From 22 July onwards the Colosseum hosts the first major exhibition that sheds new light on the religions of the mystery cults, no longer solely via literary sources but through ancient masterpieces.
[The Secret Rite / Mysteries in Greece and Rome] Statues, vases, reliefs, frescoes and, for the first time in Rome, the valuable votive terracotta tablets from Magna Graecia. The exhibition, thanks to state-of-the-art audiovisual technology, also explores in an anthropological key the impact of the rites and the significance of mystery cults in contemporary culture. In their introductory essays, some of the most eminent archaeologists and historians of ancient religions provide an up-to-the-minute critique on the sources and objects that reveal the creation myths, the secret rites of initiation into the Dionysian mysteries, the Eleusinian mysteries of Demeter and Persephone, deities who were much worshipped also in Magna Graecia, where the famous pinakes, or votive tablets in their honour were found. There are also exhaustive descriptions, accompanied by an outstanding series of illustrations, of the masterpieces that shed light on the eastern cults of Cybele, Isis and Mithras, which were very popular in the Roman world and are admirably evoked by the evocative areas of the Colosseum that house the exhibition. The book also provides an anthropological reading of the impact of the mystery cults on contemporary life, and the innovative exhibition design that includes dark rooms with sound effects and especially edited film sequences. More than an exhibition catalogue, this is a fully comprehensive publication on the religious cults that promised salvation before the advent of Christianity.