Saturday, December 19, 2015


The word January comes from the name of the Roman God Janus is usually seen with two faces and a key. One looks forward, the other behind; one is bearded, the other smooth. These represent, among other things, the Sun and Moon. More rarely, Janus was depicted with four faces, Janus Quadrifrons.

Janus symbolized transition; past to future, the flow between vision and realization, stasis and revelation, one state of consciousness to another. He represented maturation as well. He was worshipped not only at the New Year but at the planting and harvest, at marriage, birth and other occasions that heralded change.

In Roman mythology, Janus came from Thessaly, and later shared a kingdom with his wife, Camese in Latium. They had many children. He also had a wife named Jana, who may refer to an older tradition where one side was feminine. When ruling there, he ushered in a Golden Age, bringing money, law and agriculture to the people.

Janus used his double vision to great advantadge. He caught the nymph Carna with the gift and gave her power over door hinges, (door hinges? well, he was the God of them for reasons I've yet to fully understand except that he was the keeper of the kings treasures (hence the key), as a thanks for her attention.

In times of war, the doors to the temple of Janus were kept open to encourage his intervention. This came from the tradition that, when Romulus and his men kidnapped and attempted to rape the Sabine, Janus used his powers to erupt a hot spring to drive the attackers away. caused a hot spring to erupt, causing the would-be attackers to flee.

Though associated with the Etruscan God Ani, Janus has no greek equivillant, though he is in some ways similar to Hermes.
FROM: Janus: God of January - Mythology
The temple of Janus in Rome was situated in a street named Argiletum, an important road that connected the Roman Forum and the residential areas in the northeast. It was a small, wooden temple, and the building material suggests that the cult of Janus was of a venerable old age. This is confirmed by several facts. The oldest lists of gods usually began with his name; he was surnamed divom deus, a very ancient form of Latin meaning "the god's god"; and his portrait can be found on the oldest Roman coins.

Janus was, therefore, a very old and important Roman god. Before every sacrifice, he was invoked and received a libation. But this does not mean that modern scholars really understand the cult of the god of doors (ianuae) and beginnings. Neither did the Romans themselves. During the reign of the emperor Augustus (27 BCE - 14 CE), they started to connect things with the cult of Janus that originally had nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, we have hardly any texts that antedate this period, which makes it impossible to reconstruct the original cult. The only thing we know about it, is that the god was also venerated in several other towns in the Tiber valley.

The temple in the Argiletum consisted of two gates; the cult statue was between them. It was a very ancient statue; the author Pliny the Elder mentions it as proof that the sculptor's art existed in Italy in times most ancient (Natural history 36.5. The god was portrayed with two bearded heads. The fingers of his hands were placed in strange positions, which Pliny interpreted as an indication of the number 355, which he thought was a reference to the number of days of the oldest Roman calendar. This may be true, but it is, of course, pure speculation.
Other speculations are mentioned by Plutarch of Chaeronea, a Greek author living in the early second century, but using a source that can be dated between 29 and 25 BCE:
Janus also has a temple at Rome with double doors, which they call the gates of war; for the temple always stands open in time of war, but is closed when peace has come. The latter was a difficult matter, and it rarely happened, since the realm was always engaged in some war, as its increasing size brought it into collision with the barbarous nations which encompassed it round about. But in the time of Augustus it was closed, after he had overthrown Marc Antony; and before that, when Marcus Atilius and Titus Manlius were consuls, it was closed a short time; then war broke out again at once, and it was opened.
(Plutarch, Life of king Numa 20.1-2 tr.Bernadotte Perrin)

Though he was usually depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions (Janus Geminus (twin Janus) or Bifrons), in some places he was Janus Quadrifrons (the four-faced).

His two faces (originally, one was always bearded, one clean-shaven; later both bearded) originally represented the sun and the moon, and he was usually shown with a key. The two-faced image of Janus was often depicted on coins of the Roman Republic. January is named after him.


Janus was frequently used to symbolize 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 was also known as the figure representing time because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other. Hence, 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.

Other myths

Janus was supposed to have come from Thessaly in Greece and he shared a kingdom with Camese in Latium. They had many children, including Tiberinus. Janus and his later wife, Juturna, were the parents of Fontus. Another wife was named Jana.

As the sole ruler of Latium, Janus heralded the Golden Age, introducing money, laws and agriculture (making him a culture hero).
When Romulus and his men kidnapped the goths of the Sabines, Janus caused a hot spring to erupt, causing the would-be attackers to flee. In honor of this, the doors to his temples were kept open during war so that he could easily intervene. The doors and gates were closed during peace.

Because he was the god of the door and hinges he was one the guardians of the Greek gods' treasures. From his name, we derive the English word janitor, meaning doorman.


The Romans associated Janus with the Etruscan deity Ani. However, he was one of the few Roman gods who had no ready-made counterpart, or analogous mythology. We can find in Greece Janus-like heads of gods related to Hermes, perhaps forming a compound god: Hermathena (a herm of Athena), Hermares, Hermaphroditus, Hermanubis, Hermalcibiades, and so on. In the case of these compounds it is disputed whether they indicated a herm with the head of Athena, or with a Janus-like head of both Hermes and Athena, or a figure compounded from both deities.
FROM: Wikipedia
Attributes: Janus is associated with doorways and gates. He is the god of beginnings.
Honors: There was a temple to Janus in Rome called the Ianus Geminus. When the doors were open, it signified to neighboring cities that Rome was at war. When the doors were closed, Rome was at peace.
Janus in Art: Janus is usually shown with two faces looking forward and backward as through a gateway. Sometimes one face is clean-shaven and the other bearded. Sometimes Janus is depicted with four faces.
The Family of Janus: The wives of Janus included Jana and Juturna. The children of Janus were Tiberinus and Fontus.
History of Janus: Janus was the ruler of Latium. Janus was responsible for the Golden Age and brought in money and agriculture.
FROM: Janus - Roman God Janus
Other sites:


Janus: Etruscan Ani: Pater Matutinus, "breaker of the day," the oldest God, the God of gods, the Good Creator, the beginner of all things. Light, the sun, opener of the heavenly gates. As Consiuius (The Sower) He is the spouse of Juturna, goddess of springs, and father of Fontus. Janus is also spouse of Venila, a Goddess of shallow seas who is sometimes considered the wife of Neptune. As Janus Quirinus he is a god of peace, that is, peace won by the vigilent Quirites. Janus Pater the creator of 1 January and 17 August. He is called

Janus Bifrons (two-faced), Janus Patulcius (the opened door during wartime), and Janus Clusivus (the closed door during peace). A minor deity of same name is a guardian of doorways.

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