Archive for March 1, 2010

God of the Week: Janus

March 1, 2010

God of the Week 03/01/2010: Janus

Janus was an ancient Roman god of time and the beginnings of things, hence the Roman calendar begins with a month named in his honor, January. He was commonly depicted with two faces: one facing forward to represent the future, and one facing back to represent the past.

This divinity would appear to have been the ancient sun-god of the Italian tribes, in which capacity he opens and closes the gates of heaven every morning and evening. Hence he was regarded as the door-keeper of heaven, and also as the presiding deity over all gates, entrances, [etc], on earth.

The fact of his being the god of city gates, which were called Jani after him, is ascribed, however, to the following myth: — After the abduction of their women by the Romans, the Sabines, in revenge, invaded the Roman state, and were already about to enter the gates of the city, when suddenly a hot sulphur spring, which was believed to have been sent by Janus for their special preservation, gushed forth from the earth, and arrested the progress of the enemy.
-E. M. Berens, The myths and legends of ancient Greece and Rome