In ancient Roman religion and myth,
Janus (/ˈdʒeɪnəs/; Latin:
IANVS (Iānus), pronounced [ˈjaː.nus]) is the god of
beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages,
and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he
looks to the future and to the past. It is conventionally thought that
the month of
January is named for
Janus (Ianuarius), but according
to ancient Roman farmers' almanacs Juno was the tutelary deity of the
Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence
war and peace. The gates of a building in Rome named after him, not a
temple as it is often called, but an open enclosure with gates at each
end, were opened in time of war, and closed to mark the arrival of
peace (which did not happen very often). As a god of transitions, he
had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys and exchange, and in
his association with Portunus, a similar harbor and gateway god, he
was concerned with travelling, trading and shipping.
Janus had no flamen or specialised priest (sacerdos) assigned to him,
but the King of the Sacred Rites (rex sacrorum) himself carried out
Janus had an ubiquitous presence in religious
ceremonies throughout the year. As such,
Janus was ritually invoked at
the beginning of each ceremony, regardless of the main deity honored
on any particular occasion.
The ancient Greeks had no equivalent to Janus, whom the Romans claimed
as distinctively their own.
2 Theology and functions
2.1 God of beginnings and passages
2.2 God of change and time
2.3 Position in the pantheon
2.3.1 Structural peculiarity theory
2.3.2 Solar god theory
4 Cult epithets
4.1 Carmen Saliare
4.2 Other sources
4.2.3 Patulcius and Clusivius
4.2.5 Ποπάνων (Popanon, Libo?)
4.2.8 Κήνουλος (Coenulus)
5.1 Beginning of the year
5.2 Beginning of the month
5.3 Beginning of the day
5.5 Rites of the Salii
5.6 Tigillum Sororium
7 Origin, legends, and history
8 Relationship with other gods
Janus and Juno
Janus and Quirinus
Janus and Portunus
Janus and Vesta
Janus in Etruria
10 Association with non-Roman gods
13 In literature
14 See also
17 External links
Three etymologies were proposed by ancient erudites, each of them
bearing implications about the nature of the god.
The first one is based on the definition of Chaos given by Paul the
Deacon: hiantem, hiare, be open, from which word Ianus would derive by
loss of the initial aspirate. In this etymology, the notion of Chaos
would define the primordial nature of the god.
Another etymology proposed by
Nigidius Figulus is related by
Macrobius: Ianus would be
Apollo and Diana Iana, by the addition of
a D for the sake of euphony. This explanation has been accepted by A.
B. Cook and J. G. Frazer. It supports all the assimilations of Janus
to the bright sky, the sun and the moon. It supposes a former *Dianus,
formed on *dia- < *dy-eð2 from Indo-European root *dey- shine
represented in Latin by dies day, Diovis and Iuppiter. However the
form Dianus postulated by Nigidius is not attested.
A third etymology indicated by Cicero,
Ovid and Macrobius, which
explains the name as Latin, deriving it from the verb ire ("to go") is
based on the interpretation of
Janus as the god of beginnings and
Modern scholars have conjectured that it derives from the
Indo-European root meaning transitional movement (cf.
or Avestan "yah-", likewise with Latin "i-" and Greek "ei-".).
Iānus would then be an action name expressing the idea of going,
passing, formed on the root *yā- < *y-eð2- theme II of the root
*ey- go from which eō, ειμι.
Other modern scholars object to an Indo-European etymology either from
Dianus or from root *yā-.
From Ianus derived ianua ("door"), and hence the English word
"janitor" (Latin, ianitor).
Theology and functions
Different depictions of
Janus from Bernard de Montfaucon's
L'antiquité expliquée et représentée en figures
While the fundamental nature of
Janus is debated, in most modern
scholars' view the god's functions may be seen as being organized
around a single principle: presiding over all beginnings and
transitions, whether abstract or concrete, sacred or profane.
Interpretations concerning the god's fundamental nature either limit
it to this general function or emphasize a concrete or particular
aspect of it (identifying him with light the sun, the
moon, time, movement, the year, doorways,
bridges etc.) or else see in the god a sort of cosmological
principle, interpreting him as a uranic deity.
Almost all of these modern explanations were originally formulated by
God of beginnings and passages
The function god of beginnings has been clearly expressed in numerous
ancient sources, among them most notably Cicero, Ovid, and Varro.
As a god of motion,
Janus looks after passages, causes actions to
start and presides over all beginnings. Since movement and change are
interconnected, he has a double nature, symbolised in his two headed
image. He has under his tutelage the stepping in and out of the
door of homes, the ianua, which took its name from him, and
not vice versa. Similarly, his tutelage extends to the covered
passages named iani and foremost to the gates of the city, including
the cultic gate of the Argiletum, named Ianus Geminus or Porta
Ianualis from which he protects Rome against the Sabines. He is
also present at the Sororium Tigillum, where he guards the terminus of
the ways into Rome from Latium. He has an altar, later a temple
near the Porta Carmentalis, where the road leading to
Veii ended, as
well as being present on the Janiculum, a gateway from Rome out to
The connection of the notions of beginning (principium), movementy,
transition (eundo), and thence time has been clearly expressed by
Cicero. In general,
Janus is at the origin of time as the guardian
of the gates of Heaven: Jupiter himself can move forth and back
because of Janus's working. In one of his temples, probably that
of Forum Holitorium, the hands of his statue were positioned to
signify the number 355 (the number of days in a lunar year), later
365, symbolically expressing his mastership over time. He presides
over the concrete and abstract beginnings of the world, such as
religion and the gods themselves, he too holds the access to
Heaven and to other gods: this is the reason why men must invoke him
first, regardless of the god they want to pray or placate. He is
the initiator of human life, of new historical ages, and financial
enterprises: according to myth he was the first to mint coins and the
as, first coin of the liberal series, bears his effigy on one
God of change and time
Janus frequently symbolized change and transitions such as the
progress of past to future, from one condition to another, from one
vision to another, and young people's growth to adulthood. He
represented time, because he could see into the past with one face and
into the future with the other. Hence,
Janus was worshipped at the
beginnings of the harvest and planting times, as well as at marriages,
deaths and other beginnings. He represented the middle ground between
barbarism and civilization, rural and urban space, youth and
adulthood. Having jurisdiction over beginnings
Janus had an intrinsic
association with omens and auspices.
Position in the pantheon
Leonhard Schmitz suggests that he was likely the most important god in
the Roman archaic pantheon. He was often invoked together with
Structural peculiarity theory
In one of his works
G. Dumézil has postulated the existence of a
structural difference in level between the Indo-European gods of
beginning and ending and the other gods who fall into a tripartite
structure, reflecting the most ancient organization of society. So in
IE religions there is an introducer god (as
Vâyu and Roman
Janus) and a god of ending, a nurturer goddess and a genie of fire (as
Saraswati and Agni,
Avestic Armaiti, Anâitâ and Roman Vesta)
who show a sort of mutual solidarity: the concept of 'god of ending'
is defined in connection to the human referential, i.e. the current
situation of man in the universe, and not to endings as transitions,
which are under the jurisdiction of the gods of beginning owing to the
ambivalent nature of the concept. Thus the god of beginning is not
structurally reducible to a sovereign god, nor the goddess of ending
to any of the three categories on to which the goddesses are
distributed. There is though a greater degree of fuzziness concerning
the function and role of goddesses, which may have formed a
preexisting structure allowing the absorption of the local
Mediterranean mother goddesses, nurturers and protectresses .
As a consequence the position of the gods of beginning would not be
the issue of a diachronic process of debasement undergone by a supreme
uranic god, but rather a structural feature inherent to their
theology. The fall of uranic primordial gods into the condition of
deus otiosus is a well-known phenomenon in the history of religions.
Mircea Eliade gave a positive evaluation of Dumezil's views and of the
results in comparative research on Indoeuropean religions achieved in
Tarpeia. even though he himself in many of his works observed and
discussed the phenomenon of the fall of uranic deities in numerous
societies of ethnologic interest.
Solar god theory
Macrobius who cites
Nigidius Figulus and Cicero, Janus
and Jana (Diana) are a pair of divinities, worshipped as
Apollo or the
sun and moon, whence
Janus received sacrifices before all the others,
because through him is apparent the way of access to the desired
A similar solar interpretation has been offered by A. Audin who
interprets the god as the issue of a long process of development,
starting with the
Sumeric cultures, from the two solar pillars located
on the eastern side of temples, each of them marking the direction of
the rising sun at the dates of the two solstices: the southeastern
corresponding to the Winter and the northeastern to the Summer
solstice. These two pillars would be at the origin of the theology of
the divine twins, one of whom is mortal (related to the NE pillar, as
confining with the region where the sun does not shine) and the other
is immortal (related to the SE pillar and the region where the sun
always shines). Later these iconographic models evolved in the Middle
East and Egypt into a single column representing two torsos and
finally a single body with two heads looking at opposite
Numa in his regulation of the
Roman calendar called the first month
Januarius after Janus, according to tradition considered the highest
divinity at the time.
The temple of
Janus with closed doors, on a sestertius issued under
Nero in 66 AD from the mint at Lugdunum
Numa built the Ianus geminus (also
Portae Belli), a passage ritually opened at times of war, and shut
again when Roman arms rested. It formed a walled enclosure with
gates at each end, situated between the old
Roman Forum and that of
Julius Caesar, which had been consecrated by
Numa Pompilius himself.
About the exact location and aspect of the temple there has been much
debate among scholars. In wartime the gates of the
opened, and in its interior sacrifices and vaticinia were held, to
forecast the outcome of military deeds. The doors were closed only
during peacetime, an extremely rare event. The function of the
Ianus Geminus was supposed to be a sort of good omen: in time of peace
it was said to close the wars within or to keep peace inside;[which?]
in times of war it was said to be open to allow the return of the
people on duty.
A temple of
Janus is said to have been consecrated by the consul Gaius
Duilius in 260 BC after the Battle of Mylae in the Forum Holitorium.
It contained a statue of the god with the right hand showing the
number 300 and the left the number 65—i.e., the length in days of
the solar year, and twelve altars, one for each month.
The four-sided structure known as the
Arch of Janus
Arch of Janus in the Forum
Transitorium dates from the 1st century CE: according to common
opinion it was built by the Emperor Domitian. However American
scholars L. Ross Taylor and L. Adams Holland on the grounds of a
passage of Statius maintain that it was an earlier structure
(tradition has it the Ianus Quadrifrons was brought to Rome from
Falerii) and that
Domitian only surrounded it with his new
forum. In fact the building of the Forum Transitorium was
completed and inaugurated by
Nerva in 96 CE.
One way of investigating the complex nature of
Janus is by
systematically analysing his cultic epithets: religious documents may
preserve a notion of a deity's theology more accurately than other
The main sources of Janus's cult epithets are the fragments of the
Carmen Saliare preserved by Varro in his work De Lingua Latina, a list
preserved in a passage of Macrobius's
Saturnalia (I 9, 15-16), another
in a passage of Johannes Lydus's De Mensibus (IV 1), a list in
Cedrenus's Historiarum Compendium (I p. 295 7 Bonn), partly
dependent on Lydus's, and one in Servius Honoratus's commentary to the
Aeneis (VII 610). Literary works also preserve some of Janus's
cult epithets, such as Ovid's long passage of the Fasti devoted to
Janus at the beginning of Book I (89-293), Tertullian,
As may be expected the opening verses of the Carmen, are devoted
to honouring Janus, thence were named versus ianuli. Paul the
Deacon mentions the versus ianuli, iovii, iunonii, minervii. Only
part of the versus ianuli and two of the iovii are preserved.
The manuscript has:
(paragraph 26): "cozeulodorieso. omia ũo adpatula coemisse./ ian
cusianes duonus ceruses. dun; ianusue uet põmelios eum recum";
(paragraph 27): "diuum êpta cante diuum deo supplicante." "ianitos".
Many reconstructions have been proposed: they vary widely in
dubious points and are all tentative, nonetheless one can identify
with certainty some epithets:
Cozeiuod orieso. Omnia vortitod Patulti; oenus es
iancus (or ianeus), Iane, es, duonus Cerus es, duonus Ianus.
Veniet potissimum melios eum recum.
Diuum eum patrem (or partem) cante, diuum deo supplicate.
The epithets that can be identified are: Cozeuios, i.e. Conseuius the
Sower, which opens the carmen and is attested as an old form of
Consivius in Tertullian; Patultius: the Opener; Iancus or Ianeus:
the Gatekeeper; Duonus Cerus: the Good Creator; rex king (potissimum
melios eum recum: the most powerful and best of kings); diuum patrem
(partem): father of the gods (or part of the gods); diuum deus:
god of the gods; ianitos: the Janitor, Gatekeeper.
The above-mentioned sources give: Ianus Geminus, I. Pater, I.
Iunonius, I. Consivius, I. Quirinus, I. Patulcius and Clusivius
Macrobius above I 9, 15): Ι. Κονσίβιον, Ι.
Κήνουλον, Ι. Κιβουλλιον, I. Πατρίκιον, I.
Κλουσίβιον, I. Ιουνώνιον, I. Κυρινον, I.
Πατούλκιον, I. Κλούσιον, I. Κουριάτιον
(Lydus above IV 1); I. Κιβούλλιον, I. Κυρινον, I.
Κονσαιον, I. Πατρίκιον (
Compendium I p. 295 7 Bonn); I. Clusiuius, I. Patulcius, I.
Quirinus (Servius Aen. VII 610).
Even though the lists overlap to a certain extent (five epithets are
common to Macrobius's and Lydus's list), the explanations of the
epithets differ remarkably. Macrobius's list and explanation are
probably based directly on Cornelius Labeo's work, as he cites this
author often in his Saturnalia, as when he gives a list of Maia's cult
epithets  and mentions one of his works, Fasti. In relating
Macrobius states: "We invoke in the sacred rites".
Labeo himself, as it is stated in the passage on Maia, read them in
the lists of indigitamenta of the libri pontificum. On the other hand,
Lydus's authority cannot have consulted these documents precisely
because he offers different (and sometimes bizarre) explanations for
the common epithets: it seems likely he received a list with no
interpretations appended and his interpretations are only his own.
Pater is perhaps the most frequent epithet of Janus, found also in the
composition Ianuspater. While numerous gods share this cultic epithet
it seems the Romans felt it was typically pertinent to Janus. When
invoked along with other gods, usually only he is called pater.
Janus the title is not just a term of respect; principally it
marks his primordial role. He is the first of the gods and thus their
father: the formula quasi deorum deum corresponds to diuum deus of the
carmen Saliare. Similarly, in the expression duonus Cerus, Cerus
means creator and is considered a masculine form related to Ceres.
Lydus gives Πατρίκιος (Patricius) and explains it as
autóchthon: since he does not give another epithet corresponding to
Pater it may be inferred that Lydus understands Patricius as a synonym
of Pater. There is no evidence connecting
gentilician[clarification needed] cults or identifying him as a
national god particularly venerated by the oldest patrician
Geminus is the first epithet in Macrobius's list. Although the
etymology of the word is unclear, it is certainly related to his
most typical character, that of having two faces or heads. The proof
are the numerous equivalent expressions. The origin of this
epithet might be either concrete, referring directly to the image of
the god reproduced on coins and supposed to have been introduced
by king Numa in the sanctuary at the lowest point of the
Argiletum, or to a feature of the Ianus of the Porta Belli, the
double gate ritually opened at the beginning of wars, or abstract,
deriving metaphorically from the liminal, intermediary functions of
the god themselves: both in time and space passages connected two
different spheres, realms or worlds. The
Janus quadrifrons or
quadriformis, brought according to tradition from
Falerii in 241
BC and installed by
Domitian in the Forum Transitorium,
although having a different meaning, seems to be connected to the same
theological complex, as its image purports an ability to rule over
every direction, element and time of the year. It did not give rise to
a new epithet though.
Patulcius and Clusivius
Patulcius and Clusivius or Clusius are epithets related to an inherent
quality and function of doors, that of standing open or shut.
the Gatekeeper has jurisdiction over every kind of door and passage
and the power of opening or closing them. Servius interprets
Patulcius in the same way. Lydus gives an incorrect translation,
"αντί του οδαιον" which however reflects one of the
attributes of the god, that of being the protector of roads.
Elsewhere Lydus cites the epithet θυρέος to justify the key held
by Janus. The antithetical quality of the two epithets is meant to
refer to the alterning opposite conditions and is commonly found
in the indigitamenta: in relation to Janus,
Macrobius cites instances
Antevorta and Postvorta, the personifications of two
indigitations of Carmentis. These epithets are associated with the
ritual function of
Janus in the opening of the Porta Ianualis or Porta
Belli. The rite might go back to times pre-dating the founding of
Rome. Poets tried to explain this rite by imagining that the gate
closed either war or peace inside the ianus, but in its religious
significance it might have been meant to propitiate the return home of
the victorious soldiers.
Quirinus is a debated epithet. According to some scholars, mostly
Francophone, it looks to be strictly related to the ideas of the
passage of the Roman people from war back to peace, from the condition
of miles, soldier, to that of quiris, citizen occupied in peaceful
business, as the rites of the Porta Belli imply. This is in fact the
usual sense of the word quirites in Latin. Other scholars, mainly
Germanophone, think it is related on the contrary to the martial
character of the god Quirinus, an interpretation supported by numerous
ancient sources: Lydus, Cedrenus, Macrobius, Ovid,
Plutarch and Paul the Daecon. Schilling and Capdeville
counter that it is his function of presiding over the return to peace
Janus this epithet, as confirmed by his association on 30
March with Pax, Concordia and Salus, even though it is true that
Janus as god of all beginnings presides also over that of war and is
thus often called belliger, bringer of war as well as pacificus.
This use is also discussed by Dumézil in various works concerning the
armed nature of the Mars qui praeest paci, the armed quality of the
gods of the third function and the arms of the third function. C.
Koch on the other hand sees the epithet
Quirinus as a reflection
of the god's patronage over the two months beginning and ending the
year, after their addition by king Numa in his reform of the calendar.
This interpretation too would befit the liminal nature of Janus.
The compound term Ianus
Quirinus was particularly in vogue at the time
of Augustus, its peaceful interpretation complying particularly well
with the Augustan ideology of the Pax Romana.
The compound Ianus
Quirinus is to be found also in the rite of the
spolia opima, a lex regia ascribed to Numa, which prescribed that the
third rank spoils of a king or chief killed in battle, those conquered
by a common soldier, be consecrated to Ianus Quirinus. Schilling
believes the reference of this rite to Ianus
Quirinus to embody the
original prophetic interpretation, which ascribes to this deity the
last and conclusive spoils of Roman history.
Ποπάνων (Popanon, Libo?)
The epithet Ποπάνων (Popanōn) is attested only by Lydus,
who cites Varro as stating that on the day of the kalendae he was
offered a cake which earned him this title. There is no surviving
evidence of this name in Latin, although the rite is attested by Ovid
for the kalendae of January and by Paul. This cake was named
ianual but the related epithet of
Janus could not plausibly have been
Ianualis: it has been suggested Libo which remains purely
hypothetical. The context could allow an Etruscan etymology.
Janus owes the epithet Iunonius to his function as patron of all
kalends, which are also associated with Juno. In Macrobius's
explanation: "Iunonium, as it were, not only does he hold the entry to
January, but to all the months: indeed all the kalends are under the
jurisdiction of Juno". At the time when the rising of the new moon was
observed by the pontifex minor the rex sacrorum assisted by him
offered a sacrifice to
Janus in the
Curia Calabra while the regina
sacrorum sacrificed to Juno in the regia. Some scholars have
maintained that Juno was the primitive paredra of the god. This point
bears on the nature of
Janus and Juno and is at the core of an
important dispute: was
Janus a debased ancient uranic supreme god, or
Janus and Jupiter co-existent, their distinct identities
structurally inherent to their original theology? Among Francophone
scholars Grimal and (implicitly and partially) Renard and Basanoff
have supported the view of a uranic supreme god against Dumézil and
Schilling. Among Anglophone scholars Frazer and Cook have suggested an
Janus as uranic supreme god. Whatever the case, it
is certain that
Janus and Juno show a peculiar reciprocal affinity:
Janus is Iunonius, Juno is Ianualis, as she presides over
childbirth and the menstrual cycle, and opens doors. Moreover,
besides the kalends
Janus and Juno are also associated at the rite of
Tigillum Sororium of 1 October, in which they bear the epithets
Ianus Curiatius and Iuno Sororia. These epithets, which swap the
functional qualities of the gods, are the most remarkable apparent
proof of their proximity. The rite is discussed in detail in the
Consivius, sower, is an epithet that reflects the tutelary function of
the god at the first instant of human life and of life in general,
conception. This function is a particular case of his function of
patron of beginnings. As far as man is concerned it is obviously of
the greatest importance, even though both
Augustine and some modern
scholars see it as minor.
Augustine shows astonishment at the
fact that some of the dii selecti may be engaged in such tasks: "In
Janus himself first, when pregnancy is conceived,... opens the
way to receiving the semen" . Varro on the other hand had clear
the relevance of the function of starting a new life by opening the
way to the semen and therefore started his enumeration of the gods
with Janus, following the pattern of the Carmen Saliare.
Macrobius gives the same interpretation of the epithet in his list:
"Consivius from sowing (conserendo), i. e. from the propagation of the
human genre, that is disseminated by the working of Janus." as
the most ancient form. He though does not consider Conseuius to be an
Janus but a theonym in its own right.
Lydus understands Consivius as βουλαιον (consiliarius) owing
to a conflation with
Ops Consiva or Consivia. The
Consus as god of advice is already present in Latin
authors and is due to a folk etymology supported by the story of
the abduction of the Sabine women, (which happened on the day of the
Consualia aestiva), said to have been advised by Consus. However no
Latin source cites relationships of any kind between
Consus and Janus
Consivius. Moreover, both the passages that this etymology requires
present difficulties, particularly as it seems
Consus cannot be
etymologically related to adjective consivius or conseuius, found in
Ops Consivia and thence the implied notion of sowing.
Κήνουλος (Coenulus) and Κιβουλλιος (Cibullius) are
not attested by Latin sources. The second epithet is not to be found
in Lydus's manuscripts and is present in
Cedrenus along with its
explanation concerning food and nurture. The editor of Lydus R.
Wünsch has added Cedrenus's passage after Lydus's own explanation of
Coenulus as ευωχιαστικός, good host at a banquet.
Capdeville considers Cedrenus' text to be due to a paleographic error:
only Coenulus is indubitably an epithet of
Janus and the adjective
used to explain it, meaning to present and to treat well at dinner,
was used in a ritual invocation before meals, wishing the diners to
make good flesh. This is one of the features of
Janus as shown by
the myth that associates him with Carna, Cardea, Crane.
The epithet Curiatius is found in association with Iuno Sororia as
designating the deity to which one of the two altars behind the
Tigillum Sororium was dedicated. Festus and other ancient authors
 explain Curiatius by the aetiological legend of the Tigillum:
the expiation undergone by P. Horatius after his victory over the
Curiatii for the murder of his own sister, by walking under a
beam with his head veiled. Capdeville sees this epithet as
related exclusively to the characters of the legend and the rite
itself: he invokes the analysis by Dumézil as his authority.
Schilling supposes it was probably a sacrum originally entrusted to
the gens Horatia that allowed the desacralisation of the iuvenes at
the end of the military season, later transferred to the state.
Janus's patronage of a rite of passage would be natural. The presence
of Juno would be related to the date (Kalends), her protection of the
iuvenes, soldiers, or the legend itself. Renard connects the epithet's
meaning to the cu(i)ris, the spear of Juno Curitis as here she is
given the epithet of Sororia, corresponding to the usual epithet
Janus and to the twin or feminine nature of the passage
between two coupled posts. Schilling  opines that it is
related to curia, as the Tigillum was located not far from the curiae
veteres: however this interpretation, although supported by an
inscription (lictor curiatius ) is considered unacceptable by
Renard because of the different quantity of the u, short in curiatius,
curis and Curitis and long in curia. Moreover, it is part of the
different interpretation of the meaning of the ritual of the Tigillum
Sororium proposed by Herbert Jennings Rose, Kurt Latte and Robert
Schilling himself. However the etymology of Curiatius remains
uncertain. On the role of
Janus in the rite of the Tigillum
Sororium see also the section below.
The rites concerning
Janus were numerous. Owing to the versatile and
far reaching character of his basic function marking all beginnings
and transitions, his presence was ubiquitous and fragmented. Apart
from the rites solemnizing the beginning of the new year and of every
month, there were the special times of the year which marked the
beginning and closing of the military season, in March and October
respectively. These included the rite of the arma movēre on 1 March
and that of the arma condĕre at the end of the month performed by the
Salii, and the
Tigillum Sororium on 1 October.
closely associated with the anniversaries of the dedications of the
temples of Mars on 1 June (a date that corresponded with the festival
of Carna, a deity associated with Janus: see below) and of that of
Quirinus on 29 June (which was the last day of the month in the
pre-Julian calendar). These important rites are discussed in detail
Any rite or religious act whatever required the invocation of Janus
first, with a corresponding invocation to Vesta at the end (Janus
primus and Vesta extrema). Instances are to be found in the Carmen
Saliare, the formula of the devotio, the lutration of the fields
and the sacrifice of the porca praecidanea, the Acta of the Arval
Janus had no flamen, he was closely associated with the rex
sacrorum who performed his sacrifices and took part in most of his
rites: the rex held the first place in the ordo sacerdotum, hierarchy
of priests. The flamen of
Portunus performed the ritual greasing
of the spear of the god
Quirinus on 17 August, day of the Portunalia,
on the same date that the temple of
Janus in the
Forum Holitorium had
been consecrated by consul
Gaius Duilius in 260 BC.
Beginning of the year
The Winter solstice was thought to occur on 25 December.
January 1 was
new year day: the day was consecrated to
Janus since it was the first
of the new year and of the month (kalends) of Janus: the feria had an
augural character as Romans believed the beginning of anything was an
omen for the whole. Thus on that day it was customary to exchange
cheerful words of good wishes. For the same reason everybody
devoted a short time to his usual business, exchanged dates, figs
and honey as a token of well wishing and made gifts of coins called
strenae. Cakes made of spelt (far) and salt were offered to the
god and burnt on the altar.
Ovid states that in most ancient
times there were no animal sacrifices and gods were propitiated with
offerings of spelt and pure salt. This libum was named ianual and
it was probably correspondent to the summanal offered the day before
the Summer solstice to god Summanus, which however was sweet being
made with flour, honey and milk.
Shortly afterwards, on 9 January, on the feria of the Agonium of
January the rex sacrorum offered the sacrifice of a ram to Janus.
Beginning of the month
At the kalends of each month the rex sacrorum and the pontifex minor
offered a sacrifice to
Janus in the curia Calabra, while the regina
offered a sow or a she lamb to Juno.
Beginning of the day
Morning belonged to Janus: men started their daily activities and
Horace calls him Matutine Pater, morning father. G.
Dumézil believes this custom is at the origin of the learned
Janus as a solar deity.
Janus was also involved in spatial transitions, presiding over home
doors, city gates and boundaries. Numerous toponyms of places located
at the boundary between the territory of two communities, especially
Etrurians and Latins or Umbrians, are named after the god. The
most notable instance is the
Ianiculum which marked the access to
Etruria from Rome. Since borders often coincided with rivers and
the border of Rome (and other Italics) with
Etruria was the Tiber, it
has been argued that its crossing had a religious connotation; it
would have involved a set of rigorous apotropaic practices and a
Janus would have originally regulated
particularly the crossing of this sacred river through the pons
sublicius. The name of the Iāniculum is not derived by that of
the god, but from the abstract noun iānus, -us. Adams
Holland opines it would have been originally the name of a small
bridge connecting the
Tiber Island (on which she supposes the first
Janus stood) with the right bank of the river. However
Janus was the protector of doors, gates and roadways in general, as is
shown by his two symbols, the key and the staff. The key too was
a sign that the traveller had come to a harbour or ford in peace in
order to exchange his goods.
The rite of the bride's oiling the posts of the door of her new home
with wolf fat at her arrival, though not mentioning
is a rite of passage related to the ianua.
Rites of the Salii
The rites of the
Salii marked the springtime beginning of the war
season in March and its closing in October. The structure of the
patrician sodalitas, made up by the two groups of the
who were consecrated to Mars and whose institution was traditionally
ascribed to Numa (with headquarter on the Palatine), and the Salii
Collini or Agonales, consecrated to
Quirinus and whose foundation was
ascribed to Tullus Hostilius, (with headquarter on the Quirinal)
reflects in its division the dialectic symbolic role they played in
the rites of the opening and closing of the military season. So
does the legend of their foundation itself: the peace- loving king
Numa instituted the
Salii of Mars Gradivus, foreseeing the future wars
of the Romans while the warmonger king Tullus, in a battle during
a longstanding war with the Sabines, swore to found a second group of
Salii should he obtain victory. The paradox of the pacifist king
serving Mars and passage to war and of the warmonger king serving
Quirinus to achieve peace under the expected conditions highlights the
dialectic nature of the cooperation between the two gods, inherent to
their own function. Because of the working of the talismans of
the sovereign god they guaranteed alternatively force and victory,
fecundity and plenty. It is noteworthy that the two groups of Salii
did not split their competences so that one group only opened the way
to war and the other to peace: they worked together both at the
opening and the conclusion of the military season, marking the passage
of power from one god to the other. Thus the
Salii enacted the
dialectic nature present in the warring and peaceful aspect of the
Roman people, particularly the iuvenes. This dialectic was
reflected materially by the location of the temple of Mars outside the
pomerium and of the temple of
Quirinus inside it. The annual
dialectic rhythm of the rites of the
Salii of March and October was
also further reflected within the rites of each month and spatially by
their repeated crossing of the pomerial line. The rites of March
started on the first with the ceremony of the ancilia movere,
developed through the month on the 14th with
Equirria in the Campus
Martius (and the rite of Mamurius Veturius marking the expulsion of
the old year), the 17th with the Agonium Martiale, the 19th with the
Quinquatrus in the
Comitium (which correspond symmetrically with the
Armilustrium of 19 October), on the 23rd with the
they terminated at the end of the month with the rite of the ancilia
condere. Only after this month-long set of rites was accomplished was
it fas to undertake military campaigns. While
Janus sometimes is
named belliger and sometimes pacificus in accord with his
general function of beginner, he is mentioned as
relation to the closing of the rites of March at the end of the month
together with Pax,
Salus and Concordia: This feature is a
reflection of the aspect of
Quirinus which stresses the quirinal
function of bringing peace back and the hope of soldiers for a
As the rites of the
Salii mimic the passage from peace to war and back
to peace by moving between the two poles of Mars and
Quirinus in the
monthly cycle of March, so they do in the ceremonies of October, the
Equus October ("October Horse") taking place on the Campus
Martius the Armilustrium, purification of the arms, on the
Aventine, and the
Tubilustrium on the 23rd. Other correspondences
may be found in the dates of the founding of the temples of Mars on 1
June and of that of
Quirinus on 29 June, in the pre-Julian calendar
the last day of the month, implying that the opening of the month
belonged to Mars and the closing to Quirinus. The reciprocity of the
two gods' situations is subsumed under the role of opener and closer
Ovid states: "Why are you hidden in peace, and open
when the arms have been moved?" Another analogous correspondence
may be found in the festival of the
Quirinalia of February, last month
of the ancient calendar of Numa. The rite of the opening and
closure of the
Quirinus would thus reflect the idea of the
reintegretation of the miles into civil society, i.e. the community of
the quirites, by playing a lustral role similar to the Tigillum
Sororium and the porta triumphalis located at the south of the Campus
Martius. In Augustan ideology this symbolic meaning was strongly
Main article: Tigillum Sororium
This rite was supposed to commemorate the expiation of the murder of
his own sister by Marcus Horatius. The young hero with his head
veiled had to pass under a beam spanning an alley. The rite was
repeated every year on 1 October. The tigillum consisted of a
beam on two posts. It was kept in good condition at public
expenses to the time of Livy. Behind the tigillum, on opposite sides
of the alley, stood the two altars of
Janus Curiatius and Juno
Sororia. Its location was on the vicus leading to the Carinae, perhaps
at the point of the crossing of the pomerium. The rite and myth
have been interpreted by Dumezil as a purification and desacralization
of the soldiers from the religious pollution contracted in war, and a
freeing of the warrior from furor, wrath, as dangerous in the city as
it is necessary on campaign.
The rite took place on the kalends of October, the month marking the
end of the yearly military activity in ancient Rome. Scholars have
offered different interpretations of the meaning of
and Juno Sororia. The association of the two gods with this rite is
not immediately clear. It is however apparent that they exchanged
their epithets, as Curiatius is connected to (Juno) Curitis and
Sororia to (Janus) Geminus. Renard thinks that while
Janus is the
god of motion and transitions he is not concerned directly with
purification, while the arch is more associated with Juno. This fact
would be testified by the epithet Sororium, shared by the tigillum and
the goddess. Juno Curitis is also the protectress of the iuvenes, the
Paul the Deacon
Paul the Deacon states that the sororium tigillum
was a sacer (sacred) place in honour of Juno. Another element
linking Juno with
Janus is her identification with Carna, suggested by
the festival of this deity on the kalends (day of Juno) of June, the
month of Juno. Carna was a nymph of the sacred lucus of Helernus, made
goddess of hinges by
Janus with the name of Cardea, and had the power
of protecting and purifying thresholds and the doorposts. This
would be a further element in explaining the role of Juno in the
Tigillum. It was also customary for new brides to oil the posts of the
door of their new homes with wolf fat. In the myth of
Janus and Carna
(see section below) Carna had the habit when pursued by a young man of
asking him out of shyness for a hidden recess and thereupon fleeing:
but two headed
Janus saw her hiding in a crag under some rocks. Thence
the analogy with the rite of the
Tigillum Sororium would be apparent:
both in the myth and in the rite Janus, the god of motion, goes
through a low passage to attain Carna as Horatius passes under the
tigillum to obtain his purification and the restitution to the
condition of citizen eligible for civil activities, including family
life. The purification is then the prerequisite for fertility. The
custom of attaining lustration and fertility by passing under a gap in
rocks, a hole in the soil or a hollow in a tree is widespread.
The veiled head of Horatius could also be explained as an apotropaic
device if one considers the tigillum the iugum of Juno, the feminine
principle of fecundity. Renard concludes that the rite is under the
tutelage of both
Janus and Juno, being a rite of transition under the
Janus and of desacralisation and fertility under that of
Juno: through it the iuvenes coming back from campaign were restituted
to their fertile condition of husbands and peasants.
Janus is often
associated with fecundity in myths, representing the masculine
principle of motion, while Juno represents the complementary feminine
principle of fertility: the action of the first would allow the
manifestation of the other.
In discussing myths about Janus, one should be careful in
distinguishing those which are ancient and originally Latin and those
others which were later attributed to him by Greek mythographers.
In the Fasti
Ovid relates only the myths that associate
Saturn, whom he welcomed as a guest and with whom he eventually shared
his kingdom in reward for teaching the art of agriculture, and to the
nymph Crane Grane or Carna, whom
Janus raped and made the goddess of
hinges as Cardea, while in the
Metamorphoses he records his
Venilia the nymph Canens, loved by Picus, first
legendary king of the Aborigines.
The myth of Crane has been studied by M. Renard and G.
Dumezil. The first scholar sees in it a sort of parallel with the
theology underlying the rite of the Tigillum Sororium. Crane is a
nymph of the sacred wood of Helernus, located at the issue of the
Tiber, whose festival of 1 February corresponded with that of Juno
Sospita: Crane might be seen as a minor imago of the goddess. Her
habit of deceiving her male pursuers by hiding in crags in the soil
reveals her association not only with vegetation but also with rocks,
caverns, and underpassages. Her nature looks to be also
associated with vegetation and nurture: G. Dumezil has proved that
Helernus was a god of vegetation, vegetative lushness and orchards,
particularly associated with vetch. As
Ovid writes in his Fasti,
1 June was the festival day of Carna, besides being the kalendary
festival of the month of Juno and the festival of Juno Moneta. Ovid
seems to purposefully conflate and identify Carna with
Cardea in the
aetiologic myth related above. Consequently, the association of both
Janus and the god
Helernus with Carna-Crane is highlighted in this
myth: it was customary on that day to eat ivetch and lard, which were
supposed to strengthen the body.
Cardea had also magic powers for
protecting doorways (by touching thresholds and posts with wet
hawthorn twigs) and newborn children by the aggression of the striges
(in the myth the young Proca). M. Renard sees the association of
Janus with Crane as reminiscent of widespread rites of lustration and
fertility performed through ritual walking under low crags or holes in
the soil or natural hollows in trees, which in turn are reflected in
the lustrative rite of the Tigillum Sororium.
Macrobius relates that
Janus was supposed to have shared a
kingdom with Camese in Latium, in a place then named Camesene. He
Hyginus recorded the tale on the authority of a Protarchus
of Tralles. In
Macrobius Camese is a male: after Camese's death Janus
reigned alone. However Greek authors make of Camese Janus's sister and
spouse: Atheneus citing a certain Drakon of
Corcyra writes that
Janus fathered with his sister Camese a son named Aithex and a
daughter named Olistene. Servius Danielis states Tiber
(i.e., Tiberinus) was their son.
Arnobius writes that
Fontus was the son of
Janus and Juturna. The
name itself proves that this is a secondary form of Fons modelled on
Janus, denouncing the late character of this myth: it was
probably conceived because of the proximity of the festivals of
Juturna (11 January) and the Agonium of
Janus (9 January) as well as
for the presence of an altar of Fons near the Janiculum and the
closeness of the notions of spring and of beginning.
Plutarch writes that according to some
Janus was a Greek from
Romulus and his men kidnapped the Sabine women,
Janus caused a
volcanic hot spring to erupt, resulting in the would-be attackers
being buried alive in the deathly hot, brutal water and ash mixture of
the rushing hot volcanic springs that killed, burned, or disfigured
many of Tatius's men. This spring is called Lautolae by Varro.
Later on, however, the Sabines and Romans agreed on creating a new
community together. In honor of this, the doors of a walled roofless
structure called 'The Janus' (not a temple) were kept open during war
after a symbolic contingent of soldiers had marched through it. The
doors were closed in ceremony when peace was concluded.
Origin, legends, and history
A bronze as from
Canusium depicting a laureate
Janus with the prow of
a ship on the reverse
In accord with his fundamental character of being the Beginner Janus
was considered by Romans the first king of Latium, sometimes along
with Camese. He would have received hospitably god Saturn, who,
expelled from Heaven by Jupiter, arrived on a ship to the Janiculum.
Janus would have also effected the miracle of turning the waters of
the spring at the foot of the
Viminal from cold to scorching hot in
order to fend off the assault of the Sabines of king Titus Tatius,
come to avenge the kidnapping of their daughters by the Romans.
His temple named
Janus Geminus had to stand open in times of war. It
was said to have been built by king Numa Pompilius, who kept it always
shut during his reign as there were no wars. After him it was closed
very few times, one after the end of the first Punic War, three times
Augustus and once by Nero. It is recorded that emperor Gordianus
III opened the
It is a noteworthy curiosity that the opening of the
Janus was perhaps
the last act connected to the ancient religion in Rome: Procopius
writes that in 536 CE, during the Gothic War, while general
Belisarius was under siege in Rome, at night somebody opened the Janus
Geminus stealthily, which had long stayed closed since 390, year on
which Theodosius I's edict banned the ancient cults.
faithful to his liminal role also in the marking of this last
The uniqueness of
Latium has suggested to L. Adams Holland
and J. Gagé the hypothesis of a cult brought from far away by sailors
and strictly linked to the amphibious life of the primitive
communities living on the banks of the Tiber. In the myth of
ship of Saturn as well as the myth of
Carmenta and Evander are
remininscent of an ancient pre-Roman sailing life. The elements that
seem to connect
Janus to sailing are presented in two articles by J.
Gagé summarised here below.
1. The boat of
Janus and the beliefs of the primitive sailing
a) The proximity of
Portunus and the functions of the flamen
The temple of
Janus was dedicated by
Gaius Duilius on 17 August, day
of the Portunalia. The key was the symbol of both gods and was also
meant to signify that the boarding boat was a peaceful merchant boat.
The flamen Portunalis oiled the arms of
Quirinus with an ointment kept
in a peculiar container named persillum, term perhaps derived from
Etruscan persie. A similar object seems to be represented in a
fresco picture of the Calendar of Ostia on which young boys prepare to
apply a resin contained in a basin to a boat on a cart, i.e. yet to be
Tigillum Sororium would be related to a gentilician cult of
wood of the Horatii, as surmised by the episodes of the pons sublicius
Horatius Cocles and of the posts of the main entrance of
the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, on which Marcus Horatius Pulvillus
lay his hand during the dedication rite. Gagé thinks the magic power
Tigillum Sororium should be ascribed to the lively and
burgeoning nature of wood.
2. Religious quality of trees as the wild olive and the Greek or
Italic lotus (Celtis Australis), analogous to that of corniolum and
wild fig, to sailing communities: its wood does not rot in sea water,
thence it was used in shipbuilding and in the making of rolls for
hauling of ships overland.
Janus and the depiction of Boreas as Bifrons: climatological
a) The calendar of Numa and the role of Janus. Contradictions of the
Roman calendar on the beginning of the new year: originally
March was the first month and February the last one. January, the
month of Janus, became the first afterwards and through several
manipulations. The liminal character of
Janus is though present in the
association to the
Saturnalia of December, reflecting the strict
relationship between the two gods
Janus and Saturn and the rather
blurred distinction of their stories and symbols. The initial role of
Janus in the political-religious operations of January: the nuncupatio
votorum spanning the year, the imperial symbol of the boat in the
opening rite of the sailing season, the vota felicia:
Janus and his
myths allow for an ancient interpretation of the vota felicia,
different from the Isiadic one.
b) The idea of the Seasons in the ancient traditions of the Ionian
Islands. The crossing of the
Cephalonia as a place
at the cross of famous winds. Application of the theory of winds for
the navigation in the Ionian Sea. The type Boreas Bifrons as probable
model of the Roman Janus.
This observation was made first by the Roscher Lexicon: "Ianus is he
too, doubtlessly, a god of wind" and repeated in the RE Pauly-Wissowa
s.v. Boreas by Rapp. P. Grimal has taken up this interpretation
connecting it to a vase with red figures representing Boreas pursuing
the nymph Oreithyia: Boreas is depicted as a two headed winged demon,
the two faces with beards, one black and the other fair, perhaps
symbolising the double movement of the winds Boreas and Antiboreas.
This proves that the Greeks of the 5th century BC knew the image of
Janus. Gagé feels compelled to mention here another parallel with
Janus to be found in the figure of
Argos with one hundred eyes and in
his association with his murderer Hermes.
c) Solar, solsticial and cosmological elements. While there is no
direct proof of an original solar meaning of Janus, this being the
issue of learned speculations of the Roman erudits initiated into the
mysteries and of emperors as Domitian, the derivation from a Syrian
cosmogonic deity proposed by P. Grimal looks more acceptable. Gagé
though sees an ancient, preclassical Greek mythic substratum to which
Pyrrha and the
Hyperborean origins of the Delphic
cult of Apollo as well as the Argonauts. The beliefs in the magic
power of trees is reflected in the use of the olive wood, as for the
rolls of the ship Argos: the myth of the
Argonauts has links with
Corcyra, remembered by Lucius Ampelius.
4. The sites of the cults of
Janus at Rome and his associations in
a) Argiletum. Varro gives either the myth of the killing of
an etymology of the word Argi-letum (death of Argos), which looks to
be purely fantastic, or that of place located upon a soil of clay,
argilla in Latin. The place so named stood at the foot of the Viminal,
the hill of the reeds. It could also be referred to the white willow
tree, used to make objects of trelliswork.
Janiculum may have been inhabited by people who were not Latin
but had close alliances with Rome. The right bank of the Tiber
would constitute a typical, convenient, commodious landing place for
boats and the cult of
Janus would have been double insofar as
c) Janus's cultic alliances and relations in
Latium would show a
Janus has no association in cult (calendar or
prayer formulae) with any other entity. Even though he bears the
epithet of Pater he is no head of a divine family; however some
testimonies lend him a companion, sometimes female, and a son and/or a
daughter. They belong to the family of the nymphs or genies of
Janus intervenes in the miracle of the hot spring during the
Romulus and Tatius:
Juturna and the nymphs of the
springs are clearly related to
Janus as well as Venus, that in Ovid's
Metamorphoses cooperates in the miracle and may have been confused
with Venilia, or perhaps the two might have been originally one. Janus
has a direct link only to Venilia, with whom he fathered Canens.
The magic role of the wild olive tree (oleaster) is prominent in the
description of the duel between
Aeneas and Turnus reflecting its
religious significance and powers: it was sacred to sailors, also
those who had shipwrecked as a protecting guide to the shore. It was
probably venerated by a Prelatin culture in association with Faunus.
In the story of
Venulus coming back from
Apulia too one may see the
religious connotation of the wild olive: the king discovers one into
which a local shepherd had been turned for failing to respect the
nymphs he had come across in a nearby cavern, apparently Venilia, who
was the deity associated with the magic virtues of such tree. Gagé
finds it remarkable that the characters related to
Janus are in the
Aeneis on the side of the Rutuli. In the poem
Janus would be
represented by Tiberinus. Olistene, the daughter of
Janus with Camese,
may reflect in her name that of the olive or oleaster, or of
Oreithyia. Camese may be reflected in Carmenta: Evander's mother
is from Arcadia, comes to
Latium as an exile migrant and has her two
festivals in January: Camese's name at any rate does not look Latin.
5. Sociological remarks.
a) The vagueness of Janus's association with the cults of primitive
Latium and his indifference towards the social composition of the
Roman State suggest that he was a god of an earlier amphibious
merchant society in which the role of the guardian god was
Janus bifrons and the Penates. Even though the cult of
be confused with that of the Penates, related with Dardanian migrants
from Troy, the binary nature of the
Penates and of
Janus postulates a
correspondent ethnic or social organisation. Here the model is thought
to be provided by the cult of the Magni Dei or
Cabeiri preserved at
Samothrace and worshipped particularly among sailing merchants. The
aetiological myth is noteworthy too: at the beginning one finds
Dardanos and his brother Iasios appearing as auxiliary figures in
a Phrygian cult to a Great Mother. In Italy there is a trace of a
conflict between worshippers of the Argive
Diomedes and the
Diomedians of the south) and of the Penates. The cult of
to be related to social groups remained at the fringe of the Phrygian
ones. They might or might not have been related to the cult of the
Relationship with other gods
Janus and Juno
The relationship between
Janus and Juno is defined by the closeness of
the notions of beginning and transition and the functions of
conception and delivery, result of youth and vital force. The reader
is referred to the above sections Cult epithets and Tigillum Sororium
of this article and the corresponding section of article Juno.
Janus and Quirinus
Quirinus is a god that incarnates the quirites, i.e. the Romans in
their civil capacity of producers and fathers. He is surnamed Mars
tranquillus (peaceful Mars), Mars qui praeest paci (Mars who presides
on peace). His function of custos guardian is highlighted by the
location of his temple inside the pomerium but not far from the gate
of Porta Collina or Quirinalis, near the shrines of
Sancus and Salus.
As a protector of peace he is nevertheless armed, in the same way as
the quirites are, as they are potentially milites soldiers: his staue
represents him is holding a spear. For this reason Janus, god of
gates, is concerned with his function of protector of the civil
community. For the same reason the flamen Portunalis oiled the arms of
Quirinus, implying that they were to be kept in good order and ready
even though they were not to be used immediately. Dumézil and
Schilling remark that as a god of the third function
peaceful and represents the ideal of the pax romana i. e. a peace
resting on victory.
Janus and Portunus
Portunus may be defined as a sort of duplication inside the scope of
the powers and attributes of Janus. His original definition shows
he was the god of gates and doors and of harbours. In fact it is
debated whether his original function was only that of god of gates
and the function of god of harbours was a later addition: Paul the
Deacon writes: "... he is depicted holding a key in his hand and was
thought to be the god of gates". Varro would have stated that he was
the god of harbours and patron of gates. His festival day named
Portunalia fell on 17 August, and he was venerated on that day in a
temple ad pontem Aemilium and ad pontem Sublicium that had been
dedicated on that date. Portunus, unlike Janus, had his own
flamen, named Portunalis. It is noteworthy that the temple of
Forum Holitorium had been consecrated on the day of the Portunalia
and that the flamen Portunalis was in charge of oiling the arms of the
statue of Quirinus.
Janus and Vesta
The relationship between
Janus and Vesta touches on the question of
the nature and function of the gods of beginning and ending in
Indo-European religion. While
Janus has the first place Vesta has
the last, both in theology and in ritual (Ianus primus, Vesta
extrema). The last place implies a direct connexion with the situation
of the worshipper, in space and in time. Vesta is thence the goddess
of the hearth of homes as well as of the city. Her inextinguishable
fire is a means for men (as individuals and as a community) to keep in
touch with the realm of gods. Thus there is a reciprocal link between
the god of beginnings and unending motion, who bestows life to the
beings of this world (Cerus Manus) as well as presiding over its end,
and the goddess of the hearth of man, which symbolises through fire
the presence of life. Vesta is a virgin goddess but at the same time
she is considered the mother of Rome: she is thought to be
indispensable to the existence and survival of the community.
Janus in Etruria
It has long been believed that
Janus was present among the theonyms on
the outer rim of the
Piacenza Liver in case 3 under the name of Ani.
This fact created a problem as the god of beginnings looked to be
located in a situation other than the initial, i.e. the first case.
After the new readings proposed by A. Maggiani, in case 3 one should
read TINS: the difficulty has thus dissolved. Ani has thence been
eliminated from Etruscan theology as this was his only
attestation. Maggiani remarks that this earlier
identification was in contradiction with the testimony ascribed to
Johannes Lydus that
Janus was named caelum among the
On the other hand, as expected
Janus is present in region I of
Martianus Capella's division of Heaven and in region XVI, the last
one, are to be found the Ianitores terrestres (along with Nocturnus),
perhaps to be identified in Forculus, Limentinus and Cardea,
deities strictly related to
Janus as his auxiliaries (or perhaps even
no more than concrete subdivisions of his functions) as the meaning of
their names implies: Forculus is the god of the forca, a iugum, low
passage, Limentinus the guardian of the limes, boundary,
goddess of hinges, here of the gates separating Earth and Heaven.
The problem posed by the qualifying adjective terrestres earthly, can
be addressed in two different ways. One hypothesis is that Martianus's
depiction implies a descent from Heaven onto Earth. However
Martianus's depiction does not look to be confined to a division
Heaven-Earth as it includes the Underworld and other obscure regions
or remote recesses of Heaven. Thence one may argue that the
articulation Ianus-Ianitores could be interpreted as connected to the
theologem of the Gates of Heaven (the Synplegades) which open on the
Heaven on one side and on Earth or the Underworld on the other.
From other archaeological documents though it has become clear that
the Etruscans had another god iconographically corresponding to Janus:
Culśanś, of which there is a bronze statuette from
Cortona (now at
Cortona Museum). While
Janus is a bearded adult Culśans may be an
unbearded youth, making his identification with
possible. His name too is connected with the Etruscan word for
doors and gates. According to Capdeville he may also be found on
the outer rim of the
Piacenza Liver on case 14 in the compound form
CULALP, i.e., "of Culśanś and of Alpan(u)" on the authority of
Pfiffig, but perhaps here it is the female goddess Culśu, the
guardian of the door of the Underworld. Although the location is
not strictly identical there is some approximation in his situations
on the Liver and in Martianus' system. A. Audin connects the figure of
Janus to Culśanś and Turms (Etruscan rendering of Hermes, the Greek
god mediator between the different worlds, brought by the Etruscan
from the Aegean Sea), considering these last two Etruscan deities as
one. This interpretation would then identify
Janus with Greek god
Hermes. Etruscan medals from
Volterra too show the double headed god
Janus Quadrifrons from
Falerii may have an Etruscan
Association with non-Roman gods
The traditional ascription of the "Temple of Janus" at Autun,
Burgundy, is disputed.
Roman and Greek authors maintained
Janus was an exclusively Roman
god. This claim is excessive according to R. Schilling, at
least as far as iconography is concerned. A god with two faces appears
repeatedly in Sumerian and Babylonian art.
A cylinder seal depicting the gods Ishtar, Shamash, Enki, and Isimud,
who is shown with two faces (circa 2300 BCE)
The ancient Sumerian deity
Isimud was commonly portrayed with two
faces facing in opposite directions. Sumerian depictions of
often very similar to the typical portrayals of
Janus in ancient Roman
art. Unlike Janus, however,
Isimud is not a god of doorways.
Instead, he is the messenger of Enki, the ancient Sumerian god of
water and civilization. Reproductions of the image of Isimud,
whose Babylonian name was Usimu, on cylinders in Sumero-Accadic art
can to be found in H. Frankfort's work Cylinder seals (London 1939)
especially in plates at p. 106, 123, 132, 133, 137, 165, 245,
247, 254. On plate XXI, c, Usmu is seen while introducing worshippers
to a seated god.
Janus-like heads of gods related to
Hermes have been found in Greece,
perhaps suggesting a compound god.
William Betham argued that the cult arrived from the Middle East and
Janus corresponds to the Baal-ianus or Belinus of the Chaldeans,
sharing a common origin with the Oannes of Berosus.
P. Grimal considers
Janus a conflation of a Roman god of doorways and
an ancient Syro-Hittite uranic cosmogonic god.
The Roman statue of the
Janus of the Argiletum, traditionally ascribed
to Numa, was possibly very ancient, perhaps a sort of xoanon, like the
Greek ones of the 8th century BC.
Hinduism the image of double or four faced gods is quite common, as
it is a symbolic depiction of the divine power of seeing through space
and time. The supreme god
Brahma is represented with four faces.
Another instance of a four faced god is the Slavic god Svetovid.
Other analogous or comparable deities of the prima in Indo-European
religions have been analysed by G. Dumézil. They include the
Aditi who is called two-faced as she is the one who
starts and concludes ceremonies, and Scandinavian god Heimdallr.
The theological features of
Heimdallr look similar to Janus's: both in
space and time he stands at the limits. His abode is at the limits of
Earth, at the extremity of Heaven; he is the protector of the gods;
his birth is at the beginning of time; he is the forefather of
mankind, the generator of classes and the founder of the social order.
Nonetheless he is inferior to the sovereign god Oðinn: the Minor
Völuspá defines his relationship to
Oðinn almost with the same
terms as those in which Varro defines that of Janus, god of the prima
to Jupiter, god of the summa:
Heimdallr is born as the firstborn
(primigenius, var einn borinn í árdaga),
Oðinn is born as the
greatest (maximus, var einn borinn öllum meiri). Analogous
Iranian formulae are to be found in an
Avestic gāthā (Gathas).
In other towns of ancient
Latium the function of presiding over
beginnings was probably performed by other deities of feminine sex,
Fortuna Primigenia of Praeneste.
In the Middle Ages,
Janus was also taken as the symbol of Genoa, whose
Medieval Latin name was Ianua, as well as of other European
communes. The comune of Selvazzano di Dentro near
Padua has a
grove and an altar of
Janus depicted on its standard, but their
existence is unproved.
Cats with the congenital disorder Diprosopus, which causes the face to
be partly or completely duplicated on the head, are known as Janus
In Act I Scene 2 of Shakespeare's Othello,
Iago invokes the name of
Janus after the failure of his premiere plot to undo the titular
character. As the story's primary agent of change, it's fitting that
Iago align himself with Janus. His schemes prompt the beginning of
each of the main characters' ends: in his absence,
Desdemona would likely have remained married and Cassio would have
remained in his respected position of power.
Iago guides (if not
forces) the story through inception, climax, and finale. Furthermore,
Janus' common two-faced depiction is the perfect visual metaphor for
Iago's character. Othello's characters believe him to have only the
best of intentions, even going as far as to call him "honest Iago,"
completely unaware that he spends every unwatched second plotting
their undoing. He appears selfless and compassionate but, in truth, is
power-hungry, amoral, and without regard for the well-being of
In the 1987 thriller novel
The Janus Man by British novelist Raymond
Janus is used as a metaphor for a Soviet agent
infiltrated into British Secret Intelligence Service - "The
who faces both East and West".
List of Roman deities
^ Varro apud
Augustine De Civitate Dei VII 9 and 3; Servius Aen. I
449; Paulus ex Festus s. v. Chaos p. 45 L
^ Forsythe, Time in Roman Religion, p. 14.
^ H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic
(Cornell University Press, 1981), p. 51.
^ G. Capdeville "Les épithètes cultuelles de Janus" in MEFRA 85 2
1973 p . 399.
^ Paulus above : "Chaos appellabat Hesiodus confusam quondam ab
initio unitatem, hiantem patentemque in profundum. Ex eo et
χάσκειν Graeci, et nos hiare dicimus. Unde Ianus detracta
aspiratione nominatur id, quod fuerit omnium primum; cui primo
supplicabant velut parenti, et a quo rerum omnium factum putabant
Hesiod only reads (Theogonia 116): "Ή τοι μεν
πρώτιστα Χάος γένετο..."; cfr. also
Ovid Fasti I 103
^ An association of the god to the Greek concept of Chaos is
considered contrived by G. Capdeville, as the initial function of
Janus would suffice to explain his place at the origin of time. See:
G. Capdeville "Les épithètes cultuels de Janus" in Mélanges de
l'École française de Rome, (Antiquité) 85 2 1973 p. 399-400;
Capdeville mentions also Varro apud Augustine, De Civitate Dei VII 8,
who uses the word hiatus to explain the assimilation of
Janus to the
world : "Duas eum facies ante et retro habere dicunt, quod hiatus
noster, cum os aperimus, mundus similis videatur; unde et palatum
Graeci ουρανόν appellant, et nonnulli, inquit, poetae Latini
caelum vocaverunt palatum, a quo hiatu oris et fores esse aditum ad
dentes versus introrsus ad fauces". Ianus would be the gap (hiatus)
through which the sky, represented as the dome of the palate, is
manifest: the first meaning of palatum was sky. Capdeville finds a
reminiscence of the same etymololgy also in Valerius Messala augur's
Saturnalia I 9, 14, that sounds as somehow
related to Paulus's: "He who makes and rules everything, keeping
together with the force of the allcovering heaven the heavy nature of
earth and water collapsing into the deep with the light nature of fire
and wind escaping into the boundless high."
Macrobius above I 9,8.
^ A. B. Cook Zeus. A Study in Ancient Religion Cambridge 1925 II p.
338-9 supposes two parallel series *Divianus, *Dianus, Ianus and
Diviana (Varro Lingua Latina V 68), Diana, Iana (Varro De Re Rustica I
37, 3). This interpretation encounters the difficulty of the long i in
Dīāna. G. Radke Die Götter Altitaliens Münster 1965 p. 147.
Ovid Fasti I 126-7; Macrobius, Saturnalia, I, 9, 11: "Alii mundum,
id est caelum, esse voluerunt: Ianumque ab eundo dictum, quod mundum
semper eat, dum in orbem volvitur et ex se initium faciens in se
refertur: unde et Cornificius Etymorum libro tertio: Cicero, inquit,
non Ianum sed Eanum nominat, ab eundo." It should be observed that
Cornificius's quotation from
Cicero contains a mistake, as
not name a Eanum;
De Natura Deorum
De Natura Deorum II 67: "Cumque in omnibus
rebus vim habent maxumam prima et extrema, principem in sacrificando
Ianum esse voluerunt, quod ab eundo nomen est ductum, ex quo
transitiones perviae iani foresque in liminibus profanarum aedium
ianuae nominantur"." "As in everything the first and the last things
have the greatest force, they wanted that
Janus be the first in
sacrificial actions, because his name is derived from going, from
which fact previous passages are named iani and the hollows in the
boundary of secular houses ianuae."
^ Taylor, Rabun, "Watching the Skies: Janus, Auspication, and the
Shrine in the Roman Forum," Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome
vol. 45 (2000): p. 1.
^ Objections by A. Meillet and A. Ernout to this etymology have been
rejected by most French scholars: É. Benveniste, R. Schilling, G.
Dumezil, G. Capdeville. The enlargement of root *ey- into *ya- is well
represented in Western Indo-European, as e. g. in Irish āth
,*yā-tu-s ford: cf. J Pokorny Indogermanisches etymologisches
Wörterbuch I Berne-Munich 1959 p. 296 s. v. i̯ā and Thesaurus
Linguae Latinae s. v. ianus.
^ A. Meillet DELL s.v. Ianus; A. Ernout "Consus, Ianus, Sancus" in
Philologica II 1957 p. 175: Ernout takes into consideration the
legends of the Thessalic origin of
^ F. Altheim History of Roman Religion London 1938 p. 194; V. Basanoff
Les dieux des Romains Paris 1942 p. 18.
^ Among these: C. Bailey; M. Renard; R. Schilling; G. Dumezil; G.
^ L. Preller-H. Jordan, Römische Mythologie, vol. I (Berlin, 1881),
^ A. Schwegler, Römische Geschichte I Tübingen 1867 2nd p. 218-223;
A. Brelich, "Vesta:
Janus und Vesta" in Albae Vigiliae (Zurich, 1949),
p. 28 ff. esp. pp. 34 and 39; R. Pettazzoni, "Per l'iconografia di
Giano", Studi Etruschi 24 (1955-56), pp. 79-90 esp. p. 89.
^ L. A. MacKay, "Janus", University of California Publications in
Classical Philology 15/4 (1956), pp. 157-182.
^ J. S. Speÿer, "Le dieu romain Janus", Revue de l'histoire des
religions 26 (1892), pp. 1-47 esp. p. 43.
^ M. Renard, "Aspects anciens de
Janus et de Junon", Revue belge de
philologie et d'histoire 31/1 (1953), pp. 5-21 esp. p.6.
^ O. Huth, Janus. Ein Beitrag zur altrömischen Religionsgeschichte
^ W. H. Roscher, Ausfürliches Lexicon der griechischen und römischen
Mythologie, vol. II (1890-1894) col. 15-55 s. v. Ianus; P. Grimal, "Le
Janus et les origines de Rome", Lettres d'humanité 4 (1945) pp.
Janus would be a conflation of the Latin numen of the mystic
Gate of Rome with a Syrian-Hittite sky god brought to Italy by the
Etruscans; C. Bailey, Phases in the Religion of Ancient Rome
(Berkeley, 1932), pp. 46-47:
Janus would have developed from the
animistic spirit of the door, ianua.
^ L. A. Holland, "
Janus and the Bridge", Papers and Monographs of the
American Academy in Rome 21 (1961), pp. 231-3.
^ J. S. Speÿer above esp. p. 44; A. B. Cook, Zeus: A study in ancient
religion, vol. II (Cambridge, 1925), pp. 328-392; P. Grimal, "Le dieu
Janus et les origines de Rome", Lettres d'humanité 4 (1945), pp.
15-121 esp. p. 118.
^ R. Schilling above p. 102 cites Lydus De Mensibus IV 2 who states
that according to Varro the Etruscans called him Heaven;
Civitate Dei VII 7 identifies him with the world; Longinus and
Messala, cited by Lydus above IV 1, with time; Gavius Bassus with air
Hera (apud Lydus above IV 2).
^ Varro apud
Augustine De Civitate Dei VII 9: "Penes Ianum sunt prima,
penes Iovem summa...
Janus rules over the first things, Jupiter over
the highest ones. It is thence right that Jupiter be considered the
king of everything, because accomplishment has the first place in
order of importance (dignitas) even though it has the second in order
^ M. Renard, "Aspects anciens de
Janus et de Junon", Revue belge de
philologie et d'histoire 31/1 (1953), p. 6.
^ C. Bailey above p. 47.
^ F. Altheim History of Roman Religion London 1938 p. 194; V.
Basanoff, Les dieux des Romains (Paris, 1942), p. 18.
^ M. Renard above p. 6 against C. Bailey above p. 47.
Ovid Fasti I 257 ff.; on the location of the Porta Ianualis cf. P.
Grimal, "Le dieu
Janus et les origines de Rome", Lettres d' humanité
4 (1945), p. 41; "Le
Janus de l'Argilete", Mélanges d'archaeologie et
d'histoire 64 (1952), pp. 39-58; G. Lugli Roma antica. Il centro
monumentale (Rome, 1946), p. 82ff.; A. Boethius, "Il tempio di Giano
in imo Argileto" in Symbolae Philologicae Gotoburgenses (Gotheborg,
^ It is possible that the Tigillum was on the boundary of the
pomerium, perhaps the eastern gate at the end of the decumanus of
Rome, before the inclusion of the Septimontium: cf. the repetition of
the formula vel intra pomerium vel extra pomerium in Livy's record
concerning the expiation of the Horatius (I 26, 6 and 11): R.
Schilling, "Janus. Le dieu introducteur. Le dieu des passages",
Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire 72 (1960), p. 110, citing A.
Piganiol in MEFR (1908), pp. 233-82.
^ Paulus s.v. Ianiculum; L. Audin "Janus, le génie de l'Argilète",
Lettres d' Humanité 10 (1951), pp. 54-5, 59, 71, 73.
^ C. Bailey, Phases in the Religion of Ancient Rome (Berkeley, 1932),
De Natura Deorum
De Natura Deorum II 67.
Ovid Fasti I 125-126: "I preside over the gates of Heaven together
with the mild Hours: Jupiter himself goes and comes back by my
^ Pliny Naturalis Historia XXXIV 7;
Saturnalia I 9 10; Lydus
De Mensibus I 4.
^ According to Varro, in the
Janus is called "creator",
as the initiator of the world itself. De Lingua Latina, VII, 26–27;
Ovid Fasti I 117-20 states he is the ruler and mover of the universe.
Saturnalia I 9, 2.
Ovid Fasti I 173-4.
Macrobius defines him Consivium, i.e. propagator of the mankind.
Saturnalia, I, 9, 16.
Macrobius Sat. I 7, 22: the ship on the other face remembers the
arrival of Saturn; cf.
Ovid Fasti I 230-40.
Saturnalia I 7, 20 and I 9, 4:
Porrima are his associates deities in this function.
Ovid Fasti I
133-40 states his double head means he as caelestis ianitor aulae,
gatekeeper of the heavenly mansion, can watch both the eastern and
western gate of heaven.
Ovid Fasti I 178-82:"Omens are in the beginnings, You turn your
fearful ears to the first sound and the augur decides on the grounds
of the first bird he has seen. The doors of the temples are open as
well as the ears of the gods...and the words have weight".
^ L. Schmitz s.v.
Janus in W. Smith above p. 550-551.
^ G. Dumezil "De
Janus à Vesta" in Tarpeia (Paris, 1946), pp. 33-113;
M. Marconi, Riflessi mediterranei nella piú antica religione laziale
^ M. Eliade "Pour une histoire generale des religions
Indo-europeennes", Annales. Economie, Societé, Civilisations 4/2
(1949), pp. 183-191 esp. p. 189-90.
^ Cf. e.g. M. Eliade Traité d' histoire des religions (Paris, 1949),
p. 53; Le chamanisme et les techniques archaiques de l'ecstase (Paris,
1950) e. g. chapt. VI 1.
Saturnalia I 9, 8-9;
De Natura Deorum
De Natura Deorum ii. 67.
^ A. Audin "Dianus bifrons ou les deux stations solaires, piliers
jumeaux et portiques solsticiaux", Revue de géographie de Lyon 31/3
(1956), pp. 191-198.
^ Horat. Carm. iv. 15. 8; Virg. Aen. vii. 607
^ Cf. V. Müller, "The Shrine of
Janus Geminus in Rome", American
Journal of Archaeology 47 (1943), pp. 437–440; P. Grimal, "Le Janus
de l' Argilète", Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire 64 (1952),
^ Livy, History of Rome, I, 19, 2;
Livy wrote in his
Ab urbe condita
Ab urbe condita that the doors of the temple had
only been closed twice since the reign of Numa: firstly in 235 BC
after the first Punic war and secondly in after the battle of Actium
in 31 BC. Cf.
Ovid Fasti I 121–4; 277–83.
Ovid above I 279–280;
^ Pliny Naturalis Historia XXXIV 33;
Saturnalia I 9 10;
Macrobius above I 9 16. R. Schilling above p. 115 remarks
such a feature could have been added only after the Julian reform of
^ Silvae IV 3, 9–10: "... qui limina bellicosa Iani/ iustis legibus
et foro coronat", "... who crowns the warlike boundaries of
just laws and the Forum".
Macrobius I 9, 13; Servius Aen. VI 607; Lydus De Menisibus IV 1.
^ L. Adams Holland, "
Janus and the Fasti", Classical Philology (1952),
^ G Capdeville above p. 404-7.
^ Varro Lingua Latina VII 26 and 27.
^ This does not mean that there was any particular link between the
Salii and Janus, contrary to what Lydus states in De Mensibus IV 2, i.
e. that the
Salii were consecrated to the cult of Janus. R. G. Kent in
the Loeb edition of Varro's
De Lingua Latina
De Lingua Latina 1938 p. 293 n. e states
these verses were addressed to Mars.
^ Paulus Festi epitome s.v. axamenta p. 3 L.
^ References in A.B. Cook above II p. 329-331; a later attempt by
J. F. K. Dirichs Die urlateinischen Reklamestrophe auf dem sogenannten
Dresselschen Drillingsgefäss des sabinischen Töpfers Dufnos
Heidelberg 1934 p. 30.
^ Restoring i for l: this reading is accepted by both Havet and
^ The interpretation "Cozeiuod orieso" = "Conseuiod orieso"
is Dirich's. Havet reads: "Cozeui adoriose" = "Conseui
gloriose" on the grounds of Paulus's glossa s.v. adoria: "praise,
glory deriving from the abundance of spelt (far)" p. 3, 22 L.
^ Capdeville follows L. Havet reading a future imperative of vorto;
Ovid Fasti I pp. 119-120: "Me penes est unum vasti
custodia mundi,/ et ius vertendi cardinis omne meum est", "It is only
my own power the tutelage of the vast universe,/ and the right of
turning its hinge is all mine".
^ G Capdeville above p. 405-406, following in part L. Havet "De
Saturnio Latinorum versu" in BEPHE 43 Paris 1880 p. 243-251. "Let
it begin from/with the Sower. Make everything turn, Patultius, Thou
are the one/ Gatekeeper, Janus, are Thou, good creator are Thou, good
Janus./ Let Him come, the most powerful of all kings./ Sing Him the
father (or part) of the gods, beseech the god of the gods./
^ Ad Nationes II 11, 3. Cozeuiod, ablative case of Cozeuios,
would be an archaic spelling of Consēuius: -ns> -nts> -ts>
Velius Longus Orthographia 8 p. 50, 9 and 51,
5th ed. Keil on the use of letter z in the carmen Saliare.
^ Festus s.v. pa p. 222L: "pa pro parte, po pro potissimum in
Saliari carmine positum est": the correction patre for parte is
allowed by Müller, by not by Lindsay.
Macrobius above I 12, 21-22.
Macrobius above I 16, 29.
^ Capdeville above p. 409.
Atheneus Deipnosophistes 15, 692d: Masurius says: "The god
considered among ourselves also as our father."
Virgil Aen. VIII 357: "Hanc Ianus Pater , hanc Saturnus condidit
Horace Epistulae I 16, 59: " "Iane pater" clare, clare cum
dixit "Apollo" "; Seneca ApolocyntosisIX 2: "primus interrogatur
sententiam Ianus pater";
Arnobius Ad Nationes III 29: "Incipiamus
...sollemniter ab Iano et nos patre".
Macrobius above I 9, 14.
^ Paulus p. 109L; Probus In Vergilii Gergicae I 7; Servius ibidem.
^ Cf. Lydus Mag. I 16 p. 20, 24 W on
Romulus and the patres called
patricii, considered equivalent to ευπατρίδας ; similar
confusion in other Greek authors as Plutarch
Romulus XIII 2 and 3;
Zonaras Histor. VII 3.
^ This hypothesis is advanced by L. Preller- H. Jordan Römische
Mythologie Berlin 1881 2nd p. 171.
^ A. Ernout- A. Meillet Dict. Etym. de la langue latine 4th ed. s.v.
^ bifrons (Vergil Aeneis VII 180; XII 198; Servius Aen. VII 607;
Ausonius Eclogae X 2; Dom. VI 5; Prudentius Sym. I 233; Macrobius
Saturnalia I 9, 4 and 13;
Augustine De Civ. Dei VII 7,8 Isidorus
Origines V 33, 3); biceps (
Ovid Fasti I 65; Pontica IV 4, 23); anceps
Metamorphoses XIV 334; Fasti I 95); biformis (
Ovid Fasti I 89; V
^ Pliny above XXXIV 45; Plutarch Quaestiones Romanae 41, 274 e;
Atheneus XV 692 e. For Italian coins cf. E. A. Sydenham The coinage of
the Roman Republic London 1952 no. 8 p. 2 and plate 4 etc.
Livy I 19, 2; Pliny Naturalis Historia XXXIV 33; Servius Ad Aen. VII
^ Cf. Vergil Aen. VII 607 on the analogous monument in the town of
Ovid Fasti I 73–4;
Macrobius above I 9, 9; Servius Ad Aen. VII
610; Lydus above IV 2 p. 65, 7 Wünsch.
^ Servius Ad Aen. VII 607;
Macrobius Sat. I 9, 13; Augustin Civ. Dei
VII 4, 8; Isidorus Origines VIII 11, 23.
^ Lydus above IV 1 p. 64, 4 W.
Macrobius above; Lydus above;
Augustine above VII 8; VII 4.
^ R. Pettazzoni above p. 89: "A naïve iconographic expression of
watching into the two opposite directions and thence, ideally, into
Ovid above I 117-8: "Quidquid ubique vides, caelum, mare, nubila,
terras,/ omnia sunt nostra clausa patentque manu".
Macrobius above I 9, 7 considers this to be an attribute of
gatekeeper: "...cum clavi et virga figuratus , quasi omnium portarum
custos et rector viarum".
^ Lydus above p. 64, 2 W.
Ovid above I 131-2: "...nomina diversas significare vices".
Macrobius above I 7, 21.
^ Varro apud Gellius Noctes Atticae XVI 16, 4 in the form Porrima; L.
L. Tels De Jong Sur quelques divinités romaines de la naissance et de
la prophétie Leyden Delft 1959 p. 41-60. Another instance of opposite
epithets in the indigitamenta is that of Panda and Cela, referring to
Ceres. Cf. J. Bayet " "Feriae Sementiuae" et les Indigitations dans le
culte de Ceres et de Tellus" in Revue de l'histoiire des religions 137
1950 p. 172-206 part. p.195-197.
^ Varro Lingua Latina V 165:
Livy I 19, 2; Pliny Naturalis Historia
^ Cf. Vergil Aeneis VII 601-615.
Ovid above I 279-80; Servius Aen. I 291; Lydus IV 2 p. 65,17 W.; G.
Capdeville above p. 420
^ G . Dumézil La religion romaine archaïque Paris 1966 above p.
246-271; R. Schilling "Janus. Le dieu introducteur. Le dieu des
passages" in Melanges d'archeologie et d'histoire 72 1960 p.119-120
citing G. Wissowa Religion und Kultus der Römer Munich 1912 p. 109;
Paulus p. 43 L: "Romani a Quirino Quirites dicuntur"; Festus p. 304L:
"...Quirites dicti, post foedus a Romulo et Tatio percussum,
communionem et societatem populi factam indicant"."...are named
Quirites after the community and society created because of the treaty
made by Tatius and Romulus".
^ Lydus above: "πρόμαχος".
Macrobius above I 9, 16: "
Quirinus quasi bellorum potentem, ab hasta
quam Sabini curin vocant".
Ovid above II 475-478.
Romulus XXIX 1; Quaestiones Romanae XXVII 285 cd.
^ Paulus 43, 1 L.
^ L. Deubner Mitteilungen des deutschen archaeologisches Institut
Berlin 36-37 1921-1922 p. 14 ff.; W. F. Otto Pauly Real Enzyklopaedie
der Altertumswissenschaften Supplem. III col. 1182.
Ovid above III 881-882; J.- C. Richard "Pax, Concordia et la
religion officielle de
Janus à la fin de la République romaine in
MEFR 75 1963 p. 303-386.
Lucan Pharsalia I 61-2;
Statius Silvae II 3, 12.
G. Dumézil "Remarques sur les armes des dieux de la troisième
fonction chez divers peuples indo-européens" in Studi e Materiali di
Storia delle Religioni 28 1957 p. 1-10.
^ C. Koch "Bemerkungen zum römischen Quirinuskult" in Zeitschrift
für Religions and Geistesgeschichte 1953 p.1-25.
^ Res Gestae Divi Augusti XIII;
Augustus XXII 5; Horatius
Odes IV 15, 4-9.
^ Only Festus s. v. p. 204, 13 L, among the three sources relating
this rite has the expression Ianui Quirino; Plutarch Marcellus VIII 9
and Servius (and
Virgil himself) Aeneis VI 859 have only Quirinus.
This has led to disputes among scholars on the value of the expression
and its antiquity as
Verrius Flaccus may have forged it.
^ R. Schilling above p.128, citing Festus s. v. spolia opima p. 204 L.
^ Lydus above IV 2 p. 64, 18 W.
Ovid above I 128: "libum farraque mixta sale".
^ Paulus s.v. Ianual p. 93, 4 L.
^ J. Speÿer above p. 28.
Macrobius I 15, 9-10 and 19.
^ Servius Aeneis VII 620-622;
Ovid Fasti I ; Isidore Origines
VIII 11, 69: "Iunonem dicunt quasi Ianonem, id est ianuam, pro
purgationibus feminarum, eo quod quasi portas matrum natis pandat, et
^ M.Renard above p. 14-17.
^ G. Capdeville above p. 432.
Augustine above VII 2.
Augustine above VI 9: "Thus the same Varro starts mentioning and
listing the gods from the conception of man, who have been given life
from Janus"; VII 3: "... it is answered that
Janus has in his power
every start and therefore not without cause is he ascribed that of the
opening to conception".
^ The etymology from sero, albeit clear, presents a problem with the
long first ī of Consīvius: this difficulty can be overcome if one
considers Consēuius, attested by
Tertullian Ad Nationes II 11, 3.
^ Paulus p. 36, 19 L;
Tertullian De Spectaculis V 5;
Nationes III 23; Ausonius Eclogae XXIV 20; Servius Aeneis VIII 636;
Augustine above IV 11.
^ G. Capdeville above p. 434.
Consus is a u theme word and the only
adjective it formed is Consualia.
^ G. Capdeville above p. 435.
^ See below section on myths.
^ W. Otto Real Encyclopaedie Suppl. III column 1178-9; Festus s.v.
Sororium tigillum p. 380, 5 L.; Dionysius of Halicarnassus
Antiquitates Romanae III 22, 7-9; Scholiasta Bobiensis in Ciceronem
Livy I 26, 13; Paulus ex Festus p.399, 2 L ; Pseudo Aurelius
Victor Vir. 4.
G. Dumézil Les Horaces et les Curiaces Paris 1942.
Livy I 26, 12: ...pecunia publica at public expenses.
^ M. Renard above p. 14.
^ R. Schilling "Janus, dieu introducteur, dieu des passages" in
Melanges d' archeologie et d'histoire 72 1960 p. 109.
^ R. Schilling above citing Real Encyclopaedie s.v. calata comitia
column 1330. Aulus Gellius Noctes Atticae XV 27, 2 has lictor curiatus
^ For a thorough listing of the hypotheses advanced cf. A. Walde- J.
B. Hoffmann Lateinische etymologisches Wörterbuch 1938 3rd p. 319
Livy VIII 9, 6
^ Cato De Agri Cultura 141 and 143.
^ Acta Fratrum Arvalium ed. Henze p. CCXIV and 144 ff.
^ Some scholars opine that the rex was Janus's priest, e.g. M. Renard
"Aspects anciens de Jaanus et de Junon" in Revue belge de philologie
et d' histoire 31 1. 1953 p. 8.
G. Dumézil disagrees as he considers
the rex also and even more directly associated with Jupiter.
Portunus seems to be a god closely related to Janus, if with a
specifically restricted area of competence, in that he presides over
doorways and harbours and shares with
Janus his two symbols, the key
and the stick: Scholiasta Veronensis Aen. V 241: "god of harbours and
patron of doors". See also section below.
Ovid Fasti I 178-182.
Ovid above 166-170.
Ovid above 187-190; Pliny Naturalis Historia XXIII 3, 13; Martial
VIII 33; XIII 27.
Ovid Fasti I 127-8.
^ L. Schmitz in W. Smith Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and
Mythology s.v. Ianus II p. 550-552 London 1890.
Ovid Fasti I 337-8.
Ovid above 334.
Saturnalia I 15, 19.
Horace Sermones II 6, 20-23:"Morning Father or if you prefer being
called in this (other) way, Janus, Thou with whom men start business
and works, do open my poem".
^ G. Dumézil, La religion romaine archaïque (Paris, 1974), part II
^ Giano dell'Umbria,
Torgiano near Perugia, Iano near Volterra.
^ Paulus ex Festus s.v. P. L.
^ L. Adams Holland above.
^ P. Grimal above p. 40-43.
^ Paulus s. v. above : "
Ianiculum dictum, quod per eum Romanus
populus primitus transierit in agrum Etruscum". "It is named Janiculum
because originally the Romans passed on to the Etruscan territory
(ager) through it".
^ L. Adams Holland above p. 231-3.
Saturnalia I 9 7: "But among us the name of
that he was the patron of all doorways, which is similar to
Θυραίω. Indeed he is represented also with a key and a stick, as
if he were the protector of all doorways and the ruler of all
Ovid Fasti I 254-5.
^ J. Gagé, "Sur les origines du culte de Janus", Revue de l'histoire
des religions 195/1 (1979), p. 8.
^ The two groups were of twelve people each. They stood under the
patronage of the gods of the archaic triad: cf. Servius Aen. VIII 663
Salii who are under the tutelage of Jupiter, Mars and
Livy I 20, 4.
^ Dionysius Halicarnasseus III 32, 4.
^ Tullus's vow included beside the institution of the
Salii also that
Saturnalia (perhaps along with the Consualia) and of the Opalia
after the storing of the harvest: all festivals related to peace,
fertility and plenty.
^ A passage of
Statius Silvae V 2, 128, to be found in a poem in
honour of his friend Crispinus, a Salius Collinus, suggests clearly
the difference between the functions of the arms of
Quirinus and those
of Mars (and Minerva): "Mars and the virgin Actea shew the
points...the arms of
Quirinus ...shields born from the clouds and arms
untouched by slaughter": the arms of
Quirinus were peaceful.
^ Servius Aen. I 292 "Thence in the City there two temples of his, of
Quirinus within the Urbs, as if protector but peaceful, another on the
Via Appia outside the Urbs near the gate, as if warrior, or gradivus
": the gate is the Porta Capena; VI 860: "
Quirinus is the Mars that
presides over peace and is worshipped inside the city: in fact the
Mars of war has his temple outside it". Regardless of the actual date
of their foundation their location is archaic: for
Quirinus cf. Paulus
p. 303 L and for Mars Festus p. 204 L.
Suetonius Othon VIII 5: "He started the expedition before it was
ritually correct, without any care for religious praescriptions, but
with ancilia moved and not yet stored ";
Ovid Fasti III 395f.: "The
arms move the fight: the fight is alien to the grooms, when they have
been stored the omen shall be more propitious".
Lucan Pharsalia I 61-62: "Pax missa per orbem/ ferrea belligeri
compescat limina Iani".
Statius Silvae II 3,12: "belligerum Iani
^ Martial VIII 66, 11-12.
Ovid Fasti III 879-882: "...
Janus is to be worshipped together with
mild Concord and Safety of the Roman people and the altar of Peace".
^ Servius Aen. I 291: "It is a better reason that those who go to war
desire the come back."
^ The ancients give an armed and even military definition of Quirinus:
Macrobius I 9 16;
Ovid II 475-8; Plutarch
Romulus 29, 1; Quaestiones
Romanae 27; Paulus 43, 1 L. But while his armed character of is not in
contradiction with the nature of
Quirinus as well as of the gods of
the third function, a definitely and exclusively martial character is
unacceptable and looks to be a later development, due to the
Romulus with Quirinus. The legend of Romulus' later
life had strong military connotations, which changed the original
character of Quirinus. According to Dumezil the interpretation
Romulus came about via a different route, i. e. the divine
twins myth, of which
Romulus and Remus are an instance. Their myth is
representative and belongs to the category of the gods of the third
function, as e. g. the Dioskuri, the Ashvins. Whatever the original
nature of the Sabine Quirinus, in Rome this god did not originally
have a military function.
^ Festus p. 190 L.
^ Varro Lingua Latina VI 22; V 153; Plutarch Quaestiones Romanae 23.
^ Fasti I 277.
^ C. Koch above; R. Schilling above p. 124 n. 2.
Ovid may conclude his passage devoted to
Janus with the words
"Janus, do make peace and those who administer it (
Germanicus) eternal." in Fasti I 287.
Horace too mentions that
Augustus closed the Ianum Quirini in Carmina IV 15, 9 and calls
"Janus...protector of the peace" in Epistulae II 1, 255.
Livy I 26. Dionysius of Halicarnassus III 22.
^ CIL I 2nd p. 214: "Fasti Aru. ad Kal. Oct. : Tigillo Soror(io)
ad compitum Acili"
^ Festus s. v. Sororium tigillum p. 380 L.: "Horatius duo tigilla
tertio superiecto... subit".
Livy I 26, 6 and 11 repeates twice the formula vel intra pomerium
vel extra pomerium.
^ G. Dumezil, Myths romains I. Les Horaces et les Curiaces (Paris,
1942), p. 112.
^ M. Renard "Aspects anciens de
Janus et de Junon" above p. 9 and ff.
citing E. L. Shields, Juno (Northampton, Mass., 1926), p. 53.
^ Martianus Capella De Nuptiis II 149.
^ Paulus s.v. Sororium tigillum p. 399 L.
^ A. Grenier, Les religions étrusque et romaine (Paris, 1948), pp.
115 and 131; R. Pettazzoni, "Carna", Studi Etruschi 14 (1940), p.
Ovid Fasti VI 155
^ Roscher, Lexicon, s.v. Ianus col. 21-22.
^ Cf. Augustin De Civitate Dei VII 2 and 3.
^ R. Schilling above p. 97.
^ a b
Ovid Fasti VI 101–130.
Ovid XIV 333 ff.
^ M. Renard "Aspect anciens de
Janus et de Junon" above pp. 13–14.
G. Dumézil Fêtes romaines d'été et d'automn. Suivi par dix
questions romaines "Question X. Theologica minora" Paris 1975 p.
Ovid Fasti II 67–68.
^ In Greece Crane, Cranea is an epithet of Athens, meaning the rocky
city; the Cranai are nymphs of rocks, or Naiads of springs. L. Rocci
Dizionario Greco -Italiano Roma 1972 s. v.
Ovid Fasti VI 131–183.
Saturnalia I 7, 19ff.
Atheneus Deipnosophistes XV 46=692.
^ Wellman in R.E. Pauly-Wissowa V column 1663 no. 16 writes Drakon
might have lived at the time of Augustus, R. Schilling thinks he lived
only after Pliny the Elder. Cf. Plutarch Quaestiones Romanae 22 on
^ Aen. VIII 330.
^ Adversus Nationes III 29.
^ Walde-Hoffmann LEW s. v. Fons.
^ G. Wissowa Religion und Kultus der Römer Munich 1912 p. 221. Cf.
Cicero De Legibus II 56.
^ Quaestiones Romanae 22.
^ Comparing this tradition with Strabon's passage in Geographia X 2,
12 (who cites
Odyssea X 190–192) on the Ionians, French scholar J.
Gagé has seen a
Hyperborean origin of Janus, derived from the
Protohellenes of Thessaly and the Pelasgians. Cf. J. Gagé, "Sur les
origines du culte de Janus", Revue de l' histoire des religions 195/1
(1979), pp. 31–32.
^ Varro Lingua Latina V 156; Paulus ex Festus p. 105, 11 L.
Saturnalia I 9, 17–18;
Metamorphoses XIV 781-799;
Fasti I 259–276; Servius Ad Aen. I 291; VIII 361; Myhtographus
Vaticanus III 4, 9.
Saturnalia I 7, 20.
Ovid Fasti I 265–276:
Metamorphoses XIV 775-800.
^ Julius Capitolinus Gordianus XXVI 3.
Procopius De Bello Gothico I 25.
^ R. Schilling above p. 89.
^ J Gagé, "Sur les origines du culte de Janus", Revue de l'histoire
des religions 195/1 and 2, pp. 3–33 and 129–151.
^ E. Peruzzi, "Un etruschismo del latino religioso", Rivista di
Filologia Italiana e Classica (1976), pp. 144–148.
^ M. Delcourt Pyrrhus et
Pyrrha Liège 1965; G. Colli La sapienza
greca I. Milano 1977 p. 27; 45–47; 431–434.
Liber memorialis VIII.
^ L. Adams Holland above p. 224ff.: conquests of Ancus Marcius; J.
Gagé La chute des Tarquins et les debuts de la Republique romaine
Paris 1976 p. 197 ff.
Metamorphoses XIV 334.
^ Vergil Aeneis XII 766 ff.
^ G. Radke Die Götter Altitaliens Münster 1965 s.v. Olistene, or
Olistine: the name might also be related to adjective olitana meaning
vetusta extremely old: cf. Corpus Glossariorum Latinorum IV 264.
^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus I 61: Iasos would have unduely aspired to
the union with Demeter; Diodorus Siculus V 49: Iasion is on the
contrary asked for the union by Demeter and from it Plutos is born.
^ Objections by D. Briquel in MEFRA 88 1976 p. 44 against St.
Weinstock in Journal of Roman Studies 1960 p. 112 ff.
G. Dumézil above p. 236-238.
^ On the arms of the gods of the third function cf. G. Dumézil,
"Remarques sur les armes des dieux de troisième fonction chez divers
peuples indo-européens", Studi e Materiali di Storia delle Religioni
28 (1957), pp. 1-10.
^ G. Wissowa Religion und Kultus der Römer (Munich, 1912), 2nd p.
Scholia Veronensia ad Aeneidem V 241.
^ G. Wissowa above.
^ Festus s. v. persillum p. 238 L. The persillum was a rediculum,
small container in which the ointment was kept.
^ R. Schilling above p. 99 and n. 4, p. 120;
G. Dumézil above part I
chapt. 5 It. tr. p.237-238.
^ G. Dumézil, "De
Janus à Vesta" in Tarpeia (Paris, 1946), pp.
33-113; "Vesta extrema" Questiunculae Indo-Italicae.12, Revue
d'études latins 39 (1961), pp. 250-257.
^ A. Brelich, Vesta (Zurich, 1949), "
Janus und Vesta" p. 28ff.
^ A. Maggiani "Placentia" apud M. Cristofani "Rivista di di epigrafia
etrusca", Studi Etruschi 49 (1981), pp. 235–283, numero 37, pp.
263–267 and "Qualche osservazione sul fegato di Piacenza", Studi
Etruschi 50 (1982) (issued 1984), pp. 53–88.
^ C. O. Thulin, Die Götter des Martianus Capella und der Bronzeleber
von Piacenza (Giessen, 1906), pp. 22–24.
^ Above p. 263-4.
^ Lydus De Mensibus IV 2 : cf. also Varro Antiquitates Rerum
Divinarum 16 fr. 230 Cardauns = apud
Augustine De Civitate Dei VII 28.
^ S. Weinstock, "Martianus Capella", Journal of Roman Studies, p. 106
n. 25 on the grounds of Varro apud
Augustine above VII 2 and Johannes
Scotus Eriugena Annotationes in Marcianum, edited by C. E. Lutz
(Cambridge, Mass., 1939; reprint New York, 1970), p. 29, 8.
Tertullian Idolatria XV 5; De Corona Militis XIII 9.
^ S. Weinstock "Martianus Capella" in Journal of Roman Studies p. 104
and 106 .
^ S. Weinstock above p. 106 n. 25; E. L. Highbarger, The Gates of
Dream: An archaeological examination of Vergil,
Aeneid VI 893–899
(Baltimore, 1940); A. K. Coomaraswamy, The Door in the Sky (Princeton,
1997); M. Eliade Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasis (Princeton,
2004); G. Capdeville, "Les dieux de Martianus Capella", Revue de
l'histoire des religions 213/3 (1996), pp. 293–4.
^ A. Pfiffig Religio Etrusca Graz 1975 p. 330-1.
^ E. Simon, "Gods in harmony", in Etruscan Religion, edited by N.
Thomas De Grummond (Univ. of Texas Press, 2006) p. 58. Cf. also
goddess Culśu, the gatekeeper of the Underworld, holding a torch and
a key, on the sarchophagus of Hasti Afunei from Chiusi.
^ A. Pfiffig above pp. 330–331 on Culśu and p. 280 on Alpanu. In
Capdeville's citation it looks the author is unaware of existence of
two different gods named Culśanś and Culśu respectively.
^ A. Audin above p. 96.
^ L. Schmitz in W. Smith above p. 551.
Ovid FastiI 90; Dionysius Halicarnasseus.
^ R. Schilling above p. 115.
^ A. Ungnad "Der babylonische Janus" in Archiv für Orientforschung 5
1929 p. 185.
^ Ariel Golan (2003). Prehistoric Religion: Mythology, Symbolism.
^ Rafique Ali Jairazbhoy (1965). Oriental influences in Western art.
^ J. Marcadé, "Hermès double", Bulletin de Correspondence
Hellénique 76 (1952), pp. 596–624.
^ Royal Numismatic Society, Proceedings of the Numismatic Society,
James Fraser, 1837
^ P. Grimal above pp. 15–121.
^ P. J. Riis, An introduction to Etruscan art (Copenhagen, 1953), p.
^ G. Dumezil, "Remarques comparatives sur le dieu scandinave
Heimdallr", Études Celtiques (1959), pp. 263–283; "De
Vesta" in Tarpeia (Paris, 1947), pp. 31–113 esp. pp. 86–88.
^ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa (Shatapathabrahmana) III 2, 4, 16
ubhayaḥtaśīrṣṇi and Eggeling's note.
^ Hyndluljóð strophe 37 and 40.
Yasna 45 first verses of strophes 2, 4 and 6.
^ T. O. De Negri Storia di Genova Firenze 2003 p. 21-22.
^ Wilson, Cherry (30 September 2011). "Two-faced cat is a record
breaker". The Guardian.
Dumézil, Georges (2001). La religione romana arcaica. Milan: Rizzoli.
p. 291. ISBN 88-17-86637-7.
Ferrari, Anna (2001). Dizionario di mitologia greca e latina. Milan:
Rizzoli. ISBN 88-17-86637-7.
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