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The worship of the Indo-Persian god Mithra dates back centuries to millennia preceding the common era.The god is found as "Mitra" in the Indian Vedic religion, which is over 3,500 years old, by conservative estimates.In the fifth century, the emperor Julian, having rejected his birth-religion of Christianity, adopted Mithraism and "introduced the practise of the worship at Constantinople." (, VII, 423) Modern scholarship has gone back and forth as to how much of the original Indo-Persian Mitra-Mithra cultus affected Roman Mithraism, which demonstrates a distinct development but which nonetheless follows a pattern of this earlier solar mythos and ritual.The theory of "continuity" from the Iranian to Roman Mithraism developed famously by scholar Dr.
According to Pseudo-Clement of Rome's debate with Appion ( VI, ch. In time, the Persian Mithraism became infused with the more detailed astrotheology of the Babylonians and Chaldeans, and was notable for its astrology and magic; indeed, its priests or magi lent their very name to the word "magic." Included in this astrotheological development was the re-emphasis on Mithra's early Indian role as a sun god. BC), states baldly that the Western Parthians "call the sun Mithra." In an early image, Mithra is depicted as a sun disc in a chariot drawn by white horses, another solar motif that made it into the Jesus myth, in which Christ is to return on a white horse. Gilmore, editors of , that the Mithraic system of ritual and doctrine took the form which it afterward retained.Among its members during this period were emperors, politicians and businessmen.