Mithras and Sol Invictus

The cult of Sol Invictus (the Unconquerable Sun) was enormously popular with the Roman military who believed that the sun god gave them strength and courage in battle. In fact by the 1st century AD, Sol Invictus was made patron of all Roman soldiers. 

 

Sol Invictus was associated with, and often portrayed alongside, the god Mithras - an enigmatic deity with a very secretive following. The followers of Sol Invictus and Mithras (who were initiatied into the Mithraic Mysteries) would meet in subterranean chambers and cellars decorated with scenes of sacrifice and ritual. It is thought by many historians that Mithraism in the third century AD was second only to Christianity in terms of popularity. In fact, the scholar Ernest Renan famously commented, "If the growth of Christianity had been arrested by some mortal malady, the world would have been Mithraic."

 

Timeless Galleries are pleased to offer two Roman disc brooches of the 1st century AD which display the sunburst of Sol Invictus (and therefore were almost certainly owned by Roman legionaries), together with a phalera - a kind of military award - of the god Mithras (circa 2nd century AD).

The militaristic gods of the Roman soldier - together again!

Provenance

From the private collection of a London gentleman. Acquired by Timeless on the Antiquities and Coin market, 2017. Details of the dealer can be provided on request.

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