God of the Month: Juno Regina

Like Jupiter, Juno has many aspects. In the Religio Romana (Roman Religion), the different Junos are separate Goddesses. In fact, Cicero argued that They were all unique. Later, Augustus brought the Latin Junos together to be one Goddess. However, Juno still has various aspects Who are distinct from the “composite” Juno.

Juno Regina is the Ruling Deity of Rome. She is the Protector of the State and the “Queen of Heaven.” Juno Regina was originally Uni of the Etruscan city of Veii. In 396 BCE, Marcus Furius Camillus waged a siege against Veii. Wanting to end the long siege, he performed the rite of evocatio (calling forth). Camillus promised Uni of Veii a grander temple if She would come to Rome. When Uni consented, the Veientines lost their protective Deity and then their city.

Evocatio is a ritual done by the military to remove any divine protection from an opposing city. A select group from the army would purify themselves and dress in white. After entering the captured temple, they would ask the Deity for permission to take the religious items. In Juno Regina’s case, a soldier asked the wooden statue, “Art Thou willing Juno to go to Rome?” The statue nodded yes, and said, “I am willing.”

Religious historians say that evocation was a form of psychological warfare. The sanctity and security of each city depended on their governing Deity. Once that Deity agreed to leave, the citizens could no longer rely on divine protection. Evocatio also mitigated the feeling that to loot shrines was sacrilege, since the soldiers were only taking the Deity to a finer temple.

However, evocatio was rooted in piety, since it involved asking the Deity before removing anything. The God always had final say in this. The opposing city could always counter the rite.

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One thought on “God of the Month: Juno Regina

  1. Pingback: Gods of the Month: June | Neptune's Dolphins

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