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Monumentum

Saul depicted as Mithras Tauroctonos

Saul cutting the oxen to pieces poses as Mithras Tauroctonos in this painting, which adorns the mantelpiece of Henry II’s bedroom at the Château d’Écouen near Paris.
Saul cutting the oxen as Mithras Tauroctonos

Saul cutting the oxen as Mithras Tauroctonos
The New Mithraeum / Andreu Abuín (CC BY-NC-SA) 

 
The New Mithraeum
7 Jun 2024
Updated on Jun 2024

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The depiction of Saul slaughtering the oxen – as identified by the Musée national de la Renaissance – is a central feature of the royal décor in the bedroom of king Henry II at the Château d’Écouen, the Renaissance residence of Anne de Montmorency. Based on the biblical account in the first book of Samuel (chapter 11, verses 1 to 8), the scene depicts Saul slaughtering his oxen in front of messengers from Jabesh-Gilead who had come to seek his help against the Ammonites. The scene seems to have been strongly inspired by Roman representations of Mithras as bull-killer.

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