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A Contribution to the Understandig of the content and composition of the bottom fields of the Konjic Tauroctony

Goranka Lipovac Vrkljan

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 711 Kb

str. 131-139

preuzimanja: 1.096


Puni tekst: engleski pdf 711 Kb

str. 139-139

preuzimanja: 279



In the sense of composition and content within the
corpus of Mithraic monuments, the two-sided Konjic cult
picture (CIMRM II, 1865) represents a unique example.
This particularly relates to the Banquet presentation on
the back, with all the initiation grades participating. Even
though the question of iconography of the second grade,
Nymphus, in the shape of a lion beneath the clina – an
initiate wearing a lion’s skin – as B. Gabričević suggests,
or in the same shape with a hyena sign, as favored by
Miletić, has not been solved without further doubts, we
consider the opinion that all the grades are being represented
in parallel to be the only logical interpretation.
The same exceptionality is characteristic also of the
front side of the Konjic tauroctony relief. But unlike the
Banquet presentation, to which more attention has been
paid (K. Patsch, B. Gabričević, P. Selem, R. Merkelbach,
L. A. Campbell etc.), there are no detailed analyses of the
presentation of the tauroctony and the accompanying
scenes apart from the study by B. Gabričević.
The tauroctony scene is particularly interesting for two
details. The first is the composition of the accompanying
scenes. The second is their iconography and content.
As we pointed out, the sidelong arrangement of the
accompanying scenes is a characteristic not only of the
Rhine, Rhaetia and Pannonia, but also of the Italian territory.
As an example we pointed to the arrangement of the
accompanying scenes on the Barberini fresco (CIMRM I,
390). Thus the broader area of the compositional influence
has been determined, and the southern Danubian
influence, to which the accompanying scenes in the bottom
(and sometimes also upper) registers can be subscribed,
could be completely discarded.
The representations of two identical scenes within the
lower side fields of the Konjic relief contain a male figure,
holding an upside-down animal on his shoulders by the
feet. He is standing with his feet astride, facing the
tauroctony scene. Such an example of an ambivalent representation
of identical motifs has not been registered
within the entire Mithraistic iconography! The only difference
is in the anatomy of the animal head, which they
are dragging behind them. While in the left field a pig/
boar head is shown, in the right there is a ram head. In a
triptychal relation with the tauroctony, the animals represented
in the scenes – a pig, a bull and a ram – used to be
connected with the festivity suovetaurilia. Particularly
Merkelbach insisted upon it, comparing a couple of examples
among Mithraic reliefs, supporting it with the procession
of initiates with offerings on the frescos of the
Mithraeums of Santa Prisca (CIMRM, 480) and Dura-
Europos (CIMRM I, 40-42). The find of bones of the animals,
which were offered on the occasion of the ancient
Roman public festivity suovetaurilia, in the Mithraeum of
Konjic (and some others), is an insufficient and possibly
false argument in Merkelbach’s statement related to its
Konjic presentation. Even though it is certain that Mithraism
used to practice the aforementioned festivity as a sign
of participating in the Roman religious rites, it seems incompatible
that this offering took place within the
Mithraeum. Within this context, R. Beck’s current sociological
model of Mithraism as an association that practised
a common meal within Mithraeum’s premises appears
Contrary to the quoted assumption on the presentation
of a suovetaurilia, we suggest an interpretation of the
presentation of the Transitus in the lower side fields of the
Konjic relief. From the presentations of the Transitus we
know that the animal with a body turned upside-down
which he drags behind him is a bull. Within the analysis of
the materials containing similar presentations, in the bottom
fields of the register, which always represent one and
the same Transitus (the Barberini fresco CIMRM I, 390;
the Stockstadt relief CIMRM II, 1168; and the relief from
Meclo, CIMRM I, 729) we are more apt to interpret the
Konjic presentations on the basis of this doctrinary scene
and its content. The problem of the presentation of a ram
and a pig still remains to be investigated since we have not
yet found a scientifically supportable answer. Attributing
it to the rustical character of the piece or the lack of skill
of its creator would not provide an explanation for the
aforementioned anatomies of animals, thus reducing them
to bad presentations of a bull.
Gabričević’s comparison of the Konjic presentation of
Transitus with the examples from Lower Danubian reliefs,
on which they are being represented within the tauroctony
itself, or within the upper registers, needs to be absolutely
rejected. Equally so his interpretation of the necessity of
identifying the presentation of animals turned upside-down
with the similar motif within the presentation of the
Danubian horseman, with a scene of skinning a hanged
ram. Particularly the latest interpretations are excluded,
since on the examples of Rhine relieves from Ostenburken
(CIMRM II, 1292), Diebrug (CIMRM II, 1247), Ruckingen
(CIMRM II, 1137) and Nida (CIMRM II, 1083) we have
pointed to the fact that they also contain presentations of a
boar/pig and ram in their upper registers.
At the end of the compositional analysis of the Konjic
tauroctony and its iconographic recordings we have determined
comparative examples – the Barberini fresco
(CIMRM I, 390), the relief of Stockstadt (CIMRM II, 1168)
and the relief of Meclo (CIMRM I, 729) – on the basis of
which we support our interpretation of the western provenience
of the influences imposed on the Konjic presentation
of Transitus, but also on the scenes upon them, which
were preserved only in traces.

Ključne riječi

Mithraism; cult picture; tauroctony; iconography; composition nad style; Transitus; souvetauriliae

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