Table of contents for The religion of the Mithras cult in the Roman Empire : mysteries of the unconquered sun / Roger Beck.

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List of Figuresxiv
1.Introduction to Interpreting the Mysteries: Old Ways, New Ways1
1.An agenda1
2.A word on ontology8
3.Template for a redescription of the Mithraic mysteries10
4.On comparisons12
5.On cognition13
6.Synchronic versus diachronic; structure and meaning versus historic cause and effect; interpretation versus explanation14
2.Old Ways: The Reconstruction of Mithraic Doctrine from Iconography16
1.A gateway to an interpretation of the mysteries: Porphyry, De antro nympharum 6, on the form and function of the mithraeum16
2.The traditional route: from the iconography of the monuments to the myth of Mithras to the beliefs of Mithraists17
3.The merits and achievements of the traditional heuristic procedure20
4.The shortcomings of the traditional heuristic procedure22
Appendix: some remaining methodological problems for the explication of the Mithras myth as represented on the figured monuments25
3.The Problem of Referents: Interpretation with Reference to What?26
1.Iconography and the problem of referents26
2.Referents in the surrounding culture?26
3.Iranian referents?28
4.Celestial (astronomicalastrological) referents?30
4.Doctrine Redefined41
1.Back to Porphyry, De antro 641
2.Induction into a mystery: the doctrinal misconstruction of De antro 641
3.Teaching versus enacting the descent and departure of souls: the commonsensical answer42
4.An expectation of appropriate behaviour43
5.Reason for the wise, symbols for the vulgar44
6.Mithraic doctrine and its stakeholders: various views50
7.Doctrine and belief: the Christian faith paradigm53
8.Mithraic doctrine: three main issues56
9.(i) Generalizing about Mithraic doctrine from unusual monuments57
10.(ii) What do we mean by doctrine in the context of the Mithraic mysteries? An array of answers59
11.(iii) Doctrine and the ordinary initiate63
Transition: from old ways to new ways65
5.The Mithraic Mysteries as Symbol System: I. Introduction and Comparisons67
1.Religion as a system of symbols: an anthropological approach67
2.Are Geertzian description and interpretation applicable to the symbol system of the Mithraic mysteries?69
3.Yes, Geertzian description and interpretation are possible, provided we begin not with the tauroctony but with the mithraeum and the grade structure70
4.A culture within a culture: Mithraism as a subsystem within the cultural system of GraecoRoman paganism. The hermeneutic implications71
5.The symbol complex of the grade hierarchy72
6.A modern comparator: the symbol system of the Chamulas74
7.The construction of space in Mithraic and Chamula cultures77
8.Mithraisms second axiom: Harmony of Tension in Opposition81
Appendix: on Porphyrys De antro nympharum as a reliable source of data on the Mithraic mysteries85
6.Cognition and Representation88
1.The cognitive approach: ontogeneticphylogenetic versus cultural88
2.Gods in mind: cognition and the representation of supernatural beings93
3.Negotiating representations94
4.Reintegrating the wise and the vulgar96
Appendix: comprehending the pantomime: Lucian, On the dance99
7.The Mithraic Mysteries as Symbol System: II. The Mithraeum102
1.The symbol complex of the mithraeum as image of the universe102
2.The blueprint for the mithraeum103
3.To represent is to be112
4.The blueprint continued: the planets113
5.An improved reconstruction115
6.Symbols, representations, and startalk116
7.The view from the benches: analogies of world view and ethos to Scipios dream117
8.The Chamula church119
9.Other images of the universe in antiquity: (i) the Pantheon, Neros Domus Aurea, Varros aviary, the circus120
10.Other images of the universe in antiquity: (ii) orreries and the Antikythera Mechanism, the sundial123
11.The mithraeum as symbolic instrument for inducting the initiates into a mystery of the descent of souls and their exit back out againwith some modern comparisons128
12.To experience, to surmise, and to represent: Dios Twelfth (Olympic) Oration133
13.Religious experience as modelled by biogenetic structuralism and neurotheology136
14.The cognized environment: the mithraeum as material representation of the initiates cognized universe141
15.The cognized universe and celestial navigation: the case of the Indigo Bunting149
8.StarTalk: The Symbols of the Mithraic Mysteries as Language Signs153
1.Introduction: startalk153
2.Mithraic iconography as un langage dchiffrer (R. Turcan)154
3.Can symbols function as language signs? The question as posed in cultural anthropology155
4.Crossing Sperbers bar: the case for Mithraic astral symbols as language signs157
5.Startalk: ancient views concerning its speakers, discourses, semiotics, and semantics164
6.Origens view: heavenly writings and their angelic readers166
7.Augustines view: startalk as a demonic language contract167
8.Origen again: the demonic misconstruction of startalk169
9.Stars talking theology: the heretical interpreters of Aratus as reported by Hippolytus (Refutatio 4.4650)170
10.Makebelieve startalk: Zeno of Veronas baptismal interpretation of the zodiac175
11.Rolling up the scroll: Maximus Confessor and the end of history177
12.Pagan views (astronomers, astrologers, philosophers); stars as both speakers and signs178
13.The divinity and rationality of celestial bodies: Ptolemy and Plato179
14.The Platonist view of how the stars communicate and how we understand them; implications of the cosmology of the Timaeus183
15.The celestial location of meaning186
9.The Mithraic Mysteries as Symbol System: III. The Tauroctony190
1.Introduction: the exegesis and interpretation of startalk discourse190
2.The exegesis of startalk in the tauroctony: A. The constellation signs194
3.Exegesis (continued): B. Sun, Moon, Mithras, bull (again), cave197
4.Exegesis (continued): C. Map and view; boundaries and orientation; time and motion. Similar structures: the augural templum and the anaphoric clock.200
5.Exegesis (continued): D. Further meanings of the torchbearers: the lunar nodes; celestial north and celestial south; heavenward and earthward. Meanings of the typical and untypical locations (Cautes left and Cautopates right versus Cautopates left and Cautes right)206
6.Exegesis (continued): E. Being in the northabove or in the southbelow versus going northwardup or southwarddown. The solstices, the equinoxes, and yet further meanings of the torchbearers209
7.Exegesis (continued): F. Two paradoxes: (1) cold north and hot south versus hot north and cold south; (2) descending from heaven and growing up on earth versus dying down on earth and ascending to heaven. Terrestrial meanings of the torchbearers212
8.Exegesis (continued): G. Where and when? Mithras the bullkiller means SuninLeo214
9.From exegesis to interpretation. An esoteric quartering of the heavens216
10.The implications of SuninLeo and the esoteric quartering. Conjunctions and eclipses; victories and defeats222
11.The origins of the esoteric quartering and the definition of an ideal month227
10.Excursus: the esoteric quartering, a lost helicoidal model of lunar motion, and the origin of the winds and steps of the Moon. The identity of Antiochus the Athenian.240
Conclusions: a new basis for interpreting the mysteries257
Index of Mithraic Monuments000
Index of Ancient Authors000
General Index000

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:

Rome -- Religion.