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in ancient Eastern religions, one of the chief Indo-Iranian gods, embodying the aspect of the divine essence that is benevolent toward humanity. Mithras is the god of daylight, the giver of life, and so forth. In his specific function, he is the guarantor of established or contracted relationships in the world and society, the god of treaties (from Indo-Iranian mithra, “agreement”). He was usually shown together with the sun (with which Mithras became identified at a later period among some Iranian peoples). Mithras was revered in the state of Mitanni and in India in very ancient times.

The cult of Iranian Mithras was also represented in a number of other ancient Eastern religions (in areas of Southwest Asia under Iranian influence) and adopted many elements of these religions. In the last centuries before the Common Era a special religion centering on the cult of Mithras—Mithraism—arose and spread through the Hellenistic world, reaching Rome in the first century A.D. and spreading throughout the Roman Empire in the second century. It was especially popular in the frontier provinces, where Roman legions were stationed. The soldiers in the legions, the chief adherents of Mithraism, regarded Mithras as a god who brought victory. The remains of numerous sanctuaries to Mithras (Mithraeums) have been preserved near the former sites of Roman military camps.

The lower strata of society played an important role in the spread of Mithraism. They were attracted to it because it proclaimed equality among its initiates and promised a blissful life after death. Special “mystery” rituals, accessible only to male initiates, were performed in the Mithraeums; these consisted of sacrificial offerings, cult meals, and so forth. At the end of the second century the Roman emperors (especially Aurelian and Diocletian) patronized the Mithras cult. During the second through fourth centuries Mithraism was one of the chief rivals of Christianity, which still borrowed much from the Mithras cult.


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god of light. [Pers. Myth.: Wheeler, 246]
See: Light
References in periodicals archive ?
Now conservation work is to be carried out on a sculpture of Mithras which was discovered at Housesteads Roman fort in the 19th Century.
The main image of the cult is that of the God Mithras slaying a bull, and in the majority of these images there is also a scorpion stinging the animal's testicles.
Tire]; Re Mithras Management Ltd (1990), 13 OSCB 1600 [Mithras].
The criticism levelled against Mithras that supposedly points to satire concerns his inspired speech and the apparent cost of his initiation rites.
Bowden notes that too often scholars have attempted to find continuity between Christianity and the cults because of superficial similarities, including the borrowing of names and legends, especially between Mithras and Christ or Cybele and the Virgin Mary, and that it is still frequently taught that Christianity grew out of a mix of various mystery cult practices from the Near East.
The very detailed description of the pagan god Mithras is compared to Christ, from his sacrificial redemption of mankind (Ch; III), his sign of the cross, to the "mystery of the bread and wine of most divine essence.
Mr Bowden examines the Eleusinian mysteries, those of the Kabeiroi and the gods of Samothrace, the 'mother of the gods', Dionysus, Isis, and Mithras.
The extensive ancient cult of Mithras, which may have been one of the main cults that retained and preserved these mysteries for later generations of mystics, had strange incense rites as well.
According to Director of the Hama Archeology Directorate Abdelkader Ferzat, the frescos are murals that came from the temple of Mithras in the site of Horta hill in Apamea.
Gofynnais ar y Orffennaf 21 beth a ddigwyddodd i gofeb Mithras ar Ln Arfon, Caernarfon?
Yes, it is the Roman god Mithras whose cult preceded Christianity by several hundred years.