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* Mitra
Mitra
is the reconstructed Proto-Indo-Iranian
Proto-Indo-Iranian
name of an Indo-Iranian divinity from which the names and some characteristics of Rigvedic Mitrá and Avestan
Avestan
Mithra
Mithra
derive. The names (and occasionally also some characteristics) of these two older figures were subsequently also adopted for other figures:

A vrddhi-derived form of Sanskrit
Sanskrit
mitra gives Maitreya, the name of a bodhisattva in Buddhist
Buddhist
tradition. In Hellenistic-era Asia Minor, Avestan
Avestan
Mithra
Mithra
was conflated with various local and Greek figures leading to several different variants of Apollo-Helios-Mithras-Hermes-Stilbon. Via Greek and some Anatolian intermediate, the Avestan
Avestan
theonym also gave rise to Latin Mithras, the principal figure of the first century Roman Mysteries of Mithras
Mithras
(also known as 'Mithraism'). In Middle Iranian, the Avestan
Avestan
theonym evolved (among other Middle Iranian forms) into Sogdian Miši, Middle Persian
Middle Persian
and Parthian Mihr, and Bactrian Miuro (/mihru/).[citation needed] Aside from Avestan Mithra, these derivative names were also used for:

Greco-Bactrian Mithro, Miiro, Mioro and Miuro, by the Manichaeans
Manichaeans
for one of their own deities.[1]

Additionally, the Manichaeans
Manichaeans
also adopted 'Maitreya' as the name of their "first messenger".[citation needed]

Contents

1 Mythology 2 Indian Mitra 3 Iranian Mithra 4 Mithra
Mithra
in Commagene 5 Buddhist
Buddhist
Maitreya 6 Graeco-Roman Mithras 7 References

Mythology[edit] Both Vedic Mitra
Mitra
and Avestan
Avestan
Mithra
Mithra
derive from an Indo-Iranian common noun *mitra-, generally reconstructed to have meant "covenant, treaty, agreement, promise." This meaning is preserved in Avestan
Avestan
miθra "covenant." In Sanskrit
Sanskrit
and modern Indo-Aryan languages, mitra means "friend," one of the aspects of bonding and alliance. The Indo-Iranian reconstruction is attributed[2] to Christian Bartholomae,[3] and was subsequently refined by A. Meillet (1907), who suggested derivation from the Proto-Indo-European root *mei "to exchange." A suggested alternative derivation was *meh "to measure" (Gray 1929). Pokorny ( IEW 1959) refined Meillet's *mei as "to bind." Combining the root *mei with the "tool suffix" -tra- "that which [causes] ..." (also found in man-tra-, "that which causes to think"), then literally means "that which binds," and thus "covenant, treaty, agreement, promise, oath" etc. Pokorny's interpretation also supports "to fasten, strengthen", which may be found in Latin moenia "city wall, fortification", and in an antonymic form, Old English (ge)maere "border, boundary-post". Meillet and Pokorny's "contract" did however have its detractors. Lentz (1964, 1970) refused to accept abstract "contract" for so exalted a divinity and preferred the more religious "piety." Because present-day Sanskrit
Sanskrit
mitra means "friend," and New Persian mihr means "love" or "friendship," Gonda (1972, 1973) insisted on a Vedic meaning of "friend, friendship," not "contract". Meillet's analysis also "rectified earlier interpretations"[2] that suggested that the Indo-Iranian common noun *mitra- had anything to do with the light or the sun. When H. Lommel suggested[4] that such an association was implied in the Younger Avesta
Avesta
(since the 6th century BCE), that too was conclusively dismissed.[5] Today, it is certain that "(al)though Miθra is closely associated with the sun in the Avesta, he is not the sun" and "Vedic Mitra
Mitra
is not either."[2] Old Persian Mitra
Mitra
or Miθra - both only attested in a handful of 4th-century BCE inscriptions of Artaxerxes II
Artaxerxes II
and III - "is generally admitted [to be] a borrowing from the Avesta,"[6] the genuine Old Persian form being reconstructed as *Miça. (Kent initially suggested Sanskrit[7] but later[6] changed his mind). Middle Iranian myhr (Parthian, also in living Armenian usage) and mihr (Middle Persian), derive from Avestan
Avestan
Mithra. Greek/Latin "Mithras," the focal deity of the Greco-Roman
Greco-Roman
cult of Mithraism
Mithraism
is the nominative form of vocative Mithra. In contrast to the original Avestan
Avestan
meaning of "contract" or "covenant" (and still evident in post-Sassanid Middle Persian
Middle Persian
texts), the Greco-Roman Mithraists probably thought the name meant "mediator." In Plutarch's 1st-century discussion of dualistic theologies, Isis and Osiris (46.7) the Greek historiographer provides the following explanation of the name in his summary of the Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
religion: Mithra
Mithra
is a meson ("in the middle") between "the good Horomazdes and the evil Aremanius [...] and this is why the Pérsai call the Mediator Mithra". Zaehner[8] attributes this false etymology to a role that Mithra
Mithra
(and the sun!) played in the now extinct branch of Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
known as Zurvanism. Indian Mitra[edit] Main article: Mitra
Mitra
(Vedic) Vedic Mitra
Mitra
is a prominent deity of the Rigveda
Rigveda
distinguished by a relationship to Varuna, the protector of rta. Together with Varuna, he counted among the Adityas, a group of solar deities, also in later Vedic texts. Vedic Mitra
Mitra
is the patron divinity of honesty, friendship, contracts and meetings. The first extant record of Indic[9] Mitra, in the form mi-it-ra-, is in the inscribed peace treaty of c. 1400 BC between Hittites
Hittites
and the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni
Mitanni
in the area southeast of Lake Van
Lake Van
in Asia Minor. Mitra
Mitra
appears there together with four other Indic divinities as witnesses and keepers of the pact. Iranian Mithra[edit]

Mithra
Mithra
(left) in a 4th-century investiture sculpture at Taq-e Bostan in western Iran.

Main article: Mithra In Zoroastrianism, Mithra
Mithra
is a member of the trinity of ahuras, protectors of asha/arta, "truth" or "[that which is] right". Mithra's standard appellation is "of wide pastures" suggesting omnipresence. Mithra
Mithra
is "truth-speaking, ... with a thousand ears, ... with ten thousand eyes, high, with full knowledge, strong, sleepless, and ever awake." (Yasht 10.7). As preserver of covenants, Mithra
Mithra
is also protector and keeper of all aspects of interpersonal relationships, such as friendship and love. Related to his position as protector of truth, Mithra
Mithra
is a judge (ratu), ensuring that individuals who break promises or are not righteous (artavan) are not admitted to paradise. As also in Indo-Iranian tradition, Mithra
Mithra
is associated with (the divinity of) the sun but originally distinct from it. Mithra
Mithra
is closely associated with the feminine yazata Aredvi Sura Anahita, the hypostasis of knowledge.

Mithras-Helios, in Phrygian cap
Phrygian cap
with solar rays, with 1st century BC Antiochus I Theos of Commagene. Found at Mount Nemrut, in present-day eastern Turkey.

Mithra
Mithra
in Commagene[edit] There is a deity Mithra
Mithra
mentioned on monuments in Commagene. According to the archaeologist Maarten Vermaseren, 1st century BC evidence from Commagene
Commagene
demonstrates the "reverence paid to Mithras" but does not refer to "the mysteries".[10] In the colossal statuary erected by King Antiochus I (69–34 BC) at Mount Nemrut, Mithras
Mithras
is shown beardless, wearing a Phrygian cap,[11][12] and was originally seated on a throne alongside other deities and the king himself.[13] On the back of the thrones there is an inscription in Greek, which includes the name Apollo Mithras
Mithras
Helios
Helios
in the genitive case (Ἀπόλλωνος Μίθρου Ἡλίου).[14] Vermaseren also reports about a Mithras
Mithras
cult in the 3rd century BC. Fayum.[15] R. D. Barnett has argued that the royal seal of King Saussatar of Mitanni
Mitanni
from c. 1450 BC. depicts a tauroctonous Mithras.[16] Buddhist
Buddhist
Maitreya[edit] Main article: Maitreya Maitreya
Maitreya
is sometimes represented seated on a throne, and venerated both in Mahāyāna
Mahāyāna
and non- Mahāyāna
Mahāyāna
Buddhism. Some have speculated that inspiration for Maitreya
Maitreya
may have come from the ancient Indo-Iranian deity Mithra. The primary comparison between the two characters appears to be the similarity of their names. According to The Religion of the Iranian Peoples, "No one who has studied the Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
doctrine of the Saoshyants or the coming saviour-prophets can fail to see their resemblance to the future Maitreya.[17] Paul Williams claims that some Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
ideas like Saoshyant influenced the beliefs about Maitreya, such as "expectations of a heavenly helper, the need to opt for positive righteousness, the future millennium, and universal salvation". Possible objections are that these characteristics are not unique to Zoroastrianism, nor are they necessarily characteristic of the belief in Maitreya. Graeco-Roman Mithras[edit]

Relief of Roman Mithras, in a tauroctony scene.

Main article: Mithraic mysteries The name Mithra
Mithra
was adopted by the Greeks and Romans as Mithras, chief figure in the mystery religion of Mithraism. At first identified with the Sun-god Helios
Helios
by the Greeks, the syncretic Mithra- Helios
Helios
was transformed into the figure Mithras
Mithras
during the 2nd century BC, probably at Pergamon. This new cult was taken to Rome around the 1st century BC and was dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. Popular among the Roman military, Mithraism
Mithraism
was spread as far north as Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall
and the Germanic Limes. References[edit]

^ "The Iranian Manicheans adopted the name of the Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
god Mithra
Mithra
(Av. Miθra; Mid. Pers. Mihr) and used it to designate one of their own deities. [...] The name appears in Middle Persian
Middle Persian
as Mihr (myhr, which does not stem from the genuine Old Persian form *miça-), in Parthian as Mihr (myhr) and in Sogdian as Miši (myšyy; Sundermann, 1979a, p. 10, sub 3/11.2). The spellings mytr, mytrg, however, are not variants of the name Mithra, they rather denote Maitreya." Werner Sundermann, Mithra; iii. In Manichaeism", Encyclopedia Iranica
Encyclopedia Iranica
(2002). ^ a b c Schmidt, Hans-Peter (2006), " Mithra
Mithra
i: Mithra
Mithra
in Old Indian and Mithra
Mithra
in Old Iranian", Encyclopaedia Iranica, New York: iranica.com  (accessed April 2011) ^ Bartholomae, Christian (1904), Altiranisches Wörterbuch, Strassburg: Trübner  (fasc., 1979, Berlin: de Gruyter), at column 1183. ^ Lommel, Herman (1970), "Die Sonne das Schlechteste?", in Schlerath, Bernfried, Zarathustra, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, pp. 360–376  ^ Gershevitch, Ilya (1975), "Die Sonne das Beste", in Hinnells, John R., Mithraic Studies: Proceedings of the First International Congress of Mithraic Studies., 1, Manchester: UP/Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 68–89  ^ a b Ware, James R.; Kent, Roland G. (1924), "The Old Persian Cuneiform Inscriptions of Artaxerxes II
Artaxerxes II
and Artaxerxes III", Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 55: 52–61, doi:10.2307/283007, JSTOR 283007  at p. 55. ^ Kent, Ronald G. (1953), Old Persian: Grammar, Lexicon, Texts (2nd ed.), New Haven: American Oriental Society, §78/p. 31b  ^ Zaehner, Richard Charles (1955), Zurvan, a Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
dilemma, Oxford: Clarendon  at pp. 101-102. ^ Thieme, Paul (1960), "The 'Aryan' Gods of the Mitanni
Mitanni
Treaties", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 80.4.  pp. 301-317. ^ Vermaseren, M. J. (1963), Mithras: the Secret God, London: Chatto and Windus, p. 29, Other early evidence of the first decades B.C. refers only to the reverence paid to Mithras
Mithras
without mentioning the mysteries: examples which may be quoted are the tomb inscriptions of King Antiochus I of Commagene
Commagene
at Nemrud Dagh, and of his father Mithridates at Arsameia on the Orontes. Both the kings had erected on vast terraces a number of colossal statues seated on thrones to the honour of their ancestral gods. At Nemrud we find in their midst King Antiochus (69–34 BC and in the inscription Mithras
Mithras
is mentioned ...  ^ Lewis M. Hopfe, "Archaeological indications on the origins of Roman Mithraism", in Lewis M. Hopfe (ed). Uncovering ancient stones: essays in memory of H. Neil Richardson, Eisenbrauns (1994), pp. 147-158. p. 156 ^ Vermaseren, M. J. (1956), Corpus inscriptionum et monumentorum religionis mithriacae, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, CIMRM 29, Head of a beardless Mithras
Mithras
in Phrygian cap, point of which is missing.  ^ Vermaseren, M. J. (1956), Corpus inscriptionum et monumentorum religionis mithriacae, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, CIMRM 28, The gods are represented in a sitting position on a throne and are: Apollo- Mithras
Mithras
(see below); Tyche-Commagene; Zeus-Ahura-Mazda; Antiochus himself and finally Ares-Artagnes.  ^ Vermaseren, M. J. (1956), Corpus inscriptionum et monumentorum religionis mithriacae, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, CIMRM 32, verse 55  ^ R D Barnett (1975). John R Hinnells, ed. Mithraic studies: proceedings of the first International congress of Mithraic studies, Vol. II. Manchester University Press ND. pp. 467–. According to Vermaseren, there was a Mithras
Mithras
cult in the Fayum in the third century BC, and according to Pettazzoni the figure of Aion has its iconographic origin in Egypt.  ^ R D Barnett (1975). John R Hinnells, ed. Mithraic studies: proceedings of the first International congress of Mithraic studies, Vol. II. Manchester University Press ND. pp. 467–468. I ... see these figures or some of them in the impression of the remarkable royal seal of King Saussatar of Mitanni
Mitanni
(c. 1450 BC great-great-grandfather of Kurtiwaza), the only royal Mitannian seal that we possess....Mithra--tauroctonos, characteristically kneeling on the bull to despatch it. We can even see also the dog and snake ... below him are twin figures, one marked by a star, each fighting lions ... below a winged disc between lions and ravens, stands a winged, human-headed lion, ...  ^ C.P. Tiele. The Religion of the Iranian Peoples, G.K. Nariman, trans., Bombay: The Parsi Publishing Co. (1917), 159.

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