Fortuna (Latin: Fortūna, equivalent to the Greek goddess Tyche) was the goddess of fortune and the personification of luck in Roman religion. Fortuna is often depicted with a gubernaculum (ship's rudder), a ball or Rota Fortunae (wheel of fortune) and a cornucopia (horn of plenty). She might bring good or bad luck: she could be represented as veiled and blind, as in modern depictions of Lady Justice, except that Fortuna does not hold a balance. Fortuna came to represent life's capriciousness. She was also a goddess of fate: as Atrox Fortuna, she claimed the young lives of the princeps Augustus' grandsons Gaius and Lucius, prospective heirs to the Empire.[1] (In antiquity she was also known as Automatia.)[2]

Fortuna's father was said to be Jupiter and like him, she could also be bountiful (Copia). As Annonaria she protected grain supplies. June 11 was consecrated to her: on June 24 she was given cult at the festival of Fors Fortuna.[3][4]

Goddess of chance, luck and fate
CarminaBurana wheel
Fortuna governs the circle of the four stages of life, the Wheel of Fortune, in a manuscript of Carmina Burana
SymbolGlobe, Cornucopia, Wheel, Wreath
Greek equivalentTyche


Fortuna and Pontus
Glueckstadt Wappen
Heraldic Fortuna in the arms of Glückstadt.

Roman writers disagreed whether her cult was introduced to Rome by Servius Tullius[5] or Ancus Marcius.[6] The two earliest temples mentioned in Roman Calendars were outside the city, on the right bank of the Tiber (in Italian Trastevere). The first temple dedicated to Fortuna was attributed to the Etruscan Servius Tullius, while the second is known to have been built in 293 BC as the fulfilment of a Roman promise made during later Etruscan wars.[7] The date of dedication of her temples was 24 June, or Midsummer's Day, when celebrants from Rome annually floated to the temples downstream from the city. After undisclosed rituals they then rowed back, garlanded and inebriated.[8] Also Fortuna had a temple at the Forum Boarium. Here Fortuna was twinned with the cult of Mater Matuta (the goddesses shared a festival on 11 June), and the paired temples have been revealed in the excavation beside the church of Sant'Omobono: the cults are indeed archaic in date.[9] Fortuna Primigenia of Praeneste was adopted by Romans at the end of 3rd century BC in an important cult of Fortuna Publica Populi Romani (the Official Good Luck of the Roman People) on the Quirinalis outside the Porta Collina.[10] No temple at Rome, however, rivalled the magnificence of the Praenestine sanctuary.

Fortuna's identity as personification of chance events was closely tied to virtus (strength of character). Public officials who lacked virtues invited ill-fortune on themselves and Rome: Sallust uses the infamous Catiline as illustration – "Truly, when in the place of work, idleness, in place of the spirit of measure and equity, caprice and pride invade, fortune is changed just as with morality".[11]

An oracle at the Temple of Fortuna Primigena in Praeneste used a form of divination in which a small boy picked out one of various futures that were written on oak rods. Cults to Fortuna in her many forms are attested throughout the Roman world. Dedications have been found to Fortuna Dubia (doubtful fortune), Fortuna Brevis (fickle or wayward fortune) and Fortuna Mala (bad fortune).

Fortuna is found in a variety of domestic and personal contexts. During the early Empire, an amulet from the House of Menander in Pompeii links her to the Egyptian goddess Isis, as Isis-Fortuna.[12] She is functionally related to the god Bonus Eventus,[13] who is often represented as her counterpart: both appear on amulets and intaglio engraved gems across the Roman world. In the context of the early republican period account of Coriolanus, in around 488 BC the Roman senate dedicated a temple to Fortuna on account of the services of the matrons of Rome in saving the city from destruction.[14] Evidence of Fortuna worship has been found as far north as Castlecary, Scotland[15] and an altar and statue can now be viewed at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow.[16]

S03 06 01 020 image 2557
Vatican, Rome, Italy. Statue of Fortune. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection

Fortuna's name seems to derive from Vortumna (she who revolves the year).

The earliest reference to the Wheel of Fortune, emblematic of the endless changes in life between prosperity and disaster, is from 55 BC.[17] In Seneca's tragedy Agamemnon, a chorus addresses Fortuna in terms that would remain almost proverbial, and in a high heroic ranting mode that Renaissance writers would emulate:

O Fortune, who dost bestow the throne's high boon with mocking hand, in dangerous and doubtful state thou settest the too exalted. Never have sceptres obtained calm peace or certain tenure; care on care weighs them down, and ever do fresh storms vex their souls. ... great kingdoms sink of their own weight, and Fortune gives way ‘neath the burden of herself. Sails swollen with favouring breezes fear blasts too strongly theirs; the tower which rears its head to the very clouds is beaten by rainy Auster. ... Whatever Fortune has raised on high, she lifts but to bring low. Modest estate has longer life; then happy he whoe’er, content with the common lot, with safe breeze hugs the shore, and, fearing to trust his skiff to the wider sea, with unambitious oar keeps close to land.[18]

Ovid's description is typical of Roman representations: in a letter from exile[19] he reflects ruefully on the “goddess who admits by her unsteady wheel her own fickleness; she always has its apex beneath her swaying foot.”

Middle Ages

The humiliation of Emperor Valerian by king Shapur I of Persia (260) passed into European cultural memory as an instance of the reversals of Fortuna. In Hans Holbein's pen-and-ink drawing (1521), the universal lesson is brought home by its contemporary setting.

Fortuna did not disappear from the popular imagination with the ascendancy of Christianity.[20] Saint Augustine took a stand against her continuing presence, in the City of God: "How, therefore, is she good, who without discernment comes to both the good and to the bad?...It profits one nothing to worship her if she is truly fortune... let the bad worship her...this supposed deity".[21] 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. Fortuna, then, was a servant of God,[22] and events, individual decisions, the influence of the stars were all merely vehicles of Divine Will. In succeeding generations Boethius' Consolation was required reading for scholars and students. Fortune crept back into popular acceptance, with a new iconographic trait, "two-faced Fortune", Fortuna bifrons; such depictions continue into the 15th century.[23]

Albrecht Dürer's engraving of Fortuna, ca 1502

The ubiquitous image of the 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, descending 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. She was associated with the cornucopia, ship's rudder, the ball and the wheel. The cornucopia is where plenty flows from, the Helmsman's rudder steers fate, the globe symbolizes chance (who gets good or bad luck), and the wheel symbolizes that luck, good or bad, never lasts.

Allegory of Fortune mg 0010
Fortuna lightly balances the orb of sovereignty between thumb and finger in a Dutch painting of ca 1530 (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg)

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 (vii.67-96), Virgil explains the nature of Fortune, both a devil and a ministering angel, subservient to God. 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, and Boccaccio essay De remedii dell'una e dell'altra Fortuna, depends upon Boethius for the double nature of Fortuna. Fortune makes her appearance in Carmina Burana (see image). The Christianized Lady Fortune is not autonomous: illustrations for Boccaccio's Remedii show Fortuna enthroned in a triumphal car with reins that lead to heaven.[24]

Fortuna also 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, ambitious hand, and that she favours the more aggressive and bold young man than a timid elder. Monteverdi's opera L'incoronazione di Poppea features Fortuna, contrasted with the goddess Virtue. Even Shakespeare was no stranger to Lady Fortune:

When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state...

— Sonnet 29

Pars Fortuna in astrology

Lunar eclipse al-Biruni
illustration by Al-Biruni (973-1048) of different phases of the moon, from the Persian Kitab al-tafhim

In astrology the term Pars Fortuna represents a mathematical point in the zodiac derived by the longitudinal positions of the Sun, Moon and Ascendant (Rising sign) in the birth chart of an individual. It represents an especially beneficial point in the horoscopic chart. In Arabic astrology, this and similar points are called Arabian Parts.[25]

Al Biruni (973 – 1048), an 11th-century mathematician, astronomer, and scholar, who was the greatest proponent of this system of prediction, listed a total of 97 Arabic Parts, which were widely used for astrological consultations.


Lady Fortune in a Boccaccio manuscript
2014-12-18 Fortuna, Johannes Benk at Neue Burg, Vienna -hu- 6224
Sculpture of Fortuna, Vienna
  • Fortuna Annonaria brought the luck of the harvest
  • Fortuna Belli the fortune of war
  • Fortuna Primigenia directed the fortune of a firstborn child at the moment of birth
  • Fortuna Virilis ("Luck in men"), a woman's luck in marriage[26]
  • Fortuna Redux brought one safely home
  • Fortuna Respiciens the fortune of the provider
  • Fortuna Muliebris the luck of a woman.
  • Fortuna Victrix brought victory in battle
  • Fortuna Augusta the fortune of the emperor[27]
  • Fortuna Balnearis the fortune of the baths.[27]
  • Fortuna Conservatrix the fortune of the Preserver[28]
  • Fortuna Equestris fortune of the Knights.[28]
  • Fortuna Huiusce Diei fortune of the present day.[28]
  • Fortuna Obsequens fortune of indulgence.[28]
  • Fortuna Privata fortune of the private individual.[28]
  • Fortuna Publica fortune of the people.[28]
  • Fortuna Romana fortune of Rome.[28]
  • Fortuna Virgo fortune of the virgin.[28]
  • Fortuna Faitrix the fortune of life
  • Pars Fortuna
  • Fortuna Barbata the fortune of adolescents becoming adults[29]

See also


  1. ^ Marguerite Kretschmer, "Atrox Fortuna" The Classical Journal 22.4 (January 1927), 267 - 275.
  2. ^ "Homer" (1827), p.577.
  3. ^ Samuel Ball Platner and Thomas Ashby, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,; (London: Oxford University Press) 1929: on-line text.
  4. ^ Ovid, Fasti VI. 773‑786.
  5. ^ Varro, De Lingua Latina VI.17.
  6. ^ Plutarch; see Samuel Ball Platner and Thomas Ashby, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,; (London: Oxford University Press) 1929: on-line text.
  7. ^ Livy, 'Ab Urbe Condita', 2.40.
  8. ^ Billington, S., Green, M. 'The Concept of the Goddess' (London, New York, 1996), 133-134.
  9. ^ Hornblower, S., Spawforth, A., 'The Oxford Classical Dictionary' (Oxford, New York), 606.
  10. ^ Hornblower, S., Spawforth, A. 'The Oxford Classical Dictionary' (Oxford, New York), 606.
  11. ^ Verum ubi pro labore desidia, pro continentia et aequitate lubido atque superbia invasere, fortuna simul cum moribus immutatur, Sallust, Catilina, ii.5. His view of fortuna is discussed in Etienne Tiffou, "Salluste et la Fortuna", Phoenix, 31.4 (Winter 1977), 349 - 360.
  12. ^ Allison, P., 2006, The Insula of Menander at Pompeii: Vol.III, The Finds; A Contextual Study, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  13. ^ Greene, E.M., "The Intaglios", in Birley, A. and Blake, J., 2005, Vindolanda: The Excavations of 2003-2004, Bardon Mill: Vindolanda Trust, pp187-193
  14. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 2:40
  15. ^ "Castlecary". The Antonine Wall. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  16. ^ "The Antonine Wall: Rome's Final Frontier". The Hunterian. University of Glasgow. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  17. ^ Cicero, In Pisonem.
  18. ^ Agamemnon, translation by Frank Justus Miller (on-line text)
  19. ^ Ovid, Ex Ponto, iv, epistle 3.
  20. ^ Howard R. Patch, The Goddess Fortuna in Medieval Literature, 1927 is the basic study.
  21. ^ Augustine, City of God, iv.18-18; v.8.
  22. ^ Selma Pfeiffenberger, "Notes on the Iconology of Donatello's Judgment of Pilate at San Lorenzo" Renaissance Quarterly 20.4 (Winter 1967:437-454) p 440.
  23. ^ As Pfeiffenberger observes, citing A. Laborde, Les manuscrits à peintures de la Cité de Dieu, Paris, 1909: vol. III, pls 59, 65; Pfeiffenberger notes that there are no depictions of a Fortuna bifrons in Roman art.
  24. ^ Noted by Pfeiffenberger 1967:441.
  25. ^ "Fortune, Spirit and the Lunation Cycle". Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  26. ^ "Fortuna Muliebris". Thalia Took. Retrieved 2017-03-17.
  27. ^ a b
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h "Fortuna". Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  29. ^ "CHURCH FATHERS: City of God, Book IV (St. Augustine)". Retrieved 2017-08-13.


  • David Plant, "Fortune, Spirit and the Lunation Cycle"
  • Part of Fortune
  • "Homer" (1827) Classical Manual; or, a mythological, historical, and geographical commentary on Pope's Homer and Dryden's Æneid of Virgil, with a copious index. (Longman).
  • Howard Rollin Patch (1923), Fortuna in Old French Literature
  • Lesley Adkins, Roy A. Adkins (2001) Dictionary of Roman Religion
  • Howard Rollin Patch (1927, repr. 1967), The Goddess Fortuna in Medieval Literature
  • Howard Rollin Patch (1922), The Tradition of the Goddess Fortuna in Medieval Philosophy and Literature
  • J. Champeaux, Fortuna. Vol. I. Recherches sur le culte de la Fortuna à Rome et dans le monde romaine des origines à la mort de César; Vol. II. Les Transformations de Fortuna sous le République (Rome, École Française de Rome, 1982-1987).
  • Narducci, Emanuele, Sergio Audano and Luca Fezzi (edd.), Aspetti della Fortuna dell'Antico nella Cultura Europea: atti della quarta giornata di studi, Sestri Levante, 16 marzo 2007 (Pisa: ETS, 2008) (Testi e studi di cultura classica, 41).

External links

2018–19 Bundesliga

The 2018–19 Bundesliga is the 56th season of the Bundesliga, Germany's premier football competition. It began on 24 August 2018 and will conclude on 18 May 2019. It also marked the first season without Hamburger SV, previously the only team to have played in the top tier of German football in every season since the end of World War I. Bayern Munich are the defending champions.

Carmina Burana (Orff)

Carmina Burana is a scenic cantata composed in 1935 and 1936 by Carl Orff, based on 24 poems from the medieval collection Carmina Burana. Its full Latin title is Carmina Burana: Cantiones profanae cantoribus et choris cantandae comitantibus instrumentis atque imaginibus magicis ("Songs of Beuern: Secular songs for singers and choruses to be sung together with instruments and magical images"). It was first performed in Frankfurt on 8 June 1937. It is part of Trionfi, a musical triptych that includes Catulli Carmina and Trionfo di Afrodite. The first and last movements of the piece are called "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi" ("Fortune, Empress of the World") and start with the very well known "O Fortuna".

Costa Fortuna

Costa Fortuna is a cruise ship for Costa Crociere built in 2003 on the same platform as Carnival Cruise Lines' Destiny class. She was inspired by the Italian steamships of the past. Models of these ships are on display in the ship's public areas. In the atrium, models of the 26 past and present ships of Costa's fleet are displayed upside down, on the ceiling, up to, and including, Costa Fortuna herself. She was refurbished between 10 and 16 December 2018 at Singapore and will re-position back to Genoa, Italy in March 2019.

Destiny-class cruise ship

The Destiny class is a class of cruise ships owned by Carnival Cruise Line. The class was modified after the lead ship, Carnival Destiny, was launched. This is reflected in both Carnival Triumph and Carnival Victory.

Fortuna, California

Fortuna (formerly, Slide, Springville) (Wiyot: Vutsuwitk Da'l, "ashes stay") is a city on the northeast shore of the Eel River (approximately 9 miles (14 km) from where it enters the Pacific Ocean), and is on U.S. Route 101 in west-central Humboldt County, California, United States. The population was 11,926 at the 2010 census, up from 10,497 at the 2000 census.

Fortuna, Maranhão

Fortuna is a municipality in the state of Maranhão in the Northeast region of Brazil.

Fortuna (steamboat)

The steamboat Fortuna was a vessel that operated on Lake Washington in the first part of the 20th century.

Fortuna Air Force Station

Fortuna Air Force Station is a closed United States Air Force General Surveillance Radar station. It is located 4.2 miles (6.8 km) west of Fortuna, North Dakota. It was closed in 1979 as a radar station, remaining as a Long-Range Radar (LRR) facility until 1984.

Fortuna Air Force Station was part of the last batch of twenty-three radar stations constructed as part of the Air Defense Command permanent network. It was activated in April, and declared completely operational in late 1952.

Fortuna Düsseldorf

Fortuna Düsseldorf [fɔɐ̯ˈtuːnaː ˈdʏsl̩dɔɐ̯f] (listen) is a German football club in Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia. Founded in 1895, Fortuna entered the league in 1913 and was a fixture in the top flight from the early 1920s up to the creation of the Bundesliga in 1963. 2018–19 will be their 24th season in the Bundesliga, and their first since 2012–13.

Fortuna Hjørring

Fortuna Hjørring is a women's association football team from Hjørring, Denmark. The club was formed in 1966 and play in green and white. Their biggest achievement in European football was reaching the 2002–03 UEFA Women's Cup final where they ultimately lost 1–7 on aggregate to Umeå IK.

The next try at a European Cup came in 2009–10 with the newly created UEFA Women's Champions League. In the round of 32 they defeated Italians Bardolino but then lost the round of 16 to eventual finalist Lyon. In the 2016–17 season they reached their best result since the final in 2003, when they made it to the quarter-final against Manchester City.

Fortuna Sittard

Fortuna Sittard is a football club in Sittard, the Netherlands. The club currently plays its football in the 12,500 capacity Fortuna Sittard Stadion and features in the Eredivisie. The club was established through a merger of former clubs Fortuna 54 and Sittardia who merged as the Fortuna Sittardia Combinatie on 1 July 1968.

Fortuna de Minas

Fortuna de Minas is a municipality in the state of Minas Gerais in the Southeast region of Brazil.

Fortune favours the bold

"Fortune favours the bold", "Fortune favours the brave" and "Fortune favours the strong" are common translations of a Latin proverb. The slogan has been used historically in the military in the Anglosphere, and it is used up to the present in the US Army and on the coats of arms of individual families and clans.

Friedhelm Funkel

Friedhelm Funkel (born 10 December 1953) is a German football manager and former player. He currently coaches Fortuna Düsseldorf.

Humboldt County, California

Humboldt County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 132,646. The county seat is Eureka.Humboldt County comprises the Eureka–Arcata–Fortuna, CA Micropolitan Statistical Area. It is located on the far North Coast, about 270 miles (430 km) north of San Francisco.

Its primary population centers of Eureka, the site of College of the Redwoods main campus, and the smaller college town of Arcata, site of Humboldt State University, are located adjacent to Humboldt Bay, California's second largest natural bay. Area cities and towns are known for hundreds of ornate examples of Victorian architecture.

Humboldt County is a densely forested mountainous and rural county with about 110 miles (180 km) of coastline (more than any other county in the state), situated along the Pacific coast in Northern California's rugged Coast (Mountain) Ranges. With nearly 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2) of combined public and private forest in production, Humboldt County alone produces twenty percent of total volume and thirty percent of the total value of all forest products produced in California. The county contains over forty percent of all remaining old growth Coast Redwood forests, the vast majority of which is protected or strictly conserved within dozens of national, state, and local forests and parks, totaling approximately 680,000 acres (1,060 sq mi).

Ken Ilsø

Ken Ilsø Larsen (born 2 December 1986) is a Danish professional footballer who plays for Adelaide United in the A-League. He has previously represented Denmark at U19, U20 and U21 levels. Ilsø is also currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in law at the University of Southern Denmark.

O Fortuna

"O Fortuna" is a medieval Latin Goliardic poem written early in the 13th century, part of the collection known as the Carmina Burana. It is a complaint about Fortuna, the inexorable fate that rules both gods and mortals in Roman and Greek mythology.

In 1935–36, "O Fortuna" was set to music by German composer Carl Orff as a part of "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi", the opening and closing movement of his cantata Carmina Burana. It was first staged by the Frankfurt Opera on 8 June 1937. It opens at a slow pace with thumping drums and choir that drops quickly into a whisper, building slowly in a steady crescendo of drums and short string and horn notes peaking on one last long powerful note and ending abruptly. The tone is modal, until the last 9 bars. A performance takes a little over two and a half minutes.

Orff's setting of the poem has influenced and been used in many other works and has been performed by countless classical music ensembles and popular artists. It can be heard in numerous films and television commercials, and has become a staple in popular culture, setting the mood for dramatic or cataclysmic situations. "O Fortuna" topped a 2009 list of the most-played classical music of the previous 75 years in the United Kingdom.

SC Fortuna Köln

SC Fortuna Köln is a German association football club playing in the city of Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia.

Slovak Super Liga

The Slovak Super Liga is the top level football league in Slovakia, currently known as the Fortuna Liga due to a sponsorship arrangement. It was formed in 1993 following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. The record for most titles is eight, held by Slovan Bratislava. The current title holders are FC Spartak Trnava.

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