CIMRM 344 - Mithras rock-born. San Clemente, Rome

See also: CIMRM 338 Mithraeum; 339-340 Altar and inscription; 341 Cippus and inscription; 342 Fragments of torchbearers; 343 Sol; 344 Rock-birth; 345 "The good shepherd"; 346 Sacrificial bones; 347-348 Inscriptions.

Nolan writes: "On the lauding at the foot of the stairs is a plaster cast of the pagan altar in the Mithraic Temple ; on a bracket in the corner is a statue of the pagan deity, Mithras, represented rising from a rock Deus ex petra. This statue is twenty-five inches high and represents the deity from the knees upwards emerging from a rock and wearing a Phrygian cap.Near it is the marble bust of the Sun-god. Both pieces of sculpture were found in the Temple of Mithras; and to the temple of Mithras, now happily delivered from the waters which for forty years had inundated it, these interesting pieces of sculpture are now about to be restored."

See CIMRM 343 for bust of Sol, also in Nolan.

Manfred Clauss states that the rock has been fashioned to resemble a pine cone.1

CIMRM entry

1Manfred Clauss, "The Roman cult of Mithras", p.126: "Such cones did not merely burn slowly and emit a fragrance, but also possessed symbolic value - as we have seen (p. 70), on some reliefs the rock of Mithras' rock-birth is so worked that it resembles an ovoid pine-cone (V 344, fig. 92). The fruit of the pine could thus certainly be understood as a figure for Mithras' birth. Moreover, in medical usage, the fumes of kindled pine-cones were supposed to encourage giving birth (Dioscorides Mat. med. 1.69.1)." and "92. Mithraeum of S. Clemente, Rome: statuette of the Rock-birth, with the rocks fashioned to resemble a pine-cone (cf. V 1088, Nida/Heddernheim). Carved marble pine-cones were found in the mithraea of S. Prisca and the Castra Peregrinorum in Rome, and at Lambaesis in Numidia."

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