Agonalia


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Agonalia

January 9
In Roman mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings and of doorways. The worship of Janus is believed to have been started by Romulus, one of the legendary founders of Rome. Usually depicted with two faces, one looking forward to the future and the other looking back to the past, his image appeared on an early Roman coin with a ship's prow on the reverse side. Roman boys used to toss these coins, calling out "heads or ships" just as youngsters today play "heads or tails." During the festival in honor of Janus known as the Agonalia, the rex sacrorum or officiating priest sacrificed a ram. Offerings of barley, incense, wine, and cakes called Januae were also common.
Numa Pompilius, the legendary second king of Rome, honored Janus by dedicating the famous Ianus geminus, the arcade at the northeast end of the Roman Forum, to him. It was believed that passing through this arcade brought luck to soldiers on their way to war.
SOURCES:
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 1
DictFolkMyth-1984, p. 539
DictRomRel-1996, p. 4
FestRom-1981, p. 60
OxYear-1999, p. 29