The temple of Juno Moneta acted as the mint and treasury for the Roman government. From the name of the temple can be traced the English words money, and mint. The Spanish word for “coin,” moneda, also stems from moneta. The month of June gets its name from Juno.
The most important of the Seven Hills of Rome was Capitoline Hill, a modest elevation even when compared to the other six hills, but at the crest of the hill stood the Capitol, the main temple of the empire. The center of the temple belonged to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, the king of the gods, but side chambers honored two other important deities, Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, and Juno, consort to Jupiter, and mother to Mars, the god of war.
Each of the Roman triad of gods came with different surnames reflecting different aspects of their heavenly responsibilities. Juno Regina reigned as the queen of heaven resembling Hera, wife of Zeus in
Greek mythology, and looked after the interests of women. Juno Pronuba oversaw marriage negotiations, and Juno Lucina guarded over expecting women. Labor and childbirth came within the province of Juno Sospia.
In the fourth century b.c., if we can believe Roman historians, the timely honking of sacred geese around Juno’s temple on Capitoline Hill tipped off the Roman people that the Gauls were scaling the walls of the Roman citadel, also on Capitoline Hill, and that an attack was imminent. Out of this episode was born another Juno: Juno Moneta, from Latin monere (to warn).
Juno Moneta, patroness of the Roman state, took on various government responsibilities, including the issuance of money. When the Romans issued a new silver coin, the denarius, in 269 b.c. the temple of Juno Moneta minted the coins with an image of the goddess and her surname, Moneta.
The temple of Juno Moneta worked as a full-time mint, either melting down existing coinage and issuing freshly minted coins, or minting new supplies of gold and silver bullion. A constant stream of coins flowed from the mint, and the Latin word currere, meaning “to run” or “to flow,” became associated with money, giving rise to the English word currency.
The temple of Juno Moneta furnishes another instance when ancient societies took advantage of the sacredness of temple grounds to protect treasures of precious metals. Temple coinage had a long history in Greece and Asia, but the mint in the temple of Juno Moneta owed its existence to the premeditated action of a powerful state government.
Burns, A. R. 1965. Money and Monetary Policy in Early Times.
Weatherford, Jack. 1997. The History of Money.