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Summary

Secrecy was one of the major features of the so-called mystery cults that met with significant diffusion and popularity throughout the Greco-Roman world. The Roman cult of Mithras was a particular example of mysteries that took place in secret, without any public aspect.

This paper examines the ways in which the major symbolic systems of the Mithras cult, the mithraea, the scene of the tauroctony and the hierarchy of the initiatory grades, would have operated as elaborated security systems that would have contributed to the secrecy of the cult, obstructing both the physical and cognitive access of the uninitiated to their symbolic meanings.

Further, the cognitive processes that mediate the attractiveness of secret communities and forge social cohesion among members of secret groups are explored. It is argued that secrecy was a crucial aspect which would have promoted the formation of close exclusive communities of Mithraists and the development of social cohesion between the cult members.

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