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Letter to the Editor   |    
Janus, Roman God of Doorways
GEORGE C. LYKETSOS, M.D., F.R.C.PSYCH.
Am J Psychiatry 1999;156:1473-1473.

To the Editor: Nancy C. Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D. (1), began her editorial by referring to the Journal as a "stately dowager" with "a wonderful Janusian capacity" and adds in parentheses that "Janus was a Greek god gifted with the ability to look both into the past and into the future."

Although as a longtime subscriber, I have no doubt whatsoever as to the capability of the Journal to look into both the past and the future (and especially the latter), I’d like to point out that Janus is, in fact, not a Greek god but, rather, the Roman god of doorways. He is usually depicted with two bearded faces looking in opposite directions—inward and outward, perhaps. The famous Ianus geminus of the ancient forum in Rome, dedicated to him, was a double barbican gate, facing east and west, which was open during war and closed during peace time; I leave readers to draw their own conclusions as to the psychiatric implications of this. More generally, all gateways, house doors, and entrances were under the protection of Janus, as indeed were all beginnings (as the name of our month January testifies).

In this sense, at the threshold of the twenty-first century, may I wish the "stately dowager with a youthful spirit" a long Janusian life, with many new beginnings.

Editor’s note: Although many classical gods had both Greek and Roman variants, George C. Lyketsos, M.D., F.R.C.Psych., is quite correct to remind us that Janus was specifically Roman. I realized this error after it was too late to correct it. The benefit accrued from this slip of the editorial brain is Dr. Lyketsos’s interesting commentary.—N.C.A.

Andreasen NC: The Journal renews itself, both inside and out (editorial). Am J Psychiatry  1998; 155:997–999
 
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References

Andreasen NC: The Journal renews itself, both inside and out (editorial). Am J Psychiatry  1998; 155:997–999
 
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