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Tauroctony of the Mitreo delle terme di Mitra

The person who commanded the sculpture may have been M. Umbilius Criton, documented in the Mitreo della Planta Pedis.
15 May 2007
  • Reproduction in its original location.
    Andreu Abuín 

  • Tauroctony of the Mitreo delle terme di Mitra
    Parco Archeologico di Ostia 

Large marble statue placed on a base underneath one of the funnels.

A very exceptional representation of Mithras as a bullkiller. The young god, only clad in a short tunica, which covers half of his chest, grasps the bull with his l.h. underneath his mouth and triumphantly raises the r.h. with the dagger. He forces the animal down with his knees. The sheath of the dagger is fixed on his belt. The god raises his curly head with pathetic expression towards the sky. On the base crals the snake. No scorpion. On the bull's chest an inscription No. 231.

Lost: part of the dagger; parts of the bull's forelegs and tail. Mithras' head and arms, the bull's head and parts of its knees and tail already in antiquity had been repaired in a grayish marble. Thus the Mithraists repaired and used an older statue, the date of which is the second century A.D.


Behind the podia a statue of Mithras about to kill the bull was found in situ, resting on a masonry base placed diagonally (h. 0.30). The head of the god was illuminated in a dramatic way through a skylight. The height of the statue is 1.70. It is made of Greek marble. The blade of the knife is missing. It was probably made of metal. The Phrygian cap was made separately and is also missing, as are the metal rays that were fastened in holes. The head of the bull and the head and an arm of Mithras were found in a channel in the mithraeum, together with small fragments of the statue, that are ancient restorations. The statue stands upon a base of grey marble (resting on the masonry base), the same kind of marble used for the restorations. Obviously a damaged statue had been acquired. The fragments must have been thrown in the channel by Christians, who erected a small edifice above the mithraeum. On the chest of the bull is the inscription that mentions the name of the person who commanded the sculpture. It may have been M. Umbilius Criton, who is documented in the Mitreo della Planta Pedis. The statue seems to belong to the second century AD. The mithraeum may have been installed in the first half of the third century.

Main inscription

Κρίτων Ἀθηναιος έποίει
Kriton the Athenian made [the statue]


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