Before Mani, Zarvan accompanied Mithras in all his westward migrations.
Each day of the week was marked by the adoration of a special planet, the sun being the most sacred of all, and certain dates, perhaps the sixteenth of each month and the equinoxes, in conformity with the character of Mithras as mediator, were set aside for special festivals.
It is the ritual of a magician, imbedded in which, and alternating with magic formulae and other occult matter, are a number of invocations and prayers which Dieterich reconstructs as a liturgy in use by the clergy of Mithras between A.D.
When, therefore, the supreme God is called by the name Af3pava or A0paas, which contains the numerical value 365, it is worthy of remark that the name of the Persian god Mithras (Mciepas) also was known in antiquity to contain this numerical value (Jerome in Amos 3; Opp. Vallarsi VI.
Dieterich, Eine Mithras Liturgie (Leipzig, 1903); J.
The Mithras legend has been lost, and can be reconstructed only from the scenes on the above described relief.
But the form in which the whole is set forth is Oriental, and it must be carefully noted that the Mithras mysteries, so closely connected with the Persian religion, are acquainted with this doctrine of the ascent of the soul through the planetary spheres (Origen, Contra Celsum, vi.
Here, then, we have a perfect example of syncretism; as in the Mithras cult in Armenia, Asia Minor, and still further in the Roman Empire.
The scorpion, attacking the genitals of the bull, is sent by Ahriman from the lower world to defeat the purpose of the sacrifice; the dog, springing towards the wound in the bull's side, was venerated by the Persians as the companion of Mithras; the serpent is the symbol of the earth being made fertile by drinking the blood of the sacrificial bull; the raven, towards which Mithras turns his face as if for direction, is the herald of the Sun-god, whose bust is near by, and who has ordered the sacrifice; various plants near the bull, and heads of wheat springing from his tail, symbolize the result of the sacrifice; the cypress is perhaps the tree of immortality.
The simplicity and smallness of the Mithraic temples are to be accounted for by structural and financial reasons; an underground temple was difficult to construct on a large scale, and the worshippers of Mithras were usually from the humbler classes.