Beginnings and Endings

My Januarius Project Is Named After the Roman God Janus

If you have been reading my blog for a long time, you may remember that I usually devote the month of January to reading writers I have never read before. According to one website:

Janus presides over beginnings and endings, passages and transitions, doorways and gateways, whether physical entry points between home and the outside world, city and countryside, or invisible ones like the connection between human and divine through prayer. He was said to have invented coinage, and appears on a number of coins with his characteristic two faces.

In fact, I have started the month by beginning Thomas Hodgkin’s eight-volume The Barbarian Invasions of the Roman Empire (originally called Italy and Her Invaders). Volume I covers the Visigothic Invasion. I fully expect it will take a number of years to complete the 5,000 pages of Hodgkin’s magnum opus—perhaps even more years than I have left. In any case, I have made a beginning.

As it will take me upwards of a week to complete the first volume, I will hold off before telling you what other titles are in my To Be Read (TBR) pile.

The reason I do what I call the Januarius Project is to avoid letting myself get bogged down doing such things as reading the minor works of my favorite writers. I do not pretend to have discovered the best writers who have ever lived, and I probably never will, as many of them have never been translated into English.

One feature of the project for this year is to include some classical historians, such as Hodgkin, who wrote his series between 1870 and 1899. There was some great history written back then, such as John Lloyd Stephens on discovering Maya ruins, Samuel Prescott and the Spanish conquest of Mexico and Peru and Francis Parkman on the history of Canada to the French and Indian War and the opening of the American West.

Check back with me to see what I plan to read next.