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Lucius Petreius Victor

Garlic merchant, probably from Lusitania, who dedicated an altar to Cautes in Tarraconensis.

  • Árula mitraica de Carbrera de Mar

    Árula mitraica de Carbrera de Mar
    Hispania Epigraphica 

  • View of the remains of Can Modolell

    View of the remains of Can Modolell
    Gaudeix Cabrera de Mar 

of Lucius Petreius Victor


Sebastián Mariner hesitated in his interpretation, as he thought that victor could be either the cognomen or a specifier of Petreius: victor alearius, i.e., winner at dice. Accepting the difficulty of this reading, which would make it necessary to read -e-, instead of -i- in aliarius, even though the -i- is obvious, it must be assumed that Peterius owed whatever little or much he had, not to the chance of the dice game, but to his work with garlic, whether he was a producer or a merchant, or all at once. Likewise, Mariner preferred to read K(autopates) instead of K(autes), which was corrected by Fabre, Mayer and Rodà (1984, p. 130), since the usual use of the abbreviation for Cautopates is KP.

As Fabre, Mayer and Rodà point out, the gentilicio Petreius is not very frequent outside of Mérida and Badajoz. It is curious to note that Valerius Monteius, the dedicator of the inscription from Barcino, bears the same cognomen as the gentilion of an Emeritan, Monteia Saturnina. For the authors of the catalogue of inscriptions from Catalonia, this cannot be a coincidence, and so they consider that the onomastics seem to indicate a diffusion of the Mithraic cult towards eastern Catalonia from a household installed in the capital of Lusitania.

This opinion derives from the historiographical primacy given to Emerita, since the chronology they indicate for this epigraph from the conclusions of the use of deo/deae is not decisive. However, it is also possible, as we have indicated in the historical analysis of the cult of Mithras in Hispania, that the itinerary could have been the reverse. In other words, the Petreii and the Monteii – if such family networks existed – may not have had the prominence that we have tried to give them and they were not ’diffusing’ agents of peninsular Mithraism.

Against the relevance of our Petreius is his cognomen, which is common among those born into slavery. It does not seem very convincing that a man born a slave, apparently in Emerita or its vicinity, and dedicated to the garlic trade, would have had the capacity to actively participate in the establishment of the cult of Mithras in a sacred space dedicated to other divinities to which he presumably had access only for professional reasons. In any case, it would be easier to accept that Petreius Victor, a Mithraic in his place of origin, expressed his devotion in the sanctuary of Can Modolell to which perhaps his garlic business had taken him, in the hypothesis that the mithraeum was inserted in a rustic villa. But this possibility is as far-fetched as any other imaginable. For example, that Can Modolell was a multi-purpose sanctuary, where everyone made offerings to their favourite deity. The little story of Petreius Victor is unknown and, therefore, linking it to the narrative of Hispanic Mithraism is entertaining speculation.


Arula by Lucius Petreius of Cabrera de Mar

TNMM 471

Small arula with mithraic inscription and dedication to Cautes from a garlic merchant.

K(auti) d(eo) / L(ucius) Petre/ius Vic/tor ali/arius / d(eo) K(auti) M(ithrae) / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito).
To the god Cautes / Lucius Petreius Victor, garlic merchant, to the god Cautes Mithra, has fulfilled his promise willingly and in due form.

Mitreo de Cabrera de Mar


The Roman villa of Can Molodell had a sanctuary that has been related to the cult of Mithras.



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