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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Mithra \Mi"thra\, Mithras \Mi"thras\, prop. n. [L., from Gr. ?.] The sun god of the ancient Persians; the god of light and truth.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

Persian god of light, 1550s, from Latin, from Greek Mithras, from Avestan Mithra-, from Indo-Iranian *mitram "contract," whence *mitras "contractual partner, friend," conceptualized as a god, or, according to Kent, first the epithet of a divinity and eventually his name; from PIE root *mei- "to bind" (see mitre). Related to Sanskrit Mitrah, a Vedic deity associated with Varuna. "His name is one of the earliest Indic words we possess, being found in clay tablets from Anatolia dating to about 1500 B.C." [Calvert Watkins, "Dictionary of Indo-European Roots," 2000]. Related: Mithraic; Mithraism.

Mithras (disambiguation)

Mithras is the god central to the Greco-Roman mystery religion of Mithraism.

Mithras may also refer to:

  • Mithra, a Zoroastrian deity, the origin of the Greco-Roman Mithras
  • Mithras (butterfly), a genus of butterfly in the family Lycaenidae
  • Mithras (name), the etymology of the name
  • Mithras, proposed name of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II
  • Mithras, character in the 2001 video game Sacrifice
Mithras (butterfly)

Mithras is a Neotropical genus of butterfly in the family Lycaenidae.

Mithras (name)

]]The name Mithras (Latin, equivalent to Greek "Μίθρας",) is a form of Mithra, the name of an Iranian god, a point acknowledged by Mithras scholars since the days of Franz Cumont. The Greek form of the name appears in Xenophon's biography of Cyrus, the Cyropaedia, a work written in the fourth century BC. The word Mithra occurs as the name of a praiseworthy being in the Zoroastrian text, the Zend Avesta. Similar deity names in related Indo-european languages include Mitra, "मित्रः" found in Rig Vedic hymns. In Sanskrit, "mitra" means "friend" or "friendship".

In the inscribed peace treaty of c. 1400 BC between Hittites and the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni in the area southeast of Lake Van in Armenian Highlands, the form mi-it-ra- appears as the name of a god invoked together with four other divinities as witnesses and keepers of the pact. Robert Turcan describes this inscription as "the earliest evidence of Mithras in Asia Minor".

The exact form of a Latin or classical Greek word varies due to the grammatical process of declension. There is archeological evidence that in Latin worshippers wrote the nominative form of the god's name as "Mithras". However, in Porphyry's Greek text De Abstinentia , there is a reference to the now-lost histories of the Mithraic mysteries by Euboulus and Pallas, the wording of which suggests that these authors treated the name "Mithra" as an indeclinable foreign word.

In later antiquity, the Greek name of Mithras occurs in the text known as the Mithras Liturgy, part of the Paris Great Magical Papyrus (Paris Bibliothèque Nationale Suppl. gr. 574); here Mithras is given the epithet "the great god", and is identified with the sun god Helios. There have been different views among scholars as to whether this text is an expression of Mithraism as such. Franz Cumont argued that it isn't; Marvin Meyer thinks it is; while Hans Dieter Betz sees it as a synthesis of Greek, Egyptian, and Mithraic traditions.

The Persian associations of the name Mithras are acknowledged by scholars such as David Ulansey who interpret Roman Mithraism as something new. A scenario discussed by Ulansey is that "the Roman cult of Mithras was actually a new religion" which "borrowed the name of an Iranian god in order to give itself an exotic oriental flavor".

According to another historian of Mithraism, John R. Hinnells: "The god is unique in being worshipped in four distinct religions: Hinduism (as Mitra), in Iranian Zoroastrianism and Manicheism (as Mithra), and in the Roman Empire (as Mithras)." Mary Boyce, a researcher of ancient Iranian religions, writes that even though Roman Empire Mithraism seems have had less Iranian content than historians used to think, still "as the name Mithras alone shows, this content was of some importance."

Usage examples of "mithras".

The limp disappeared, he slept well and put on flesh, an d I learned some time later from one of his chamberers that, although the Ki ng was never again the Bull of Mithras that his soldiers had laughed over an d admired, and though he fathered no more children, he took certain satisfac tions in his bed, and the unpredictable violences of his temper declined.

His instinct was here so sure that, with reckless violence to the truth, he put the ideas which lent fascination to every sort of Chandala religion into the mouth of the “Saviour” as his own inventions, and not only into the mouth--he made out of him something that even a priest of Mithras could understand.

Jupiter and Mithras were far from here, and none saw Iesu, and Syagrius was consummately busy.

When Orthodox Christianity had split from Rome, it had reached back to more ancient pagan elements--especially the cult of Mithras, a mystery cult exported from Persia across the Roman Empire, in which the sun had been the dominant cosmic force.

The selections were eclectic, books on Buddhism, on the mystery cult of Mithras, even a strange book (a hybrid itself) mixing genetics, cellular biology, and Hindu mysticism.

While believing in no god she fearlessly and with ironic condescension receives all gods into her courts: from faraway fire-worshiping Persia, Mithras the sun-faced son of Ahuramazda, mounted on the sacred bull which is soon to die.

Now, the apse was empty of Mithras slaying the sacred bull and Mary holding the infant Christ.