Astral Omina and their Ambiguity: The Case of Mithridates’ Comets

in Iran and the Caucasus
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


The present article deals with the methodological treatment of the problems connected with the interpretation of a series of astral omina concerning the political life of the Pontus king Mithridates VI Eupator (about 120-63 B.C.), as referred to by Classical authors like Pompeus Trogus (via the Epitomae of Justinus, XXXVII, 2, 1-3) or Seneca (Naturales Quaestiones VII, 15, 2). If some scholars have tried to find the explanation of these events invoking some presumed Iranian religious patterns, this study shows that in reality these attempts are completely groundless, not only with direct reference to the properly Zoroastrian sources, but also to the more complex and pertinent astrological literature. The political use and abuse of these astral events for propaganda needs can be better framed without assuming a pseudo-Iranian favourable vision of the comets or of the falling stars. More reasonably, Mithridates VI, having lived between different cultures, knew well the Mazdean hostile tradition, which considered all these unpredictable celestial bodies as demons, not only and simply for a superstitious hostility, but according to a clearly framed theological interpretation of the world and of its cosmology.

Astral Omina and their Ambiguity: The Case of Mithridates’ Comets

in Iran and the Caucasus


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 37 37 11
Full Text Views 35 35 18
PDF Downloads 3 3 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0