The Month of Janus

A statue representing Janus from the Vatican Museum (Photo by Loudon Dodd)

The month of January takes its name from the Roman god Janus. If you’re feeling confused at the beginning of the new year, then Janus is the god for you. In Roman mythology he was the ruler of both endings and beginnings. Just for good measure Janus was also in charge of transitions, of the middle ground, between such opposites as barbarism and civilisation, city and countryside, or youth and adulthood. So you could say he was in charge of everything.

Out with the old, in with the new, business as usual – it was all the same to Janus.

Janus was not the senior god of the Roman world, but he was perhaps the most powerful. He had to be called upon at the beginning of every religious service involving any other god. After all he ruled gateways, including the door through to the godly realm. So in 2017, whether you are dealing with endings or beginnings or anything in between, January is named after a god who kept an eye on all those things, and treated them just the same.

Happy new year


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