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  • Author or Editor: Luciano Albanese x
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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.

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