Mithras Supreme

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by tom, Jan 9, 2004.

  1. tom Member

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    DominusNovus:
    IIRC, you need Perfect Contrition to be absolved without a priest...you have to be absolutely unselfish and pure, just your Love of God, not any fear of Hell.
    And there is also the Doctrine of Predestination, that most people are doomed to Hell from the beginning of time no matter what they do...but that is even worse!
     
  2. DominusNovus Humbled by Fate

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    Thats why I never got Calvinism.
     
  3. Norman Member

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    You know this is interesting, there was just a program on the history channel yesterday that touched upon Mithraism and its attractiveness to the legions. Seems that the central to the religion was the concept of Mithra killing a bull in a dark cave as a metaphor for creation.

    In addition, the ceremonies took place in dark and cave like, smoke filled places.

    The program went on to state that the only religion not adopted by the legions to any large extent was Christianity. It seems that the core mythos of the relgion didn't appeal to the legionnaires.

    It is interesting to speculate that the core ritual of the relgion might involve a struggle with a bull.
     
  4. Tom_B Member

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    Astrology

    The following website might to helpful to this discussion. It argues that Misthraism was about the ending of the Age of Taurus,

    http://www.well.com/user/davidu/mithras.html
     
  5. Norman Member

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    Another pretty good site is:

    http://www.ukans.edu/history/index/...s/Religion/Mithraism/David_Fingrut**.html#per

    Notice that Mitaism contains many of the same elements of Christianity, for example, read the following:

    "While Mithras was worshipped almost exclusively by men, most of the wives and daughters of the Mithraists took part in the worship of Magna Mater, Ma-Bellona, Anahita, Cybele, and Artemis. These goddess religions practiced a regeneration ritual known as the Taurobolium, or bull sacrifice, in which the blood of the slaughtered animal was allowed to fall down upon the initiate, who would be lying, completely drenched in a pit below. As a result of their association with practitioners of this rite, Mithraists soon adopted the Taurobolium ritual as their own.

    This baptism of blood became a renewal of the human soul, as opposed to mere physical strength. Mithraic baptism wiped out moral faults; the purity aimed at had become spiritual. The descent into the pit was regarded as symbolic burial, from which the initiate would emerge reborn, purified of all his crimes and regarded as the equal of a god. Those who made it through the Taurobolium were revered by their brethren, and accepted in the fold of Mithraism."

    One can see that with a couple of small changes, these practices and ceremonies parallel very closely some major Christian practices that are central to the faith.
     
  6. Norman Member

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    The best place to POD to a Mithras domination of Christianity is when Constanttine deceides to become Christian. He orders the empire to become Christian, but some Legions, stationed along the Northern Border and the Danube decide not to convert from their Mithraism.

    Rather than convert, these legions (which were largely made up of the surrounding tribes anyway) merely cross the border and become part of the surrounding tribes.

    We know that in OTL the 15th Appolonious Legion, after the fall of Jerusaum in 70 AD was stationed on the Danube border where they brought the religion. Additionally, we also know that the Northern legions (facing the Germans) also professed Mithraism, as is shown by extensive archeological remains.

    If they were to move over to the other side of the border, taking their religion with them, Mithra undergoes a cross confusion with Donner / Thor. Mithras mace becomes a hammer, and the tribes go over en masse, attracted by the more positive stance of Mithraism compared to the german religions.

    Mithraism, with its built in hierarchical structure that is based upon a military rand structure, with loyalty flowing to the ruler, is used as a tool by several of the germanic and gothic kings to bring order to the lands north of the Roman borders.
     
  7. tom Member

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    Could Constantine have actually made Mithraism the official religion?
    I understand he originally leaned that way.
    Also, the female cults would help, maybe a reformer to make them more popular (some of them had rather bizarre and even pornographic practices). Or perhaps a reformer to make absolution a little easier in Mithraism, this was an attraction of Christianity in the rather rough days of the declining Empire (notice Constantine waited until he was dying and finished all his sins to be baptised). What I read says Mithraic absolution was more arduous than Christianity's was.
     
  8. Tom_B Member

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    Esoteric vs Exoteric

    The problem with your proposal is that Mithraism was an esoteric (for the specially initiated) religion unlike Christianity which was an exoteric relgion (but with some esoteric elements here and there).
     
  9. tom Member

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    Maybe a reformer to make Mithraism more exotheric?
     
  10. tom Member

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  11. tom Member

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    Probably best would be Norman's suggestion of a Germanic adoption of Mithraism post-Constantine. Mithra fused with Thor and Isis with Freya. The process (or a reformer) makes Mithraism more exoteric (it had to have some exoteric elements...it lasted half a millennium, so it had to make converts). Also, absolution in Medieval Christianity was not trivial, so that "disadvantage" may not be as serious as some claim.
     
  12. Norman Member

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    Tom-
    If we have the Germanic tribes adopt Mithrasm, and they roughly follow the course of the historical migrations, then we have Roman Catholism centered in Italy, parts of Frace, parts of Spain, and Ireland. We have Eastern Christianity centered around the Eastern Empire, and Coptic Christianity in Egypt.

    Do the butterflies put into play by this scenario disrupt the formation of Islam?
     
  13. Tom_B Member

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    Celtic Option

    Maybe Mithraism converts some Druids who add some elements of their religion into Mithraism. Druidism was a two level relgion--an exoteric relgion for the masses and an esoteric religion of Mysteries for the Initiated (ie. the Druids).

    However note that both the Germanic folk relgion and Druidism still practiced human sacrifice which would be repugnant to Roman Mithraists.

    There is some discussion of Mithraism in Poul Anderson's Ys trilogy (he had a coauthor--was it Sandra Miesel?) where the protagonist is a Roman Centurion who is a Mithraist.
     
  14. Norman Member

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    Replace the ritual human sacrifice with that a bull, but also build a pragmatic approach that permits some aspect of public symbolism for the actual death. A real bull doesn't die except on the highest of holidays, merely some symbolic aspect of a bull.

    I like the idea of the infusion of other religious elements into the European practice of Mithraism, this is what the early Christians did and it worked for them.

    I also suggest that we let the butterflies take out Islam, replacing it with a more aggressive Coptic Church, which competes directly with the Eastern Church of Constantanople.

    For fun, remember that Bhuddism was practiced in Afghanistan in and around this time (The taliban shot up the remaining statutes). What if the Mongols adopt Bhuddism, but make it into a militant religion? Then later, when the Mongols erupt onto the world scene, they are screaming war cries to the Great Bhudda as tehy cut off peoples heads.
     
  15. Straha Banned

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    the idea of mongols getting hinduism has always been interesting
     
  16. tom Member

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    This TL should help Julian the Apostate. And the Dark Age will fall...it was already descending. But OTL's Islam will be different at best...butterflies will certainly devour Mahommad!
     
  17. Norman Member

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    OK, so let's see where we are.

    Mithraic border legions 'defect' to the barbarian kings that they are facing, bring their religion with them. In the East this has relatively little effect, but along the borders it has a big impact. Almost overnight the Empire is gone.

    The wild barbarians take up the religion, attracted by bravery and military success of its adherents, and in the process Mithra absorbs some of Thor’s attributes, and Frejya some of the attribute of the Isis cult.

    The religion also develops more grand public ceremonies to please the broad populace, but retains the mystery cult aspects for initiates.

    One aspect of the broad adoption of Mithraism is that the german tribes become more disciplined in battle, beginning to actually listen to their generals and war leaders. As a result, more survive battle, thereby ensuring the expansion of the religion throughout Europe.

    The more disciplined Goth Armies around the Black Sea are better able to resist the Huns, conquering them in battle several times. But news of the wealth associated with the Roman Empire reaches the leaders they determine to take advantage of the weakenss of the West by grabbing as much of it as they can. As a result they move west pretty much on the same time frame they did OTL.

    The East Germans move into North Italy, pushing the Roman remnants, where they continue to practice Christianity, but North Italy becomes almost totally Germanic, particularly over the next hundred years as the Lombards move in.

    Further to the North, the Franks gain the ascendancy, and to the West in Iberia, the Vandals now rule. All these tribes are Mithraic tribes.

    Around 400-500 AD the British Isles come under the onslaught of the German tribes (Angles, Saxons Etc.), but unlike OTL, both the British and the Germans practice basically the same religion learned from the same source, the remaining legions. There are some differences however, the British Mithraism has also adopted some of the attributes of the native religions, in particular some practices associated with Druids.

    Importantly, unlike in the rest of Europe, this Mitraism has undergone a sort of intellectual and philosophical transformation, introducing symbolic practices into the religion and abandoning the harsher elements of both druidic and german religious practices.

    By 600, human sacrifice is gone as a central practice of any of the local flavors of Mithraism, and the British Isles have developed into a major center for learning and philosophy related to Mithraism.

    One important aspect of Mithraism is the loyalty one owes one's War Leader. As a result, the Western political scene stabilizes earlier than in OTL into a sort of crude representative democracy. War bands but forth leaders in an area, extolling their virtues and bravery, and the only requirement is that you are a member of such a band who is above the initiate (“Friends”) level, during the ‘Althing’, a time set aside to settle disputes and lawsuits.

    (Since Mithra is also a God of Law and Contracts,

    However the final selection is performed by the Old Father, Mithraic warriors who are known for their virtue to Mithra, brave deeds and good works. Only after the Old Fathers have selected someone can that person be crowned King.
     
  18. Tom_B Member

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    Consequences of esotericism

    Mithraism is still primarily an esoteric religion. It nows allows some "shadows of the Truth" and lesser rituals to be shared with the general populace. A consequence of this is that unlike Christianity their major theological squabbles will be happening in private (there is one exception that I'll mention later). I imagine small gatherings of Fathers will occur from time to time and in utmost secrecy they will argue--often heatedly. But it "stays in this room" so to speak. Indeed revealing Mithraic secrets will be a capital offense. Also they were very reluctant to put too much of the Mysteries to writing. So while Mithraism will subtly influence the prevailing philosophy, the formal rigorous theology of Scholasticism will not happen. One benefit of this is that the bizarre sectarianism of Christianity where mobs of those who believe the Son has the Same Substance as the Father fight the mobs of those who believe the Son has Similar Substance.

    Another benefit is that the military is given a firm moral foundation--sort of cross between chivalry, bushido and the Templars. The military are going to be restrained and better educated. The pious warrior/scholar/initiate could emerge as a cultural icon. Christianity only reluctantly embraced the warrior as a necessary evil and the evolution of chivalry took time.

    Oh, my wild card is Gnosticism. Historically most of Gnosticism was a distorted form of Christianity (mixed with a corrupted form of NeoPlatonism). If Mithraism remains strong a Gnostic corruption of Mithraism seems likely.
     
  19. Norman Member

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    Tom:

    Excellent! Takes care of my 'black box' approach to the philosophical differences. (i.e. a question goes into the black box and something happens and it comes out fixed.)

    Norman
     
  20. tom Member

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    Does this look right?
    Yellow=Catholic
    Brown=Mithraist
    Green=Orthodox
    Purple=Coptic

    mithras.GIF