Roman Figurine of Mithras, Attis or Paris

Photo: Surrey County Council CC By SA2.0
Object type: Figurine
Period: Roman
Primary material: Copper alloy
Date found: 01/07/2023
Location: Charnwood, Leicestershire


The head of a Roman figurine that is considered to be a Find of Note of Regional Importance. It is probably a depiction of a deity and the Phrygian cap suggests two main possibilities: Mithras or Attis. Paris is also depicted wearing a Phrygian hat but that is probably less likely.


Mithraic Relief, Reconstruction AD 140 – 160
Photo: Jona Lendering, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The key parts of the life of Mithras are that he was born out of a rock, slaughtered a bull and then shared a banquet with Sol, the god of the Sun. As shown in this reconstructed 2nd century relief he is usually depicted doing one, if not all three, of these things. he is almost always wearing a Phrygian cap.

The Cult of Mithras was a Roman mystery religion, which involved initiation ceremonies and secret handshakes. It was popular among the Roman army from the 1st to 4th Century.


Statue of Attis from Roman Hierapolis.
Photo: Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany, CC BY-SA 2.0

Attis was the consort of Cybele, in Phrygian and Greek mythology.

Attis’s story involves him castrating himself just before he was about to get married. He died and violets grew from his blood. From this, he became the Phrygian vegetation deity; his self-mutilation and death followed by a form of resurrection mirrored the death of plants in the winter and their rise in the spring.