Isis, Mithras and Christ: iconography and mythology
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Keeley Street
of the Graeco-Roman world: Isis, the mystery cult devoted to Mithras and Christ.
This course has now started
Course Code: RC221
Duration: 10 sessions (over 10 weeks)
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What is the course about?
This course is an introduction to the essential belief structures, iconography, and mythology of three widespread ancient religions of the Roman world: Isis, a popular Egyptian deity, attracted many, especially women, for she seemed to release adherents from the crushing demands of societies dominated by both autocrats and fate; the mystery cult devoted to Mithras, an ancient Iranian sun god and bull-slayer, was well-known in the Roman world, especially Rome and Ostia, although exclusively for men; Christ, identified by believers with the deity of the Jewish scriptures, was increasingly significant in the Roman world from the mid-2nd century as Christian communities grew through families and friendship.
What will we cover?
The essential stories and/or mythologies of the deities and manner in which these are communicated through art (e.g. the Santa Prisca Mithraic frescoes), buildings (e.g. the Isis temple in Pompeii), and ritual (e.g. the Christian breaking of bread in the Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome) Whilst texts supply narrative details in the case of Isis and Christ, Mithras is not represented in this way, although there is an abundance of figural representation. Mithraic communities, however, did leave inscriptions which reveal much about their social status and modes of organisation.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Compare and contrast the three faiths, their respective deities and narratives, in terms of their pictorial and textual representation over time.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
No previous knowledge is required, although there will be recommended reading for each session. Books should be available from a library, although you might wish to buy particular texts if you wish to explore a topic further.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Most sessions involve the tutor presenting prepared talk or lecture, illustrated with slides. There are opportunities throughout for questions and discussion. These are illustrated with slides. As the course progresses you may wish to review an aspect of our course to the group, but this is not a requirement. Detailed notes and bibliographies, with suggested topics for further enquiry, are provided for each session.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You may well wish to buy some books to further your study. Although visits may be recommended, involving travel and entrance fees, these are not part of the course itself.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Any other Ancient Civilisations class. See website for details.