Fortuna holding in her arms Plutus, god of wealth. Instanbul

[Note to the post Survivals of the Roman Goddess Fortuna]

The Romans believed that some important events were inevitable since predetermined by Fatum (fate). In human things Fortuna played instead an important role so that they prayed the goddess to bend Fors (hazard) in their favour. They also believed in man’s valour or virtue (virtus), capable of bending things in man’s favour as well – Fortune and Virtue are also two main factors in man’s life according to the Italian Renaissance thinkers.

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Initially Fortuna was linked to fertility in agriculture and offspring. Later, also because of Greek influence, it became more like an abstract personification of chance and luck, not very far from the Greek Tyche (Τύχη). Many temples were dedicated to this goddess in Rome, where the Romans worshipped her under various cult-titles, like Fortuna Virginalis (fortune of the virgins), Fortuna Privata (fortune of the private individual), Fortuna Publica (fortune of the people), Fortuna Huiusce Diei (fortune of the present day or luck right now), Fortuna Bona (or good fortune), Fortuna Mala (bad luck), Fortuna Belli (fortune of war), Fortuna Muliebris (fortune of the married women), Fortuna Virilis (luck of women with men) etc.

When Augustus came back from the provinces in 19 BC he dedicated an altar to Fortuna Redux, (fortune of the survivor that comes back home from war).

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A latin proverb “fortes fortuna adiuvat”, fortune favours the strong or the brave, had variants like Vergil’s “audentis fortuna iuvat “, fortune is helping the bold. So Fortuna was more willing to help those who took risks. When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and pronounced the famous words alea jacta est (the die is cast) he committed his fate to good Fortune.

While Caesar was a thorough and professional soldier, many of his greatest victories were achieved by taking bold risks which often exposed him and his troops to great danger, but often resulted in memorable victories. Obviously, his last gamble, attending the Senate on the Ides of March without his lictors (bodyguards) exposed him to successful assassination (excerpt from the Wikipedia.)

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We also learn from the Wikipedia that this Roman proverb “underlies the meaning of the 5th episode of the 6th season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; Favour the Bold. Captain Sisko quotes it, stating that it is an old saying, before leading a fleet of ships into combat when they are outnumbered two to one.”

So TV maniacs you are warned: you cannot escape the Romans, no matter what you watch 😉  [back to our post on Roman Fortuna]

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

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