January the Two-Faced Month Looks Back and Forward

 

Photo: Bust of the god Janus, Vatican museum, Vatican City. photo by Fubar Obfusco.

Janus (sometimes depicted beardless on one side), Vatican Museum. Photo by the charmingly named Fubar Obfusco.

 

As January comes to a close, let us consider that January means “the month of Janus”.

Janus was the Roman god of beginnings and endings, of gates and transitions. He is the god with two faces (aren’t they all?), one looking back and the other to the future. He represents the transition from youth to adulthood, and from barbaric to civilized.

In ancient times, when Rome was at war the gates of the temple of Janus would be open, in times of peace the gates were closed (the origin of the “status update”; only one side closed meant “it’s complicated”). Ancient Romans held, as one might, that the way things begin bodes how things will continue to unfold, so as the new year began they would wish each other well and give figs and other little gifts.

So this is the end of the beginning of 2013. I am going to endeavour to keep both my Gemini sides less Janus-faced. I am going to try growing up a bit more (in my own Bohemian way), I am going to strive to more closely approximate my definition of civilized, I am going to close the gates on belligerent impulses, wish well to all, and generally give a fig.

 

4 Comments

Filed under beginnings, habits, Optimism & Inspiration, tradition

4 responses to “January the Two-Faced Month Looks Back and Forward

  1. Michael

    Perhaps, one could amend the tradition and give “flying” figs? Might make for a more interesting end of beginnings…

  2. S

    I would point out that barbaric just meant not-Roman, but on the other hand I could go for a fig…

    • When not in Rome, do as the Romans wouldn’t. Put another way, barbaric is as barbaric does.
      Here, have a fig. (civilized)
      A fig to you! (barbaric)

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