The Roman Cult of Mithras: The God and His Mysteries

The Roman Cult of Mithras: The God and His Mysteries

Hardback

By (author) Manfred Clauss, Translated by Richard Gordon

List price $133.55

Unavailable - AbeBooks may have this title.

  • Publisher: EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Hardback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 156mm x 234mm x 25mm | 543g
  • Publication date: 27 July 2000
  • Publication City/Country: Edinburgh
  • ISBN 10: 0748612300
  • ISBN 13: 9780748612307

Product description

Since its publication in Germany, Manfred Clauss's introduction to the Roman Mithras cult has become widely accepted as the most reliable, as well as the most readable, account of its elusive and fascinating subject. For the English edition the author has revised the work to take account of recent research and new archaeological discoveries. The mystery cult of Mithras first became evident in Rome towards the end of the first century AD. During the next two centuries, carried by its soldier and merchant devotees, it spread to the frontier of the western empire from Britain to Bosnia. Perhaps because of odd similarities between the cult and their own religion the early Christians energetically suppressed it, frequently constructing churches over the caves (Mithraea) in which its rituals took place. By the end of the fourth century the cult was extinct. Professor Clauss draws on the archaeological evidence from over 400 temples and their contents including over a thousand representations of ritual in sculpure and painting to seek an understanding of the nature and purpose of the cult, and what its mysteries and secret rites of initiation and sacrifice meant to its devotees. In doing so he introduces the reader to the nature of the polytheistic societies of the Roman Empire, in which relations and distinctions between gods and mortals now seem strangely close and blurred. He also considers the connections of Mithraicism with astrology, and examines how far it can be seen as a direct descendant of the ancient cult of Mitra, the Persian god of contract, cattle and light. The book combines imaginative insight with coherent argument. It is well-structured, accessibly written and extensively illustrated. Richard Gordon, the translator and himself a distinguished scholar of the subject, has provided a bibliography of further reading for anglophone readers.

Other books in this category

Showing items 1 to 11 of 11
Categories:

Author information

Manfred Clauss is Professor of Ancient History at the Free University of Berlin.

Review quote

In what he explains and demonstrates of the Roman version of the faith, Clauss can hardly be faulted ... [He] gives a good indication of the sociological implications of the religion in Europe, delineating the interaction of the community of its believers with Roman society ... The book is richly illustrated [with] good graphic material: an instructive map and fine outline drawings of rock and temple motifs and depictions, as well as ground plans of a temple. There are excellent and lucidly outlined descriptions of the initiation, the rituals and the seven grades, with the meaning of the symbolism and the text of inscriptions explained in a vivid way for the lay person ... [Clauss's] work constitutes the first simply written guidebook for the reader of this age and therefore has great merit as a work that is well organised and highly readable. This book is a welcome addition to Mithraic scholarship in English. [Clauss's] presentation is careful and concise, and gives a detailed presentation of the material evidence. A model of clarity. The author has included mention of important new finds in the notes of this English translation. There is a good up-to-date bibliography, compiled by Gordon, of works in English. The translation itself is very readable and smooth. The volume is attractively produced and carefully edited. Illustrations are well chosen and for the most part appear clear and sharp in the printed text. The book belongs in all college and university libraries ! The Roman Cult of Mithras is by far the best introduction to the subject now available in English, and advanced scholars will return to it constantly. In what he explains and demonstrates of the Roman version of the faith, Clauss can hardly be faulted ... [He] gives a good indication of the sociological implications of the religion in Europe, delineating the interaction of the community of its believers with Roman society ... The book is richly illustrated [with] good graphic material: an instructive map and fine outline drawings of rock and temple motifs and depictions, as well as ground plans of a temple. There are excellent and lucidly outlined descriptions of the initiation, the rituals and the seven grades, with the meaning of the symbolism and the text of inscriptions explained in a vivid way for the lay person ... [Clauss's] work constitutes the first simply written guidebook for the reader of this age and therefore has great merit as a work that is well organised and highly readable. This book is a welcome addition to Mithraic scholarship in English. [Clauss's] presentation is careful and concise, and gives a detailed presentation of the material evidence. A model of clarity. The author has included mention of important new finds in the notes of this English translation. There is a good up-to-date bibliography, compiled by Gordon, of works in English. The translation itself is very readable and smooth. The volume is attractively produced and carefully edited. Illustrations are well chosen and for the most part appear clear and sharp in the printed text. The book belongs in all college and university libraries ! The Roman Cult of Mithras is by far the best introduction to the subject now available in English, and advanced scholars will return to it constantly.