Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 14 November 2022

A Hittite Deity on Hadrian’s Wall

By chance - or rather thanks to the algorithm - I came across an article from Military History Now about the presence at Vindolanda on Hadrian’s Wall of the cult of the originally Hittite deity Jupiter Dolichenus.

We are familiar with devotion amongst the Romans to the Persian cult of Mithras both from the temple discovered in London and from that on Hadrian’s Wall, but the survival of a Hittite cult, adopted into the Roman pantheon, does, at first sight appear somewhat exotic, if not quixotic, in this particular context.

Wikipedia has a detailed and illustrated account of the cult and its place in Roman life in the second and third centuries which can be read at Jupiter Dolichenus

The presence of such a specialised cult on the Wall demonstrates the cultural and religious breadth of the Roman Empire as well as its territorial spread, such that cults could be transmitted not just to individuals but to groups who ranged across the Pax Romana. It appears to have been a devotion with a strong appeal to military men posted on the frontiers of the Empire, and hence its appearance at Vindolanda.

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