was kept holy in honor of Mithra. December 25th was observed as
his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-sun,
unconquered by the rigors of the season.
Mithra is the god of light, Anaitis the goddess of water. Independently of the Zoroastrian reform, Mithra retained his place as foremost deity in the north-west of the Iranian highlands. After the conquest of
a time the two priesthoods of Mithra and Marduk (magi and chaldaei
respectively) coexisted in the capital and Mithraism borrowed
much from this intercourse. This modified Mithraism traveled farther
north-westward and became the State cult of
religion, in which the Iranian element
remained predominant, came, after Alexander's conquest, in touch with the Western World. Hellenism, however,
When finally the Romans took possession of the
Its foremost apostles were the legionaries; hence it spread first to the frontier stations of the Roman army.