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Which Two-headed God Is January Named After?

Janus

January is often considered the month for deep reflection. We look back at the year behind us, bemoaning our regrets and celebrating our successes. And then, we look forward to the future year. We make well-meaning resolutions and hope for the best.

So, in this way, we’re all a little bit like Janus, the Roman god for which January is named. Janus is usually depicted with having two heads. that face in opposite directions. One looks back to the year departed, and one looks forward to the new and uncertain year ahead.

(The poetic term John Keats coined that describes living your life while accepting that it is filled with uncertainty seems apropos to this transitional time. Learn the term and its exact meaning, here.)

The god Saturn bestowed upon Janus this ability to see into the future and past. His name comes from the Latin word ianua, which means “door.” Janus is the god of doors, gates, doorways, bridges, and passageways, all of which symbolize beginnings and ends. Janus also represented transition, such as the time between youth and adulthood.

If you find it odd that a deity with two heads is the namesake for one of our prominent months, consider the story of the obscure, one-armed Norse god that Tuesday is named after. His name, and history, can be found here.

180 Comments

  1. Lister S -  March 12, 2014 - 7:41 am

    The Christian God (aka father of Jesus) since he’s pretty “Two Faced” to begin with. ha ha

    Reply
  2. Clarisse La Rue -  February 18, 2014 - 2:52 pm

    @Percy Jackson and @Annabeth Chase
    get off the computers!!
    your using like all of the internet at Camp Halfblood
    you keep making my game lag!!

    Reply
  3. Pam -  February 5, 2014 - 2:42 pm

    Hmm. Wonder why Janus is an automatic link to Percy Jackson! :D Guess it doesn’t matter, though… Janus actually started with the myth of Pandora’s jar. It was said that she let out every sin, including confusion. In most illustrated versions of the story, confusion has two heads. People [you know, the Greek mythology nerds like me who look at this stuff] often say that the Romans heard that story and decided to make Janus. Also, they based it off you consciousness [that little voice in your head] that says “What if… you took that passage? Instead of the one you’re on?”

    Also lots of things have Roman bases! Planets, for instance:

    Mars is the Roman name for Ares. Jupiter is Zeus. So on. It’s really confusing, all the switching back and forth. Roman, Greek. When you’re there, copy them. All that. -Pam :D :D

    Reply
  4. Percy Jackson -  February 2, 2014 - 3:26 am

    THANK YOU HERMES!!

    Reply
  5. Annabeth Chase -  January 31, 2014 - 3:01 pm

    Hey Percy. when is our next date
    P.S thank Hermes for the date at Paris

    Reply
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