Janus was an ancient Latin deity who occupied an important place in the Roman religion. He presided over the beginning of every undertaking, so he was always invoked first, even before Jupiter. He opened the year, the seasons, and every month. As the gatekeeper of heaven, he bore the surnames Patulcius, the "opener", and Clusivius, the "shutter." On earth, he was the guardian deity of doorways, and hence was usually represented with two heads, because every door looks two ways. From this aspect, he bore the epithet Janus bifrons. At times he was depicted with four heads, because he presided over the four seasons, and bore the epithet Janus quadrifons as a result.
Numa dedicated a covered passageway in Rome to Janus. It stood near the forum and was left open in time of war, but was shut in time of peace. Apparently this act signified the assistance of the god in the former case and his safeguard in the latter.
Please close this window before returning to Ianuarius.