Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I saw the film Juno the other day, and really enjoyed it. In one part of the movie Juno explains how she got her name:

Juno: My dad had this weird obsession with Roman or Greek mythology or something and he decided to name me after Zeus' wife.

Mark: Zeus' wife?

Juno: Yeah and I mean Zeus had tons of lays but I'm pretty sure Juno was his only wife. And apparently she was supposed to be super beautiful but really mean, like Diana Ross.
The name fits Juno's character well, I think; she's beautiful, but has the potential to be pretty cruel. That's not the only way in which it's an appropriate name though- Juno (Hera in Greek) was also the Roman goddess responsible for childbirth.

In the Aeneid the goddess Juno plays the role of Aeneas' tormentor, opposing him at every turn. Her jealousy is based on her hatred of the Trojans, stemming from Paris' rejection of her in favour of Venus (Aphrodite). At the very beginning of the poem she is described in this way:

cum Iuno, aeternum servans sub pectore vulnus,
haec secum: 'Mene incepto desistere victam,
nec posse Italia Teucrorum avertere regem?
Quippe vetor fatis...
Ast ego, quae divum incedo regina, Iovisque
et soror et coniunx, una cum gente
tot annos bella gero!'

Juno brooded, still nursing the eternal wound deep in her breast: 'Am I to admit defeat and give up my attempt to keep the king of the Trojans away from Italy? So what if the fates do not approve... Here am I, the queen of the gods, the sister of Jupiter and his wife, and I have waged war all these years against a whole race of men!'

At the end of the Aeneid Juno has somewhat of a change of heart. Jupiter convinces her that it is Aeneas' fate to defeat his enemy Turnus and to establish a city whose descendents will one day rule the world, and that not even the gods can change these things. Juno gives in, but asks for a few conditions of her own:

'et nunc cedo equidem pugnasque exosa relinquo.
illud te... obtestor...
ne vetus indigenas nomen mutare Latinos
neu Troas fieri iubeas Teucrosque vocari...
sit Latium, sint Albani per saecula reges,
sit Romana potens Itala virtute propago:
occidit, occideritque sinas cum nomine Troia.'

'And now I give in, and withdraw from these battles which I hate so much. But I entreat you... do not command the Latins to change their ancient name in their own land, to become Trojans and be called Teucrians... Let Latium live on, let there be Alban kings throughout the ages, let the Roman stock be powerful with Italian courage: Troy has died, let its name stay buried.'

And she gets her way; Jupiter replies:

'es germana Iovis Saturnique altera proles, irarum
tantos volvis sub pectore fluctus.
verum age et inceptum frustra summitte furorem:
do quod vis, et me victusque volensque remitto.
sermonem Ausonii patrium moresque tenebunt...
faciamque omnis uno ore Latinos....
nec gens ulla tuos aeque celebrabit honores.'

'You are the sister of Jupiter and the second child of Saturn, such waves of anger do you set rolling deep in your heart. But come now, lay aside this fury that arose in vain. I grant what you wish. I yield. I relent of my own free will. The people of Ausonia will keep the speech of their fathers and their ancient ways... I will make them all Latins, speaking one tongue... and no other race will be their equals in paying you honor.'

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