Mithra – Mihr – Mher – The Pantheon of Ancient Armenia

Mithra – Mihr – Mher – The Pantheon of Ancient ArmeniaThe religion of the deity Mithra known as Mithraism spread from Armenia to eastern countries such as Persia and India, as well as towards the west.

Soon after the appearance of Mithraism in the Roman Empire, Mithraic temples known as Mithreums spread throughout the whole Empire. Armenian aristocrats, who were at the same time generals in the Roman army, were the main contributors to the spread of Mithraism within the Empire. A good example is Armenian King Tiridates III, who had been a prominent Roman commander before acceding to the throne of Armenia.

By the 2nd century BC, Mithraism has already been the state religion of the Roman Empire. Up until the adoption of Christianity as a state religion in the 4th century AD, virtually every single Roman emperor has been an adherent of Mithraism.

The peaks of the eight-pointed Armenian crowns symbolized sunbeams, which in their turn represented Mithra. The eight-point star with an eagle on each side also was a symbol of Mithra.

The King-Sun embodied the deity of the sun on earth, while the Armenian tiara symbolized the unity of spiritual and material worlds represented by the crown and the silk-leather cover of the diadem respectively.

Having emerged in the territory of Armenia in the 2nd millennium BC, Mithraism spread to the Roman Empire, as we already mentioned, and became the foundation of the western society and civilization. Many traditions have been adopted from Mithraism, for example, the handshake, which has been used by the adherents of Mithraism and is now used as a common greeting ritual.

by Gevorg Nazaryan

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