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Janus (mythology)

From Academic Kids

In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, and endings. The month of January was named for him. He was usually depicted as Janus Geminus (twin Janus) or Bifrons, with two faces looking in opposite directions. In some places he was Janus Quadrifrons (the four-faced). He was associated with Etruscan Ani (Etruscan divinity).

Topics in

Roman Mythology

Roman Mythology
Important Gods:
Legendary History:
Roman religion
Greek/Roman myth compared

Symbolism: the god of change and transitions such as the progression of past to future, of one condition to another, of one vision to another, and of one universe to another.

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.

He supposedly came from Thessaly in Greece and shared a kingdom with Camese in Latium. They had many children, including Tiberinus. Janus and his later wife, Juturna, were the parents of Fontus. He had another wife named Jana. Historically, however, he was one of the few Roman gods who had no ready made Greek counterpart, or analogous mythology.

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 women 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.

Missing image
Janus-Vatican.JPG
Roman bust of Janus, Vatican Museum

His two faces (originally, one was always bearded, one clean-shaven; later both bearded) originally represented the sun and the moon. He was usually depicted with a key.

The Italian city of Genoa is said to be named after Janus.

Related: The Chinese custom of Door gods, Ganesha.

External link

Janus (http://www.livius.org/ja-jn/janus/janus.html)

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