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Fortuna n : (Roman mythology) the goddess of fortune and good luck; counterpart of Greek Tyche

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  1. fortune, luck.


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Extensive Definition

In Roman mythology, Fortuna (equivalent to the Greek goddess Tyche) goddess of fortune, 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. She is also a goddess of fate. Her father was Jupiter, and she had no lovers or children.
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 said to be 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. The temple is called the temple of Fortuna Muliebris.
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 Vortumna, "she who revolves the year", however the earliest reference to the Wheel of Fortune, emblematic of the endless changes in life from prosperity to disaster, occurs in Cicero, In Pisonem, ca. 55 BCE.
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."

Middle Ages

Fortuna did not disappear from the popular imagination with the ascendancy 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. Fortune crept back in to popular acceptance. In succeeding generations Consolation was required reading for scholars and students.
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. Occasionally her vivid clothing and bold demeanor suggest the prostitute. 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.
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:
When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state ... — Sonnet 29

Pars Fortuna also referred as Fortuna

An indication to the significance of Pars Fortuna or Fortuna is attributed to classical mythology of the Greek Goddess of destiny – Fortuna. She was the first born of Jupiter. King Servius Tullius is said to have introduced the worship of Fortuna at a famous shrine ar Praeneste. It is said that oracles were obtained by a child drawing from a bag of wooden tokens, each inscribed with a cryptic message. Fortuna was also credited as the harbinger of fertility. Fortuna’s Greek counterpart was Tyche, (from the Greek teuchein 'to cause'), originally a philosophical concept rather than a goddess, the 'pure chance' which brings either good or evil fortune. The later worship of Agathe Tyche, 'Good Fortune', may owe something to the cult of Fortuna.
In Astrology however, 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 point is called Arabian Parts. and The procedure followed for fixing One’s Pars Fortuna in ancient and traditional astrology depended on the time of birth, viz., during daylight or night time (whether the Sun was above or below the horizon). But in modern western astrology day time formula only was used for many years but with propagation of knowledge, the two calculation method is stated to be now in use.
The formula for calculating the day time Part of Fortune (PF) is (using the 360 degree positions for each point):
PF = Ascendant + Moon - Sun
The formula for the night time Part of Fortune is:
PF = Ascendant + Sun - Moon
Each of the above calculation method results in completely different zodiac positions for the Part of Fortune. and
Al Biruni - Abu Arrayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni (973 – 1048) - a mathematician, astronomer and scholar, who lived in the 11th century was the greatest proponents of this system of prediction He listed a total of 97 Arabic Parts, which at the time were widely used for astrological consultations. Paul Vachier has prepared an Arabic Parts Calculator for all the Arabic Parts.

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
  • Pars Fortuna

See also


1. Fortune, Spirit & the Lunation cycle by David Plant)
3. Fortune, Spirit & the Lunation cycle by David Plant
5. -Fortune, Spirit & the Lunation cycle by David Plant
  • 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

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