Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Month of June in Ancient Mythology

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The Month of June by the Rev. Hicks 1897

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JUNE was the fourth month of the year, according to the old Roman calendar. In the original divisions of the year into months, June contained only twenty-six days, but when the Romulian calendar was devised, four days were added, bringing the month to thirty days. When the calendar was subsequently revised by King Numa, one day was taken from June, making it to consist of only twenty-nine days. Again when the calendar was "doctored" by Julius Caesar, one day was added to June, bringing it back to thirty days, which number without molestation it has retained down to the present day.

Authorities do not fully agree as to the origin of the name, June. Ovid in his "Fasti" makes Juno say that June was so called especially in honor of herself, which, of course, is only Ovid's opinion, as such a Goddess as Juno never existed except in mythological fancy. Some insist that June is from the gentile "Junius," while others contend that it is traceable to Junius Brutus. The name is supposed, also, to have an agricultural significance, meaning, "the month of ripeness." The Anglo Saxons called June "sear-monath," the month of dryness and mid-summer. Either the characteristics of June have changed, or "searmonath" would better have applied to July or August. That is, such in our own climate is the case. The opposite might have been true with the ancients. The sun enters Cancer about 20th of June.

June, by the author of Easter in Nature 1913

June is called the month of roses and marriages. Christendom inherited from Rome the superstition that May was unlucky and June most lucky for marriage. With marriage goes the beautiful showy orange blossoms to express the bride's purity and strength of affection, her firmness, her gentleness and hopes. The orange-tree knows no fluctuating changes; Verdure and blossoms and fruits are found on it together; hence so symbolical. The orange flower custom came from France. Orange blossoms mean chastity, and the rose is the queen of flowers, usually so called because of its blushing beauty, but that is not the true origin of the name. The origin is to be sought in the reasons for which the Greeks and Romans carved the ceilings of their private reception-rooms and public eating-halls with roses. They did it to signify that all spoken within them, or sub rosa (under the rose), should ever remain secret from the rest of the world. A look into a full blown rose suggests ideas that connect with that which I said above, about the month of June being synonymous with motherliness and Quietism and distance from men. Those ideas appear also to be the reasons why the rose is dedicated to the Virgin. St. Dominic instituted the devotion of the rosary with special reference to those ideas.

It is possible that the month of June got its name from Juno, the goddess of heaven. At any rate, the first day of the month was sacred to her. While there are no definite historical proofs, this is certain that Juno represents the female principle in human nature. The “genius” of a woman was called by this name and the cult of Juno as a developed goddess shows many features that bear out the proposition. Hercules indicated the male principle. If Juno were not the goddess of the month, an antique goddess of similar character was it. That seems clear from Ovid.

June by Margaret J. Codd 1895

Mine is the Month of Roses; yes, and mine
The Month of Marriages! AH pleasant sights
And scents, the fragrance of the blossoming vine,
The foliage of the valleys and the heights.
Mine are the longest days, the loveliest nights;
The mower's scythe makes music in my ear;
I am the mother of all dear delights;
I am the fairest daughter of the year.

According to Ovid, there are three opinions as to the origin of this name. First and most probable we have the supposition, that this month was named for the Goddess Juno.

Secondly, we are told, that Romulus divided the people according to their years. The aged, who were more ready to deliberate, and the young, to fight. And in the same way he distinguished the months— "June is the month of the juniors; the month that precedes it that of the aged."

Hebe, daughter of Jupiter and Juno, as goddess of youth was called Juventas. Through the same writer, she also asserts her claim to the honor. She came as goddess of concord, with her long tresses wreathed with the laurel of Apollo.

She told how the Sabine, Tatius, and the brave Quirinus of Rome, together with their kingdoms and subjects had united, and that fathers-in-law and sons-in-law were received under one common roof. "From the junction of these nations," said she, "does the month of June derive its name."

Like the poet, we leave this matter for the reader to decide, our own preference being for the goddess Juno, it certainly seeming proper, that in the city of her grandson, Romulus, she should hold full sway.

Juno was the first born of Saturn. She shared the throne of mighty Jove and ruled on Mt. Olympus as queen of gods and men, bearing in her hands a scepter of gold.

She was very beautiful and stately, but was so vain and jealous that she often made Jupiter very angry. Once, Jupiter, as a punishment for her jealousy, bound her in golden chains and hung her in the air.

Perhaps you may think glittering golden chains are very pretty, but Juno found them heavier to bear than those of iron.

Her favorite bird was the peacock, and you may often see her represented as a stately woman, sitting in a chariot drawn by peacocks or with a peacock at her side.

She was the mother of Mars, Hebe, and Vulcan.

When Juno married Jupiter, all the gods and goddesses were invited to the wedding, and gave them many beautiful gifts.

As the happy pair rested on the mountain side, Flora covered the ground beneath them with the loveliest of flowers, and a golden cloud was spread above them.

All nature rejoiced at their marriage, and all were glad to come to the wedding. All except one nymph named Chelone.

When she was invited, she laughed and ridiculed it and refused to come. The gods were so angry with her rude manners and bad heart that she was changed into a tortoise, which has no voice and has to keep silence forever.

The white-armed goddess, as one of the great deities of Rome, had her share in the great temple on the capitol; near by stood the temple of Juno Moneta. This temple was made the mint, so, oddly enough, our word money comes from her name.

The old stories told that Juno was born beneath the willow, so that tree was sacred to this goddess and the beautiful lily was also devoted to the Olympian queen.

Her messenger was Iris, the rainbow, who was always the harbinger of good news. Her favorite bird was the peacock and whole flocks of these stately birds were fed in the groves sacred to Juno.

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