ISBN: 978-2-87457-095-7
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« Digne d’en rire ». Une célébration des Mithrakāna devant Cyrus et Alexandre les Grands ?

 = Paper = 

by Gilles COURTIEU, in Res Antiquae 14, 2017.

The celebration of the Mithrakāna, known today as Mehragān, is the second in relevance in the Mazdaean calendar. Yet heretofore evidence about it was scarce and scattered, so very little was known as regards the nature of such cult and its connection to the Avestic texts. An unexploited passage in Xenophon's Cyropaedia, however, provides a long and delightful description of the ceremony, in which a fake collective combat was performed. Besides, the association of Xenophon's passage with a narrative by Eratosthenes relative to the very same rite – which is therein portrayed as taking place a little before the battle of Gaugamela – significantly hints a little before the autumn equinox, and hence at Mithra’s day, as the related date for the ceremony. These testimonies moreover suggest a dramatic transposition of the otherwise somewhat hieratic Mazdaean doctrine, and they also document the existence of a special liturgy devoted to the warlike features of Mithra which matched the brutal rhetoric of his hymn.

Keywords: Alexander the Great, Mithra, Xenophon, Gargamela, Cyropaedia