Musing about Mithras

An email from my old Wikipedia account alerted me to some pointless dispute going on there. So this evening I went onto the account and shut off further emails and made sure the account was dead.  There is no purpose in sensible people attempting to contribute to Wikipedia, since it is really a collection of hearsay edited mainly by teenagers with loads of time, no judgement, not much education and nothing better to do.  Any malicious teenager with a grudge and no morals can simply delete your work, and hijack your efforts to tell a lie; and sooner or later, however obscure the subject on which you write, one of them will do so.  A couple of such villains wrecked the Mithras article some time back.  Such children tend to believe simultaneously that Wikipedia is the highest and most reliable authority on all subjects; and that it is perfectly OK for them to change it, in their ignorance, to say whatever they want it to say.  Such confusion of mind is rather charming, really.

But in the couple of years that I was maintaining the Wikipedia Mithras article, I acquired quite a stock of solid knowledge of the scholarship — unusual for me, since I spend most of my time with primary sources — and I have been musing on whether I should digest that knowledge into a page, or perhaps several pages, on my site.  It might be useful to people if I did.  Obviously I have copies of my work, so could base it on the last honest version of the Wikipedia article.

I’m not sure that I want to do it in quite the same format, tho.  Also the content and approach might be different.  In the Wikipedia article, before it was wrecked, I took the view that I would express no opinion of my own, and simply allow the scholars — people who publish peer-reviewed material and specialise in Mithras studies — to speak, and I would verify, even then, what they said and omit it if it was not backed by adequate primary sources.  The curse of Mithras studies is the waffly hearsay that goes around, and such a severe approach is quite necessary for anyone who wishes to know the facts.

But on my own pages I could, perhaps, express my own opinions.   The difficulty with this, however, is that I am not a scholar, and, ultimately, my opinions are worthless to the reader.   What I had in mind, rather, is to put up an image of a tauroctony and explain its parts and features.  This, surely, would be useful to anyone who sincerely wanted to know about Mithras, and something that I could do from my own knowledge. 

I’m also not quite sure how the page should be structured.  I like a fairly flat structure, and perhaps the system of tabs used by the Wikimedia software should be adapted.  I’ve also learned rather more about Persian Mitra than I knew back then — I was starting to prepare to rewrite that Wikipedia article, but won’t do so now — and possibly there should be something connected to that.

Nor was everything in the article, as I left it back in February, all of the same standard.  I verified everything that I could, of course, and tried to ensure balance, comprehensiveness and accuracy.  But some of the material was really not very interesting to me, and I didn’t really go into it.  Possibly I should omit that material.

We’ll see.  I have many other things to do, and in truth my life offline at the moment prevents me taking on any real projects online right now.  I will mull it over. 

4 thoughts on “Musing about Mithras

  1. Well I would encourage you to pursue it. The amount of rubbish that is out there on Mithra, and that it gets picked up and repeated is shocking.

  2. Thank you. It’s not nearly so bad as it was, but I always had the feeling that Wikipedia was a major source of the nonsense, and the way that the drivel subsided suggests that I was right. The other source is headbanger literature, and even popularisations. I came across an atrocious example recently, in a book that even someone as experienced as myself would not necessarily have supposed was talking tosh, if I hadn’t got into the habit of looking for, and at, footnotes.

    Now that the article is in the hands of trolls bent on circulating these lies, however, I imagine the problem will increase again.

    I’m not entirely convinced that an article on my site will have the necessary impact to clean out the rubbish. But I don’t know. Needs thinking about.

  3. Wikipedia…
    I read Julius Obsequins earlier this year and did a quick Google search which lead me to the Wikipedia entry. Only to find the UFO crowd had laced the entry with “quotes” that did not exist in the original. I and several others have pointed out the bad scholarship in the discussion page and finally another openly challenged with a “factual accuracy dispute” Thus far no one’s challenged our dispute but it was sad to see garbage posted by someone who obviously had never read the original work (which is relatively brief).

  4. Sad to hear. But such things happen. What is far more sinister is the way in which articles are deliberately corrupted and kept corrupted by wikilawyering tactics.

Leave a Reply