Rus Articles Journal

Rubens, “Janus`s Temple“ and “Disasters of war“. Loss of hope?

Liar and truth-lover. Kind and angry. Aggressive and peaceful.

Seldom in the person both opposite qualities are shown equally. Usually one party prevails. In this case the person is perceived as absolutely normal. But if he in the same situation at different times behaves unequally, he is considered hypocritical and called it (is so accepted) double-faced. That is the person has two persons.

Also there is god with two persons - Janus. As we are told by Wikipedia, Janus is god of doors, entrances - exits, various passes, and also the beginning and end. It was represented in the form of the head without nape - a face from two parties. And one party young, another - old. Could be in a different way: one party kind, another - angry.

Connection in one person of the good and evil - a riddle for philosophers, psychologists, artists. That is for the last duplicity - a technical task. How to represent this property of the person? Someone from ancient made a sculptural portrait. Rubens drew the etude “Janus`s Temple“, being guided by compositions of ancient authors.

Sixths Aurelius Victor in the work “About Tsezaryakh“ writes: “The legendary Roman tsar Numa Pompily devoted to Janus a double arch at the Forum. The arch leaned on columns between which there were shutters of gate. Gate unlocked during war and locked in a peace time“.

A here from ancient:

There are double abuses a gate (them so nazyvt),

Nice sanctity for force and by force of furious Mars:

shut them hundred copper locks and so many iron

of Eternal locks; and Janus guards at a threshold.

(Virgil, “Eneida“)

the Small sketch on a wooden board of 70 x 65 cm in size. The temple, in which center - the building under a dome (like a chapel), on each side - porticoes with sculptural groups on architraves.

In the left portico - a great reaper and a funeral torch, the soldier with a helmet, under a ceiling - the harpy (the semi-woman - a semi-bird, Rubens represented it with a body of a snake). The soldier tears off mother from the child.

In the center - open shutters of doors of the temple. Left wide open, it the half-naked woman over whose head one more harpy soars opens. Behind a female figure man`s is visible. Under legs at the woman - a horn from which blood flows. In a doorway the figure of the running-out man is visible. In his right hand a sword, in left - a torch, in the eyes - a bandage. Probably, it is Mars (or Ares) - god of senseless, cruel and devastating war. Over temple doors - a tragic mask, above - Janus`s bust.

On the right side of doors - three female figures. One closes a shutter. It with a caduceus, a reconciliation symbol, near her legs - flowers. To the right of it - one more woman. It has in one hand something, reminding flat cake, and from another in a keg grains pour. Most likely, it - an abundance symbol. On a background the conventual - a creed. Over this group - two angels, at one of which in a hand a torch (an education symbol?) .

In the right portico - two female figures. In medallions on porticoes: at the left - black profiles, on the right - gold. On navershiya of porticoes: at the left - two sad female figures, on the right - two female figures with horns of plenty. On a pedestal with the inscription “veritas“ Rubens set up the goddess of the truth, Truth.

Gold profiles: artist and architect. Around a medallion: at the left - brushes and a palette, on the right - a square. Under a medallion - lira. On a top of the left portico there are two statues too. On a pedestal between statues the inscription “FORTUNA“ - destiny. In a medallion two black profiles, around a medallion - military accessories: standard, arrows.

What in general? World and war.

It is unknown, this etude preparation for a lane was (that is very similar on style) or for a picture of the size, usual for Rubens (something 3 meters in length and 2 in height). But it had as if a continuation - the picture “Disasters of War“.

In the letter to the customer on March 12, 1638 Rubens offers an explanation for all figures of a picture:

“The main figure is Mars which leaves the open temple of Janus (which, according to the Roman customs, in a peace time was locked) and strides with a board and the blood-stained sword, threatening the people with great disasters and not paying attention to the loved Venus which, surrounded with cupids and cupids, endeavors to hold it caress and kisses.

On the other hand the fury Allekto with a torch in the squeezed hand carries away Mars. Near them inseparable fellow travelers of war - Hunger and Plague.

On the earth the woman with the broken lute is prostrate face downwards, it is Harmony which is incompatible with contentions and war. Mother with the baby on hands demonstrates that abundance, chadorody and mercy razvratitelnitsa and destructors of all suffer from war.

Besides, there is still an architect who fell with the tools because the fact that the world erects for beauty and convenience of big cities, the violence of the weapon destroys and plunges face downwards.

Further if memory does not change me, your Favour will see on the earth under legs of Mars the book and drawings; I wanted to point by it that war despises literature and other arts. There has to be also untied bunch of copies or arrows with the rope connecting them. Connected together, they serve as a consent emblem, is equal as a caduceus and an olive branch - a world symbol; I represented them lying right there.

The mournful woman in mourning clothes, under the torn apart cover, without jewelry and any jewelry is an unfortunate Europe which suffers already so many years from robberies, nasiliya and any disasters, harmful for each of us and therefore not demanding an explanation. Its distinctive sign - the globe supported by an angel or the genius and topped with a cross, a symbol of the Christian world“.

In 1618 Rubens wrote “The union of the earth and water“. From a cloth serenity, almost luxury proceeds (even the tiger does not look menacing). Probably, it was at that time possible to assume that wars will come to an end and the tranquility will come to the country. But...

Rubens conducted more than 10 years peace negotiations. More than 10 years of hope for prosperity. Eventually he wrote to one of the correspondents: “I, relying on my experience in affairs of this world, I speak with confidence only about a past“. The hope left. And the half-closed door of “Janus`s Temple“ (1634) was replaced by “Disasters of war“ (1638).

The fury Allekto which is carrying away Mars - a seyatelnitsa of contention - the main culprit of all troubles of mankind and gods, probably, too. Juno cannot cope with uncontrollable people whose actions, by the way, are defined by gods. But gods - as people: everyone observes own interest, and their divine force is as if equal. Here and a case to call the fury, and then to dump all responsibility on her bad temper. Here is how Virgil in “Eneida“ describes the fury:

Mater of gods calls Allekto connotating unhappiness:

Anger and insidiousness in her heart and all crimes.

the lord Pluto hates it, Infernal sisters a monster it hate

: it is so much awful

Images, persons it accepts, so fierce looks,

So many venomous snakes hiss on a black body! Juno it induces

I such words:

“Maiden, daughter Nochi! I need both your help, and service;

Yes will not suffer neither washing honor, nor the strong glory

will test a shame: do not give you to trojans with Latinas

to enter conjugal ties and on fields avzonsky to lodge. You and brothers - friends on bloody abuse excite


You and in families settle contentions; you You funeral torches bring alarm,

in doma; you Carry one thousand different

names, you can damage in one thousand means.

Safely, Allekto, stir up a prolific breast, terminate

the Begun world and seed seeds of contention and abuse:

Let youth both wishes, and asks, and will grab the weapon.