The Ancient Library

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On this page: Mitra – Mneme – Mnemosyne – Mnesicles – Modius – Morae



Mneme. See muses.

Mnemosyne. Daughter of Uranus and Graea, and one of the Titanide's, the goddess of memory, by Zeus, mother of the Muses (g.v.), in company with whom she was usually worshipped.

Mneslcles. A Greek architect, the builder of the Propylcea (q.v.).

Mddius. The principal dry measure of the Romans, equal to nearly two gallons, a sixth part of the Greek medimnus. It was divided into 16 sextarii, 32 hemlnce, 64 quartarii, 128 acltabula, 192 cyathi.

Mteras (Gr. Moirai). The Greek god­desses of Fate : Homer in one passage [II. xxiv 209] speaks generally of the Moira, that spins the thread of life for men at their

* CLOTHO, ATKOPOS, AND LACHKS1S. (Roman relief, in Schlosa Tegol, the residence of the Humboldts, near Berlin.)

birth ; in another [ib. 49] of several Moirai, and elsewhere [Od. vii 197] of the Clothes, or Spinners. Their relation to Zeus and other gods is no more clearly defined by Homer than by the other Greeks. At one time Fate is a power with unlimited sway over men and gods, and the will of Fate is searched out and executed by Zeus with the other gods [II. xix 87; Od. xxii 413]; at another Zeus is called the highest ruler of destinies, or again he and the other gods can change the course of fate [11. xvi 434], and even men can exceed the limits it im­poses [II. xx 336]. In Hesiod they are called in one passage [Theog. 211-7] daugh­ters of Night and sisters of the goddesses of death (Keren), while in another (Theog. 904] they are the daughters of Zeus and

the Great, his worship, mixed with various customs peculiar to Western Asia, was extended over all the Oriental kingdoms. In the first half of the 1st century b.c. it is said to have been introduced into the Roman provinces in the West by the Cilician pirates who were at that time masters of the Mediterranean, There are traces of his worship at Rome under Tiberius; and in the beginning of the 2nd century after Christ, under the Antonines, it became common throughout the whole Roman empire, and was kept up till the end of the 4th century. Mithras was a special favourite of the Roman armies. Being born from the rocks, he was wor­shipped in natural or artificial caves, such as have been found in every part of the Roman empire. He is represented as a young man in oriental dress and as an invincible hero, stabbing a bull with his dagger or standing on a bull he has thrown down. [Fine specimens of this group may be seen in the Louvre and in the British Museum and elsewhere (see cut).] The cave itself was explained by the ancients to signify the world, into which the human soul must descend, that it may be purified by many trials before leaving it. Before any one was initiated in the mysteries of Mithras, it was necessary for the person to undergo a series of (it is said eighty) trials of increasing difficulty; and an undaunted, unsubdued spirit had to be maintained in fire and water, hunger and thirst, scourging, and solitude, and tbe aspirant was thus prepared for the initiation. It consisted of seven degrees, that of the ravens, the secret, the fighters, the lions or she-lions (for women were also received), the Per­sians, the sun-runners, and the fathers. Various Christian rites seem also to have been introduced into the mysteries of Mithras. Epithets like " Lord and Creator of all things," "Father and source of all life," enable us to recognise Mithras as one of the pantheistic divinities of declining heathendom.

Mitra. A kerchief which women wore round the head. See hair.

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.