for rose is rhodon. The use of inscriptions on coins also began, usually the name of the issuing city. The wealthy cities of Sicily produced some especially fine coins. The large silver decadrachm (10-drachm) coin from Syracuse is regarded by many collectors as the finest coin produced in the ancient world, perhaps ever. Syracusan issues were rather standard in their imprints, one side bearing the head of the nymph Arethusa and the other usually a victorious quadriga . The tyrants of Syracuse were fabulously rich, and part of their public relations policy was to fund quadrigas for the Olympic chariot race , a very expensive undertaking. As they were often able to finance more than one quadriga at a time, they were frequent victors in this highly prestigious event. Syracuse was one of the epicenters of numismatic art during the classical period. Led by the engravers Kimon and Euainetos, Syracuse produced some of the finest coin designs of antiquity. Hellenistic period Gold 20-stater of Eucratides I , the largest gold coin ever minted in Antiquity. Drachma of Alexandria , 222-235 AD. Obverse: Laureate head of Alexander Severus , KAI(ΣΑΡ) MAP(ΚΟΣ) AYP(ΗΛΙΟΣ) ΣЄY(ΑΣΤΟΣ) AΛЄΞANΔPOΣ ЄYΣЄ(ΒΗΣ). Reverse: Bust of Asclepius . Still, some of the Greco-Bactrian coins, and those of their successors in India, the Indo-Greeks , are considered the finest examples of Greek numismatic art with "a nice blend of realism and idealization", including the largest coins to be minted in the Hellenistic world: the largest gold coin was minted by Eucratides (reigned 171–145 BC), the largest silver coin by the Indo-Greek king Amyntas Nikator (reigned c. 95–90 BC). The portraits "show a degree of individuality never matched by the often bland depictions of their royal contemporaries further West" (Roger Ling, "Greece and the Hellenistic World"). The most striking new feature of Hellenistic coins was the use of portraits of living people, namely of the kings themselves. This practice had begun in Sicily, but was disapproved of by other Greeks as showing hubris (arrogance). But the kings of Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria had no such scruples: having already awarded themselves with "divine" status, they issued magnificent gold coins adorned with their own portraits, with the symbols of their state on the reverse. The names of the kings were frequently inscribed on the coin as well. This established a pattern for coins which has persisted ever since: a portrait of the king, usually in profile and striking a heroic pose, on the obverse, with his name beside him, and a coat of arms or other symbol of state on the reverse. Minting All Greek coins were handmade , rather than machined as modern coins are. The design for the obverse was carved (in incuso ) into a block of bronze or possibly iron, called a die . The design of the reverse was carved into a similar punch. A blank disk of gold, silver, or electrum was cast in a mold and then, placed between these two and the punch struck hard with a hammer, raising the design on both sides of the coin. Coins as a symbol of the city-state Coins of Greek city-states depicted a unique symbol or feature, an early form of emblem , also known as badge in numismatics, that represented their city and promoted the prestige of their state. Corinthian stater for example depicted pegasus the mythological winged stallion, tamed by their hero Bellerophon . Coins of Ephesus depicted the bee sacred to Artemis . Drachmas of Athens depicted the owl of Athena . Drachmas of Aegina depicted a chelone . Coins of Selinunte depicted a "selinon" (σέλινον - celery ). Coins of Heraclea depicted Heracles . Coins of Gela depicted a man-headed bull, the personification of the river Gela . Coins of Rhodes depicted a "rhodon" (ῥόδον - rose ). Coins of Knossos depicted the labyrinth or the mythical creature minotaur , a symbol of the Minoan Crete . Coins of Melos depicted a "mēlon" (μήλον - apple ). Coins of Thebes depicted a Boeotian shield. Corinthian stater with pegasus Coin of Rhodes with a rose Didrachm of Selinunte with a celery Coin of Ephesus with a bee Stater of Olympia depicting Nike Coin of Melos with an apple Obolus from Stymphalia with a Stymphalian bird Coin of Thebes with a Boeotian shield Coin of Gela with a man-headed bull, the personification of the river Gela Didrachm of Knossos depicting the Minotaur Commemorative coins Dekadrachm of Syracuse [disambiguation needed]. Head of Arethusa or queen Demarete. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΟΝ (of the Syracusians), around four dolphins The use of commemorative coins to celebrate a victory or an achievement of the state was a Greek invention. Coins are valuable, durable and pass through many hands. In an age without newspapers or other mass media, they were an ideal way of disseminating a political message. The first such coin was a commemorative decadrachm issued by Athens following the Greek victory in the Persian Wars . On these coins that were struck around 480 BC, the owl of Athens, the goddess Athena 's sacred bird, was depicted facing the viewer with wings outstretched, holding a spray of olive leaves, the olive tree being Athena's sacred plant and also a symbol of peace and prosperity. The message was that Athens was powerful and victorious, but also peace-loving. Another commemorative coin, a silver dekadrachm known as " Demareteion", was minted at Syracuse at approximately the same time to celebrate the defeat of the Carthaginians . On the obverse it bears a portrait of Arethusa or queen Demarete. Ancient Greek coins today Collections of Ancient Greek coins are held by museums around the world, of which the collections of the British Museum , the American Numismatic Society , and the Danish National Museum are considered to be the finest. The American Numismatic Society collection comprises some 100,000 ancient Greek coins from many regions and mints, from Spain and North Africa to Afghanistan. To varying degrees, these coins are available for study by academics and researchers. There is also an active collector market for Greek coins. Several auction houses in Europe and the United States specialize in ancient coins (including Greek) and there is also a large on-line market for such coins. Hoards of Greek coins are still being found in Europe, Middle East, and North Africa, and some of the coins in these hoards find their way onto the market. Coins are the only art form from the Ancient world which is common enough and durable enough to be within the reach of ordinary collectors. Frequently Asked Questions How long until my order is shipped? Depending on the volume of sales, it may take up to 5 business days for shipment of your order after the receipt of payment. How will I know when the order was shipped? 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