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Roman Goddess Juno
Roman Goddess Juno
The Roman Goddess Juno was born from Ops (earth, abundance) and Saturn (time). The Romans imported her from their vanquished Etruscan neighbours. She was both sister and wife of Jupiter with whom she gave birth to various deities amongst whom we have Vulcan.
The ancient Roman goddess Juno was an early Italic deity, associated with the cycles of the moon, of childbirth and of marriage. She is often portrayed breastfeeding a child. Her image slowly transformed from one of nurturing mother into one of a stern matron who was having to keep an eternal look-out on her libertine husband and casting jealous vengeance against Jupiter’s many lovers. For this reason she is often shown with a Peacock, who’s tail contains the many eyes of Argus who Juno had used to keep a watchful eye on her husband.
Juno formed part of the Capitoline triad of deities together with Jupiter and Minerva – the official state deities which protected Rome’s power.
The goddess Juno had numerous epithets in Rome, some associated with marriage such as “Cinxia” she who loses the bride’s girdle (interesting backdrop to Propertius’ beloved Cynthia?), “Lucina”, “Regina” (queen), Sororia and Moneta – she who admonishes. She became protector and counsellor of the Roman state and protector of state funds.
Juno had a feast in her honour called the Matronalia on the 1st of March as well as a second festivity on 7th July. The month of June is named after her and her sacred beasts were geese and peacocks.
She appears relatively prominently within Livy’s history of Rome (book5): Her statue (and hence the deity) was brought into Rome from the neighbouring Etruscan city of Veii and it was her sacred geese which alarmed the Roman sentinels of the Gallic invasion, hence leading to Juno’s epithet “Moneta” – the one who warns.
Goddess Juno and money:
Whilst Mercury was the god of trade, The goddess Juno was closely associated with money (state funds) and the Roman economy. The Roman mint was situated in the temple of Juno in the Forum. It is interesting how her epithet “moneta” came to be associated with coinage both in Latin as well as many other languages such as Italian (moneta) or English (money).
From Livy bk5: Relating Camillus’ sacking of the Etruscan city of Veii.
“When all that belonged to man had been carried away from Veii, they began to remove from the temples the votive gifts that had been made to the gods, and then the gods themselves; but this they did as worshippers rather than as plunderers. The deportation of Queen Juno to Rome was entrusted to a body of men selected from the whole army, who after performing their ablutions and arraying themselves in white vestments, reverently entered the temple and in a spirit of holy dread placed their hands on the statue, for it was as a rule only the priest of one particular house who, by Etruscan usage, touched it. Then one of them, either under a sudden inspiration, or in a spirit of youthful mirth, said,
“Art thou willing, Juno, to go to Rome?” The rest exclaimed that the goddess nodded assent.
An addition to the story was made to the effect that she was heard to say, “I am willing.”