Juno’s Bustin’ Out

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

Wife of Jupiter and queen of the Roman gods, Juno gave her name to our brand-new month, Iunius Mensis, the Romans’ fourth month (with Martius as the first). Junio and Juin are two of her Romance language legacies. Juno is identified with the Greek goddess Hera.

June replaced a Middle English phrase meaning “earlier mildness,” which is a great name for summer’s first month. June itself might mean “young,” as in iuvenis for “youth”: Juno was goddess of the new moon.

Juno famously harassed Aeneas, protagonist of Vergil’s Aeneid. She was the patron of Queen Dido and her city Carthage, which became Rome’s bitterest rival. Aeneas famously threw over Dido in order to pursue his fated founding of the Roman civilization. Juno whipped up a storm to prevent Aeneas landing in Italy at the beginning of the Aeneid and never stopped bothering him.

The goddess represented women, marriage, and childbirth, but is largely known, unfortunately, for her jealous rages over Jupiter’s infidelities. To hide his adultery, for example, Jupiter changed the beautiful nymph Io into a heifer. Juno wasn’t fooled. She sent a gadfly to harass poor Io, who ran across the world, trying to escape the wicked bites, giving her name to the Ionian Sea. Her travels are also memorialized by the Bosphorus Strait, the boundary between Asia and Europe. Bosphorus means “cow-bearing.”

Juno is still on Jupiter’s case. NASA’s Juno mission flew past Jupiter’s moon Io last month, bringing all three characters together for a big pirouette in space. That’s not the end of Juno, though. Since 2016, she’s been keeping her eye on Jupiter, and will continue her surveillance far into the future, just like in the old days.

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2 Responses to Juno’s Bustin’ Out

  1. Kathy says:

    You’re welcome, Barbara. Thanks for reading!

  2. Barbara Brennan says:

    What fun to learn all of this. Thank you, Kathy

    Barbara Brennan

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