Saturday, November 19, 2011


Fortuna is the Roman Goddess of Luck, Fate, and Fortune, as Her name implies. She was a very popular Goddess, and was worshipped under many epithets depending on the type of luck one wished to invoke or the circumstances in play. She had many temples in Rome itself, as well as having important cult-centers in Antium (the modern Anzio), a city on the west coast of Italy about 30 miles south of Rome, and Praeneste (modern Palestrina), about 20 miles south-east of Rome, both of which were cities of Latium, the land of the Latini tribes. Her many temples in Rome, and the various aspects of Her worship are a reflection of the manners in which She was honored: from personal Goddess, overseeing the fate of the individual mother, young man, or soldier, to a Goddess of the State, ensuring the fortune of the populace, the luck of the Emperor, or the glorious fate of the entire Roman Empire.

Fortuna was usually depicted holding in one hand a cornucopia, or a horn of plenty, from which all good things flowed in abundance, representing Her ability to bestow prosperity; in the other She generally has a ship's rudder, to indicate that She is the one who controls how lives and fates are steered. She could also be shown enthroned, with the same attributes of rudder and cornucopia, but with a small wheel built into the chair, representing the cycles of fate and the ups and downs of fortune. Sometimes She is blind, as an acknowledgment that good luck does not always come to those who seem to most deserve it; at other times She is described as having wings, much like many Etruscan Goddesses—and indeed She was equated with the old Etruscan Fate Goddess Nortia, who was often shown winged.

The name Fortuna finds its root in the Latin fero, meaning "to bring, win, receive, or get". She may have originally been a Goddess of Fertility, Who brought prosperity and success in the form of abundant harvests and offspring. Her worship in Rome goes back to the time of Ancus Martius, the 4th King of Rome, whose reign is traditionally dated from 640-616 BCE. According to the propaganda of the time (and the Romans invented an awful lot of it to make it seem that their city had always been destined for greatness, and wasn't just some upstart town founded by a bunch of sheep herders on some hills surrounded by malaria-infested swampland, which it was), when Fortuna first came to Rome, She immediately threw off Her shoes and discarded Her wings, announcing that She'd found Her true home and intended to never leave it.

Alternatively, Fortuna's name may derive from that of the Etruscan Goddess Veltha or Voltumna, whose name encompasses ideas of turning and the alternating seasons. Voltumna in turn may be related to the Roman Goddess Volumna, Who watched over and protected children; and both of these themes are found with Fortuna, who was often depicted with a wheel, and who was said to predict the fates of children at their births. As a Goddess of Fate Fortuna naturally had the power to foretell the future; and under Her aspect of Fortuna Primigenia in Praeneste, She had an oracle, in which tablets inscribed with messages were chosen from a jar. She also had an oracular shrine at Her cult-center in Antium.

Fortuna had a very old temple in Rome on a hill between the Forum Romanum (the Roman Forum) and the Forum Boarium (supposedly the old cattle-market), near to the temple of Mater Matuta. Both temples had the same dedication day, the 10th of June, and each had a horseshoe-shaped altar before it of the earliest type. Fortuna's temple had a very old statue of gilded wood inside, also of an archaic type; and the altar and statue indicate that Her worship dates at least to the earliest days of Rome, if She is not an earlier Goddess of the Latins.

The Emperor Trajan (97-117 CE) dedicated a temple to Fortuna, at which offerings were made to the Goddess on the 1st day of January, at the start of the New Year, probably to ensure good luck and success for the coming year. This temple was dedicated to Fortuna in all of Her aspects.

With Greek influence, Fortuna was equated to Tykhe, their Goddess of Luck and Fortune. Under the title Dame Fortune, Fortuna never lost Her power as an allegorical figure—She makes an appearance on card 10 of the Tarot Major Arcana, the Wheel of Fortune, and She is still to some extent honored today, for She features in gamblers' prayers to "Lady Luck".

She is associated with the Goddess Felicitas, the personification of happiness, and Spes, the Goddess of Hope.
As mentioned above, Fortuna had quite a few aspects, many of which had their own holidays and centers of worship:


(*the most info I've found about Fortuna is in those pages, each one has info!)
FROM: Thalia Took's Obscure Goddesses pages: Fortuna
In Roman mythology, Fortuna (Greek equivalent Tyche) was the personification of luck, hopefully of good luck, but she could be represented veiled and blind, as modern depictions of Justice are seen, and came to represent the capriciousness of life.Fortuna had a retinue that included Copia among her blessings. Under the name Annonaria she protected grain supplies. In the Roman calendar, June 11 was sacred to Fortuna, with a greater festival to Fors Fortuna on the 24th.

Fortuna was propitiated by mothers. Traditionally her cult was introduced to Rome by Servius Tullius. Fortuna had a temple in the Forum Boarium, a public sanctuary on the Quirinalis, as the tutelary genius of Roma herself, Fortuna Populi Romani, the "Fortune of the Roman people", and an oracle in Praeneste where the future was chosen by a small boy choosing oak rods with possible futures written on them.

All over the Roman world, Fortuna was worshipped at a great number of shrines under various titles that were applied to her according to the various circumstances of life in which her influence was hoped to have a positive effect. Fortuna was not always positive: she was doubtful (Fortuna Dubia); she could be "fickle fortune" (Fortuna Brevis), or downright evil luck (Fortuna Mala).Her name seems to derive from the Italic goddess Vortumna, "she who revolves the year".

Middle Ages
Fortuna did not disappear from the popular imagination with the triumph of Christianity by any means (illustration, left). In the 6th century, the Consolation of Philosophy, by statesman and philosopher Boethius, written while he faced execution, reflected the Christian theology of casus, that the apparently random and often ruinous turns of Fortune's Wheel are in fact both inevitable and providential, that even the most coincidental events are part of God's hidden plan which one should not resist or try to change. Events, individual decisions, the influence of the stars were all merely vehicles of Divine Will. However, perhaps because scripture could not explain all of the questions of life, Fortune crept back in to popular acceptance. In succeeding generations Consolation was required reading for scholars and students.
The ubiquitous image of Wheel of Fortune found throughout the Middle Ages and beyond was a direct legacy of the second book of Boethius's Consolation. The Wheel appears in many renditions from tiny miniatures in manuscripts to huge stained glass windows in cathedrals, such as at Amiens. Lady Fortune is usually represented as larger than life to underscore her importance.

The wheel characteristically has four shelves, or stages of life, with four human figures, usually labeled on the left regnabo (I shall reign), on the top regno (I reign) and is usually crowned, decending on the right regnavi (I have reigned) and the lowly figure on the bottom is marked sum sine regno (I have no kingdom). Medieval representations of Fortune emphasize her duality and instability, such as two faces side by side like Janus; one face smiling the other frowning; half the face white the other black; she may be blindfolded but without scales, blind to justice. Occasionally her vivid clothing and bold demeanor suggest the prostitute. She was associated with the cornucopia, ship's rudder, the ball and the wheel.

Fortune would have many influences in cultural works throughout the Middle Ages. In Le Roman de la Rose, Fortune frustrates the hopes of a lover who has been helped by a personified character "Reason". In Dante's Inferno, in the seventh canto, Virgil explains the nature of Fortune. Boccaccio's De Casibus Virorum Illustrium ("The Fortunes of Famous Men"), used by John Lydgate to compose his Fall of Princes, tells of many where the turn of Fortune's wheel brought those most high to disaster. Fortune makes her appearance in Carmina burana (see image).

Lady Fortune appears in chapter 25 of Machiavelli's The Prince, in which he says Fortune only rules one half of men's fate, the other half being of their own will. Machiavelli reminds the reader that Fortune is a woman, that she favours a strong, or even violent hand, and the she favours the more aggressive and bold young man than a timid elder. Even Shakespeare was no stranger to Lady Fortune:
Howard Rollin Patch (1922), The Tradition of the Goddess Fortuna in Medieval Philosophy and Literature
FROM: Fortuna
Aspects of Fortuna
  • Fortuna Annonaria brought the luck of the harvest
  • Fortuna Belli fortune of war
  • Fortuna Primigenia directed the fortune of a firstborn child at the moment of birth
  • Fortuna Virilis attended a man's career
  • Fortuna Redux brought one safely home
  • Fortuna Respiciens fortune of the provider
  • Fortuna Muliebris the luck of a woman. Typical of Roman attitudes, the fortune of a woman in marriage, however, was Fortuna Virilis.
  • Fortuna Victrix brought victory in battle
  • Fortuna Augusta fortune of the emperor
  • Fortuna Balnearis fortune of the baths
  • Fortuna Conservatrix fortune of the Preserver
  • Fortuna Equestris fortune of the Knights
  • Fortuna Huiusque fortune of the present day
  • Fortuna Obsequens fortune of indulgence
  • Fortuna Privata fortune of the private individual
  • Fortuna Publica fortune of the people
  • Fortuna Romana fortune of Rome
  • Fortuna Virgo fortune of the virgin
FROM: Fortuna (mythology) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Initially Fortuna, the Roman goddess of abundance, was honoured as a fertility goddess, but came to symbolise abundance as the fickleness of life and luck followed the cyclic ups and downs of life. She was invoked for good luck and prosperity, or lamented to during times of hardship.
She is usually depicted holding a rudder in one hand, steering our destiny as our karmic path progresses, and/or a cornucopia (or horn of plenty) signifying the wealth that she could bring. Often she has a wheel beside her, reminding us that she is the benefactor of life, death, and the wheel of fortune.
FROM: Goddess Fortuna
Fortuna, also known as Fors Fortuna, became identified with the Greek goddess Tyche. Although originally a fertility figure, she was more generally regarded as a goddess of fate, chance, and luck. She had a temple in the Forum Boarium at Rome and a shrine and an oracle at Palestrina. Her sortes (oracular responses) were very celebrated.
Fortuna, surnamed Redux, was Fortune the Home-Bringer; Publica, Luck of the People; Virgo, Fortune the Virgin; Huiusque, Fortune of the Day; Equestris, Fortune of the Knights; Primigenia, Fortune the Firstborn; Virilis, Bold Fortune.
FROM: Fors Fortuna
At an early period, Tyche was associated with the Roman Goddess Fortuna. Fortuna may have originally been the Etruscan Goddess Nortia, who was a Goddess of fertility and chance. Fortuna adopted the wheel and cornucopia of Tyche, but whereas Tyche is almost always depicted as standing, Fortuna can sometimes be seen sitting upon a throne, from which she looks out upon the affairs of mortal men. Very rarely she is depicted as blindfolded.

The Romans recognized a number of different aspects of the Goddess Fortuna. As Fortuna Augusta she was associated specifically with the luck of the Emperor. Altars to her under this name are widespread. As Fortuna Balnearis "Fortuna of the Baths" she watched over Roman soldiers in foreign lands. Altars with this inscription were set up in military bathhouses, often with the further inscriptions Fortuna Salutaris "Fortuna of health and well-being" and Fortuna Redux "Fortuna the home-bringer" - important aspects obviously on the minds of soldiers in far-flung lands. There was Fortuna Privata "Fortuna of the Individual" as opposed to Fortuna Publica "Fortuna of the People" or Fortuna Romana who looked after the fate of the whole Roman population. Even after the Empire had been converted to Christianity, this aspect of the Goddess was still worshipped, and Constantine built a temple to her in Constantinople, the first "purely Christian" city. Other aspects of the Goddess are Fortuna Virgo "the Virgin Fortune" in whose honor girls dedicated their robes upon marriage, and also Fortuna Muliebris "Fortuna of Women", who watched over a woman her whole life. Fortuna Primigenia had a sanctuary near Praeneste, in Latium, Italy. This name means "The Firstborn Fortuna" and may indicate that this was the original site of her worship in Italy. This was a large complex, which included a theater and oracular center. The method of divination included oak tablets which had answers inscribed on them. They were chosen at random, and the interpretation of the answer was left to the person consulting the Oracle. Feast days for the various aspects of Fortuna included May 25, June 11, August 13, and November 13.
FROM: Sannion's Sanctuary - The Goddess of Good Fortune
Other Links:Info about Tyche:

The Goddess Fortuna in Imperial Rome: Cult, Art, Text
by Darius Andre Arya, B.A., M.A.

Fortuna in imperial Rome was a complex, multivalent deity, venerated with particular fervency during the first and second centuries CE. This study presents an examination of the continual evolution of the cult and image of goddess in case studies from cult settings, artistic depictions, and literary descriptions, revealing the multiple meanings that she conveyed to Romans and Greeks during the imperial period.

Fortuna’s evolving character was due to a variety of political, religious, social exigencies. Romans considered her a single, universalized deity and qualified her with over ninety epithets, according to different settings and needs. However, despite Fortuna’s strong rapport with Tyche, the modern term “Tyche-Fortuna” has only served to obscure the persona of Fortuna because it has been interpreted variously in religious, art historical, and literary studies; Fortuna did not simply become Tyche in the imperial period. In the first chapter, two studies of Tyche statues demonstrate that the Romans influenced the image of Tyche as much as the Greeks influenced that of Fortuna.

Fortuna’s image continued to change during the imperial period. For example, Fortuna statuary received new iconographical features in a Roman setting, including a rudder resting on a globe and a rudder resting on a wheel, reflecting her novel role as guarantor of the empire and the emperor.

The background of Fortuna in Rome included shrines and temples dedicated to the goddess from Rome’s primordial past, as well as features adopted and adapted from the cult of Tyche during the Republican period. The second and first centuries BCE witnessed the transformation of Fortuna from national deity to personal patron of various

Roman generals, from Catulus to Julius Caesar. A new development in the cult of Fortuna took place under Augustus.

In the Campus Martius, the figure of Fortuna figures prominently in a number of Augustan buildings, in particular, the Pantheon that was modeled, in part, after the Tychaion in Alexandria.

Most explicitly, the role of Fortuna in Augustan Rome became focused on the cults of Fortuna Redux and Fortuna Augusta, directly tied to the persona of the emperor as kingmaker and guarantor of dynastic succession

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