In chapter 7 note 43, I suggested the possibility (first raised by A. Deman) that the crossed legs of the Mithraic torchbearers represent the famous cross-- described by Plato in Timaeus 36c-- formed by the zodiac and the celestial equator, at the intersection point of which is the equinox. This is clearly in perfect agreement with my demonstration at the end of chapter 5 that the two torchbearers symbolize the equinoxes. However, as I pointed out in chapter 7 note 43, there do exist other-- non-Mithraic-- examples of torchbearers with crossed legs in Greco-Roman art in situations which obviously have nothing to do with the equinoctial cross. I concluded at the time that in giving the torchbearers crossed legs the Mithraists had adopted a common artistic convention, and that we therefore could not prove absolutely that they interpreted the crossed legs as representing the equinoctial cross.

While I still agree that absolute proof escapes us, I have come to feel that the possibility of a connection between the crossed legs of the torchbearers and the equinoctial cross must be given more emphasis than I gave it previously. For although there do exist examples in Greco-Roman art of non-Mithraic torchbearing figures with crossed legs, it is far more frequent to find torchbearers depicted without crossed legs. Thus, the Mithraists were under no compulsion to adopt the motif of the crossed legs, and we are left with the question of why they chose to do so.

Since every other detail in the Mithraic tauroctony appears to have been chosen for very specific reasons, it is highly unlikely that the torchbearers' crossed legs did not also have a special significance. In these circumstances, the fact that the Mithraic torchbearers were connected with the equinoxes and that the equinoxes were famously associated with the symbol of a cross provides a compelling explanation for why the Mithraists adopted this motif. I now feel, therefore, that the crossed legs are indeed a symbolic expression of the connection between the torchbearers and the equinoxes.

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