26 December 2009

"... a scorpion attacks the bull's testicles."

"Tauroctony" is your two-dollar word for the day. It refers to the artistic depiction of the mythic hero Mithras ritually slaying a bull (the sacrifice is called a taurobolium).
In the depiction, Mithras, wearing a Phrygian cap and pants, slays the bull, kneeling on its back with his left knee while looking away. His cape billows behind him showing its inner side. A serpent and dog seem to drink from the bull's open wound (which often spills blood but occasionally grain), and a scorpion attacks the bull's testicles. Typically, a raven or crow is also present, and sometimes also a goblet and small lion.
There is general agreement that the symbolism is astrological. More details at Wikipedia.


  1. Too bad Christianity didn't steal more of the Mithra/Sun God mythology and symbolism. The Xmas nativity scenes might be more interesting.

  2. @Mark.. Check it out. The Birthday of the Unconquered.


  3. Yeah, I know about the supposed Christ = Sol Invictus connection, but Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_invictus#Sol_Invictus_and_Christianity) seems to deny many of the connections as hearsay. I'm not sure anymore what is actually true.

    I just thought it would be more humorous if the standard nativity scene had more scorpions and bull testicles.

  4. considering that some early Christian writers were complaining about the Mithra religion perverting some Christian doctrines and sacraments, it is very possible the "stealing" was going the other way.

    A side note: Constantine himself managed to keep many of his edicts vague enough that they could apply both to worshipers of the "Son" and worshipers of the "sun". This way he managed to please two groups at once. Smart guy.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...