Abbreviated Sources
and References

Annotations: title,
epigraph and

Part I

Part II

Part III

The Mithraeum
under the church of
San Clemente, Rome
photos courtesy of Rahlf Hansen
text by Anja Zeidler
"—A nice . . . place of worship! The illustration pinioned by her gaze was captioned Il Tempio di Mitra. —Look at it! a dirty little underground cave, no place to kneel or even sit down, unless you could call this broken stone bench a pew? She got her breath when he interposed, —But . . . —And the altar! look at it, look at the picture on it, a man . . . god? and it looks like a bull!
—Yes, a pagan temple, they’ve excavated and found the basilica of Saint Clement was built right over a temple where worshipers of....
—Pagan indeed! And I suppose you couldn't resist setting foot inside yourself?"    The Recognitions, p. 38
Click images for very large versions.
© Rahlf Hansen; all rights reserved.
An overview of the Mithraeum's chamber called the triclinium, the "dining room," where ritual meals in remembrance of Mithras were held (Q on the plan, above). Participants sat on the benches along the sides .
The Scuola Mitriaca, thought to have been used for teaching about the Mithras cult (R on the plan).
The altar in the Mithraeum, with a relief of Mithras slaying the bull, a central icon in all places of Mithraic worship. The god, who wears a Persian or phrygian cap, characteristically turns his head away while killing the bull. Beneath is a snake, a dog drinking the bull's blood, a scorpion biting his genitals, and his tail metamorphosing into an ear of corn, all presumably emblems of fertility.

The Recognitions index page