Mithras and the Mysterious Cult with Livia Galante

Mithras and the Mysterious Cult with Livia Galante


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This conversation will focus on the places of worship of god Mithras in Rome. Led by an archaeologist, we will learn all about ‘Mithraism’, a religion of Persian origin focused on the prospect of salvation. Mithras is linked to the figure of a young man sacrificing a bull in honor of the Sun god – we will explore this idea in depth as we learn about its origins and significance.

Mithras first appears in Rome in the 1st century AD represented as a young man, wearing a soft cap that is sometimes called a Phrygian cap (Phygria is an area now associated with eastern Turkey and Persia). We will discuss how Roman Mithraism borrows imagery associated with an earlier Persian god Mitra, although they are not the same. We’ll learn how Mithras is sometimes equated with the sun god Sol and regularly represented killing a bull within a cave surrounded by other figures and animals. We’ll learn about the meaning of this scene (known as a tauroctony) and is often interpreted as representing an act of creation and fertility. It is thought that Mithraic temples were intended to evoke a cave, where, according to the myth, Mithras was born. We’ll discuss how this exemplifies why the temples were often built partly sunken into the ground and without windows.

The imagery associated with the temples suggests that the cult may have provided initiates with some special knowledge of their place in the universe and it certainly gave members a network and strong bond with other members of the cult. Led by an expert on ancient Roman topography, Livia Galante, this interactive seminar will focus on the development of this worship, from Persia to Rome, and on the role played by this cult within Roman society. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased with a better comprehension of a lesser-known aspect of this cult.

Livia obtained a degree in Archaeology at the Sapienza University of Rome and has a Master's degree in the History and Conservation of Cultural Heritage from the University of Roma Tre. Her main field of interest is ancient Roman topography and early Christian architecture; however, she is an accomplished scholar whose teaching ability extends to the Renaissance and Baroque Rome. As a native Roman, Livia is very enthusiastic in sharing the deep love and knowledge she has for her hometown with clients.

Not suitable for children under age 13 (sensitive content)

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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