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Tales beyond belief

Discover the legends and myths and religious beliefs surrounding Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage and childbirth and the Queen of the gods. She was the deity of women, especially in association with childbirth and marriage. She also had a war-like persona in the beliefs of the Romans and was often depicted as armed and wearing a goatskin cloak which was the garment favored by Roman soldiers on campaign.

Her chariot was drawn by peacocks, symbols of the goddess and the birds that were sacred to her. The Greek counterpart of this ancient Roman deity was Hera.

Who was Juno?
Juno was the Roman goddess of marriage and childbirth. It is ironic that she represents marriage as her own marriage was plagued by the numerous affairs of her husband Jupiter. Despite the behaviour of her husband she  was faultless in her fidelity as a wife. The following picture of Juno shows her with a peacock, which was one of her symbols. Her association with the peacock relates to ancient mythology about the goddess and the mythical legend of the beautiful Io, one of the many lovers of Jupiter. Juno was extremely jealous of Io, who was one of her priestesses, and fell into a great rage. Jupiter transformed Io into a white cow, in order to defeat the jealous intrigues of Juno. However Juno placed Io (in her guise of the white cow) under the watchful care of a man called Argus Panoptes, who fastened her to an olive-tree in the grove of Hera. Argus Panoptes had a hundred eyes, of which, when asleep, he never closed more than two at a time so kept continuous guard of Io. Mercury, however, by the command of Jupiter, succeeded in putting all his eyes to sleep with the sound of his magic lyre and killed him. In commemoration of the services which Argus had rendered her, Juno placed his eyes on the tail of a peacock, as a lasting memorial of her gratitude. 

Facts about Juno
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Juno:

  • Roman Name: Juno

  • Role & Function: The function of Juno is described as being the Queen of the gods and the goddess of marriage and childbirth

  • Status: Major Goddess and one of the 'Dei Consentes', the Council of Gods.
    Symbols: Crown, peacock, cuckoo, lion, cow and pomegranate (the symbol of marital love and fruitfulness).

  • Gender: Female

  • Greek Counterpart: The Greek name for this goddess was Hera

  • Name of Husband: Jupiter

  • Name of Father: Saturnus (Saturn)

  • Name of Mother: Ops (Opis)

  • Name of siblings: Brothers & sisters: Jupiter, Pluto, Neptune, Vesta and Ceres
    Names of Children: Mars, Juventia and Vulcan

Facts about Juno in Roman Mythology and History
Discover interesting information and facts about Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage and childbirth.

  • She was the daughter of Saturnus and Ops and was both the sister and wife of Jupiter.

  • Her children were Ares, Hephaestus and Hebe

  • She was quite haughty and had a large retinue which Castor and Pollux, accompanied by fourteen nymphs; but her favorite was Iris, who was always ready to be employed in her most important affairs. Iris acted as messenger to Juno, like Mercury was for Jupiter.

  • A nymph named Chelone refused to attend their marriage Jupiter condemned her by turning her into a turtle.

  • After the birth of Minerva from the head of Jupiter, the goddess was angered and invoked the powers of Heaven and Earth producing the monster Typhon.

  • Her husband had many affairs with both goddesses and mortals which caused her to be extremely jealous and angry. She was consequently highly vindictive towards his lovers and illegitimate children

  • Despite the behaviour of Jupiter she was faultless in her fidelity as a wife.

  • There was none except Apollo whose worship was more solemn or extensive.

  • She is usually represented as a matron, with a grave and majestic air, sometimes with a sceptre in her hand, and a veil on her head.

  • She is represented by the Romans with a spear in her hand, and sometimes with a patera. A patera was a broad, shallow dish used for drinking, or in a ritual context such as a libation.

  • She was an imperious and haughty wife who would scold her husband rather than caress him, even when attending the council of the gods

  • She was also a member of the Capitoline Triad which consisted of three major gods - Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. The most important temples in Rome were dedicated to the triad of gods and situated on the Capitoline Hill.

  • White cows were her blood offerings as white steers were the blood offerings to Jupiter.

  • Her festival was on the 1st March when women held a festival in her honor called the Matronalia.

  • The month of June is taken from the Latin 'Iunius' meaning "sacred to Juno"

Juno (Greek Counterpart was Hera)
The Romans habitually assimilated various elements from other cultures and civilisations, including the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Greeks and other nations. When the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks in 146BC many of the Greek gods and goddesses were adopted by the Romans.  The Romans simply changed the Greek gods names to Latin equivalents. The Greek counterpart of Juno was Hera. The Roman religion significantly differed from the Greeks in that it was officially endorsed by the state and exerted influence over the government of Rome. Politicians took the offices of influential priests, called pontiffs, to gain control of the popular worship, Roman gods and goddesses like Juno were worshipped at every public event, including the gladiatorial games, where blood sacrifices were made to the gods. In ancient Rome, the pantheon of 12 major gods, including Juno, were called the 'Dei Consentes' meaning the Council of Gods.

Gods and Deities
Roman Gods and Goddesses

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