Relief in sandstone (H. 1.80 Br. 1.76 D. 0.22). Inv. No. 239.
The relief is so well-known that it has been reproduced in nearly every
handbook of archaeology and of history of religions. I only mention the more
Habel, Mithrastempel, 161, 180 and Taf. I/II; de Hammer, Mithriaca, 127
and Pl. XIII, XIV; Müller, Mithras 40 and figs. 21/22; Lajard, Rech., Pl. XC
and XCI; MMM II 364 and 509 with Pls. VII, VIII; Lehner, Führer Wiesb.,
53 No. 239; Koepp, Germ. Rom., IV2, 56 and Pl. XXXIV, 1; Koepp, Römer
Deutschl., 144; Blümlein, Bilder III, 113; Gündel, Nida 51 fig. 14; Cumont, Rel. Or., Pl. XII; MM, Pl. II, I; RRR II, 93, 1-2; Esp. Rec. Germ., 93ff No.
138; Leipoldt, Xf and figs. 17-18; Schoppa, Pl. 87. See figs. 274-275.
The relief is sculptured on two sides and it is revolving because it had a pivot at
the top and a socket at the bottom.
A. The front has the usual scene of Mithras as a bullkiller in a grotto. The bull's
tail ends in three corn-ears. The raven sits on the god's flying cloak; the dog with a
collar leaps up against the bull and the scorpion grasps its genitals. Underneath
the bull is an amphora or krater with two handles with a serpent coiling against it.
To its right lies a lion with menacing head. Cautes(r) with uplifted torch and
Cautopates (l) with torch downwards in Oriental dress and cross-legged. Behind
Cautes a tree surrounded by a serpent with its head stretched out towards Mithras.
In the grotto's border are the signs of the Zodiac beginning (l) with the Ram and
ending (r) with the Fishes. Between this border and a horizontal rim other scenes
On the left side standing Mithras shooting an arrow in the direction of a rock before which a figure with outstretched hands is kneeling.
On the right side a similar scene, but the person before the rock is kneeling on
Above the horizontal rim there are the following representations from l. to r.:
1) Mithras in a cypress. He is in Phrygian cap and only the upper part of his
body in tunic and cloak is visible.
3) Mithras carrying the bull. Underneath the bull's snout a coiling serpent.
5) Sol standing frontally in long shoulder-cape. He holds a globus in his l.h. and
is in radiate crown. Mithras approaches Sol with outstretched r.h.
7) Naked Sol kneeling on one knee before standing Mithras with outstretched
r.h. Sol has a radiate crown over his head; the body of Mithras is restored, but the
head in Phrygian cap is original.
8) Over these scenes between two cypresses Mithras ascending a biga of standing
Sol dressed in a tunic. Sol holds out his r.h. to Mithras. The horses and the rocky
background are restored.
9) Luna in velum lying in a descending biga. Under it rocks are visible.
Between the cars of Luna and of Sol there is a third cypress.
In the four corners of the relief the busts of the wind-gods are represented in
medallions. They have wings in their hairs and three of them have beards (the god
in l. upper corner excepted). Wind issues from the mouth of the god in the r.
bottom corner. Above and beneath these gods the busts of the four Seasons are
11) Youthful head (l. upper corner) with flowers in her hair and a wreath of
leaves on her shoulders (Spring).
12) Dressed bust (r. upper corner) of Summer with a ribbon in her hair.
13) Bust of Autumn (r. bottom corner) with crown of corn-ears in her hair and
with leaves upon her breast.
14) Bust of Winter in velum (l. bottom corner).
Between these busts four other scenes are represented:
15) Naked Jupiter standing in threatening posture before a shapeless figure
(probably a Giant). The god holds a lightning in his r.h. and an indistinct object
in his l.h.
16) God reclining on a rock (Saturnus).
17) Naked Mithras born from the rock; arms not raised; the hands are missing.
18) Naked Mithras in Phrygian cap walking to the right. He gathers branches
from a bush, only the lower part of which is visible (restored).
B. The reverse of the relief shows the sacred repast in a grotto. Behind a
big lying bull a standing Sol in a dress which is gathered round his waist by a
girdle. In his l.h. he holds a long whip and he offers to Mithras a large bunch of
grapes. Mithras looks at it and slightly raises his l.h. The Persian god is in a cloak
and in a Phrygian cap. In his r.h. a drinking horn. Between the gods a dagger
from the top of which hangs a: Phrygian cap surrounded by a crown of seven rays
(partially restored). On both sides of the bull is a standing youth in Oriental dress.
They present the gods with a basket with fruits or loaves.
Above the grotto in the centre an indistinct standing person (head lost) between
four leaping dogs. Above the leftmost dog the hindleg of a horse and next to the
upraised l. ann of the person the hindmost part of a leaping animal are visible.
Underneath the leftmost dog a lying boar, and behind it a walking animal (dog or
bear); underneath the rightmost dog a lying ox.
Restorations: the greater part of the bull, parts of the mantles of Mithras and
Sol; the head of the dog or bear; part of the Phrygian cap upon the dagger.