Main CategoriesIslam and SufismMazdaism and Sacred Sufi Poetry Mysteries of Mithra, The (1910)

Mysteries of Mithra, The (1910)

Product no.: 0-486-20323-9
Cumont's work is generally considered to be the quintessential work on the Mithraic cult.

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Publisher's Synopsis

This definitive treatment of Mithra by a leading authority on classical religions pieces together its mysteries: the principle characteristics of the god Mithra, the rituals, the teachings, the liturgy and much more. With 70 illustrations.

Contents: Preface to the French Edition; The Origins of Mithraism; The Dissemination of Mithraism in the Roman Empire; Mithra and the Imperial Power of Rome; The Doctrine of the Mithraic Mysteries; The Mithraic Liturgy, Clergy and Devotees; Mithraism and the Religions of the Empire; Mithraic Art; Index.


"Mithra is the creator to whom Jupiter-Ormazd committed the task of establishing and of maintaining order in nature. He is, to speak in the philosophical language of the times, the Logos that emanated from God and shared His omnipotence; who, after having fashioned the world as demiurge, continued to watch faithfully over it. The primal defeat of Ahriman had not reduced him to absolute impotence; the struggle between the good and the evil was still conducted on earth between the emissaries of the sovereign of Olympus and those of the Prince of Darkness; it raged in the celestial spheres in the opposition of propitious and adverse stars, and it reverberated in the hearts of men, - the epitomes of the universe.

Life is a battle, and to issue forth from it victorious the law must be faithfully fulfilled that the divinity himself revealed to the ancient Magi. What were the obligations that Mithraism imposed upon its followers? What were those 'commandments' to which its adepts had to bow in order to be rewarded in the world to come? Our incertitude on these points is extreme, for we have not the shadow of a right to identify the precepts revealed in the Mysteries with those formulated in the Avesta.

Nevertheless, it would appear certain that the ethics of the Magi of the Occident had made no concession to the license of the Babylonian cults and that it had still preserved the lofty character of the ethics of the ancient Persians. Perfect purity had remained for them the cult toward which the life of the faithful should tend. Their ritual required repeated lustrations and ablutions, which were believed to wash away the stains of the soul. This catharsis or purification both conformed to the Mazdean traditions and was in harmony with the general tendencies of the age. Yielding to these tendencies, the Mithraists carried their principles even to excess, and their ideals of perfection verged on asceticism. Abstinence from certain foods and absolute continence were regarded as praiseworthy.

Resistance to sensuality was one of the aspects of the combat with the principle of evil. To support untiringly this combat with the followers of Ahriman, who, under multiple forms, disputed with the gods the empire of the world, was the duty of the servitors of Mithra. Their dualistic system was particularly adapted to fostering individual effort and to developing human energy. They did not lose themselves, as did the other sects, in contemplative mysticism; for them, the good dwelt in action. They rated strength higher than gentleness, and preferred courage to lenity. From their long association with barbaric religions, there was perhaps a residue of cruelty in their ethics. A religion of soldiers, Mithraism exalted the military virtues above all others."     ~Chapter 4, The Doctrine of the Mithraic Mysteries

Author Cumont, Franz
Translator McCormack, Thomas
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 239 pp.
Publisher Dover Publications 1956
Browse these categories as well: Mazdaism and Sacred Sufi Poetry, Primitive and Derivative Religions

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