Janus – The Start of a New Year

Janus-AE

nerosesjanusThe Roman god Janus was the god of the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. In ancient Rome, the Temple of Janus stood in the Roman Forum with doors on both ends, and inside was a statue of Janus, who is always represented as the two-faced god. The doors of his temple were open in time of war and closed to mark peace. This represented that things could change politically during war.

Janus (Ianuarius) was depicted as having two faces, because he looks to the future and to the past simultaneously. British historian Howard Hayes Scullard (1903-1983) argued that the Roman farmers’ almanacs named January after the god Juno. I disagree with that because he refers to the Republic period prior to Caesar’s revisions. The month of June is named after Juno and January is named after Janus.

Janus presided over the beginnings, gates, transitions, time, and endings but was primarily seen as the god who began and ended conflicts, and thus war and peace. So when we celebrate New Year’s Eve, and we say goodbye to the past and hello to the future, which is a concept stemming from Janus.

This year is indeed a beginning. Should the doors be open for civil unrest?