About this object
Roman; late 2nd-early 3rd century
On Display: Museum of London: Roman London: Mithraeum
Relief sculpture relating to the Roman god Mithras. The central medallion depicts Mithras slaying a bull, who is also being attacked by a dog, scorpion and snake. Mithras is flanked by his companions, Cautes, with his torch raised, and Cautopates, with his lowered. Around the circular border are the 12 signs of the zodiac. The sun (Sol) and moon (Luna) are depicted in the top corners, and the two wind gods in the bottom. The inscription is squeezed into any available space and was probably added later. It reads: Ulpi|us | Silva|nus | emeri|tus leg(ionis) | II Aug(ustae) | votum | solvit | fac|tus | Arau|sione, meaning ‘Ulpius Silvanus, veteran of the second Augustan legion, paid his vow: he was initiated at Orange’. It is unclear as to whether this refers to Ulpius Silvanus’s initiation into the army or the cult of Mithras at Orange in southern France. However, he was evidently a major patron of the London temple to Mithras. It has been suggested that he may have been the owner of the house behind which the temple was built.
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H 432 mm; W 508 mm; D 114 mm (overall), WT 64121g (64kg) (overall)
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