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"Mithras" was the central savior god of Mithraism, a syncretic Hellenistic mystery religion of male initiates that developed in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE and was practiced in the Roman Empire from the 1st century BCE to the 5th century CE. Parthian coins and documents bear a double date with a 64 year interval that represents Mithras' ascension to heaven, traditionally given as the equivalent of 208 BCE, 64 years after his birth. The Romanized Greek Plutarch says that in 67 BCE a large band of pirates in Cilicia—on the southeast coast of Anatolia— were practicing "secret rites" of Mithras.

The name ''Mithras'' is the Greek masculine form of Mithra, the Persian god who was the mediator between Ahura Mazda and the earth, the guarantor of human contracts, although in Mithraism much was added to the original elements of Mitra. However, some of the attributes of Roman Mithras may have been taken from other Eastern cults: for example, the Mithraist emphasis on astrology strongly suggests syncretism with star-oriented Mesopotamian or Anatolian religions. At least some of this synthesis of beliefs may have already been underway by the ...

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