|“||I'm your best friend, I'm your worst enemy, I'm Janus, God of Doorways. Beginnings. Endings. Choices.||”|
Janus has appeared in mythology since the start of Roman civilization. When Romulus, the founder of Rome, kidnapped the Sabine women, Janus caused a volcanic hot spring to erupt. This resulted in the forces of Tatius, a Sabine king of Cures, being buried alive in the deathly hot water and ash mixture of the rushing hot volcanic spring that ended lives and burned and/or disfigured many soldiers of Tatius. Later on, however, the Sabines and Romans agreed to create a civilization together. In honor of this, the doors of a roofless structure called "The Janus" (not to be confused with a temple) were kept open during war after a symbolic contingent of soldiers had marched through it. The doors were closed in ceremony when peace was concluded.
Other myths suggest how once Janus helped Saturn, who was expelled from the heaven by Jupiter. He, with very much hospitality, took care of him for quite some time. In gratitude, Saturn gave him the power to see the past as well as the future. Some others tell how he changed a nymph Carna into Cardea, Roman Goddess of Hinges.
One tradition states that he came from Thessaly and that he was welcomed by Camese in Latium, where they shared a kingdom. They married and had several children, among which the river god Tiberinus (after whom the river Tiber was named). Janus, as the first king of Latium, brought the people a time of peace and welfare; The Golden Age. He introduced money, cultivation of fields, and law. After his death, he was defied and became the protector of Rome.
He also had a temple on the Forum Olitorium, and in the first century, another temple was built on the Forum of Nerva.
Janus was well-respected and highly regarded as a god by the Romans, and so his dual-faced image could be found on many things ranging from city gates and Roman coins. Given his roles as the Guardian of Gates, his role as the God of Beginnings and the esteem of having the first month of the year in his honor, it is apparent that Janus played a significant role in Roman myth and religion.
|“||But for now it's Annabeth's turn... Such fun!||”|
–The Right Face to Percy Jackson about Annabeth's choice, in The Battle of the Labyrinth
Janus appears to Annabeth Chase and causes her great indecision about the choices she has to make. He tried to get her to choose one of the doors in the Labyrinth, but Hera interrupted and postponed her choice. Later, she tells Percy Jackson that the decision had to do with whether or not to trust Luke Castellan. He was also there, thousands of years ago, when the inventor and son of Athena, Daedalus, decided to kill his nephew, Perdix, rather than save him. At the end of the book, Mr. D stated that he had gone over to the Titans' side.
After the Second Olympian War, Janus got a job for Network TV, being placed in charge of programming. However, being the god of beginnings and endings, he would constantly order new shows to be aired, then cancel them after only a few episodes. Hermes went to deliver a package to him, but was running late and left his caduceus in his vehicle. After asking Janus to sign for his package, he realized he no longer had his caduceus and went back for it, only to find it had been stolen. Hermes went to Percy to ask him to find it so he could finish his deliveries on time. After Percy returned Hermes' Symbol of Power, Hermes left to finish his deliveries, including the items meant for Janus.
Janus is revealed to be the father of Michael Varus.
Grover Underwood mentions Janus when at a crossroad in the Burning Maze, hoping the god does not show up.
Because of his dual form, Janus has dual personalities as well. His left head is generally a pessimist, and the right head is an optimist. Because of this, they often disagree a lot. One head also tends to lie, while the other tells the truth most of the time. Each head however often have the same goal of causing misfortune or indecision with those they meet. He almost forces Annabeth to make a deadly decision, but Hera steps in at the last moment and saves her from this dilemma.
Janus has two faces on one head-one face looks eastward, the other one westward. To Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and Tyson, he looks like a doorman. It is impossible to look at both faces at once, reflecting on him being the god of choices.
- He has the standard powers of a god.
- Probability Manipulation: Janus is able to influence and progress the decisions that people make, as shown with Daedalus where he presents the options of letting Perdix die or saving him.
- Portal Manipulation: Janus can create portals that corespond to the choices made by those he encounters.
- Chronokinesis: as a god of time, Janus has absolute control over it - though probably to a lesser extent than Saturn.
- Precognition and Retrocognition: it is said in mythology that one of Janus' heads can see into the future while other can see into the past.
- Doorway Manipulation: Janus may be able to create portals through doorways due to his being the god of passages, gateways and doors.
- Beginning/Ending Manipulation: As the god of beginnings and endings, it is likely Janus can control endings and beginnings.
- Transition Manipulation: Due to Janus' position as the god of transitions then it can be presumed he has some influence over them.
- Lie Detecting: It is mentioned that Michael Varus, his son, has the ability to see through lies and illusions, which means that he most likely has this ability as well.
- In mythology, Janus is usually depicted as a Roman god of choices, not Greek, thus making him the first Roman god to appear in the both Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus.
- Janus has a two-faced head that often bickers; one side is a pessimist and the other is an optimist.
- A moon of Saturn (the planet) is named after Janus.
- The month January is named after him, as Janus is the god of beginnings and as January acts as a door to the New Year.
- In Roman times his name would be spelt Ianvs, because the Romans did not have the letters J or U.
- He is one of only two Roman gods to appear in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the other being Pomona, the Roman goddess of plenty. However, Pomona only appears as an Automaton and not in her actual godly form like Janus.
- He is one of few Roman Gods that have no Greek equivalent.