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The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman EmpireMysteries of the Unconquered Sun$
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Roger Beck

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199216130

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216130.001.0001

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The Mithraic Mysteries as Symbol System: I. Introduction and Comparisons

The Mithraic Mysteries as Symbol System: I. Introduction and Comparisons

Chapter:
(p.67) 5 The Mithraic Mysteries as Symbol System: I. Introduction and Comparisons
Source:
The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire
Author(s):

ROGER BECK

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216130.003.0006

This chapter discusses Mithraism as a symbol system in the manner of the symbolist anthropologists, particularly Clifford Geertz. Comparisons are made between Mithraic culture and the culture of the Chamulas of southern Mexico, especially in regard to the construction of space in general and sacred space in particular. The Mithraic sevenfold grade structure is discussed as a symbol system. A principle of ‘harmony of tension in opposition’ is postulated as a fundamental Mithraic ‘axiom’.

Keywords:   symbol system, Clifford Geertz, Chamulas, construction of space, sacred space, Mithraic grades, opposition

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