Juno wasn't fooled. "What a
beautiful cow," she gushed admiringly. "May I have it as
Jupiter had to agree. Juno sent the
cow away under guard.
Jupiter arranged for Io to be
rescued and set free. He sent his son Apollo to sing the guard
asleep. When the guard closed his eyes, Apollo flew Io back to her
river. But he forgot to change Io back into human form.
When Juno heard that Io had
escaped, she sent
a gadfly after Io. A gadfly is a fly that bites.
"Moo moo," Io screamed,
when the gadfly found her.
Io swam awkwardly to the mouth of
the river, where it joins the sea, hoping the gadfly would
not follow her. (Cows are not the best of swimmers.)
"Moo moo," Io screamed,
when the gadfly found her again.
Feeling very sorry for herself, a
dispirited Io traveled next to Egypt.
Egypt was a dismal place for a river
nymph. There are no crocodiles in the Tiber as there are in the
Nile. When Juno heard about it, she flew to Egypt and changed Io back into human form.
you, Juno!" Io cried humbly.
well," mumbled Juno, her mind on her festival. "Find a
husband, child." She flew quickly away, leaving poor Io in
Io, after all,
was a river nymph. Sighing heavily all the way, Io swam home.
This story is
remarkably similar to an ancient Greek story about Zeus,
Hera, and Little Io - very similar indeed. What is the same
and what is different, and why is that?
The Romans worshiped thousands of
gods. As they expanded their empire, they discovered new gods
worshiped by other cultures. They adopted the ones they liked. They gave most of their
adopted gods Roman names, and acted as if they had been Roman
gods all along.
When they discovered the Greek
gods, they adopted them all! Zeus became Jupiter. Hera
became Juno. Apollo was one of the few Greek gods whose name did
not change. (Io was not a god. She was a water spirit, and thus
not very important, which is why she got to keep her name.)
The Romans changed some of the
personalities of the gods to better reflect Roman
beliefs. They also changed some of the myths to better
reflect the Roman way of life.
In Roman mythology, for example, Jupiter
rarely, if ever, came down to earth. He was always King of the
Gods, ruler of the heavens. In Greek mythology, Zeus was forever down and
about on earth in various disguises, causing all kinds of
Hera, the Greek Queen of all the
Gods, was a vindictive and jealous wife, who spent a great deal
of her time keeping an eye on her husband, Zeus. Juno, the Roman Queen of all the
Gods, was more concerned with watching over the women of Rome
and her own children and household than she was with her
husband's activities, although she had her thoughtless and
jealous moments, as do we all.