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JANUARIUS ():

Talmudic name of a legendary hero; it is taken from the name of the first of the twelve Roman months. R. Johanan, in Yer. 'Ab. Zarah i. 39c, relates as follows: "The governments of Egypt and Rome, having been at war with each other for a long time, finally agreed to cease their cruel bloodshed and instead to recognize as ruler that government whose general wouldin obedience to command forthwith cast himself upon his sword and die. Egypt found no general willing. The Romans, however, had an old man by the name of Januarius, who had twelve sons. To him they said: 'Obey our command, and in compensation we will make thy twelve sons dukes, eparchi, and leaders of the army.' He then cast himself upon his sword and died; and hence the first of January was called 'Calendæ Januarii,' and the following day was made a day of mourning." This is obviously a misunderstood Roman legend of old King Janus, the father of Time, who—like Chronus—dies to make room for his twelve sons, the twelve months of the year, and probably is connected with a festival of Janus celebrated in Rome on the 1st of January.

Bibliography:
  • Brüll's Jahrb. i. 161, note;
  • Michael Sachs, Beiträge zur Sprach- und Alterthumsforschung, ii. 125, Berlin, 1854.
A. K.
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