Janus (mythology)

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Roman bust of Janus, Vatican.

In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, and endings. His most apparent remnants in modern culture are his namesakes, the month of January and the caretaker of doors and halls: Janitor.

Ancient Incarnation


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, depicting the new year period of looking back at the previous year, and looking forward to the coming year


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.



His ability to see both forwards and backwards at the same time aided him in his pursuit of the nymph Carna whom he gave power over door hinges as a reward for her favours.

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 [Sabine] women, 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.

Janus in popular culture

Janus has appeared in many aspects of popular culture.
  • Towards the end of the original version of The Gunslinger, the first Dark Tower novel by Stephen King, the man in black draws a card from a tarot deck picturing a woman with two faces (representing Odetta Holmes/Detta Walker) and remarks that she appears to be "a veritable Janus."
  • Sun Ra has an album entitled Janus.
  • In the 1986 DC Comics book adaption on the Super Powers Team television series, Darkseid changes his identity and becomes the superhero "Janus" and wins Wonder Woman's friendship and romantic interest. As Janus he enters the hall of Justice and plans to destroy his enemies and take revenge on Apokolips.
  • In the television show Teen Titans, in the episode Nevermore, Janus guards the doorway inside of Raven.
  • In the sci-fi television show Stargate Atlantis, Janus was an Ancient who built a time machine.
  • In fashion, Janus's head appears on the embellished version of the House of Fendi logo.
  • In Shakespeare's play Othello, the double-crossing Iago utters the words "By Janus" when lying to Othello, a play on words considering his own two faced nature.
  • In Arthur Koestler's book The Roots of Coincidence (1972), the fourth chapter, where Koestler introduces his theory of the two-sided holons, is titled "Janus". He also wrote a book, about the same subject, titled (1978).
  • Philosopher and anthropologist of science and technology Bruno Latour uses Janus in his 'bestseller' Science in Action (1987) to explain the difference between "ready made science and technology" and "science and technology in the making".
  • In 'United Artists' 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye, Janus was used as the name for the villain's terrorist organisation, 'The Janus Syndicate'. Key in this organisation was a former 00-Agent who betrayed HMSS.
  • Janus Films is a U.S. film distribution company founded in 1956 that distributes classic cinema, specializing mostly in foreign films.
  • A Banshee.net agent in the Spycraft CCG was named Janus. The illustration on the card indicates that she was an android who could take the identity of others. The flavor text on the card read, "So who am I today?", and her play effect was to reduce all the skills of opposing agents by 1.
  • A rare monster in the final dungeon in the game .
  • In the manga Ansatsu, Janus is the eighth Child in a series of bioweapons created for terrorist work.
  • In Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, Janus is the moniker taken by the novel's villain.
  • In the film The Da Vinci Code there is a statue of Janus in Teabing's library symbolizing that Teabing is two-faced.
  • In the film Judge Dredd the super-secret program to grow clones to be Street Judges is called "Project Janus". Joseph Dredd and his evil twin Rico, were created under Project Janus before it was sealed. Additionally in the Judge Dredd comic series there is a Judge Janus
  • In Alastair Reynolds's Pushing Ice, a group of comet harvesters discover that Janus (a moon of Saturn) is a spacecraft.
  • In the second revival of The Twilight Zone, the name Janus was used for the main character as she puts on her dead husband's glasses to reveal his killer who turns out to be herself all along--implying that she has lived a double life.
  • Batman villain Two-Face has used the alias Janus. Similarly, Two-Face's ex-wife is also now married to a man named Paul Janus.
  • contains two references, both related to Two-Face: When Maxie Zeus is captured and sent to Arkham Asylum, he refers to several known Batman villains as Greek gods, and calls Two-Face "Janus"(which is Roman not Greek). In a later episode, Two-Face uses the abandoned Janus Theater as a hideout.
  • Two monsters in Final Fantasy XI have names relating to Janus, such as 'Bifrons' and the Demon 'Count Bifrons'.
  • Benji Schwimmer's mock band, Sreattlands, wrote a song called Janus.
  • In the Incredible Hulk episode "Death Mask" when David is being interrogated his interrogater contrasts himself with Janus saying he could not be two-faced; could not be a good cop - bad cop
  • Polish town Ełk had a coat of arms with the Janus two-faced head until 1967.
  • In the HBO/BBC TV series Rome, the character Titus Pullo prays to Forculus, a related god to Janus to free him from a locked cart in which he has been imprisoned.
  • In the original Japanese version of , a monster that lights the way in the Catacombs is called Bifrons, which is an alternate name for Janus. This was changed to Lossoth in the European and American release.
  • In the popular computer game "" the NPC character Jeanette/Therese/Tourette Voerman is referred to as a "Daughter of Janus", referring to her split personality. This is only a dialogue option if you are playing a Malkavian character.
  • In the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episode "Halloween" the character Ethan Rayne prays to a bust of Janus in order to bring about a spell that turns everyone into the personification of their halloween costumes. The spell is broken by the bust being smashed.
  • In the video game Chrono Trigger, there is a boy named Janus who predicts when people will die. This same boy later turns out to be a powerful mage, a character who you can get to join your party.
  • In Frans de Waal's book Our Inner Ape the behavioral tendencies of bonobos and chimpanzees are likened to a Janus head, with humans (equally close genetically to each species) able to act in either direction.
  • In Monday Begins on Saturday, a science fiction novel by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, a character named Janus Poluektovich Nevstruev is known to be one man in two personas, called A-Janus and U-Janus.
  • The name of the ski resort of Vaujany in the French Alps comes from the Latin Via-Janus. The road of Janus. It is below a pass linking the ancient Duchy of Savoy from the Dauphiné province.
  • Janus Talon is the name of a fictitious Star Wars character. He dealt with the duality of the Force, and had to understand both sides of it.
  • In the the D20 Modern Roleplaying game, a cult known as the Children of Chaos worship Janus.
  • In Elizabeth Winthrop's Children's Novel, The Castle in the Attic, Janus appears on the two magic tokens. Each Token has one of Janus's faces on it.
  • In the novel The Two Faces of Tomorrow by James P. Hogan, a project to determine if a complex computer system controlling the earth would be beneficial or devastating to mankind if it evolved intelligence, is named Janus after the God.
  • The novel Unleashing Janus by Ted David Harris tracks the struggle between a secret hacker society and a covert government agency for control of a conscious machine codenamed "Janus".

See also

Diprosopus congenital defect, a rare craniofacial duplication condition

External links

Roman religion series
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Roman mythology, the mythological beliefs of the people of Ancient Rome, can be considered as having two parts. One part, largely later and literary, consists of whole-cloth borrowings from Greek mythology.
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2007 January >>
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January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and one of seven Gregorian months with
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A janitor is a person who takes care of a building, such as a school, office building, or apartment block. Janitors are responsible primarily for cleaning, and often (though not always) some maintenance and security.
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Quadrifrons is a Latin word, meaning four-fronted or four-faced, particularly:
  • Form of triumphal arch (eg at Glanum, Arch of Janus, Rutupiae) with four arches (one pair opposite each other, and the second pair opposite each other at right angles) and hence with barrel

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The Sun

Observation data
Mean distance
from Earth 1.4961011 m
(8.31 min at light speed)
Visual brightness (V) −26.74m [1]
Absolute magnitude 4.
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The Moon as seen by an observer on Earth
Orbital characteristics
Periapsis: 363,104 km
0.0024 AU
Apoapsis: 405,696 km
0.0027 AU
Semi-major axis: 384,399 km
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Roman Mythology

Carna refers to two distinct women from Roman mythology. The modern English word carnal is derived from this name.
  • Carna was a nymph who lived where Rome would eventually be.

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Thessalia redirects here. For the butterfly genus, see Thessalia (butterfly).

Thessaly (in Greek, ΘεσσαλίαThessalía
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Ελευθερία ή θάνατος
Eleftheria i thanatos  
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Latium was a region of ancient Italy, home to the original Latin people. Its area is now part of the (much larger) modern Italian Regione of Lazio, also called Latium in Latin and also occasionally so in modern English.
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Tiberinus is a figure in Roman mythology. He was added to the 3000 rivers (sons of Oceanus and Tethys), as the genius of the river Tiber.

According to Virgil's epic Aeneid
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Juturna was the goddess of fountains, wells and springs. She was a sister of Turnus and supported him against Aeneas. She was also the mother of Fontus by her husband, Janus.
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In Roman mythology, Fontus (alternatively Fons) was the son of Juturna and Janus. He was the god of wells and springs.

A festival dedicated to him took place on October 13.
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Jana is a woman's given name, which has many origins. In Arabic it is a verb used in the sense of harvesting good things from life. It is also found in the Quran ; God harvested the fruits of heaven.
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Golden age stems from Greek mythology. It refers to the highest age in the Greek spectrum of Iron, Bronze, Silver and Golden ages, or to a time in the beginnings of Humanity which was perceived as an ideal state, or utopia, when mankind was pure and immortal.
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A culture hero is a mythological hero specific to some group (cultural, ethnic, racial, religious, etc.) who changes the world through invention or discovery. A typical culture hero might be credited as the discoverer of fire, or agriculture, songs, tradition and religion, and is
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Reign April 23, 753 BC - 717 BC
Born 771 BC
Alba Longa
Died 717 BC
Predecessor None
Successor Numa Pompilius
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Hermes (Greek, Ἑρμῆς, IPA: /ˈhɝmiːz/), in Greek mythology, is the Olympian god of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and
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Hermaphroditus or Hermaphroditos (Greek ʽἙρμάφρόδιτός) was the child of Aphrodite and Hermes.
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Popular culture (or pop culture) is the widespread cultural elements in any given society that are perpetuated through that society's vernacular language or lingua franca.
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The Dark Tower -
The Gunslinger

Author Stephen King
Cover artist Michael Whelan
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Fantasy, Horror, Science fiction, and Western
Publisher Donald M.
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The Dark Tower is a series of seven books by American writer Stephen King that tells the tale of lead character Roland Deschain's quest for the "Dark Tower." The Dark Tower is often described in the novels as a real structure, and also as a metaphor.
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Stephen King

Stephen King
Pseudonym: Richard Bachman
John Swithen
Born: September 21 1947 (1947--) (age 60)
Portland, Maine, U.S.
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Sun Ra (Born Herman Poole Blount; legal name Le Sony'r Ra;[1] born May 22, 1914 in Birmingham, Alabama, died May 30, 1993 in Birmingham, Alabama) was an innovative jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his
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DC Comics

Subsidiary of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
Founded 1934, by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson (as National Allied Publications)
Headquarters 1700 Broadway, New York City, New York

Key people Paul Levitz (President and Publisher)
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Darkseid is a fictional character, an alien supervillain in the DC Comics Universe created by Jack Kirby as part of the Fourth World series of comic books in the early 1970s. He first appeared in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 (November 1970).
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    Wonder Woman is a fictional DC Comics superheroine created by William Moulton Marston. Two strong women, his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne, a mutual lover,[1] served as exemplars for the character and greatly influenced her creation.
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