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By Steven Tobey
What is a cult?
• a small religious group that is not part of a larger
and more accepted religion and that has beliefs
regarded by many people as extreme or
dangerous are you kidding me?
• a system of religious veneration and devotion
directed toward a particular figure or object.
Foundation of cults
• After the expansion in Italy, the romans assimilated
a great many foreign beliefs and divinities. Other
cults were established, deifying abstract virtues.
• This adaptability served greatly to strengthen
conquered peoples’ loyalty to Rome. This opened
the door to the importation of new cults that were
somewhat less easily integrated into the traditional
Eastern Religion and
Eastern Religions
• In the republican period, the Roman state,
staggering beneath defeats suffered at the hands
of Hannibal and needing to bolster the faith of its
citizens, introduced to Rome the cult of the goddess
Cybele, She was the mistress of nature whose
numerous rites marked much of the Roman
calendar. Her cult became increasingly evident
with the Flavians and the cult of Isis
Cult of the Great Mother/
• In the imperial period the taurobolium was
introduced- to sacrifice of a bull whose testicles
were cut off while the blood of the victim ran
beneath the sacrificial altar, where the faithful
received a sort of baptism of blood. This came into
a symbolic castration that would allow a Roman
citizen to become a priest avoiding castration.
Great Mother Continued
• also tied to agriculture, like the Romans
• her consort Attis who dies and is reborn
• each year
• worship: ecstasy
• most Romans naturally disliked the sort
of excessive behavior seen in this cult
especially as it became ever more licentious
over time in order to attract followers
• Cybele thrived for other reasons
• the promise of life after death with Cybele
• appealed especially to those with little hope
of finding satisfaction in this life
Cult of Mithras
• Between the late first century and early second
century A.D., the Cult of Mithras spread throughout
the empire This was a religion of mysteries,
particularity ingrained among soldiers of the legions
• Mostly appealed to men in working class.
• Located in Mithraea (Caves) which was also a
place for baptisms in bulls blood.
• Became famous very fast.
Mithras Story
• Mithras (a powerful god capable of moving the
heaven) is born from a rock. He is depicted in his
temples hunting down and slaying bulls. in the
tauroctony He then meets with the sun, who kneels
to him. The two then shake hands, and dine on bull
parts. Little is known about the beliefs associated
with this.
Imperial Cult
• The imperial cult was an important unifying factor in
the under governed Roman empire. It was
beneficial for both Rome and its citizens. Most
importantly, it was a milestone for loyalty to Rome
and the emperor. For the provincial elites it also
provided new opportunities for social
Cult of Isis
• Practiced as a mystery cult, mystery beliefs.
• Isis was as famous as Cybele’s but in the fashion as it
is conducted in a decorous manner.
• Promised afterlife
• chorus singing
• in general, pageantry
Who was Mithras?
What is a cult?
What is Taurobolium?
What was a pro for the imperial cult?
Who did the Cult of Mithras mostly appeal to?
What were Mithraea?
Work Cited
• "The Roman Cult of Mithras." The Roman Cult of Mithras. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.
• "Britannica School." Britannica School. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov.
• "The Imperial Cult." Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013
• "1320: Section 12: Roman Cults and Worship." 1320: Section 12:
Roman Cults and Worship. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.
• "Role of the Roman Imperial Cult During the Augustan Age."
Role of the Roman Imperial Cult During the Augustan Age.
N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.
• "Google Images." Google Images. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov.
• Life and art in ancient rome