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Mithra, ancient Indo-Iranian sun-god, one of the ethical lords, or gods, of Zoroastrianism. He was the chief Persian deity during the 5th century B.C., and his cult spread over most of Asia Minor reaching Rome, according to Plutarch, in 68 B.C.. Mithraism was especially popular among the Roman legions. Roman Mithraism, which competed with early Christianity for converts, thought that the forces of good and evil waged a struggle in the world. It made ethical demands on its followers and offered them the hope of immortality. It declined after A.D. 200 and was officially suppressed in the 4th century.

See also: Zoroastrianism.

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