The Ancient Library

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On this page: Jason – Jieiunium or Ieiunium – Jewellery – Jocasta or Iocasta – Jordanes – Josephus



of time, and was therefore saluted every morning as the god of the breaking day (pater matutlnus); the beginnings of all the months (the calends) were sacred to him, as well as to Juno; and, among the months, the first of the natural year, which derived from him its name lanuarius. For sacrifices on the calends twelve altars were dedicated to him; his chief festival, however, was the 1st of January, especially as in b.c. 153 this was made the official beginning of the new year. On this day he was invoked as the god of good beginnings, and was honoured with cakes of meal called ianuce / every disturbance, every quarrel, was care­fully avoided, and no more work was done than was necessary to make a lucky begin­ning of the daily business of the year; mutual good wishes were exchanged, and people made presents of sweets to one another as a


(On a Roman as.)

good omen that the new year might bring nothing but that which was sweet and pleasant in its train (see stren^e). The newly chosen consuls and the other officials together with the senate and the knights went up to the Capitol to offer to Jupiter a festal sacrifice of white cattle and to pray for the safety of the State. Under the Empire the 3rd of January was substituted as the day for offering vows for the prosperity of the imperial house. The origin of all or­ganic life, and especially all human life, was referred to him; he was therefore called consivius (sower). Prom him sprang all wells, rivers, and streams ; in this relation lie was called the spouse of Juturna, the goddess of springs, and father of Fontus, the god of fountains. As the god of coming and going and of traffic, he had power not only on land, but also on sea; he was therefore

described as the husband of the sea-goddess Venilia and as the discoverer of the art of shipbuilding. For this reason the Roman as bore the impression of a ship on the obverse of the head of Janus (see coinage, fig. 7). His authority extended as much over war as over peace. In connexion with war he was known in the fane founded by Numa near the ancient Forum, as lanus Quirlnus. When war was declared, the consul opened the double doors of this sanctuary and summoned the Roman youths capable of bearing arms to march through it with him. As long as war continued, the doors stood open, but on the declaration of peace they were closed. From the time of Numa to the year of the birth of Christ, this happened on four occasions only, and twice in the reign of Augustus. While Janus appears as the most ancient of the Roman gods, he is at the same time named as the most ancient king of the land, who dwelt upon the Janlculum on the right bank of the Tiber, and erected a temple to the gods and gave a friendly reception to Saturn. In very late times, he is repre­sented with a bearded and an unbearded face; and, instead of his having the usual attributes of the key and staff, the fingers of his right hand exhibit the number 300 (ccc), and those of his left hand the number of the remaining days of the year (lxv).

Jason. The son of .<Esdn, and leader of the Argonauts (q.v.), husband of Medea.

Jeiunium. The first breakfast among the Romans (see meals). On leiunium CSreris, the fast of Ceres, see ceres.

Jewellery. See toreutic art.

Jocasta. See iocaste.

Jordanes. An Alanian by birth, and probably bishop of CrStona. He wrote two I historical works: (1) a compendium of Universal History down to 552 a.d. ; (2) an abstract of Cassiodorus' History of the Goths (De Rebus Getlcls), which, though done in a cursory and unskilful manner, is nevertheless of great value, owing to the loss of the original work.

Josephus (Flavins). Born at Jerusalem, a.d. 37, of a respectable priestly family. He received a scholarly education, and in 63 went to Rome, where he gained the favour of Poppsea, the wife of Nero. After having returned to his native land, he endeavoured in vain to check the revolt of his own people against the Romans; there­upon he himself joined the rebellion, but, while in command of Galilee, was taken prisoner by the Romans. He was freed

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