Friday is, of course, Devi’s Day – and so therefore, a visage less frequently depicted … a well-armed Warrior Goddess – Juno !
Now at first, this might seem strange. We are used to the idea of Juno as a regal, queenly figure; yet a shield and spear equipped female warrior amongst the Gods we would ordinarily presume to be Athena / Minerva.
However, this is Juno Sospita – Juno the Savioress. And so it is perhaps apt that we find Her to be well-armed and of a certain degree of martial bearing.
Of additional interest to us is that this fine Juno sculpture may have stood in a shrine connected to the Temple of Magna Mater [‘Great Mother’], or even within that Temple itself.
Why this is noteworthy is that Magna Mater was, of course, Cybele – Who, as I have previously observed, represents a rather clear expression of the archaic Indo-European ‘Mountain Mother’ deific figure … imported under intriguing circumstances into the heart of Rome Herself.
Those intriguing circumstances were in the context of the Second Punic War against hated Carthage – when the Sibylline Oracle stated that only by bringing the Cybelian figure and attendant worship to Rome could Rome triumph over Her direst adversary.
This caused quite an uproar in some portions of Roman society at the time – there was an understandable opposition to bringing a ‘foreign’ deific into the city, even given the words of the Sibyl upon the matter.
The sentiment was partially countered via the ingenious pointing out that as the Romans claimed descent from the Trojans – bringing in an Anatolian Goddess was, therefore, simply ‘welcoming home’ one of their own Ancestral Deities, as it were.
Now of course, today we know that this is false – the Romans were not descended of Troy; and in any case, the situation of Anatolian Indo-European religion is quite a complicated one which we shall not get into here.
Yet I do not disagree that the Romans had brought an ‘ancestral Goddess’ after a sort back to Rome. The Phrygians had come from a locale close to the Indo-European Urheimat, after all – and so the Magna Mater that came to Rome was ultimately of arguably similar provenancy.
The co-location of the Savior Juno, therefore, with the Savior Great Mother Who had arrived just when Rome needed Her the most … cannot be at all coincidental.
Instead, it is – if you like – a sort of ‘real-time’ Interpretatio Romana : where we see the co-identification via co-location of two expressions of the same Indo-European Goddess Who acted in the same functional role.
Jai Mata Di !