Even though Roman mythology represented a combination of Greek and Etruscan mythology, it still had some unique features that separate this mythology from the ones that were used as her basis.
Roman mythology brought us some of the most interesting stories and myths about ancient gods and goddesses. Their symbolic meaning is still valuable even today, and they are often used as referral in art and literature.
The highest deity in ancient Rome was Jupiter, and all other deities were lower in significance than him. Even though he was the highest deity, other gods and goddesses were equally and sometimes even more worshipped than him. Ancient mythology was based on stories that were created by the human imagination. Everything that humans couldn’t explain with reason, they created stories that later became myths and legends.
Every natural event that couldn’t be explained became the work of gods and goddesses that ruled Rome at that time. The divine intervention was the easiest way to explain everything that happened at that time, and just like today, people believed in gods and respected them.
In today’s text we will be talking more about the Roman goddess Juno, who was the goddess of family, childbirth and counselor of the State. So, if you ever wanted to know more about this Roman deity, here is the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Mythology and Symbolism
Goddess Juno was one of the highest appreciated Roman female deities. Her importance to the Roman people was great and people considered her to be the highest deity next to Jupiter, her husband. Juno was the Roman goddess of family, protector of the state and queen of gods in Roman mythology. Her mythology is very complex and complicated, which is why she is one of the highest valued deities in Rome.
Juno held many important epithets and she carried many different titles. She was first the goddess of marriage but also the goddess of vital force, vital energy and eternal youthfulness. She was the divine protectres of the state and was the symbol of fertility and sovereign over the people. The epithet Lucina was especially important because it represented interrelated aspects of the Juno’s function.
According to Roman mythology, month of February is the month of cleansing and purification. On the February 15th a festival in the honor of Juno is held and it is called the Juno Sospita. This festival celebrated purification and fertility.
Juno was the goddess who multiplied people and was the protector of Roman citizens. She also protected the Roman army and all of her soldiers. As Juno Moneta, she was celebrated in Arx Capitolina) as the goddess that warns people about disasters and dangers. As Juno Curis, she was painted with a shield and a spur, and the place where this statue would stand was the place where Romans would carry their gifts to the goddess and other sacrifices.
Juno was married to Jupiter, who was the highest Roman deity. Their marriage represented the ideal towards which the citizens of Rome strived to. As the wife of the highest deity, she was seen as a queen and protector of the people together with Jupiter. People respected her but also feared of her nature, because in some depictions she was the symbol of strength and sometimes even cruelty.
Romans believed that Juno was the goddess of childbirth which is why they would celebrate Juno after the birth of their child. They would set up a large feast in her honor and celebrate the goddess so that she would protect their child. Juno was associated with almost all aspects of woman’s life and the most important aspect was marriage. She protected all women, but her focus was on the married women and the women who were pregnant.
Juno was the daughter of Saturn but she ended up marrying her twin brother Jupiter who was the god of sky and the thunder. She was known as the queen of all gods and together with Jupiter and Minerva, she was one of the three original deities of Rome. Juno was attended by 16 nymphs and was always pictured with Iris her most beloved nymph.
Juno had two children, Mars and Vulcan. According to an ancient myth, Juno’s son Mars, who was the god of war) wasn’t conceived by Jupiter. The myth tells the story about Flora, goddess of spring, Giving Juno a flower which made her pregnant with Mars. Another myth tells the story about Juno and Jupiter throwing their son Vulcan into a volcano because he was too ugly. Later they felt sorry and returned him back to earth.
Juno was fiercely loyal to her husband and also jealous and vindictive. When Jupiter gave birth to Minerva from his head, Juno became too jealous. This is one of the reasons why Juno decided to give birth to Mars on her own and not by Jupiter.
Along with all her other responsibilities, Juno was primarily a part of the triad that lived on the Capitoline Hill. She lived with Jupiter and Minerva, and her main title was the goddess of childbirth and marriage. She was worshipped by her many nymphs and she protected all women, especially married ones and those who were pregnant.
Meaning and Facts
Juno was the daughter of Saturn, and according to ancient myths she was married to her brother Jupiter. There are many artistic depictions of Juno and her brother, who indicated the connection between them wasn’t only romantic. Juno was the Roman goddess of family, marriage, childbirth and she was the overall protector of the Roman people.
Juno was usually depicted in a warrior like pose with armor and as a strong woman in general. She was married to Jupiter, which made her the queen of all the Roman people. Juno was also depicted with big brown eyes, beautiful face and a body of a young maiden.
She was also depicted wearing a shield or a spur, and Romans both feared her and respected her. Juno had many epithets but the most important ones were related to marriage and childbirth. People would often hold ceremonies and festivals in her honor, to get her attention and grace. Her image combined both beauty and strength, and her depiction is somewhat different from the depiction of Hera in Greek mythology even though they are very similar in characteristics.
Festival that was held I the honor of Juno was called Matronalia. The festival was celebrated in March and it was the day when husbands were expected to give their wives presents. This tradition resembles the International Woman’s day that we have today, which is a proof that the position of a woman was important in ancient times. Some sources mention that this festival was held in the honor of Juno’s son Mars, because it was held on his birthday. The third source believes that the festival represented the end of Roman-Sabine War where women played an important role and the women were responsible for restoring peace.
Juno’s Greek counterpart was Hera, who was the wife of Zeus. Juno often appeared as a symbol in roman art and literature, but her appearance is never the less important in popular culture. in Vigil’s Aeneid, Juno was depicted as a cruel goddess. Shakespeare also mentions Juno as a masque character in his work called The Tempest. The month of June got its name after Juno. Juno also represented the opposite of genius, which was used to represent the male gender.
In the Dutch city of Maastricht, there are statues of Juno and Jupiter which are 2000 years old. The story behind these remains is that Juno was sent to Samos after her birth. She stayed there until she reached puberty and then was married to her brother Jupiter. The statue represents Juno as a bride and this statue belongs to one of the oldest statues and examples of human art. The statue was first held in Rome on Capitoline Hill, but was moved to Netherlands in the 4th century.
Juno’s importance to Romans was extremely great and her presence in Roman mythology is one of the most influential. Even though there are various sources and stories about her appearance and behavior, Juno is still considered to be a merciful goddess who protected the Roman citizens and newborns. People believed in her and devoted their prayers to Juno, and her cult belongs to one of the oldest ones.
Ancient Roman tradition highly respected women, which can clearly be seen by the position that women had in Roman mythology. Unlike many religions today, Romans gave women a strong religious position and their presence in the Roman mythology was significant. Juno was a part of the triad that lived on the Capitoline Hill and also one of the main deities of Rome.
Every natural event that couldn’t be explained became the work of gods and goddesses that ruled Rome at that time. The divine intervention was the easiest way to explain everything that happened at that time, and just like today, people believed in gods and respected them. Juno was married to Jupiter, who was the highest Roman deity. Their marriage represented the ideal towards which the citizens of Rome strived to. As the wife of the highest deity, she was seen as a queen and protector of the people together with Jupiter.
Juno was fiercely loyal to her husband and also jealous and vindictive. When Jupiter gave birth to Minerva from his head, Juno became too jealous. This is one of the reasons why Juno decided to give birth to Mars on her own and not by Jupiter. Juno was the goddess who multiplied people and was the protector of Roman citizens. She also protected the Roman army and all of her soldiers. As Juno Moneta, she was celebrated in Arx Capitolina) as the goddess that warns people about disasters and dangers.
Juno might have been described in many different ways, but her importance to Roman mythology is significant. She also influenced a completely different approach to women and their rights. Even in the times when people weren’t on a high scale of development, goddesses like Juno played an important role in the emancipation of women. Juno was the goddess protector of all women, especially the ones who were pregnant and married. She was solely devoted to females, while the male Romans had Jupiter and other deities to lean onto.
Juno’s influence on Roman mythology and today’s culture is certainly great, even though she derives her roots from the Greek mythology. Her many epithets are a great metaphor for the woman’s ability to accomplish many things and hold the entire nation in one place. Juno was a unique symbol of a strong and powerful woman, who overcame obstacles and placed herself on the top position in the Roman mythology.