Juno (mythology)

Juno (mythology)

Juno was the protector and special counselor of the Roman state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister (but also the wife) of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Juventas, Mars, and Vulcan. Her Greek equivalent is Hera.

As the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman empire she was called Regina ("queen") and, together with Jupiter and Minerva, was worshipped as a triad on the Capitol (Juno Capitolina) in Rome.

As the Juno moneta (which either means "the one who warns" or "the one unique" or "union unique") she guarded over the finances of the empire and had a temple on the Arx (one of two Capitoline hills), close to the Royal Mint. She was also worshipped in many other cities, where temples were built in her honor.

Every year, on the first of March, women held a festival in honor of Juno called the Matronalia. On this day, lambs and other cattle were sacrificed in her honor. Another festival called the Nonae Caprotinae ("The Nones of the Wild Fig") was held on July 7. Many people consider the month of June, which is named after the goddess who is the patroness of marriage, to be the most favorable time to marry. Lucina was an epithet for Juno as "she who brings children into light."

Juno's own warlike aspect among the Romans is apparent in her attire. She often appeared armed and wearing a goatskin cloak, which was the garment favoured by Roman soldiers on campaign. This warlike aspect was assimilated from the Greek goddess Athena, whose goatskin was called the 'aegis'.

Etymology and origin

There is a possible etymology for Juno in the Proto-Indo-European root *yeu-, "vital force", which has such derivatives as the English "youth". [" [http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/IE599.html The American Heritage Dictionary] ". Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-82517-2.] Although such a derivation could possibly be consistent with an origin as a mother goddess, it is more likely that the root *yeu- is used in the same sense as other Latin words derived from it, such as "iuvenis" ("young man", with derivatives such as "juvenile" and "rejuvenate"), which would imply that Juno's nature prior to the syncretism of Greek and Roman mythology was more akin to Diana's, as a maiden goddess of birth or midwifery. However, the Roman absorption of Greek myth replaced earlier characteristics of Juno with those of Hera, extending her domain from birth to marriage and promoting her to the role of Jupiter's wife and the queen of the gods. She could also throw lightning bolts like Jupiter. [Puhvel, Jaan (1987). "Comparative Mythology" (p. 151). Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-3938-6.]

More immediately, Juno's Etruscan equivalent was Uni. There is currently more support for the theory that Juno is derived from Uni, and thus cannot have an Indo-European link to *yeu-. It is likely that one of these goddesses inspired the other, but whether "Juno" comes from "Uni", or vice versa, remains disputed. "Uni" possibly meant "alone, unique, unit, union", but more examples of the Etruscan language proper will need to be found to see what Etruscans meant by "uni".

The theory that Juno is derived from Uni is also supported by an ancient writer, Livy who states (Book V, Ab Urbe Condita ) that Juno was an Etruscan goddess from Veii, who was ceremonially adopted into the Roman pantheon when Veii was sacked in 396BC.


Every year, women held a festival in honor of Juno called the Matronalia. Another festival in her honor, the Nonae Caprotinae ("The Nones of the Wild Fig") was held on July 7. Many considered the month of June, which is named after Juno, the patroness of marriage, to be the most favorable time to marry. The Kalends of every month was also sacred to Juno, and she had festivals on July 1 and September 13.

She held a special place in pantheon of the gods as "Queen of Sex" and was associated with genitals. Juno, as the genitals-goddess was associated with all aspects and the cycles of womanhood. Juno's own warlike aspect among the Romans is apparent in her attire. She often appeared armed and wearing a goatskin cloak, which was the garment favored by Roman soldiers on campaign. This warlike aspect was assimilated from the Greek goddess Athena, whose goatskin was called the "aigis."


Even more than other major Roman deities, Juno held a large number of significant and diverse epithets, names and titles representing various aspects and roles of the goddess. In accordance with her central role as a goddess of marriage, these included "Interduca" ("she who leads the bride into marriage"), "Domiduca" ("she who leads the bride to her new home"), "Cinxia" ("she who looses the bride's girdle"). However, many other epithets of Juno are less thematically linked.

Juno was very frequently called "Juno Regina" ("Juno the Queen"). This aspect was the one named in the Temple of Jupiter as part of the Capitoline Triad, emphasizing that Juno's role as the wife of Jupiter and queen of the gods was the most important in that context. There were also temples of Juno Regina on the Aventine Hill, in the Circus Flaminius and in the area that became the Porticus Octaviae. On September 1, the festival of Juno took place. [Scullard, H.H. (1981). "Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic" (p. 183). London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-8014-1402-4.]

Juno protected the finances of the Roman Empire as "Juno Moneta" ("Juno who Warns" or "Juno the alone").

"Lucina" was an epithet for Juno as "she who brings children into the light", and "Lucetia" as "bringer of light" in general. She was also referenced as "Pomona" ("goddess of fruit"), "Pronuba" ("matron of honor") and "Ossipagina" ("bone setter" or "bone strengthener"). Some of these titles may have been invented as poetic descriptions, however, and may not have been actually used in the cult worship of Juno.

In Virgil's Aeneid, book I, verse 23, she is referred to as "Saturnia", daughter of Saturnus.

Statue at Samos

In The Netherlands, in Maastricht, which was founded as "Trajectum ad Mosam" about 2000 years ago, the remains of the foundations of a substantial temple for Juno and Jupiter are to be found in the cellars of Hotel Derlon. Over part of the Roman remains the first Christian church of the Netherlands was built in the 4th century A.D.

The story behind these remains begins with Juno and Jupiter being born as twins of Saturn and Opis. Juno was sent to Samos Island when yet a very young child. She was carefully raised there until puberty, when she then married her brother. A statue was made representing Juno, the bride, as a young girl on her wedding day. It was carved out of Parian marble and placed in front of her temple at Samos for many centuries. Ultimately this statue of Juno was brought to Rome and placed in the sanctuary of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill. For a long time the Romans honored her with many ceremonies under the name Queen Juno. The remains were moved then sometime between the first century and the four century to the Netherlands. [Virginia Brown's translation of Giovanni Boccaccio’s "Famous Women", p. 13 - 14; Harvard University Press 2001; ISBN 0-674-01130-9]

In literature

* Perhaps Juno's most prominent appearance in Roman literature is as the primary antagonistic force in Virgil's "Aeneid", where she is depicted as a cruel and savage goddess intent upon supporting first Dido and then Turnus and the Rutulians against Aeneas' attempt to found a new Troy in Italy. There has been some speculation—such as by Maurus Servius Honoratus, an ancient commentator on the "Aeneid"—that she is perhaps a conflation of Hera with the Carthaginian storm-goddess Tanit in some aspects of her portrayal here.

*Juno is also mentioned in "The Tempest" in Act IV, Scene I. In this, she relates to Prospero as they are both leaders in their realm and have spirit like messengers who are very loyal (Juno has Iris, Prospero has Ariel).

*In Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's "Butlerian Jihad", a prequel of Frank Herbert's "Dune" series, Juno is a woman which, together with other computer gamers take the known universe over by reprogramming the intelligent machines of those times, which were in service of humans, and turned them into conquest-longing machines. She, and all her companions undertook a surgery and implanted their brains into robots to extend their lives to thousands of years, thus becoming "Titans" (tyrants). She was Agamemnon's (another "Titan") lover.

Pop Culture

Juno is the name of the sixteen-year-old title character who faces an unplanned pregnancy in a 2007 film of the same name. In the words of the movie's young protagonist, "My dad went through this huge obsession with Roman and Greek mythology, so he decided to name me after Zeus' wife. And Zeus, like, he had tons of lays, but I'm pretty sure Juno was his only wife. And she was supposed to be, like, really beautiful, but really mean. Like Diana Ross." Strictly speaking Zeus' wife is named Hera after the Greek model. Juno is the Roman analogue of Hera, however, and her husband is Jupiter, the Roman analogue to Zeus.

In the manga Sailor Moon the character Sailor Juno, is named for the asteroid Juno and the Roman goddess Juno.


Ancient source references

*Servius, "In Aeneida ii.225"
*Lactantius, "Divinae institutions i.17.8"

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