Ancient Roman Gods and Goddesses for kids - Janus
The myths and legends surrounding Janus, the Roman god of doors, beginnings and endings
Discover the legends and myths and religious beliefs surrounding Janus, the Roman god of He was the god of opposites - of exits and entrances, beginnings and endings and the guardian god of portals, doors, and gates. He was also guardian of the new year, and keeper of the calendar, from which the month January takes its name. He is always depicted as having two faces, and looks to the future and the past. The modern word 'janitor' derives from the Latin word 'ianitor' meaning "doorkeeper, porter" and from 'ianua' meaning "door, entrance, gate". There was no Greek counterpart or equivalent of this ancient Roman deity. Additional, intriguing information about ancient gods and goddesses is also available via:
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Who was Janus?
Janus was the Roman god of doors, choices, beginnings and endings. He had two faces on his head. One facing forwards and one facing backwards. The Romans prayed to him for advice, especially in respect of new enterprises. He also represented time, because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other. The festival of Agonalia was celebrated in honor of the god Janus four times during the year, 17 March, 21 May, 11 December, and 9 January. On these days, the symbolic head of the Roman state religion (rex sacrorum) would enter the Forum, and sacrifice a ram to the god. The role of Janus was as the porter of heaven. He opened the year in Januarius (January), the first month being named after him. He was the guardian god of gates and doors, on which account he was commonly represented with two heads, looking at those who wished to gain entrance and those who wanted to exit. Janus possessed no temples in Rome, but all the gates of cities were dedicated to him. Close to the Forum stood the so-called 'temple' of Janus, which was merely an arched passage that could be closed by massive gates. The gates were always open in time of war, as it was believed that the god had then taken his departure with the Roman army, over whose welfare he personally presided. The Romans were engaged in so many wars that the gates of this sanctuary were only closed three times during 700 years, indicating peace. The gates were shut only once between the reign of Numa Pompilius (who reigned 715–673 BC) and twice in of the Emperor Augustus who reigned until 14 AD.
Facts about Janus
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Janus:
Janus Profile & Fact File
Roman Name: Janus
Role & Function: The function of Janus is described as being the god of doors, choices, beginnings and endings. He was the God of Choices and the God of Doorways and Gates
Status: Minor Roman god
Symbols: Keys, a rod and scepter
Greek Counterpart: There was no Greek counterpart of Janus
Name of Consorts: Camese, Jana and Juturna
Name of Father: Some say the god Apollo
Name of Mother: Unknown
Names of Children: The river god Tiberinus (after whom the river Tiber was named). and Fontus the God of Springs
Facts about Janus in Roman Mythology and History
Discover interesting information and facts about the Roman god of doors, beginnings and endings. The facts about Janus provides a list detailing fascinating additional info to increase your knowledge about Janus in Roman Mythology and history.
History and Mythical Facts about Janus
Fact 1 about Janus: The most famous 'temple' to Janus in Rome, on the Argiletum, is called the Ianus Geminus 'Twin Janus'.
Fact 2 about Janus: He was usually depicted with two faces and in his special function as door-keeper of heaven he was portrayed standing erect, bearing a key in one hand, and a rod or sceptre in the other
Fact 3 about Janus: Offerings to him include a ram (on the Agonalia), incense, wine, barley and cakes
Fact 4 about Janus: Any rite or religious act first required the invocation of Janus, with a corresponding invocation to Vesta at the end of the rite (Janus primus and Vesta extrema).
Fact 5 about Janus: During the Titan war, he joined the Titans against the Olympians
Fact 6 about Janus: Deference was also paid to him at the most important beginnings in the life of an individual such as birth and marriage.
Fact 7 about Janus: The god Saturn bestowed his ability to see into the future and past.
Fact 8 about Janus: His name comes from the Latin word ianua, meaning “door.”
Fact 9 about Janus: The Roman god appeared on some of the earliest coins of the Roman Republic, appearing about 240 B.C. during the Pyrrhic War.
Fact 10 about Janus: Every meal was begun with a request for his blessing, and public ceremonies began with a libation drunk to the god of beginnings
Janus - Roman gods & Roman Religion
Janus, the Roman god of doors, beginnings and endings, was one of the vast number of gods and goddesses worshipped by the Ancient Romans. The legends and myths about Janus have been passed down through the ages and play an important role the history of Rome and the Ancient World. Janus features in the religious beliefs of the ancient Romans which are based on the idea that these supernatural deities resembled mortals but possessed great magical and mystic powers.
- The Roman gods and goddesses were immortal but not invulnerable.
- The Roman religion significantly differed from the Greeks in that it was officially endorsed by the state and exerted influence over the government of Rome
- Politicians took the offices of influential priests, called pontiffs, to gain control of the popular worship
- Roman gods and goddesses like Janus were worshipped at every public event, including the gladiatorial games
- Blood sacrifices were made to the gods
- The Roman religion was practical - every Roman god and goddess, like Janus, had something to do and some useful office to perform.
Roman gods and goddesses, such as Janus, possessed supernatural powers and presided over specific dominions and were strongly associated with areas of power. Janus is known as the Roman god of doors, choices, beginnings and endings.
- Interesting information and Facts about the Roman god Janus
- The Roman god of doors, beginnings and endings
- Stories and Legends in Roman Mythology associated with Janus
- Facts and information about the Gods and Deities of the Ancient World for schools and kids
- The Roman god of doors, beginnings and endings