Caelus (Uranus)

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A primary sky deity in Roman mythology, theology, iconography, and literature, Caelus or Coelus was the roman counterpart of Uranus.

Caelus was the Roman mythology’s equivalent of Uranus (Sky). According to Cicero, Mercury’s parents were Caelus and Dies, who were the children of Aether and Day (Hermes). Hyginus, however, claims that in addition to Caelus, Aether and Dies were the parents of Terra (Earth) and Mare (Sea). In the theology of the mysteries of Samothrace, Varro describes him as the “big deity” (dei magni) alongside Terra (Earth) as pater et mater (father and mother). Not all academics believe Caelus to be a Greek import given a Latin name, despite the fact that he is not known to have had a cult in Rome; he has been compared to Summanus, the god of nocturnal thunder, as being “purely Roman.” In Latin translations of the tale of Saturn (Cronus) castrating his celestial father, from whose cut genitalia the goddess Venus (Aphrodite) was born, Caelus stood in for Uranus.

Featured image: Reverse of the Mithras the hunter relief depicting a naked Sol descending from a throne, Museum Schloss Fechenbach, Dieburg, Germany. The whole scene is represented inside a circular border in which an engraved inscription. The only figures outside this border are the busts of the four wind-gods; the one in the r. upper corner is lost. The front of a temple with four Corinthian columns. Between these columns garlands are hanging. In the centre of the triangular pediment is a medallion with a head (Sol?).

1) In the front of this building a naked person (Helios-Sol) descends from a throne. His l. foot on a footstool; a cloth covers his r. leg and his l.h. in which he holds a staff or sceptre. His r.h. is lost; the head is damaged. 2) Standing youth dressed ouly in a long shoulder-cape (Phaeton-Mithras). He rests his l.h. on the throne and he raises up his r.h. 3) On Helios’ left a standing woman only partly dressed in a mantle (Summer). She leans against the throne and in her l.h. she holds an oblong object (corn-ear).

Behind the central part three standing women are represented from l. to r.:

4) Standing woman the upper part of whose body is not covered, holds a plate with fruit in her outstretched l.h. (Autumn). She lifts her r.h. over her head. Both hands are damaged. 5) Youthful woman, the upper part of whose body is undressed holds her r.h. above Sol’s head (Spring). 6) Standing older woman dressed in a mantle holds a long thin object (reed?) in her l.h. (Winter). 7) On the four sides of the throne naked youths dressed in shoulder-capes. Each of them leads a horse and holds a twisted club in his l.h. 8) Three figures are represented in the foreground. In the centre a bust of a man in beard and above him an arched velum (Caelus). On his right a reclining woman the upper part of whose body is undressed. She lifts up her r.h. and she holds in her l.h. a cornucopia (Tellus). To the l. of Caelus a reclining man in beard who wears a ribbon in his hair. The lower part of his body is dressed in a mantle. He holds a jug in his r.h. (Oceanus).

In the figures of Caelus, Tellus and Oceanus the elements of air, earth and water are symbolized. The element of fire is represented in the main scene which is unique in Mithraic monuments and which refers to the end of the world. According to Cumont (Cf. Les Mages hell., I, 92; II 147 No. 4; Rel. Or4., 274 No. 14; Symb. fun., 75 No. 1) Phaeton, who implores Helios to guide the quadriga, is a symbol of the Platonic and Stoic ekpuroosis. The Mithraists were of the opinion that Mithras himself was the author of the World-conflagration and so they identified Mithras with Phaeton.

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