December 27th, 2012
Episode 261 of 537 episodes
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the cult of Mithras, a mystery religion that existed in the Roman Empire from the 1st to the 4th centuries AD. Its rituals included communal meals and a complex seven-stage initiation system. Typical depictions of Mithras show him being born from a rock, enjoying food with the sun god Sol and stabbing a bull. In recent decades, many aspects of the cult have provoked debate, especially as there are no written accounts by its members. What were its origins and why did it eventually die out? Melvyn Bragg is joined by Greg Woolf, Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews; Almut Hintze, Zartoshty Professor of Zoroastrianism at SOAS, University of London and John North, Acting Director of the Institute of Classical Studies, University of London.