4 thoughts on “Back from Rome

  1. Glad you’re back!

    Hey, I found another ref for you. Pliny the Elder’s Natural History (Bk. 37, Ch. 63) mentions a stone called “mithrax” which comes from “Persia and the mountains of the Red Sea. It is of numerous colours, and reflects various tints when exposed to the sun.”

    Basically thought to be opal, and known by some later writers (Solinus and Isidore of Seville) as “mithridax,” according to Chambers’ supplement to his History of Science.

    So anyway, double reference: Mithras and Tolkien’s mithril, and thus you get real value for money!

    Heard about this from a book on Latin synonyms, which used Pliny’s description to illustrate some differences in connotation.

  2. I suspect it’s not a direct connection, too, but obviously something etymologically related is going on. If the guy’s right who thinks it’s opal matrix stuck in a bunch of red rock, maybe the red is supposed to be bull blood or something… but yeah, that’s pretty close to just pulling stuff out of one’s butt.

    But it is in Persia, so at least the neighborhood is there.

    OTOH, maybe this is why some people are so persistent about thinking Mithras is connected to a rock/Attis. This doesn’t make it a good idea or true.

  3. Maybe so.

    Mithras is certainly born from a rock – he is depicted so in many representations, and in the literature. The rock is often depicted like a pine-cone, and indeed a pine-cone-shaped rock stands in front of the altar in one of the Mithraea in Ostia. Attis chopped his bits off with a sharp stone while lying under a pine tree.

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