Myths about the Roman Goddess Juno
As queen of heaven, Juno was conspicuous for her state. Her usual attendants were Terror, Boldness - Castor and Pollux, accompanied by fourteen nymphs; but her most inseparable adherent was Iris, who was always ready to be employed in her most important affairs: she acted as messenger to Juno, like Mercury to Jupiter. When Juno appeared as the majesty of heaven, with her sceptre and diadem beset with lilies and roses, her chariot was drawn by peacocks, birds sacred to her; for which reason, in her temple at Euboea, the emperor Adrian made her a most magnificent offering of a golden crown, a purple mantle, with an embroidery of silver, describing the marriage of Hercules and Hebe, and a large peacock, whose body was of gold, and his train of most valuable jewels. There never was a wife more jealous than Juno; and few who have had so much reason: on which account we find from Homer that the most absolute exertions of Jupiter were barely sufficient to preserve his authority.
There was none except Apollo whose worship was more solemn or extensive. The history of the prodigies she had wrought, and of the vengeance she had taken upon persons who had vied with, or slighted her, had so inspired the people with awe, that, when supposed to be angry, no means were omitted to mitigate her anger; and had Paris adjudged to her the prize of Beauty, the fate of Troy might have been suspended. In resentment of this judgment, and to wreak her vengeance on Paris, the house of Priam, and the Trojan race, she appears in the Iliad to be fully employed. Minerva is commissioned by her to hinder the Greeks from retreating; she quarrels with Jupiter; she goes to battle; cajoles Jupiter with the cestus of Venus; carries the orders of Jupiter to Apollo and Iris; consults the gods on the conflict between aeneas and Achilles; sends Vulcan to oppose Xanthus; overcomes Diana etc.
She is generally pictured like a matron, with a grave and majestic air, sometimes with a sceptre in her hand, and a veil on her head: she is represented also with a spear in her hand, and sometimes with a patera, as if she were about to sacrifice: on some medals she has a peacock at her feet, and sometimes holds the Palladium. Homer represents her in a chariot adorned with gems, having wheels of ebony, nails of silver, and horses with reins of gold, though more commonly her chariot is drawn by peacocks, her favourite birds.
The most obvious and striking character of Juno, and that which we are apt to imbibe the most early of any, from the writings of Homer and Virgil, is that of an imperious and haughty wife. In both of these poets we find her much oftener scolding at Jupiter than caressing him, and in the tenth aeneid in particular, even in the council of the gods, we have a remarkable instance of this.
If, in searching out the meaning of this fable, we regard the account of Varro, we shall find, that by Juno was signified the earth; by Jupiter, the heavens; but if we believe the Stoics, by Juno is meant the air and its properties, and by Jupiter the ether: hence Homer supposes she was nourished by Oceanus and Tethys: that is, by the sea; and agreeable to this mythology, the poet makes her shout aloud in the army of the Greeks, the air being the cause of the sound.
Myths about the Roman Goddess Juno
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