By Roger Pearse. Ashmolean Museum, February 2013. Museum label reads: "30. Engraved bronze brooch: Mithras slays the bull. Ostia, AD 100-200. Evans gift, AN1927-187."
From CIMRM, fig. 87.
Bronze brooch (diam. 0.07), found at Ostia in 1899. It came together with the
Sir John Evans Collection to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford in 1927.
Vermaseren in Antiquaries Journal XXVIII, 1948, 177ff and Pl. XXVIIa;
Summary Guide to the Department of Antiquities of the Ashmolean Museum,
Oxford 1951, 59 and Pl. XLVII B; Becatti, Mitrei Ostia, 129f and Pl.
XXXVIII, 1. See fig. 87.
The brooch is a thin disc of bronze slightly convex, and the reverse is plain,
except for a high pin and catch-plate.· Mithras slaying the bull. The god is in oriental
dress and with a nimbus and crown of nine rays. He kneels in the normal
manner on the bull, which bears two bands round its body and has a tail ending
in a single tuft. Mithras raises the dagger. The wound is clearly visible and the dog
stands by with open mouth to lick the blood. The snake crawls along the ground
and the scorpion clasps the testicles. The raven, at which Mithras is looking, sits
on the god's blowing cloak. Two birds take the place of the two torchbearers;
one, a cock, stands facing the bull's mouth, the other perches on the bull's tail.
The brooch is also of some importance from the technical point of view, in that the
engraver's work upon it would seem to be unfinished: most of the figure of Mithras and the
animals in the field are all properly chased, whereas the bull and Mithras' face, nimbus and
dagger are only sketchily incised.