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Juno Lanuvina


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Juno Lanuvina, or with title in full, Juno Sispita or Sospita Maxima Regina, as it is expressed on denarii of Thorius Balbus; see the intitial letters I S M R

The goddess bearing this surname if found on the silver coins of those Roman families who drew their origin from the town (municipium) of Lanuvina, to which the Cornuficii, the Mettii, the Papii, the Procillii, the Roscii, and the Thorii belonged. Her appearance on these coins nearly corresponds with the description given by Cicero, in lib. i. de nat Deor. cap 23, viz., cum pelle caprina, cum hasta, cum scutulo, cum calceolis repandis (shoes turned up at the toes), to which it only remains to be added that her head is covered with a goat's skin (as Hercules's head is with that of a lion), having, moreover, two horns, and her entire vestment is composed of this skin, with the fur outwards.

On a denarius of the Cornuficia family is an eagle on the top of her shield (probably intended for a legionary one); at other times she is depictured in a biga, as on some medals of the Mettia and Procilia families, a great serpent preceding her, and in the act of raising itself.

On a denarius of the Roscia family we see opposite to the serpent a woman offering food to it, the meaning of which may be learnt in Elianus and Propertius. Cicero teaches us in his Oration pro Muraena, in what high estimation this goddess was with the Romans, to which may be joined the testimony of Livy, who says that she was worshipped (majoribus hostiis) with sacrifices of the highest order, shewing that the Romans granted to the Lanuvians the right of citizenship on condition that they themselves (the people of Rome) should have a share in the temple, and in the sacred grove of the goddess.

In the imperial series Juno Lanuvina or Sispita is seldom seen. Mediobarba, however, notes two medals of Antoninus Pius (AD 140), and one of Commodus (AD 177) with the inscription IVNONI SOSPITAE: after which period it again disappears. See Juno Sospita.

View whole page from the Dictionary Of Roman Coins