Goddess Fortuna – Chance, Luck and Fate


One of the more popular Roman goddesses, Fortuna had many worshippers. They used many epithets for her as personal Goddess, Goddess of State, and spinner of the wheel of fortune, both good and bad. Fortuna governs the wheel of the four stages of life. You can see many instances of Goddess Fortuna carrying a cornucopia, the legendary Horn of Plenty. Unlimited riches pour from the cornucopia. The goddess is also known as the “the first mother” due to her kindness to pregnant women.

Holds the wheels of destiny

However, when Fortuna spun the wheel, nobody could predict what would happen. It might lead to great riches just like it could spell your misfortune. Fortune itself is seated behind this wheel that is at the foot of the goddess. Fortuna is depicted in the paintings and statues as a dressed woman with one hand on the wheel and the other holding the cornucopia.

Much respected goddess

At other times, we see her standing on a ball or with only her steering wheel. Such was the popularity of the goddess that she was accorded a special place of worship as Fortuna Augusta in the emperor’s cult. Her name was linked to that of August. She retained her position in the cult right up to imperial times.

We see her carving on alters and chapels across the Roman Empire. She appears on coins and many household items – piggy banks, vessels, lamps, and also on stone. In many instances, she appears along with Mercury, the god of fortune and gain. She is worshipped across various cults in various forms but basically being the one who decides the fate of men.

Small and large appearance

Fortuna is the ancestor of Lady Luck. She is seen in many instances to be of human size but in some she appears huge, so big as to vanish out of sight. She wears a garment that is good but dusty through not caring and mostly tattered because make off with a piece of the garment, probably as a good luck token.

Worshipped for luck

Anyone who worshipped her had good luck and a prosperous life. She was ageless yet vigorous. The cult of Fortuna is thought to have begun in the 570-560 BC when people began to turn to her for the safe return of a vessel at sea to getting a bride. Whenever people undertake some venture that has no certainty of success they pray to her.

Festival day for Fortuna

Servius Tullius is rumoured to be her son or lover and he built the first temple in her honour. Midsummer’s day (June 24) is her sacred day. It is a lively festival with plenty of flowers, fruits and vegetables all around at the fair. You can see feasting and dancing along with the prayers in her honour. You have processions in flower decorated boats.

On the night before the festival, they light the fire for Fortuna is thought to have the ability to pass into the land of the dead along with Pamona and bring back recently departed relatives back for the festival of Fortuna. Fortuna is also linked with the gods and goddesses of fertility and prosperity in Babylon.