Costume Candidate for 2013: Juno

Thanks to our Kickstarter campaign for 2013, we’re adding 19 new costumes this season, 7 of which our backers and supporters will get to vote on. This series of posts is designed to briefly introduce the many notable women and legendary figures we’ll be considering. Voting will take place spring/summer of 2013.


Most Americans learn in school that Juno is the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Hera: wife of the supreme god, patroness of marriage. The reality is more complex. The problem with understanding Juno (as well as Hera) is that Indo-European mythology has gotten tangled up with an earlier substrate of belief, creating a bit of a mess. An added difficulty is that Greek and Roman thinkers liked to normalize their respective deities into matchy-matchy pairs, even when the fit wasn’t particularly snug. As a result a great deal of indigenous complexity was lost. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Juno was far from merely Jupiter’s wife. She was extremely ancient and extremely important, and she may very well have been the original Creator Goddess. A hint of that peeks through in Aesop’s fable of Juno and the Peacock:

The peacock came to see Juno, because he could not accept with equanimity the fact that the goddess had not given him the song of the nightingale. The peacock complained that the nightingale’s song was wondrously beautiful to every ear, while he was laughed at by everyone as soon as he made the slightest sound.

Juno then consoled the peacock and said, “You are superior in beauty and superior in size; there is an emerald splendour that shines about your neck, and your tail is a fan filled with jewels and painted feathers.”

The peacock protested, “What is the point of this silent beauty, if I am defeated by the sound of my own voice?”

“Your lot in life has been assigned by the decision of the Fates,” said Juno. “You have been allotted beauty; the eagle, strength; the nightingale, harmony; the raven has been assigned prophetic signs, while unfavourable omens are assigned to the crow; and so each is content with his own particular gift.”

Do not strive for something that was not given to you, lest your disappointed expectations become mired in discontent.

Think we should add a Juno costume to Take Back Halloween? If you missed our Kickstarter campaign you can still become a supporter and get to vote on the new costumes.

Illustration credit: Juno and Her Birds (1887) by Walter Crane.


Tags : 0 Comments