1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Juno

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JUNO, the chief Roman and Latin goddess, and the special object of worship by women at all the critical moments of life. The etymology of the name is not certain, but it is usually taken as a shortened form of Jovino, answering to Jovis, from a root div, shining. Under Greek influence Juno was early identified with the Greek Hera, with whose cult and characteristics she has much in common; thus the Juno with whom we are familiar in Latin literature is not the true Roman deity. In the Aeneid, for example, her policy is antagonistic to the plans of Jupiter for the conquest of Latium and the future greatness of Rome; though in the fourth Eclogue, as Lucina, she appears in her proper rôle as assisting at childbirth. It was under Greek influence again that she became the wife of Jupiter, the mother of Mars; the true Roman had no such personal interest in his deities as to invent family relations for them.

That Juno was especially a deity of women, and represents in a sense the female principle of life, is seen in the fact that as every man had his genius, so every woman had her Juno; and the goddess herself may have been a development of this conception. The various forms of her cult all show her in close connexion with women. As Juno Lucina she was invoked in childbirth, and on the 1st of March, the old Roman New Year’s day, the matrons met and made offerings at her temple in a grove on the Esquiline; hence the day was known as the Matronalia. As Caprotina she was especially worshipped by female slaves on the 7th of July (Nonae Caprotinae); as Sospita she was invoked all over Latium as the saviour of women in their perils, and later as the saviour of the state; and under a number of other titles, Cinxia, Unxia, Pronuba, &c., we find her taking a leading part in the ritual of marriage. Her real or supposed connexion with the moon is explained by the alleged influence of the moon on the lives of women; thus she became the deity of the Kalends, or day of the new moon, when the regina sacrorum offered a lamb to her in the regia, and her husband the rex made known to the people the day on which the Nones would fall. Thus she is brought into close relation with Janus, who also was worshipped on the Kalends by the rex sacrorum, and it may be that in the oldest Roman religion these two were more closely connected than Juno and Jupiter. But in historical times she was associated with Jupiter in the great temple on the Capitoline hill as Juno Regina, the queen of all Junones or queen of heaven, as Jupiter there was Optimus Maximus (see Jupiter), and under the same title she was enticed from Veii after its capture in 392 B.C., and settled in a temple on the Aventine. Thus exalted above all other female deities, she was prepared for that identification with Hera which was alluded to above. That she was in some sense a deity of light seems certain; as Lucina, e.g., she introduced new-born infants “in luminis oras.”

See Roscher’s article “Juno” in his Lexicon of Mythology, and his earlier treatise on Juno and Hera; Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer, 113 foll.; also a fresh discussion by Walter Otto in Philologus for 1905 (p. 161 foll.).  (W. W. F.*)