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Bill Thayer

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p275 Janus

Article on pp275‑277 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):
A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.

Ianus: an arch or gate, intended for a passage way (Cic. de nat. deor. II.67: Ianum . . . ab eundo . . . ex quo transitiones perviae iani . . . nominantur), sometimes surmounted with statues (Suet. Aug. 31: Pompei quoque statuam . . . marmoreo Iano superposuit), of which there were many in Rome (Suet. Dom. 13: ianos arcusque . . . tantos ac tot exstruxit; Ov. Fast. I.257: cum tot sis iani cur stas sacratus in uno). The word was also used of one of the passage ways through a double gate (Liv. II.49.7: Infelici via dextro iano portae Carmentalis profecti ad Cremeram flumen perveniunt). Of these iani in Rome one, Ianus Primus, is mentioned only in one inscription (CIL VI.12816: L. Aufidius L. l. Eperastus ab Iano primo, cf. Comm. in hon. Momms. 642), and its site is unknown, although often supposed to have been in the forum.

The second is the well-known Ianus medius which, wherever it occurs in literature, designates the place in the forum where bankers and speculators gathered for business ( Cic. de off. II.87: de collocanda pecunia . . . commodius a quibusdam optimis viris ad Ianum medium sedentibus . . . disputatur; Phil. 6.15: L. Antonio a Iano medio patrono; 7.16: patronus Iani medii; CIL VI.5845: a Iano medio; 10027; Hor. Sat. II.3.18: postquam omnis res mea Ianum ad medium fracta est; and without doubt Ov. Rem. Am. 561: qui puteal Ianumque timet celeresque Kalendas torqueat hunc aeris mutua summa sui). The scholia on the passage in Horace (Porphyr.: hoc ideo qui omnes ad Ianum in basilica consistebant; Acron: Iani statuae tres erant; ad unam illarum solebant convenire creditores et feneratores, alii ad reddendum, alii ad locandum fenus. Ianum ad medium ideo, quoniam in Rostris simulacrum iani erat, ubi res pecuniariae agebantur per feneratores. Aliter: Ianus medius locus dictus est prope basilicam Pauli ubi vasa aenea venundabantur; similarly Comm. Cruq.) seem to agree in placing the Ianus medius near the basilica Aemilia, although they confuse statues with arches. With this position of the Ianus subsequent topographers have agreed, although they differed as to which end of the basilica should be understood.

A second passage in Horace (Ep. I.1.53‑54: o cives cives quaerenda pecunia primum est; virtus post nummos: haec Ianus summus ab imo p276prodocet) has complicated the matter. Summus and imus have been brought into connection with medius, and in support of the theory of three iani in the forum at different points, summus, medius, and imus, some scholars cite a passage in Livy (XLI.27: forum porticibus tabernisque claudendum et Ianos tres faciendos) which states that in the year 174 B.C. the magistrates erected three iani in some colony, presumably in imitation of conditions in the forum at Rome. No hint of any such connection of summus and imus with medius is given by the scholiasts (Porphyr.: ad ianos eos qui sunt in regione basilicae Pauli feneratores consistunt . . . Unus enim illic Ianus in summo alius in imo est quos haec inducit monere; Acron: duo iani ante basilicam Pauli steterunt ubi locus erat faeneratorum. Ianus dicebatur locus in quo solebant convenire feneratores), who agree, however, in placing the two iani in front of the basilica Aemilia, as they did the medius. The Commentator Cruquii gives another explanation of summus ab imohoc est omnes Romani a maximo ad minimum qui ad Ianum conveniunt hoc prodocent, i.e. aperte dicunt.

There is still a third passage in Horace (Ep. I.20.1: Vortumnum Ianumque liber spectare videris, scilicet ut prostes Sosiorum pumice mundus) on which the scholiast (Porphyr.) remarks: Vortumnus . . . in vico Turario sacellum habuit; Ianus quoque similiter vicus est ab Iano gemino sic appellatus qui in eo arcum habet sibi consecratum (cf. Acron and Comm. Cruq., which, however, do not mention any vicus). This is the only mention of a vicus Ianus, and is evidently due to confusion and an error of interpretation on the part of the scholiast, but nevertheless a theory has been constructed on this basis which identifies this vicus Ianus with a supposed street in front of the basilica Aemilia, on the north side of the area of the forum, corresponding with the continuation of the Sacra via on the south side, and spans this with three arches, Ianus summus medius and imus, from west to east (Bentley, Hor. Ep. I.1.54; Lanciani, BC 1890, 99; LR 253‑254; BPW 1913, 981; Théd. 176, who identifies Ianus medius with Ianus Geminus; and many edd. of Horace). If there were any sufficient evidence for a vicus Ianus, Ianus summus ab imo might easily be explained as referring to this street, but it is altogether probable that the phrase is a poetical expression meaning 'from one end of the Forum to the other' (Jord.), and cannot be taken as authority for a Ianus summus and a Ianus imus.

It is probable that at the beginning of the Augustan period, Ianus medius was a small single arch, near the basilica Aemilia, but it is not possible to decide whether medius refers to its position in the forum or with respect to other arches. There may have been other iani in the forum, but there are no certain references to them. Those who suppose that such iani stood where other streets entered the forum, look for evidence to the two cases of possible iani on the Rostra relief (see Rostra), the remains of an arch of later date across the vicus Iugarius, the presence of such a Ianus near the statue of Vortumnus (see above) in the vicus p277Tuscus, where traces of an arch are alleged to have been found (BPW 1903, 1117), and some indications in the scholia. The inconsistencies and errors of the scholia may be due to the changes of the later empire. (Jord. I.2.214‑218; Richter, 106‑107; Théd. 175‑176; DS III.615; Burchett, Janus in Roman Life and Cult, Menasha, Wis. 1918, 42‑47).

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