Juno, the Goddess of Fertility, Protectress of the State

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Juno is a deity of the Roman religion, linked to the lunar cycle of the primitive Italic peoples.

Juno was the ancient deity of marriage and childbirth, often depicted in the act of nursing, who later assumed the functions of protector of the state. she was gradually assimilated into the Hera of Greek mythology, becoming the wife of Jupiter, thus the most important female deity. Together with Jupiter and Minerva she formed the so-called Capitoline Triad. Daughter, like Jupiter, of Saturn and Opi, corresponding in Greek mythology to Chronos and Rhea. Juno was also the protector of animals, in particular the peacock was sacred to her.

Related article: Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Rome

In her dress, Juno displays the Romans’ own tendency toward conflict. She was frequently depicted with a sword and cloak made of goatskin. The traditional representation of this combative feature was influenced by the Greek goddess Athena, who carried an aegis made of goatskin. A diadem was also displayed on Juno.

A woman, perhaps Juno Lucina, goddess of childbirth, presents the goddess of love, Aphrodite (Roman Venus) with the beautiful infant Adonis
A woman, perhaps Juno Lucina, goddess of childbirth, presents the goddess of love, Aphrodite (Roman Venus) with the beautiful infant Adonis (source)

One of the most intricate and contentious topics in Roman religion is Juno’s theology. Even more than other key Roman goddesses, Juno was known by a variety of meaningful names, titles, and epithets that reflected her different responsibilities and facets. These included Pronuba and Cinxia (“she who looses the bride’s girdle”) in keeping with her primary function as a goddess of marriage. Other Juno aphorisms, however, have broader meanings and are less thematically connected. Juno is undoubtedly the community’s divine protectoress; she exhibits traits of sovereignty and fertility and is frequently connected with a military one.

Featured image: Juno Vatican, Rome, Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection

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