Juno Sospita

Work in progress



The area of Selva Candida, or ‘bright woods’, is dedicated to important martyrs of the Catholic-Christian world, whose sacrifice in the name of their faith had effects not only of a spiritual nature but also altered the area’s toponymy, given that the place where these events took place – the ninth mile of the Via Cornelia – was previously known by the ‘opposite’ name of Selva Nera (meaning ‘black woods’) due to the presence of the dense forest  which had existed there since time immemorial.

In Lucamaleonte’s work we are confronted with this moment of passage, when Pope Julius I changed the name of the forest to honour the cult of the martyrs who had found death and holiness here. But we feel it is time to celebrate the oldest memory of this area by paying homage to the pagan past of the thick, dark forest which dominated the landscape many centuries ago.

It is difficult now to imagine how primordial this wild area must have been, and yet this part of Rome and its surroundings are still guardians of a substantial amount of the Agro, the vast agricultural district that has served the Urbe since the dawn of time. Honouring the past of the Selva Nera therefore basically means returning to the city’s most archaic nature – that deep and savage soul which played an important role in the development of the complex Roman civilization. A role which is often forgotten.

The countryside here was once also a borderland between the young, recently-founded Rome, and the flourishing Etruscan society, much older and more prosperous than Romulus’s city. A society already so advanced that it had established solid contacts with the Greek and Phoenician ‘oriental’ world thanks to intense commercial exchange and the presence on the coasts of southern Italy of the important Etruscan port Pyrgi (more or less corresponding to the modern town of of Santa Severa) and of towns such as the ancient Caere, which the Via Cornelia, over which our forest loomed, was built to serve. Eventually, the flourishing Etruscan-dominated region of Etruria practically touched that of Rome and it is now established with almost complete certainty that, at the dawn of its existence, the Eternal City underwent Etruscan domination, the duration and type of which remain, however, unknown.

The city owed much to its advanced, adventurous, crafty, cosmopolitan and educated neighbours, who brought significant improvements to Rome as well as new words, customs, craft traditions (such as bronze casting and terracotta) and much, much more, in an exchange where it is profoundly difficult to establish who were the conquered and who the conqueror – who it was who actually won this centuries-long cultural and military battle: the refined inhabitants of Etruria or the severe Romans of the time.

Even religion and gods formed part of this dense network of exchanges.

Only one aspect of Etruscan society never penetrated the very rigid patriarchal system established in the Eternal City from its foundation. Rome gave women neither consideration nor freedom outside the domestic universe until at least the second century after Christ (with a few glorious exceptions); in Etruria, on the other hand, the female condition was based on almost total parity. A private and public parity, in which women were free to express themselves without any loss of credibility.

If any trace of this characteristic of the Etruscan world reached the banks of the Tiber, then, it came to us through the cults and religions which are always an expression of the society in which they are born and develop. Among the Etruscans, as well as Tinia, the supreme god and ‘father, the goddess Uni, divine expression of nature and of the female principle, was also worshiped: goddess of childbirth, nourishment and sexuality, but also guardian and custodian of men and of cities. The union between the two had given birth to another female divinity, Menrva, goddess of knowledge. Thus, in the densely-populated Etruscan pantheon there was a triad profoundly influenced by the Greek gods, which would also find a place in in the Roman pantheon. The Capitoline triad, an undefeatable protective force to which Rome entrusted its spiritual security and dedicated important temples, in fact, descends from them, even etymologically: Jupiter/Tinia, the father, Juno/Uni, the mother, in all respects as powerful as the father, and Minerva/Menrva, the daughter.

When she was absorbed by the Roman world, Uni in particular took on the characteristics of a goddess linked to nature and all that is wild and ancestral and exists in the thick of the woods, where different rituals were enacted to ensure her benevolence. From the Etruscan Uni, therefore, derived the cult of Juno Sospita Mater Regina, a goddess covered in goatskins evoking the iconography she brought from Etruria through the decorations created by the excellent local artisans, who often used images of smiling young goat-women in their clay antefixes (decorative elements used to complete the roofs of Greek, Roman and Etruscan buildings). 

Temples were raised to Juno Sospita and, even in Rome, traces of them survived the continuous changes that Rome’s pagan religion underwent over its long history. Juno Sospita Mater Regina, daughter of an archaic world, however, always remained closely connected to that idea of ​​nature held by ancient peoples – a nature that is queen and mother, and though wild, capable of protecting and giving life to men and cities. A nature which, in this part of Rome, still tries to hold out despite the uncontrolled speculative development of the city’s outskirts and our ability to forget even our most sacred bonds. Like those that link the Eternal City to its most impenetrable woods which – who knows – are perhaps still today protected by a half-woman half-goat goddess who scrutinizes us with a smile from the last boxwood bush to have survived from those distant centuries when the blackness became bright.

And when we began to fear and fight nature.


Milu Correch

Milu Correch is a young Argentinian painter and illustrator who lives and works in the city of Buenos Aires. Very early on, she began to prefer walls as a canvass for her paintings, which are always the result of the meticulous in-depth study of human anatomy she carries out before beginning a mural, be it large or small. She repeats the same subjects almost maniacally on various materials and using different techniques: pencil, charcoal, ballpoint pen and watercolour on paper, as well as acrylics and oil on canvas or board, to acquire a mastery of the subjects which she then depicts upon the wall. The result is a prolific pictorial activity characterized by a potent, multifaceted style. Her studies focus mainly on anthropomorphic mythological figures, fusing classical, ancient and Latin American iconography with characters from modern tales, selecting themes linked as much as possible to the contemporary reality of the context in which she is invited to paint. Over the years she has had the opportunity to collaborate with international artists such as Odeith and Diego Cirulli in several countries in North and South America and Europe.