Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Many legends and myths that come down through the years

  • are a mixture of folklore and history

  • But some stories that reach us from the dim distant past

  • will always be more of a mystery.

  • By the wall Emperor Hadrian's soldiers built

  • to mark out his empire's extent

  • they made temples to workship a little-known god

  • that they honoured wherever they went

  • (Latin recitation)

  • This god was no Jupiter, Neptune

  • or one Roman citizens would see as home-grown

  • This god, Mithras, some claimed was Persian

  • until the soldiers, they made him their own

  • And to honour this Mithras and offer him thanks

  • for the benefits they thought that he gave

  • they built temples so that on the inside

  • they'd resemble an underground cave

  • At an image of Mithras slaying a bull

  • an officer officiated

  • In the darkness where torches gave flickering light

  • new followers were initiated

  • Blindfolded and naked they entered the place

  • Before the god Mithras they'd kneel

  • And some sort of ceremony was performed

  • that all swore they would never reveal

  • But what was the ceremony? We really don't know

  • what the rites of Mithras were about

  • and when Rome adopted the Christian faith

  • gods like Mithras were soon driven out

  • By the wall Emperor Hadrian's soldiers built

  • to mark out his empire's sway

  • they made temples to honour a little-known god

  • You can still see their ruins today.

  • We know a few things about the Mithras cult and they're always from the outside. We know

  • that it was a secret religious society of initiates, that it was especially popular

  • in the Roman army which carried it all over the empire, that it was supposed to come from

  • Persia but probably came from Rome itself and that people were initiated up through

  • seven grades in it which correspond roughly to the seven visible planets of ancient times.

  • We know that initiation involved the initiate being naked and being given various terrifying

  • experiences before being released. We know that there was a god at the centre of the

  • cult who's a good-looking young male who kills a huge bull. The cult of Mithras was one of

  • the greatest mystery religions of the Roman Empire, carried on secretly in subterranean

  • temples of which English Heritage cares for a beautiful one at Carrawburgh on Hadrian's

  • Wall. Today the Temple of Mithras on Hadrian's Wall is reduced to foundations so it's a rectangular

  • structure with a floor and the basis of an altar at the end but you can see the shape

  • of it and it's easy to imagine the roof going back on. It would have been windowless and

  • therefore dark. You would have come in to torchlight or candlelight and seen that relief

  • of the divine male slaughtering the great bull shimmering at the end of the wall. Or

  • at least you would have seen it when your blindfold would have been removed and you'd

  • be allowed to take part in the mysteries. Most of the ruined temples of Roman Britain

  • were to public cults for the community and for the empire. Places like the Mithraeum

  • at Carrawburgh are about real individuals having real religious experiences with deities

  • of their choice and you can't get closer to the heart of religion than that.

Many legends and myths that come down through the years

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 hadrian empire cult roman god bull

Tales from English Folklore #3: The Cult of Mithras

  • 0 0
    Summer posted on 2020/04/28
Video vocabulary