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Mithraism And Magic

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Chapter Summary

In the ancient Near-East, where magical practice was heavily institutionalised, it was primarily a matter of specially-qualified priests protecting or defending the King or superior individuals against attack by evil powers, or human enemies, whether these worked naturalistically or by spiritual attack. This chapter describes the relation between the cult of Mithras and magic. This issue has recently become topical with the publication of Attilio Mastrocinque's book on Mithraic magical amulets, which runs a larger argument to the effect that the cult, which he sees as shot through with the magika of the Zoroastrian pseudepigrapha, may have been founded in western Asia Minor, or in the Aegean, in the first half of Ia, roughly contemporary with the ascendancy and fall of Mithridates VI Eupator of Pontus. This claim provides the author with an opportunity to review the problem, in particular the long-standing controversy relating to the so-called Mithras Liturgy.

Keywords: Egypt; magical practice; Mastrocinque; Mithraism



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