I learn via Twitter that there is an exhibition doing the rounds in France, called “Mythes fondateurs” (=foundation myths). It seems to be largely aimed at children, which of course is one of the genuine functions of public museums.
Among the items in the exhibition is this:
Now this is plainly two figures from the cult of Mithras; Cautes, with his torch uplifted, and Cautopates with his torch pointing down. The names of these figures are referred to in no literary text, but we know them thanks to inscriptions.
Cautes is accompanied by the dog, and Cautopates by the snake.
I was intending to add this photograph to my catalogue of Mithras photographs; but of course that is useless unless I can identify the item. It looks as if most of the items are from the Louvre, but some from the museum in Vienne, at which Dimitri Tilloi, the photographer, saw the exhibition.
Looking in the CIMRM, I find that a pair of torchbearers was found in Vienne in 1835, but are since “lost”. However it is clear from the text that Vermaseren, the editor, received no cooperation at all from the museum in Vienne. Are these the “lost” items? (CIMRM 901) or are they from the Louvre? But I can find no indication of a pair of torchbearers in the Louvre in the CIMRM.
It is frustrating not to know! If by any chance any reader of this blog visits this exhibition, please photograph the card which explains the item and send me the details!
UPDATE: I have written to both museums to ask.