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SEC, 1–JANUS. HIS IMAGE, NAMES, AND ACTIONS.
JANUs is the two-faced god; holding a key in his right hand, and a rod in his left. Beneath his feet you see twelve altars; some say he was the son of Coelus and Hecate; and that this name was given to him *from a word signifying to go or pass through. +Whence it is that thoroughfares are called in the plural number jani; and the gates before the door of private houses, janua. A place at Rome was called Jani, in which were three images of Janus: and there usurers and creditors met always to pay and receive money. This place is mentioned both by Tully and |Horace.
As he is painted with two faces, so he is called by Virgil, Bifrons, and by Ovid, Biceps:
“Jane Biceps anni tacite labentis imago,
Thou double pate, the sliding year dost show,
Because so great was his prudence, that he saw both the things past, and those which were future. Or by Janus the world was thought to be meant, viewing with two faces the two principal quarters, the east and the west.
When Romulus, king of the Romans, made a
* Janus quasi Eanus ab eundo. f Unde fit ut transitiones perviae Jani (plurali numero) fores †. in limis profanarum aedium Janua dicerentur. Cic. de Nat. eor. + Viri optimi ad medium Janum sedentes. Cic. de Offic.?. Dempster. in Paralip. | Imus et Summus Janus. Horat. l. 1, ep. 1.
league with Titus, king of the Sabines, they set up an image of Janus Bifrons, intending thereby to represent both nations between which the peace was concluded. Numa afterwards built a temple, which had double doors, and dedicated it to the same Janus. When Falisci, a city of Hetruria, was taken, there was an image of Janus found with four faces; upon which the temple of Janus had four gates, but of that temple we shall speak by-and-by. He is called Claviger, “turnkey” or “club-bearer,” from the rod and the key in his hands. He
held the rod, because he was the guardian of the
ways, rector viarum; and the key for these reasons:
1. He was the inventor of locks, doors, and gates,
which are called janua, after his name: and himself is called Janitor, because doors were under his protection. . -
2. He is the Janitor of the year, and of all the months; the first of which takes the name of January from him. To Juno belongs the calends of the months, and she committed them to his care, therefore he is called by some Junonius, and Martial takes notice, that the government of the year was committed to him ; for which reason twelve altars were dedicated to him, according to the number of the months; as there were also twelve small chapels in his temple. The consuls at Rome were inaugurated in the temple of Janus, who were from this said to open the year. Upon the calends of January (and as Macrobius says on the calends of March) a new laurel was hung upon the statue of Janus, and the old laurel was taken away; to which custom Ovid - refers.
“Ilaurea Flaminibus, quae toto perstitit anno
The laurel that the former year did grace,
Pliny thought this custom was occasioned because Janus rules over the year; “The statue,” says he, “of Janus, which was dedicated by Numa, had its fingers so composed, as to signify the number of three hundred and sixty-five days; to show that Janus was a god, by his knowledge of the year, and time, and ages.” He had not these figures described on his hand, but had a peculiar way of numbering them, by bending, stretching, or mixing his fingers, of which numeration many are the opinions of authors.
3. He holds a key in his hand, because he is, as it were, the door through which the prayers of mankind have access to the gods: for, in all sacrifices, prayers were offered up to Janus. And Janus himself gives the same reason, as we find in Ovid, why, before men sacrificed to any of the other gods, they first offered sacrifice to him :
“Cur quamvis aliorum numina placem,
Jane, tibi primum thura merumque fero 2
Ut possis aditum per me, qui limina servo,
Ad quoscunque voles inquit; babere deos.” Fast. 1.
Why is't that though I other gods adore, ~ I first must Janus' deity implore ?—
Because I hold the door, by which access
Is had to any god you would address.
But Festus says, because men thought that all things took their being from Janus, therefore they first made their supplications to him as to a common father. For though the name father is given to all the gods, yet Janus was particularly called by this name. He first built temples and altars, and instituted religious rites; and for that reason, among others, in all sacrifices they begin their rites by offering bread, corn, and wine, to Janus, before any thing is offered to any other deity. Frankincense was never offered to him, though Ovid mentions it, which therefore he inserts either by poetical license, or only in respect to the sacrifices which were in use in his time. For Pliny asserts, that they did not sacrifice with frankincense in the times of the Trojans. Neither does Homer in the least mention frankincense in any place where he speaks concerning sacrifices. He was also called Patulcius and Clusius, or Patulacius and Clausius; from opening and shutting; for in the time of war Janus' temple was open, but shut in the time of peace. This temple was founded by Romulus and Tatius. Numa ordained that it should be opened when the Romans waged war, but shut when they enjoyed peace. Ovid mentions both these latter names of Janus in a distich : and Virgil describes the manner and occasion of opening his temple, and also the conse quences of shutting it again:
“Sunt geminae belli porta sic nomine dicunt
Two gates of steel (the name of Mars they bear,
It is remarkable, that within the space of seven hundred years, this temple of Janus was shut only thrice: once by Numa ; the second time by the consuls Marcus Attilius and Titus Manlius, after the Carthaginian war; and lastly, by Augustus, after the victory at Actium.
In this story of Janus, we may behold the representation of a very prudent person ; whose wisdom