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Sol Invictus

Sol Invictus was long considered to be the official sun god of the later Roman Empire. In recent years, however, the scholarly community has become divided on Sol between traditionalists and a growing group of revisionists.
In the traditional view, Sol Invictus was the second of two entirely different sun gods in Rome. The first of these, Sol Indiges, or Sol, was an early Roman deity of minor importance whose cult had petered out by the first century AD. Sol Invictus, on the other hand, was a Syrian sun god whose cult was first promoted in Rome under Elagabalus, without success. Some fifty years later, on 25 December AD 274, the Roman emperor Aurelian established the cult of Sol Invictus as an official religion, alongside the traditional Roman cults.

Although the Syrian origin of Sol Invictus is undisputed in the traditional view, there has never been consensus on which Syrian solar deity he was: Some scholars opt for the sky god of Emesa, Elagabalus, while others prefer Malakbel of Palmyra. There was general agreement that, from Aurelian to Constantine I, Sol was of supreme importance, until Constantine abandoned Sol in favor of Christianity. The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to AD 387, and there were enough devotees in the fifth century that the Christian theologian Augustine found it necessary to preach against them.
In the revisionist view, there was only one cult of the Sun God in Rome, continuous from the monarchy to the end of antiquity. This was a Roman god who was simply called Sol. There were at least three temples of the Sun god in Rome, all active during the Empire and all dating from the earlier Republic. They claim that there was never a separate solar deity named Sol Invictus.
Invictus ("unconquered, invincible") was an epithet utilized for several Roman deities, including Jupiter, Mars, Hercules, Apollo, and Silvanus. It had been in use from the 3rd century BC.  The Roman cult to Sol is continuous from the "earliest history" of the city until the institution of Christianity as the exclusive state religion. Scholars have sometimes regarded the traditional Sol Indiges and Sol Invictus as two separate deities, but the rejection of this view by S. E. Hijmans has found supporters.

An inscription of AD 102 records a restoration of a portico of Sol in what is now the Trastevere area of Rome by a certain Gaius Iulius Anicetus.  While he may have had in mind an allusion to his own cognomen, which is the Latinized form of the Greek equivalent of invictus, ἀνίκητος (anikētos), the earliest extant dated inscription that uses invictus as an epithet of Sol is from AD 158. Another, stylistically dated to the 2nd century, is inscribed on a Roman phalera (ornamental disk): inventori lucis soli invicto augusto ("I glorify the unconquerable sun, the creator of light.") Augustus is a regular epithet linking deities to the Imperial cult. Sol Invictus played a prominent role in the Mithraic mysteries, and was equated with Mithras. The relation of the Mithraic Sol Invictus to the public cult of the deity with the same name is unclear and perhaps non-existent.

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