Across the River Arroux to the north of Autun are the substantial ruins of the Temple of Janus. Standing an impressive 24m (79 ft) high, it was probably part of the sanctuary of a Gallic deity that was adapted to Roman religion.
History of the Temple of Janus
This temple has traditionally been believed to be dedicated to Janus, but this is not certain. Regardless, the Roman temple probably replaced a wooden temple to a Gallic deity that already stood on the site.
The Roman god Janus presided over war, gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, and endings. The month of January and the caretaker of doors and halls, a janitor, are both named for him.
Janus is usually depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions - one bearded and one clean-shaven - and holding a key. The two faces are believe to represent the sun and moon.
For the ancient Romans, Janus symbolized change and transitions such as the progression of future to past, of one condition to another, of one vision to another, the growing up of young people, and of one universe to another. He also represented time because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other.
Thus Janus was worshipped at the beginnings of the harvest and planting times, as well as marriages, births and other beginnings. He was representative of the middle ground between barbarity and civilization, rural country and urban cities, and youth and adulthood.
What to See at the Temple of Janus
The Temple de Janus in Autun stands picturesquely in a grassy field across the river from town. The two brick walls that remain are part of the square cella, or central area of the temple where the god dwelled. Around the cella was a gallery, which supported a roof; the holes for the beams can be seen in the ruins.
Quick Facts on the Temple of Janus
|Names:||Janus Temple · Temple de Janus · Temple of Janus|
|Categories:||temples; ruins; central plan buildings|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||46.961251° N, 4.288552° E|
|Lodging:||View hotels near the Temple of Janus|
- Personal visit (June 4, 2008).
- The Rough Guide to France 9 (April 2005), 617.
- Janus (mythology) - Wikipedia
- Temple de Janus - Structurae
Map of the Temple of Janus, Autun
Below is a location map and aerial view of the Temple of Janus. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.