Long before her name was associated with this week’s massive (or, for New Yorkers, not-so-massive) snowstorm in the Northeast (and a hastag, #Juno2015), ancient Romans believed their goddess Juno was the wife of chief god Jupiter, making her the queen of the gods. She was also honored as the goddess of marriage and childbirth—an ironic choice given that her story includes plenty of infidelity on Jupiter’s part.
The Juno of Roman lore would have hated to be overlooked once the snow stopped falling—you can’t expect the queen of the gods to be humble—so we’re shining the spotlight on a little Roman history in her honor and sharing five things you should know about Juno.
1. Juno had many roles, some of them seemingly contradictory: She was largely viewed as the protector of women, especially married women and mothers, but she also seemed to have a military function. Some scholars suggest that as a fertility goddess, she had responsibility for increasing the size of communities—a political and martial role.
2. You think your family is complicated: In Roman mythology, Juno and Jupiter were also twins. Some stories suggest they were raised apart until they reached puberty, and then married.
3. Think back to 9th-grade English class. You might remember Juno from her biggest literary role: as the antagonist in Virgil’s Aeneid. She’s determined not to allow Aeneas to found a new Troy in Italy, stirring up all kinds of trouble to thwart the fleet’s attempts.
4. In the history-dense Dutch city of Maastricht, visitors can find remains of the foundations of a significant temple for Jupiter and Juno in the cellars of the Hotel Derlon. In the 4th century AD, the first Christian church in the Netherlands was built over these ruins.
5. Think ancient history is … ancient? Consider this: Our month “June” is named for Juno, patroness of marriage. When do the most weddings occur? June. Coincidence? We think not.