• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

The cult of Mithras was an initiation cult extant from the first to the fourth century CE in the Roman Empire. The eponymous cult god, hailed as Sol Invictus (“The Unconquered Sun”) has roots in the Persian god Mitra, the god of loyalty and guarantor of pledges. Centering on the god's sacrifice of a bull, which promised salvation to initiates, and strongly astrological in nature, the Roman cult was extremely popular with soldiers, who disseminated it throughout the empire.

The Persian cap and trousers of the god hearken to its past and remain the cult's most recognizable referent. Believed to have been introduced to the Roman world by Cilician pirates, the first mention of the cult comes from the time of Nero, when the god ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles