Sol Invictus

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Mosaic of Sol in Mausoleum M in the Vatican Necropolis ChristAsSol.jpg
Mosaic of Sol in Mausoleum M in the Vatican Necropolis

Sol Invictus ("Unconquered Sun") was the official sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. On 25 December AD 274, the Roman emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. [2] Scholars disagree about whether the new deity was a refoundation of the ancient Latin cult of Sol, [3] a revival of the cult of Elagabalus, [4] or completely new. [5] The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until the last third-part of the reign of Constantine I. [6] The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to AD 387, [7] and there were enough devotees in the fifth century that the Christian theologian Augustine found it necessary to preach against them. [8]

Solar deity Sky deity who represents the Sun

A solar deity is a sky deity who represents the Sun, or an aspect of it, usually by its perceived power and strength. Solar deities and Sun worship can be found throughout most of recorded history in various forms. The Sun is sometimes referred to by its Latin name Sol or by its Greek name Helios. The English word sun stems from Proto-Germanic *sunnǭ.

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–476 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome, consisting of large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and its city of Rome as sole capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided into a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Roman emperor ruler of the Roman Empire

The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period. The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Often when a given Roman is described as becoming "emperor" in English, it reflects his taking of the title Augustus or Caesar. Another title often used was imperator, originally a military honorific. Early Emperors also used the title Princeps Civitatis. Emperors frequently amassed republican titles, notably princeps senatus, consul and pontifex maximus.


Invictus as epithet

Dedication made by a priest of Jupiter Dolichenus on behalf of the well-being (salus) of the emperors, to Sol Invictus and the Genius of the military unit equites singulares Augusti Stele Sol Invictus Terme.jpg
Dedication made by a priest of Jupiter Dolichenus on behalf of the well-being (salus) of the emperors, to Sol Invictus and the Genius of the military unit equites singulares Augusti

Invictus ("unconquered, invincible") was an epithet utilized for several Roman deities, including Jupiter, Mars, Hercules, Apollo, and Silvanus. [10] It had been in use from the 3rd century BC. [11] The Roman cult to Sol is continuous from the "earliest history" of the city until the institution of the Christian cult as the exclusive state religion. Scholars have sometimes regarded the traditional Sol and Sol Invictus as two separate deities, but the rejection of this view by S. E. Hijmans has found supporters. [12]

An epithet is a byname, or a descriptive term, accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It can also be a descriptive title: for example, Pallas Athena, Alfred the Great, Suleiman the Magnificent or Władysław I the Elbow-high.

Jupiter (mythology) King of the gods in ancient Roman religion and myth

Jupiter, also known as Jove, is the god of the sky and thunder and king of the gods in Ancient Roman religion and mythology. Jupiter was the chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras, until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. In Roman mythology, he negotiates with Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, to establish principles of Roman religion such as offering, or sacrifice.

Mars (mythology) Roman god of war, and guardian of agriculture

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him, and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.

An inscription of AD 102 records a restoration of a portico of Sol in what is now the Trastevere area of Rome by a certain Gaius Iulius Anicetus. [13] While he may perhaps have had in mind an allusion to his own cognomen , which is the Latinized form of the Greek equivalent of invictus, ἀνίκητος (aniketos), [14] the earliest extant dated inscription that uses invictus as an epithet of Sol is from AD 158. [15] Another, stylistically dated to the 2nd century, is inscribed on a Roman phalera (ornamental disk): inventori lucis soli invicto augusto ("I glorify the unconquerable sun, the creator of light.") [16] [17] Augustus is a regular epithet linking deities to the Imperial cult.[ citation needed ]

A cognomen was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome, under Roman naming conventions. Initially, it was a nickname, but lost that purpose when it became hereditary. Hereditary cognomina were used to augment the second name, the gens, in order to identify a particular branch within a family or family within a clan. The term has also taken on other contemporary meanings.

Phalera (military decoration) decorative metal disks or bosses worn as a mark of military distinction or as an ornament

A phalera was a gold, silver, or bronze sculpted disk worn on the breastplate during parades by Roman soldiers who had been awarded it as a kind of medal. Roman military units could also be awarded phalerae for distinguished conduct in action. These awards were often mounted on the staffs of the unit's standards. The term also refers to disks crafted by the continental Celts for religious and ornamental purposes, especially those used on equestrian gear.

Sol Invictus played a prominent role in the Mithraic mysteries, and was equated with Mithras. [18] [19] [20] The relation of the Mithraic Sol Invictus to the public cult of the deity with the same name is unclear and perhaps non-existent. [21]


According to the Historia Augusta , Elagabalus, the teenaged Severan heir, adopted the name of his deity and brought his cult image from Emesa to Rome. Once installed as emperor, he neglected Rome's traditional State deities and promoted his own as Rome's most powerful deity. This ended with his murder in 222. The Historia Augusta refers to the deity Elagabalus as "also called Jupiter and Sol" (fuit autem Heliogabali vel Iovis vel Solis). [22] While this has been seen as an attempt to import the Syrian sun god to Rome, [23] the Roman cult of Sol had existed in Rome since the early Republic. [24]

<i>Augustan History</i> late Roman collection of biographies, written in Latin, of the Roman Emperors, their junior colleagues, designated heirs and usurpers of the period 117–284; much of its content is regarded as fictional

The Augustan History is a late Roman collection of biographies, written in Latin, of the Roman Emperors, their junior colleagues, designated heirs and usurpers of the period 117 to 284. Supposedly modeled on the similar work of Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, it presents itself as a compilation of works by six different authors, written during the reigns of Diocletian and Constantine I and addressed to those emperors or other important personages in Rome. The collection, as extant, comprises thirty biographies, most of which contain the life of a single emperor, while some include a group of two or more, grouped together merely because these emperors were either similar or contemporaneous.

Elagabalus Augustus

Elagabalus, also known as Heliogabalus, was Roman emperor from 218 to 222. A member of the Severan dynasty, he was Syrian, the second son of Julia Soaemias and Sextus Varius Marcellus. In his early youth he served the god Elagabalus as a priest in Emesa, the hometown of his mother's family. As a private citizen, he was probably named Sextus Varius Avitus Bassianus. Upon becoming emperor he took the name Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus. He was called Elagabalus only after his death.

Roman Republic Period of ancient Roman civilization (509–27 BC)

The Roman Republic was the era of classical Roman civilization beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom, traditionally dated to 509 BC, and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the Roman Empire. It was during this period that Rome's control expanded from the city's immediate surroundings to hegemony over the entire Mediterranean world.


Roman Imperial repousse silver disc of Sol Invictus (3rd century), found at Pessinus (British Museum) Disc Sol BM GR1899.12-1.2.jpg
Roman Imperial repoussé silver disc of Sol Invictus (3rd century), found at Pessinus (British Museum)

The Roman gens Aurelia was associated with the cult of Sol. [25] After his victories in the East, the Emperor Aurelian thoroughly reformed the Roman cult of Sol, elevating the sun-god to one of the premier divinities of the Empire. Where previously priests of Sol had been simply sacerdotes and tended to belong to lower ranks of Roman society, [26] they were now pontifices and members of the new college of pontifices instituted by Aurelian. Every pontifex of Sol was a member of the senatorial elite, indicating that the priesthood of Sol was now highly prestigious. Almost all these senators held other priesthoods as well, however, and some of these other priesthoods take precedence in the inscriptions in which they are listed, suggesting that they were considered more prestigious than the priesthood of Sol. [27] Aurelian also built a new temple for Sol, which was dedicated on December 25, 274, [2] and brought the total number of temples for the god in Rome to (at least) four. [28] He also instituted games in honor of the sun god, held every four years from 274 onwards.

Aurelia (gens) Families from Ancient Rome who shared the Aurelius nomen

The gens Aurelia was a plebeian family at Rome, which flourished from the third century BC to the latest period of the Empire. The first of the Aurelian gens to obtain the consulship was Gaius Aurelius Cotta in 252 BC. From then to the end of the Republic, the Aurelii supplied many distinguished statesmen, before entering a period of relative obscurity under the early emperors. In the latter part of the first century, a family of the Aurelii rose to prominence, obtaining patrician status, and eventually the throne itself. A series of emperors belonged to this family, through birth or adoption, including Marcus Aurelius and the members of the Severan dynasty.

Aurelian Augustus

Aurelian was Roman Emperor from 270 to 275. Born in humble circumstances, he rose through the military ranks to become emperor. During his reign, he defeated the Alamanni after a devastating war. He also defeated the Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and Carpi. Aurelian restored the Empire's eastern provinces after his conquest of the Palmyrene Empire in 273. The following year he conquered the Gallic Empire in the west, reuniting the Empire in its entirety. He was also responsible for the construction of the Aurelian Walls in Rome, and the abandonment of the province of Dacia.

College of Pontiffs body of the ancient Roman state whose members were the highest-ranking priests of the state religion

The College of Pontiffs was a body of the ancient Roman state whose members were the highest-ranking priests of the state religion. The college consisted of the Pontifex Maximus and the other pontifices, the Rex Sacrorum, the fifteen flamens, and the Vestals. The College of Pontiffs was one of the four major priestly colleges; originally their responsibility was limited to supervising both public and private sacrifices, but as time passed their responsibilities increased. The other colleges were the augurs, the quindecimviri sacris faciundis , and the Epulones.

The identity of Aurelian's Sol Invictus has long been a subject of scholarly debate. Based on the Augustan History , some scholars have argued that it was based on Sol Elagablus (or Elagabla) of Emesa. Others, basing their argument on Zosimus, suggest that it was based on the Šams, the solar god of Palmyra on the grounds that Aurelian placed and consecrated a cult statue of the sun god looted from Palmyra in the temple of Sol Invictus. [29] Professor Gary Forsythe discusses these arguments and adds a third more recent one based on the work of Steven Hijmans. Hijmans argues that Aurelian's solar deity was simply the traditional Greco-Roman Sol Invictus. [30]


Coin of Emperor Constantine I depicting Solis Invictus with the legend SOLIS INVICTO COMITI, c. 315 Follis-Constantine-lyons RIC VI 309.jpg
Coin of Emperor Constantine I depicting Solis Invictus with the legend SOLIS INVICTO COMITI, c. 315

Emperors portrayed Sol Invictus on their official coinage, with a wide range of legends, only a few of which incorporated the epithet invictus, such as the legend SOLI INVICTO COMITI, claiming the Unconquered Sun as a companion to the Emperor, used with particular frequency by Constantine. [31] Statuettes of Sol Invictus, carried by the standard-bearers, appear in three places in reliefs on the Arch of Constantine. Constantine's official coinage continues to bear images of Sol until 325/6. A solidus of Constantine as well as a gold medallion from his reign depict the Emperor's bust in profile twinned (jugate) with Sol Invictus, with the legend INVICTUS CONSTANTINUS [32]

Constantine decreed (March 7, 321) dies Solis—day of the Sun, "Sunday"—as the Roman day of rest (Codex Justinianus 3.12.2):

On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost. [33]

Constantine's triumphal arch was carefully positioned to align with the colossal statue of Sol by the Colosseum, so that Sol formed the dominant backdrop when seen from the direction of the main approach towards the arch. [34]

Sol and the other Roman Emperors

Berrens [35] deals with coin-evidence of Imperial connection to the Solar cult. Sol is depicted sporadically on imperial coins in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, then more frequently from Septimius Severus onwards until AD 325/6. Sol invictus appears on coin legends from AD 261, well before the reign of Aurelian. [36]

Identical reverse as the coin of Constantine I but with Emperor Licinius on head Licinius315 Soli Invicto Comiti.JPG
Identical reverse as the coin of Constantine I but with Emperor Licinius on head
Coin of Emperor Probus, c. 280, with Sol Invictus riding a quadriga, with legend SOLI INVICTO, "to the Unconquered Sun": the Emperor (at left) wears a radiated solar crown, worn also by the god on the obverse ProbusCoin.jpg
Coin of Emperor Probus, c. 280, with Sol Invictus riding a quadriga, with legend SOLI INVICTO, "to the Unconquered Sun": the Emperor (at left) wears a radiated solar crown, worn also by the god on the obverse
Aurelian in his radiate crown, on a silvered bronze coin struck at Rome, 274-275 Antoninianus-Aurelianus-Palmyra-s3262.jpg
Aurelian in his radiate crown, on a silvered bronze coin struck at Rome, 274–275

Connections between the imperial radiate crown and the cult of Sol are postulated. Augustus was posthumously depicted with radiate crown, as were living emperors from Nero (after AD 65) to Constantine. Some modern scholarship interprets the imperial radiate crown as a divine, solar association rather than an overt symbol of Sol; Bergmann calls it a pseudo-object designed to disguise the divine and solar connotations that would otherwise be politically controversial [37] [38] but there is broad agreement that coin-images showing the imperial radiate crown are stylistically distinct from those of the solar crown of rays; the imperial radiate crown is depicted as a real object rather than as symbolic light. [39] Hijmans argues that the Imperial radiate crown represents the honorary wreath awarded to Augustus, perhaps posthumously, to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Actium; he points out that henceforth, living emperors were depicted with radiate crowns, but state divi were not. To Hijmans this implies the radiate crown of living emperors as a link to Augustus. His successors automatically inherited (or sometimes acquired) the same offices and honours due to Octavian as "saviour of the Republic" through his victory at Actium, piously attributed to Apollo-Helios. Wreaths awarded to victors at the Actian Games were radiate. [40]

Festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti

The Philocalian calendar of AD 354 gives a festival of "Natalis Invicti" on 25 December. There is limited evidence that this festival was celebrated before the mid-4th century. [41] [42] Whether this date was intended to celebrate solstice is doubtful; one scholar writes that "the cult of the Sun in pagan Rome ironically did not celebrate the winter solstice nor any of the other quarter-tense days, as one might expect". [43]

Since the 12th century, [44] there have been speculations that the near-solstice date of 25 December for Christmas was selected because it was the date of the festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, but this has been contested by the Calculation Hypothesis through the writings of the Early Christian Fathers. For example, Hippolytus of Rome, between 202 and 211, said in his commentary of the Book of Daniel that the birth of Jesus took place on December 25. [45] The manuscript also includes a passage which gives the Passion of Jesus as March 25. [46]



The halo of Jesus has similarities to a parhelion or a sun cross. Christus Ravenna Mosaic.jpg
The halo of Jesus has similarities to a parhelion or a sun cross.

According to historians about Christmas, it was set to 25 December because it was the date of the festival of Sol Invictus. This idea became popular especially in the 18th [47] [48] and 19th centuries. [49] [50] [51]

The charioteer in the mosaic of Mausoleum M has been interpreted by some as Christ. Clement of Alexandria had spoken of Christ driving his chariot across the sky. [52] This interpretation is doubted by others: "Only the cross-shaped nimbus makes the Christian significance apparent", [53] and the figure is seen by some simply as a representation of the Sun with no explicit religious reference whatever, pagan or Christian. [54]


Mosaic in the Beth Alpha synagogue, with the Sun in the centre, surrounded by the twelve zodiac constellations and with the four seasons associated inaccurately with the constellations Beit alfa01.jpg
Mosaic in the Beth Alpha synagogue, with the Sun in the centre, surrounded by the twelve zodiac constellations and with the four seasons associated inaccurately with the constellations

The traditional image of the Sun has also been used in early Jewish art. A mosaic floor in Hamat Tiberias presents David as Helios surrounded by a ring with the signs of the zodiac. [55] As well as in Hamat Tiberias, figures of Helios or Sol Invictus also appear in several of the very few surviving schemes of decoration surviving from Late Antique synagogues, including Beth Alpha, Husefa, all now in Israel, and Naaran in the West Bank. He is shown in floor mosaics, with the usual radiate halo, and sometimes in a quadriga, in the central roundel of a circular representation of the zodiac or the seasons. These combinations "may have represented to an agricultural Jewish community the perpetuation of the annual cycle of the universe or ... the central part of a calendar". [56]

See also


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-08-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. 1 2 Manfred Clauss, Die römischen Kaiser – 55 historische Portraits von Caesar bis Iustinian, ISBN   978-3-406-47288-6, p. 250
  3. See S. E. Hijmans, "The sun that did not rise in the east", Babesch 71 (1996) p.115–150
  4. See Gaston Halsberghe, "The cult of Sol Invictus", Leiden: Brill, 1972
  5. As Hijmans states (p.115): "Scholars have consistently postulated a clear distinction between the Republican Sol Indiges and the Imperial Sol Invictus." and p.116 "We should keep in mind, however, that most scholars agree that this cult [Sol Indiges] was never important, and that it had disappeared altogether by the beginning of the second century AD"
  6. Halsberghe, "The cult of Sol Invictus", p.155: "Up to the conversion of Constantine the Great, the cult of Deus Sol Invictus received the full support of the emperors. The many coins showing the sun god that these emperors struck provide official evidence of this." and p.169 "the custom of representing Deus Sol Invictus on coins came to an end in AD 323."
  7. Halsberghe, "The cult of Sol Invictus", p.170 n.3: "CIL VI, 1778, dates from AD 387,"
  8. Halsberghe, p.170, n.4: "Augustine, Sermones, XII; also in Ennaratio in Psalmum XXV; Ennaratio II, 3."
  9. CIL VI.31181.
  10. Hijmans, S. E. (2009). "The sun which did not rise in the east", p. 124.
  11. Hijmans, Steven Ernst. (2009). Sol: The Sun in the Art and Religions of Rome (diss., University of Groningen 2009), p. 18, with citations from the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum.
  12. Hijmans (2009 , pp. Chapter 1) (a reworking of Hijmans, 1996; Matern, 2001; Wallraff, 2002; and Berrens, 2004; all follow Hijmans.
  13. ( Hijmans 2009 , pp. 483–508 (Chapter 5))
  14. (Hijmans, 2009, 486, footnote 22)
  15. CIL VI, 715: Soli Invicto deo / ex voto suscepto / accepta missione / honesta ex nume/ro eq(uitum) sing(ularium) Aug(usti) P(ublius) / Aelius Amandus / d(e)d(icavit) Tertullo et / Sacerdoti co(n)s(ulibus) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2009-11-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) (Publius Aelius Amandus dedicated this to the god Sol Invictus in accordance with the vow he had made, upon his honorable discharge from the equestrian guard of the emperor, during the consulship of Tertullus and Sacerdos); see: Campbell, J. (1994). The Roman army, 31 BC–AD 337: a sourcebook, p. 43; Halsberghe 1972, p. 45.
  16. Guarducci, M. (1957/1959). Sol invictus Augustus. Rendiconti della Pont, 3rd series 30/31, pp. 161 ff. Accademia Romana di Archeologia
  17. An illustration is provided in Kantorowicz, E. H. (1961). Gods in Uniform, 368–393, 383, fig. 34 Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 105(4), (August 1961).
  18. Ulansey, David. (1989). The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries, p. 107. Oxford University Press.
  19. Salzman, Michele Renee. (2004). Pagan and Christian Notions of the Week in the 4th Century CE Western Roman Empire In Time and Temporality in the Ancient World, p. 192. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
  20. Alvar, Jaime, tr. Gordon, Richard (2008). Romanising Oriental Gods: Myth, Salvation, and Ethics in the Cults of Cybele, Isis, and Mithras, p. 100. Brill.
  21. (Alvar, 2008, p. 203)
  22. Historia Augusta, 1, 5: English translation (Loeb) from Thayer & Latin text
  23. See in particular Halsberghe 1972.
  24. Hijmans 1996, Matern 2001, Wallraff 2002, Berrens 2004, Hijmans (2009)).
  25. J.C. Richard, "Le culte de Sol et les Aurelii: À propos de Paul Fest. p. 22 L.", in Mélanges offerts à Jacques Heurgon: L'Italie préromaine et la Rome républicaine (Rome, 1976), 915–925.
  26. ( Hijmans 2009 , pp. 504–5)
  27. For a full list of the pontifices of Sol see J. Rupke (ed.), Fasti Sacerdotum (2005), p. 606. Memmius Vitrasius Orfitus lists his priesthoods as pontifex of Vesta, one of the quindecimviri sacris faciundis, and pontifex of Sol, in that order (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum vol. 6, 1739–1742). In a list of eight priesthoods, Vettius Agorius Praetextatus puts Pontifex Solis in third place ( CIL VI, 1779).
  28. The other three were in the Circus Maximus, on the Quirinal, and in Trastevere.( Hijmans 2009 , chapter 5)
  29. Dirven, Lucinda (1999). The Palmyrenes of Dura-Europos: A Study of Religious Interaction in Roman Syria. BRILL. p. 169. ISBN   978-9004115897. Archived from the original on 2015-12-08.
  30. Forsythe, Gary (2012). Time in Roman Religion: One Thousand Years of Religious History. Routledge. pp. 142–143. ISBN   978-0415522175.
  31. A comprehensive discussion of all sol-coinage and sol-legends per emperor from Septimius Severus to Constantine can be found in Berrens (2004).
  32. The medal is illustrated in Jocelyn M.C. Toynbee, Roman Medallions (1944, reprinted 1987) plate xvii, no. 11; the solidus is illustrated in J. Maurice, Numismatique Constantinienne vol. II, p. 236, plate vii, no. 14
  33. Excellent discussion of this decree by Wallraff 2002, 96–102.
  34. E. Marlowe, "Framing the sun. The Arch of Constantine and the Roman cityscape", Art Bulletin88 (2006) 223–242.
  35. S. Berrens, Sonnenkult und Kaisertum von den Severern bis zu Constantin I. (193–337 n. Chr.) Stuttgart: Steiner 2004 (Historia-Einzelschriften 185).
  36. Berrens 2004, precise p. number to follow. The coinage Elagabalus does not use invictus for Roman Sol, nor the Emesan Solar deity Elagabalus.
  37. Bergmann 1998, 121–123
  38. S. Hijmans, "Metaphor, Symbol and Reality: the Polysemy of the Imperial Radiate Crown", in: C. C. Mattusch (ed.), Common ground. Archaeology, art, science, and humanities. Proceedings of the XVIth International Congress of Classical Archaeology, Boston, August 23–26, 2003, Oxford (2006), 440–443; ( Hijmans 2009 , pp. 80–84, 509–548)
  39. Bergmann 1998, 116–117; Hijmans 2009, 82–83.
  40. Hijmans 2009, 509–548. A mosaic floor in the Baths of the Porta Marina at Ostia depicts a radiate victory crown on a table as well as a victorious competitor wearing one. "Regio IV - Insula X - Terme di Porta Marina (IV,X,1-2)". Archived from the original on 2008-11-09. Retrieved 2009-11-12.
  41. Wallraff 2001: 174–177. Hoey (1939: 480) writes: "An inscription of unique interest from the reign of Licinius embodies the official prescription for the annual celebration by his army of a festival of Sol Invictus on December 19". The inscription (Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae 8940) actually prescribes an annual offering to Sol on November 18 (die XIV Kal(endis) Decemb(ribus), i.e., on the fourteenth day before the Kalends of December).
  42. Text at Archived 2007-12-04 at the Wayback Machine Parts 6 and 12 respectively.
  43. Michael Alan Anderson, Symbols of Saints (ProQuest 2008 ISBN   978-0-54956551-2), pp. 45–46
  44. Bishop Jacob Bar-Salabi (cited in Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, Ramsay MacMullen. Yale:1997, p. 155)
  45. Tradition of Hippolytus Commentary on Daniel.html
  46. Towards the Origins of Christmas, Roll, S. (1995), p. 87
  47. Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, Researches Into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and Custom, Volume 2, p. 270; John Murray, London, 1871; revised edition 1889.
  48. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 3, 1885, T and T Clark, Edinburgh, page 396; see also Volume 4 in the 3rd edition, 1910 (Charles Scribner's Sons, NY).
  49. Anderson, Michael Alan (2008). Symbols of Saints. ProQuest. p. 45. ISBN   978-0-54956551-2.
  50. "The Day God Took Flesh". Melkite Eparchy of Newton of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. 25 March 2012. Archived from the original on 23 December 2014.
  51. Wikisource-logo.svg Martindale, Cyril (1913). "Christmas"  . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  52. Webb, Matilda (2001). The Churches and Catacombs of Early Christian Rome. Sussex Academic Press. p. 18. ISBN   978-1-90221058-2.
  53. Kemp, Martin (2000). The Oxford History of Western Art. Oxford University Press. p. 70. ISBN   978-0-19860012-1., emphasis added
  54. Hijmans 2009, p. 567-578.
  55. David R. Cartlidge, James Keith Elliott, The Art of Christian Legend (Routledge 2001 ISBN   978-0-41523392-7), p. 64
  56. Weitzmann, pp. 370, 375


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Julia Soaemias Augusta

Julia Soaemias Bassiana was a Syrian noblewoman and the mother of Roman emperor Elagabalus who ruled over the Roman Empire from 218 to 222. She was born and raised in Emesa, Syria and through her mother was related to the Royal family of Emesa, and through marriage, to the Severan dynasty of Ancient Rome.

Dominate "despotic" phase of government in the ancient Roman Empire from the conclusion of the Third Century Crisis of 235–284 until the formal date of the collapse of the Western Empire in AD 476

The Dominate or late Roman Empire is the name sometimes given to the "despotic" later phase of imperial government, following the earlier period known as the "Principate", in the ancient Roman Empire. This phase is more often called the Tetrarchy at least until 313 when the empire was reunited.

Constantine the Great and Christianity Constantine and Christianity

During the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (AD 306–337), Christianity began to transition to the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Historians remain uncertain about Constantine's reasons for favoring Christianity, and theologians and historians have often argued about which form of early Christianity he subscribed to. There is no consensus among scholars as to whether he adopted his mother Helena's Christianity in his youth, or, as claimed by Eusebius of Caesarea, encouraged her to convert to the faith he had adopted himself.

Imperial cult of ancient Rome

The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority (auctoritas) of the Roman State. Its framework was based on Roman and Greek precedents, and was formulated during the early Principate of Augustus. It was rapidly established throughout the Empire and its provinces, with marked local variations in its reception and expression.

Elagabalium a temple built by the Roman emperor Elagabalus

The Elagabalium was a temple built by the Roman emperor Elagabalus, located on the north-east corner of the Palatine Hill. During Elagabalus' reign from 218 until 222, the Elagabalium was the center of a controversial religious cult, dedicated to Deus Sol Invictus, of which the emperor himself was the high priest.

Malakbel deity

Malakbel was a sun god worshiped in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, frequently associated and worshiped with the moon god Aglibol as a party of a trinity involving the sky god Baalshamin.

Decline of Greco-Roman polytheism

Religion in the Greco-Roman world at the time of the Constantinian shift mostly comprised three main currents:

Sol (mythology) solar deity in Ancient Roman religion

Sol is the personification of the Sun and a god in ancient Roman religion. It was long thought that Rome actually had two different, consecutive sun gods. The first, Sol Indiges, was thought to have been unimportant, disappearing altogether at an early period. Only in the late Roman Empire, scholars argued, did solar cult re-appear with the arrival in Rome of the Syrian Sol Invictus, perhaps under the influence of the Mithraic mysteries. Recent publications have challenged the notion of two different sun gods in Rome, pointing to the abundant evidence for the continuity of the cult of Sol, and the lack of any clear differentiation—either in name or depiction—between the "early" and "late" Roman sun god.

The Roman cult of Mithras had connections with other pagan deities, syncretism being a prominent feature of Roman paganism. Almost all Mithraea contain statues dedicated to gods of other cults, and it is common to find inscriptions dedicated to Mithras in other sanctuaries, especially those of Jupiter Dolichenus. Mithraism was not an alternative to other pagan religions, but rather a particular way of practising pagan worship; and many Mithraic initiates can also be found worshipping in the civic religion, and as initiates of other mystery cults.

Coronations in antiquity

Historical ceremonies of introducing a new monarch by a ceremony of coronation can be traced to classical antiquity, and further to the Ancient Near East.

Tiberius Julius Balbillus also known as Julius Balbillus and Aurelius Julius Balbillus was an Emesene Aristocrat from the Royal family of Emesa in Roman Syria who served as a Priest of the cult of El-Gebal in Rome during the reigns of the Severan Roman emperors Lucius Septimius Severus reign 193-211 and Caracalla reign 211-217. El-Gebal is the Aramaic name for the Syrian Sun God.

Titus Julius Balbillus was an Emesene aristocrat from the Royal family of Emesa in Roman Syria who served as a priest of the cult of El-Gebal in Rome during the reigns of the Severan Roman emperors Lucius Septimius Severus, reign 193–211 and Caracalla, reign 211–217. El-Gebal is the Aramaic name for the Syrian Sun God.

Radiant crown radiate crown

A radiant or radiate crown, also known as a solar crown, sun crown, or tyrant's crown, is a crown, wreath, diadem, or other headgear symbolizing the sun or more generally powers associated with the sun. It typically takes the form of either a horned disc to represent the sun, or a curved band of points to represent rays.

The Temple of the Sun was a temple in the Campus Agrippae in Rome. It was dedicated to Sol Invictus on December 25, 274, by the emperor Aurelian and funded by spoils from his campaign against Palmyra. It was the fourth temple dedicated to him in Rome – the other three were in the Circus Maximus, on the Quirinal and in Trastevere. If still in use by the 4th-century, it would have been closed during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire.