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 p278  Janus Geminus​a

Article on pp278‑280 of

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

Ianus Geminus: a shrine of Janus on the north side of the forum, usually referred to simply as Ianus Geminus or Ianus Quirinus (Hor. Carm. IV.15.9; Mon. Anc. II.42; Suet. Aug. 22), but also as sacellum (Ov. Fast. I.275); sacrarium (Serv. Aen. VII.607; cf. Warde Fowler, The Gathering of the Clans, Oxford, 137‑38), νεὼς δίθυρος (Plut. Numa 20), ναός (Procop. B.G. I.25), and aedes (Macrob. Sat. I.9.18), although it was probably not an aedes. It was also called geminae belli portae, (Verg. Aen. VII.607),º Iani gemini portae (de vir. ill. 79.6; August. civ. Dei III.9‑10)º, πύλη ἐνυάλιος (Mon. Anc. VII.5), πύλη πολέμου (Plut. Numa 20), porta Ianualis (Varro, LL V. 165), porta Iani (Flor. I.19.1), and πύλαι τοῦ Ἰανοῦ (Cass. Dio LI.20).

Tradition varied as to the date and origin of this shrine. According to one form of the story (Macrob. I.9.17‑18) it was already in existence when the victorious Sabines under Titus Tatius were stopped and driven back by floods of hot water which Janus caused to gush forth from his  p279 temple and through the gate of the city sub radicibus collis Viminalis.​1 This gate was called the porta Ianualis from this event, and apparently identified or confused with the temple (cf. Jord. Hermes 1869, 252; Top. I.1.177; Pl. 191). A variant of this legend made the erection of the shrine a result of the intervention of the god (Ov. Fast. I.263‑276; cf. Serv. Aen. I.291; VIII.361; Varro, LL V.156, 165; Ter. Maurus, frg. I.5). Another tradition was that Romulus and Tatius built the temple as a sign of the union of the two communities (Serv. Aen. I.291: alii dicunt Tatium et Romulum facto foedere hoc templum aedificasse unde et Ianus ipse duas facies habet, quasi ut ostendat duorum regum coitionem; XII.168), and still another that it was erected by Numa as an index pacis bellique (Liv. I. 19; Plin. NH XXXIV.33; Varro, LL V.165) in order that when open it might indicate that Rome was at war, and when closed that she was at peace. This became the accepted signification of the temple, and after the reign of Numa its doors were closed in 235 after the first Punic war (Varro, Liv. locc. citt.), in 30 B.C. after the battle of Actium (Liv. loc. cit.; Hor. Carm. IV.15.9), and twice besides by Augustus (Mon. Anc. II.42‑46; Suet. Aug. 22; cf. Cohen, Aug. 385 = BM Aug. 126);​2 and afterwards at more frequent intervals down to the fifth century (Hist. Aug. Comm. 16; Gord. 26; Claudian. de cons. Stil. II.287; Amm. Marc. XVI.10.1).

There is no mention of any rebuilding of this temple, and therefore it was probably never moved from its original site, which, according to the practically unanimous testimony of all forms of the tradition, was near the point where the Argiletum (q.v.) entered the forum close to the curia (ad infimum Argiletum, Liv. I.19; circa imum Argiletum Serv. Aen. VII. 607; πρὸ τοῦ βουλευτηρίου ὀλίγον ὑπερβάντι τὰ τρία φᾶτα, Procop. B. G. I.25; πρὸ τῶν θυρῶν αὐτοῦ (τοῦ συνεδρίου), Cass. Dio LXXIII.13; in foro, Sen. Apoc. 9; Hic ubi iuncta foris templa duobus habes, Ov. Fast. I.258, i.e. the forum and the forum Iulium). It has generally been supposed that it lay between the curia and the west end of the basilica Aemilia, but the excavations have as yet shown hardly any room here for even so small a building (Mitt. 1902, 47). Varro (LL V.165) says that the porta Ianualis was the third gate in the wall of the Palatine city — dicta ab Iano et ideo positum Iani signum et ius institutum a Pompilio, but it is difficult to see how a gate in the wall of the Palatine city could have been on the north side of the forum valley.

Procopius' description (B.G. I.25) and coins of Nero (Cohen, Nero 114, 115, 132‑177; BM Nero 64, 111‑113, 156‑167, 198‑204, 225‑233, 319‑322, 374, 375 and pp. clxxiv, 267, 398) agree in representing this temple as a small rectangular structure of bronze, with two side walls and double doors at each end. The walls were not so high as the doors,  p280 and were surmounted by a grating. These gratings and the arches over the doors supported an entablature of two members extending all around the building, but there was no roof. The ancient bronze statue of the two-faced god (bifrons, Verg. Aen. XII.198; biformis, Ov. Fast. I.89) stood in the centre of the temple, which was no temple in the ordinary sense but a passage (ianus). No traces of the structure have ever been found, and there is no reference to it after Procopius. (For this temple and the various theories about it, see, besides literature cited, Jord. I.2.345‑352; WR 103‑106; Rosch. II.15‑20; Théd. 71‑74; Mitt. 1895, 172‑178; 1921‑22, 14‑17; HC 134‑136; Mél. 1908, 258‑261; Binder, Die Plebs, 1909, 61‑72; Burchett, Janus in Roman Life and Cult, Menasha, Wis. 1918, 37‑44; CR 1918, 14‑16; DR 145‑150; RE Suppl. III.1178‑1182; Suppl. IV.506.)

The Authors' Notes:

1 See Lautolae.

2 Mr. H. Mattingly informs me that Cohen, Aug. 110, is best disregarded, as being probably false.

Thayer's Note:

a This is the famous temple of Janus the doors of which were only closed when Rome was at peace. For the other temples of Janus in the city of Rome, see the entry Aedes Jani.

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