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MITHRAS 100.00%
The Persian god of created light and of all earthly wisdom. In the course of time he became identified with the sun-god I who conquers all demons of darkness. In the time after Alexander the Great, his worship, mixed with various customs peculiar to Western Asia, was extended over all the Oriental kingdoms. In the first half of the lst century B.C. it is said to have been introduced into the Roman provinces in the West by the Cilician pirates who were at that time masters of the Mediterranean. There are traces of his worship at Rome under Tiberius; and in the beginning of the 2nd century after Christ, under the Antonines, it became common throughout the whole Roman empire, and was kept up till the end of the 4th century. Mithras was a special favourite of the Roman armies. Being born from the rocks, he was worshipped in natural or artificial caves, such as have been found in every part of the Roman empire. He is represented as a Young Man in oriental dress and as an invincible hero, stabbing a bull with his dagger or standing on a bull he has thrown down. [Fine specimens of this group may be seen in the Louvre and in the British Museum and elsewhere (see cut).] The cave itself was explained by the ancients to signify the world, into which the human soul must descend, that it may be purified by many trials before leaving it. Before any one was initiated in the mysteries of Mithras, it was necessary for the person to undergo a series of (it is said eighty) trials of increasing difficulty; and an undaunted, unsubdued spirit had to be maintained in fire and water, hunger and thirst, scourging, and solitude, and the aspirant was thus prepared for the initiation. It consisted of seven degrees, that of the ravens, the secret, the fighters, the lions or she-lions (for women were also received), the Persians, the sun-runners, and the fathers. Various Christian rites seem also to have been introduced into the mysteries of Mithras. Epithets like "Lord and Creator of all things," "Father and source of all life," enable us to recognise Mithras as one of the pantheistic divinities of declining heathendom.
HELIOS 38.42%
In Greek mythology, the Sungod, son of the Titan Hyperion (whose name he bears himself in Homer) and the Titaness Theia; brother of Selene (the Moon) and Eos (Dawn). The poets apply the name Titan to him in particular, as the offspring of Titans. He is represented as a strong and beautiful god, in the bloom of youth, with gleaming eyes and waving locks, a crown of rays upon his head. In the morning he rises from a lovely bay of the Ocean in the farthest East, where the Ethiopians dwell. To give light to gods and men he climbs the vault of heaven in a chariot drawn by four snow-white horses, breathing light and fire; their names are Eoos, Aethiops, Bronte, and Sterope. In the evening he sinks with his chariot into the Ocean, and while he sleeps is carried round along the northern border of the earth to the East again in agolden boat, shaped like a bowl, the work of Hephaestus. He is called Phaethon, from the brilliant light that he diffuses; he is the All-seer (Panoptes) because his rays penetrate everywhere. He is revealer of all that is done on earth; it is he who tells Hephaestus of the love of Ares and Aphrodite, and shows Demeter who has carried off her daughter. He is accordingly invoked as a witness to oaths and solemn protestations. On the island of Trinacria (Sicily) he has seven flocks of sheep and seven herds of cattle, fifty in each. It is his pleasure, on his daily journey, to look down upon them. Their numbers must not be increased or diminished; if this is done, his wrath is terrible. (See ODYSSEUS.) In the 700 sheep and oxen the ancients recognised the 700 days and nights of the lunar year. The flocks are tended by Phaethusa (the goddess of light) and Lampetie (the goddess of shining), his daughter by Neaera. By the ocean Nymsh Perse or Perseis he is father of Aeetes, Circe, and Pasipae, by Clymene the father of Phaethon, and Augeas was also accounted his son. His children have the gleaming eyes of their father. After the time of Euripides, or there-abouts, the all-seeing Sun-god was identified with Apollo, the god of prophecy. Helios was worshipped in man places, among which may be mentioned Corinth and Elis. The island of Rhodes was entirely consecrated to him.. Here an annual festival (Halia) was held during the summer in his honour, with chariot-racing and contests of music and gymnastics; and four consecrated horses were thrown into the sea as a sacrifice to him. In 278 B.C. a colossal bronze statue, by Chares of Lindus, was erected to him at the entrance of the harbour of Rhodes. Herds of red and white cattle were, in many places, kept in his honour. White animals, and especially white horses, were sacred to him; among birds the cock, and among trees the white poplar. The Latin poets identified Helios with the Sabine deity Sol, who had an ancient place of worship on the Quirinal at Rome, and a public sacrifice on the 8th of August. But it was the introduction of the ritual of Mithras which first brought the worshit of the sun into prominence in Rome. (See MITHRAS.)
The name given by the Greeks, and later also by the Romans, to various kinds of secret worships, which rested on the belief that, besides the general modes of honouring the gods, there was another, revealed only to the select few. Such religions services formed in almost all the Greek states an important part of the established worship, and were in the hands of an important body of priests appointed by the State. If any one divulged to the uninitiated the holy ceremonies and prayers, or sometimes even the names only, by which the gods were invoked, he was publicly punished for impiety. Some mysteries were exclusively managed by special priests and assistants to the exclusion of all laymen. To others a certain class of citizens was admitted; thus the Attic Thesmophoria could only be celebrated by women living in lawful wedlock with a citizen, and themselves of pure Athenian descent and of unblemished reputation. At other mysteries people of every kind and either sex were allowed to be present, if they had carried out certain preliminary conditions (especially purification), and had then been admitted and initiated. The usages connected with the native mysteries were similar to the ceremonies of Greek divine service; in the course of time, however, many other elements were borrowed from foreign modes of worship. They consisted usually in the recital of certain legends about the fortunes of the deity celebrated, which differed from the ordinary myths in many respects (e.g. the names and genealogies), and were often accompanied by a dramatic representation, with which was connected the exhibition of certain holy things, including symbols and relics. In many cases the symbols were not hidden from the public eye, but their meaning was revealed to the initiated alone. Of native mysteries those considered most holy were the Eleusinian mysteries of Demeter; we know more about the ceremonies in this case than in any other. (See ELEUSINIA.) Next to these came the Samothracian mysteries of the Cabiri (q.v.), which in cource of time appear to have become very similar to the Eleusinian. In these two mysteries, as indeed in all, no deeper meaning was originally attached to the legends, usages, and symbols. But, as time went on, these initiations were supposed to have a peculiar power of preserving men amid the dangers of this life by purification and expiation, of giving him a temporary blessedness, and above all of conferring a sure prospect of a state of bliss after death. [Isocrates, Paneg. § 28.] This change is in great part due to the influence of a sect, the Orphici (See ORPHEUS). Following Oriental, Egyptian,and also Pythagorean doctrines, they taught that expiation and sanctification were necessary for this and for a future life, and that these must be effected by means of the initiations and purifications which they pretended Orpheus had revealed to them. Those who enjoyed these revelations of Orpheus constituted a religious society which gradually extended to every Greek country. Their religious services were also called mysteries, not only because the initiated alone could take part in them, but because the representations and usages connected with them had a hidden mystic meaning. It was chiefly owing to their influence that foreign mysteries were introduced into Greece, and that thus the various systems were blended together. Among foreign mysteries must be mentioned the wild and fanatic orgies of Dionysus (or Bacchus), Sabazius, and Cybele. The first of these gained a footing in Rome and Italy under the name of Bacchanalia, and in 186 B.C. had to be firmly suppressed by the government on account of the excesses connected with them [Livy xxxix 8-19]; while the last-mentioned were most widely spread even in early imperial times. (See RHEA.) The mysteries connected with the worship of Isis and of Mithras (q.v.) were also held in high esteem by Greeks and Romans down to a late period. The whole system of mysteries endured to the very end of the pagan times, for the deeper meaning of its symbolism offered a certain satisfaction even to the religious requirements of the educated, which they failed to find in the empty forms of the ordinary worship. (Cp. ORGIES.)
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