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The existence of a mithraeum at Angera (VA, Italy) was assumed for the first time in the 19th century, after the discovery of two Mithraic inscriptions re-used as ornaments of a private garden in the middle of the small town. The location of the alleged mithraeum is still uncertain: the inscriptions have been found out of context, and the place of worship has never been localized.
The “Antro mitraico” (Mithraic Cave), also known as “Tana del Lupo”, is a natural cave situated at the base of the East wall of the cliff on which the Rocca Borromeo (the Castle of Angera) stands. At the cave the most visible archaeological evidences are tens of breaches cut into the outside rocky wall, which probably contained votive inscriptions or stele. These elements denote the use of the cave as a place of worship.
In 1868 Biondelli identified in the cave the location of a Mithraic cult, giving rise to a theory that continues still today. If, on the one hand, the proposal appeared plausible, there is no clear evidence that in the cave a mithraeum was ever set up; besides, the presence of many an ex voto is in conflict with the mysteric ritual practices. This paper is intended to present an analytical study of the monument, with a broader inquiry on the characteristics of mithraea and other sanctuaries within natural caves.
vocabulaire sino-ouigour des Ming: le Kao-tch’ang-kouan yi-chou du bureau des traducteurs.’ AOH 19/2 : 117 – 199 . Matsui Dai 松井太 2008 . ‘Revising the Uigur Inscriptions of the Yulin Caves.’ Nairiku Ajia gengo no kenkyū 内陸アジア言語の研究 [Studies on the
2015 . '‘Jinnian Tulufan fojiao shikusi kaogu de xin shouhuo 近年吐鲁番石窟寺考古 的新收获 [New discoveries of archaeological investigations in the Buddhist caves in Turfan] In: Abdurishid Y akup (ed.) Studies in Central Asian Philology, Papers of the
Porphyry's Cave of Nymphs is dedicated to deciphering the philosophical and theological significance of the cave described by Homer in the Thirteenth Canto of the Odyssey. However, within the exegesis of the Homeric cave awaits another exegesis concerning the cave in which Mithras sacrifices the bull and in which the initiation of the worshippers and the common meal take place.
According to Porphyry, the cave of the Nymphs is the place in which the worshippers were initiated into the platonic mystery of the descent and ascent of souls. Mithras, assimilated to the Demiurge of the Timaeus, generates souls by killing the bull he has caught, ridden and dragged into the cave which symbolises the cosmos. The souls, which are created by the bull/moon like bees in a sort of bougonia (cf. Virgil, Georgics IV), and which are animated by his blood, descend into the cycle of generation and incarnation and are dragged down by Boreas, the cold wind that keeps them cool in the place of earthly generation. After successive reincarnations the warm wind of Notus dissolves the carnal vestments that imprison them and returns them to the heat of the Sun.
Conclusion. After the comparison between the text of Porphyry and the CIMRM will show that the theme of the descent and ascent of souls is very weak in Mithraic finds, and the reading of tauroctony as bougonia remains deprived of iconographic evidence. To sum up, The Cave of the Nymphs is more relevant to the history of Platonism than to the history of Mithraicism.
Dzeravá skála cave, Lesser Carpathians, Slovakia. Kraków, 59–66.
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Szeleta and Istálló-kő caves, Hungary . Praehistoria 3 ( 2002 ) 53 – 55 .
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kaogu xin shouhuo 吐峪沟石窟寺西岸中区考古新收获 [New archaeological discoveries in the central area of the west bank of the Tuyoq cave monasteries] . Tulufanxue yanjiu 吐鲁番学研究 [Turfanological research] No. 2 , pp. 155 – 156 , + 1 plate