In Persian mythology,god of life,heat,fertility,a mediator between the gods and men, and a chief aide to the good god, Ahura Mazda,in his
war against the evil spirit Ahriman.|
Between 1400 B.C.E. and 400 C.E. Persians,Indians,Romans,and Greeks all worshipped the god Mithras,who originally may have been the sun god,Mitra,Mentioned in the Indian Rig Veda. During Roman times the worship of Mithras was converted into a mystery religion. The god was worshipped by soldiers and imperial
officials of Rome.
Rudyard Kiplig's Poem A Song to Mithras captures the mood of
the Roman belief in the god's powers:
Mithras,God of the Morning,
our trumpets waken the wall!
Now as the names are answered
and the guards are marched away,
Mithras,also a soldier,give us strength for the day!
Mithras,God of Midnight,here where
the great Bull dies,
Look on Thy Children in darkness
Oh,take our sacrafice!
Many roads Thou has fashioned-all of them
lead to light!
Mithras,also a soldier,teach us to die aright!
Part of Kiplings poem refers to the repeated reliefs of statues that portrays a young man wearing a Phrygian cap slaying a massive bull while a dog licks the blood and a serpent crawls nearby,and a scorpion seems to be removing the bulls testicles. On either side of the scene is a young man,one with a torch uplifted,the other with the torch facing downward.
What exactly this scene symbolizes has puzzled scholars and thinkers. Carl Jung, picking up the similarity between the mysteries of Mithras and of Christianity,sees the slaying of the bull as" essentially a self-sacrafice since the bull is a world bull which was originally identical with Mithras himself...The representations of the sacraficial act,the tauroctony(bull slaying),recall the crucifiction between two thieves,one of whom is raised up to paradise while the other goes down to hell."
Jung, however,was not the first to recognise the similarities. Tertullian,the early Church writer,seeing that the pagan cult contained baptism and the use of bread,water,and wine consecrated by priests,called fathers,wrote that the similarities of the Mithraic cult to Christianity were inspired by the devil,who wished to mock the christian sacraments in order to lead the faithfull to hell. The French author Ernest Renan,in the skeptical 19th century tradition,wrote:If Christianity had been arrested in it's growth...the world would have been Mithraist."
The religion of Mithras was surpressed by Emperor Constantine when he established Christianity as the state religion in the Roman Empire. Present-day Zorostrains, however,still worship Mithras as god.
(whole text taken from)
"THE FACTS ON FILE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD MYTHOLOGY AND LEGEND"
Anthony S. Mercatante(Facts on File,1988)