About the Roman God Janus, wife of Jupiter

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The Vestal Virgins and the cult of Vesta

Roman God Janus

The Roman God Janus, also known as Janus Bifrons was, in the archaic period regarded extremely highly, perhaps the highest out of the list of Roman gods and possibly initially considered as one and the same with Jupiter. He was the god of doors, gates, perimeters, borders, beginning and end. As such he was also a representation of all that changes and transforms ie a symbol of our very existence. He was two-faced ie he was depicted with a face both on the front and "back" of his head symbolising his power to look either way, both forward and backward in time - a power granted him by Saturn, father of time who had given birth to Jupiter.

In line with the above, the ancient Romans under King Numa dedicated the first month of the year to Janus calling it Janiuarius, and hence the month is known to us as January.

King Numa had a roofless structure built in honour of the god Janus, regarded by many as a temple. The doors  were held open in times of war and shut in periods of peace such as during the reign of Emperor Augustus.

Janus Bifrons is also represented on some early roman coins (the "aes") and was again used on bronze coinage of AD 64-66 to commemorate the period of peace (pax romana) brought by emperor Caesar Augustus: The temple of Janus is shown with inscription "Peace obtained for the Roman People on land and sea, he closed (the gates of the temple of) Janus.

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"the ancient roman Roman God Janus" was written by Giovanni Milani-Santarpia for www.mariamilani.com - Rome apartments