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Initiation to the Mithraic cult 2

Fresco shows part of the initiation to the Mithras mysteries at the Mitreo de Santa Maria Capua Vetere.
31 Dec 2020

Fresco from the initiation ceremony at S. Capua Vetere
Vermaseren /

Before the standing mystagogus, dressed in white tunica with red stripes, the myste kneels down with folded hands. Here he is blindfolded as well, with a white bandage. Behind him a priest approaches dressed in a red mantle and Phrygian cap; he seems to hold a sword or staff in his hands.


Three figures in a dramatic group. The mystagogue, in a billowing cloak edged in red, and wearing a phrygian cap, stands on the left; in his outstretched left hand he is extending a stick-like object, perhaps a sword, towards the initiand. The latter's eyes are still blindfolded, and he is kneeling: his arms appear to be tied behind him. Ambrosiaster describes, in the passage just cited, how the initiand's hands were tied with chicken's guts, which were then cut through by a man calling himself his 'liberator'. Behind the initiand stands the assistant mystagogue, who seems to be keeping a firm grip on him.



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