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  • 1 Hungarian National Museum, Budapest
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Summary

The external orientation of the Mithraic sanctuaries shows a great variety and heterogeneity. The internal orientation of the sanctuaries suggested by the cult image, however, shows a great homogenity and uniformity. The internal structure is organised on the possible axial line drawn from the entrance to the cult image, and continues beyond that. We can establish that the interior of a mithraeum is oriented along the ‘North-South – East-West’ frame of reference by the cult image.

The representation of the “Cosmos” in the sanctuary portrays only the visible, sensorial world. The known and organised “Cosmos” is the sanctuary itself, the ‘northern part’ of the Mithraic ‘Universe’ with its own inner coordinates.

The ‘Anti-Cosmos’, the Underworld, had been abolished from the ‘Mithraic Universe’, completely unmentioned by literary sources. After the vertical North-South and horizontal East-West orientation we can consider, that the cult image also as a partition, divides the ‘Mithraic Universe’ up into ‘northern’ and ‘southern’ parts. The ‘northern part’, as it is displayed, the ordered part of the ‘Universe’, or the “Cosmos” itself is represented by the shrine. Its opposite, the ‘southern part’, the disordered part of the ‘Universe’, or ‘Anti-Cosmos’ is absent on the cult image.

The Tauroctony prevents the specifically represented Underworld and its principles to manifest, creating the opportunity for the initiates to continue their eternal life in the living and organized part of the ‘Universe’, in the “Cosmos”.

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