Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

A Roman deity who guards gates and doorways. He has two faces, one looking backwards (at the year which has just ended; the month of January is named after him), and one gazing forward. One face frowns, the other smiles; normally, the frowning face looks backwards. He is usually depicted with a clutch of keys (hence the word "janitor"). He is a Guardian of the Threshold, a Liminal Being who signals the existence of a Portal from this world to an Otherworld, an Underlier, a Mask, a Face of Glory. He evokes Carnival, Christmas and the Seasons. [JC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.