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Mythological persona: Janus interpretation

Please refer to Project Janus.

In Roman mythology, Janus was the originator of life, he represents as the god of transitions and change, the doorkeeper and boundary of time and process, he transforms between stages and shifts from one historical era to another.

Janus‘s most distinctive characteristic is his double-faced look, one young, one old; one towards the past and the other towards the future; According to his feature and implication, “it can be served as a reminder of the complexities of our engagement with the relation between past and future, of the “Janus-faced” responses that a moment in history may produce” (Mathias Nilges, 2019). From a global perspective, people draw lessons from experiences and try to avoid previous mistakes and failures. Through continuous development and technological advancements, our world has evolved into a modern era. All of our signs of progress and changes can be regarded to Janus’s management region, “he protected the beginning of all occupations and actions as well as of human life” (William Smith, 1872).

He was well-known as the guardian of gateways and entrances, and was portrayed to grip a key in right hand and rod in the other, “he holds this as a god who presides over gates and openings” (Mary Ann Dwight, 1864). Based on Roman poet Ovid (43 BCE - 17 CE), these keys were the keys to heaven, and all doors upon the universe are all under his care. The connection between Janus and gateways is also shown in reality, as the divine doorkeeper, many Jani - Arch of Janus’s was built in Rome. In the past, the doorways were associated with Roman armies, when they march through it is symbolized as a pathway with good and bad fortune. Currently, those monuments were designated as a boundary marker, used as ceremonial gates with special meanings, “for the Romans, passing through these Jani was an auspicious recognition of a change “ (Brittany Britanniae, 2017).

Refer back to Janus as the god of transitions, it can be interpreted as a physical or abstract theory. He might be a part of your journey from young to old, a connection of beginnings to endings, a historical process of witnesses, or a gateway through past and future.

by Tina Hui


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