Fotos and article by Barbara Sargoza from Italian Notebook
]The ancient Romans had as many gods as there were people and if you visit the Capua amphitheater, make sure to stop at the entrance and ask the custodian about the Mithraic temple. He disappears for a moment, then returns with a key and tells you to follow him by car. You drive through narrow streets until the custodian stops at a dead-end road. Unremarkably pressed between two apartment houses, a placard simply announces: Mithraeum.
The custodian unlocks double iron doors, brings you down a flight of stairs and into a vestibule where a curved ceiling has vestiges of red and green stars on a yellow background. In the front niche a rather dilapidated fresco depicts the god Mithras slaying a bull.
The cult of Mithras originated in Persia during the 14th century B.C. and his worship traveled across Asia Minor to Greece and then to Rome where by the 1st century A.D. the Mithras deity gained popularity. Interestingly, many Christian churches were formerly Mithraic temples and the birthday of Christ coincides with that of Mithras — December 25th.
Barbara recently published “The Espresso Break: Tours and Nooks of Naples, Italy and Beyond” available on Amazon.com. You can also visit her great website about Naples.