DSBcB31 Oriental and Mystery Cults in the Ancient Mediterranean

Faculty of Arts
Autumn 2020
Extent and Intensity
2/0/0. 4 credit(s). Type of Completion: k (colloquium).
Mgr. Martin Šmerda (lecturer)
Guaranteed by
Mgr. Martin Šmerda
Department of Classical Studies - Faculty of Arts
Contact Person: Jitka Erlebachová
Supplier department: Department of Classical Studies - Faculty of Arts
Thu 16:00–17:40 A24
Prerequisites (in Czech)
! DSBcB031 Mediterranean Oriental Cults
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is also offered to the students of the fields other than those the course is directly associated with.
fields of study / plans the course is directly associated with
Course objectives
Students will gain general knowledge about eastern and mystery cults in the ancient Mediterranean and about their roots. Lectures are divided according to individual cults.
Learning outcomes
After the completion of this course the student: - will be familiarised with main and lesser oriental and mystery cults,
- will know the character of these cults and the differences between them,
- will know the origins of these cults (concerning the cult of Isis and the cult of Mithra),
- will be familiarised with selected aspects of the religious development of the Roman Empire between the 1st and 4th century AD, i. e. with the problematic relationship between the original religions and cults and evolving and spreading Christian religion.
  • Introductory class, basic information
  • Eleusinian mysteries
  • Cult of Cybele
  • Cult of Isis - formation and development of the original cult in Egypt.
  • Cult of Isis - development of the cult in Hellenistic period and its spreading in the Mediterranean. Roman cult of Isis.
  • Cult of Mithra - Oldest beginnings in indo-iranian region, Rgved. Persian Mithra and Zoroastrism, Avesta
  • Cult of Mithras - spreading of the cult in the Mediterranean, roman mithraism
  • Minor cults of Jupiter Dolichenus, Sol Invictus and Juno Caelestis.
  • Origin and development of early christianity and its reflection in ancient sources. Paganism vs. Christianity. Prosecutions of Christians.
  • Religious development in Roman empire during 4th century AD. Constantine the Great and his family. Julian the Apostate and his reforms. First Heresies of ancient Christianity. Gnosis. Manicheism. End of Paganism.
    required literature
  • TURCAN, Robert. Mithra a mithraismus. Praha: Vyšehrad, 2004. ISBN 80-7021-708-1. info
  • ELIADE, Mircea. Dějiny náboženského myšlení. I., Od doby kamenné po eleusinská mystéria. 1. vyd. Praha: OIKOYMENH, 1995. 429 s. info
    recommended literature
  • Histoire des croyances et des idées religieuses. [T.] 2, De Gautama Bouddha au triomphe du christianisme (Orig.) : Dějiny náboženského myšlení. 2, Od Gautamy Buddhy k triumfu křesťanství. info
  • ALVAR, Jaime. Romanising oriental gods : myth, salvation and ethics in the cults of Cybele, Isis and Mithras. Translated by Richard Gordon. Leiden: Brill, 2008. xx, 486. ISBN 9789004132931. info
  • BECK, Roger. The religion of the Mithras cult in the Roman Empire : mysteries of the unconquered sun. 1st publ. in paperback. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. xiii, 285. ISBN 9780199216130. info
  • WITT, R. E. Isis in the ancient world. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Uiversity Press, 1997. 336 s. ISBN 0801856426. info
  • CLINTON, Kevin. Myth and cult : the iconography of the Eleusinian mysteries : the Martin P. Nilsson lectures on Greek religion, delivered 19-21 November 1990 at the Swedish Institute at Athens. Stockholm: Paul Åström, 1992. 209 s. ISBN 9179160255. info
  • MYLONAS, George E. Eleusis and the Eleusinian mysteries. 1st pub. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University, 1961. xx, 345. ISBN 0691002053. info
Teaching methods
Lecture, teamwork with texts, discussion.
Assessment methods
Active participation in lectures, written test.
Language of instruction
Further Comments
The course is taught annually.
Listed among pre-requisites of other courses
The course is also listed under the following terms Autumn 2019.
  • Enrolment Statistics (recent)
  • Permalink: https://is.muni.cz/course/phil/autumn2020/DSBcB31