Being a god wasn’t easy in ancient Rome. Deities like Juno had a ton on their plates, with responsibilities and roles that changed depending on how Romans worshipped and invoked them. What about Juno?

Money and Poultry: A Deadly Combo

Juno (known as Hera in Greece) wore many hats. As Juno Lucina, she oversaw childbirth. As Juno Regina, she ruled as queen of the gods. But as Juno Moneta, she was “protectress of the state,” as anthropologist Jack Weatherford notes in The History of Money.

Juno Moneta got her name from the Latin “monere” (meaning “to warn”), since she notified Romans about upcoming dangers. We also get the English “money” and “mint” from her, since Romans first made coins at her temple.

Along with money, Juno Moneta’s temple housed sacred geese. Pliny the Elder said geese made great guard animals – which came in handy…

Cackle If There’s An Invasion!

In the early 300s BC, Gauls came over the Alps to invade flourishing Rome.

Migrating Gaulish warriors led by Brennus swarmed Italy, defeating Romans at the Battle of the Allia in 390 BC. They attacked Rome next. But thanks to Juno Moneta’s geese, the Gauls didn’t take everything.

The Gauls entered Rome and tried sneaking up Capitoline Hill, where Juno Moneta’s temple stood. Livy notes they were so quiet that “not only were they unnoticed by the sentinels, but they did not even wake the dogs.”

The watchdogs didn’t stir, but the watch geese noticed!

Livy said the poultry were “sacred to Juno and had been left untouched in spite of the extremely scanty supply of food.” They honked loudly at the sneaking invaders.

This woke consul Manlius, who “rushing to the defense of the place, cut off the hand of the climber with his sword and, striking him on the breast with his shield, rolled him from the cliff,” says Diodorus Siculus. After Manlius threw another invader off the cliff, the Gauls fled.

Rome had to pay a huge bribe for the Gauls to leave. But thanks to Juno Moneta’s geese, the city survived to fight another day. The geese were forever cared for by censors, who oversaw their feeding, beams Pliny. You go, geese!

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