Mithräum in Friedberg


There have probably been three mithräen discovered at Friedberg. These were found in 1849,1881, 1894. The most prominent of these three was found at the Grosse Klostergasse near the old train station. A tauroctony was found depicting Mithras slaying the bull. His attendants Cautes and Cautopates were to his left and right. Cautes was holding a torch pointed upward, and Cautopates had a torch pointing downward. Two alters were found beneath the relief. One was dedicated to Soli Invicto Imp, the Sun God the Invincible Emperor. The other alter was dedicated to Virtuti Invictae Imp, the Invincible Goddess Virtus. Both altars were dedicated by Gaius Paulinius Justus who was the benficiarius consularis or the officer in charge of the road police under the direct control of the provincial governor.

There were also two pottery vessels found in this mithräum which are called Schlangengefässe. The smaller one was probably used as an offering dish and is decorated with a snake and a frog on the rim. The other is the well-known Friedberg Krater which is 0.32 meters high and 0.36 meters in diameter. This crater is decorated with a scorpion and snake facing right. There is also a ladder-like symbol with three horizontal bars resembling rungs. There are two handles with a snake coiled around each one. The base has a small foot. The crater is dated to the late second or early third century. Scholars have speculated that the crater was used in the fourth degree of Leo to pour honey on to the hands of new initiates. Hideo Ogowa discussed the meaning of the ladder symbol to the Mithraic cult in detail. See the bibliography.

All of these finds are on display at the Wetterau-Museum in Friedbergn Goldmann. Neue Funde. "Ein drittes Mithraeum in Friedberg," Kb. Wd. Z. Ges. K. 1897. pp. 225-230.

Ogowa, Hideo. "Mithraic ladder symbols and the Friedberg Crater," Hommages a Maarten J. Vermaseren. Leiden: E J. Brill, 1978.