Julia Soaemias Denarius. 220 AD.
IVLIA SOAEMIAS AVGVSTA, draped bust right
IVNO REGINA, Juno standing right, holding scepter and palladium.

Juno (Latin: IVNO) was a major Roman goddess, the rough equivalent of the Greek Hera, queen of the gods. An ancient and central deity in Roman religion, Juno was the wife of the ruler of the gods, Jupiter, and the mother of Mars, one of the most important Roman deities. She was also a member of the Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Minerva.

Etymology and origin

There is a strong possible etymology for Juno in the Indo-European root *yeu-, "vital force", which has such derivatives as the English youth.[1] 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", 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 most 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.[2]

More immediately, Juno's Etruscan equivalent was Uni. It is likely that one of these goddesses inspired the other, but whether Juno comes from Uni, or vice versa, remains disputed. Although there is currently more support for the theory that Uni is derived from Juno, if instead Juno's name is of Etruscan origin, it cannot have an Indo-European link to *yeu-, and its root meaning will remain ambiguous. There is some support for the theory of Uni being the original; Livy 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, on the first of March, 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.

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 aegis.


Even more so 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 was also a temple of Juno Regina on the Aventine Hill, and another in the Circus Flaminius. The festival of Juno Regina was on September 1.[3]

As Juno Moneta ("Juno who Warns"), she protected the finances of the Roman Empire.

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 Pomana ("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 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.


  1. ↑ The American Heritage Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0395825172.
  2. ↑ Puhvel, Jaan (1987). Comparative Mythology (p. 151). Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801839386.
  3. ↑ Scullard, H.H. (1981). Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (p. 183). London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0801414024.

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