Significance Of Goddess Fortuna
Fortuna, from Latin fero, which means “to win, receive, bring, or get”, was a major goddess in Roman mythology and faith. As her name implies, she was believed to be the goddess of luck, fate, or perhaps more obviously, fortune. She was a very popular goddess in that she was worshiped vehemently under a multitude of circumstances, depending on the specific type of luck that one wished to invoke.
The ancient Romans formerly viewed her the commander and governor of fates, which explains why she was worshiped so majorly. They believed that their fates were already determined and that they must give her due praise in order to have any ounce of input into their destinies.
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The worship of Fortuna was not practiced in the meek confines of one’s bedroom. Rather, extravagant affairs and festivals were held on a community-wide basis in order to please this deity and gain her fair favor. In addition to those festivities, many temples dedicated to Fortuna existed across Rome.
Those temples further reflected the nature of her worship and the degree to which she was honored. Apart from ensuring the fortune of individuals, families, and communities, the fate of the entire Roman Empire was thought to rest on her will.
As history progressed, though, Fortuna’s symbolism in everyday Roman culture seems to have changed. She went from being the beholder of fate to a popularly recognized symbol of female fertility. In a way, this is merely another kind of fortune and wealth.
Unmarried or childless Roman women invoked the goddess to help them find an ideal husband and procreate bountifully. In this way, she was still viewed as the sealer of fates, as she could provide or deprive as she saw fit.
Symbolism Of Goddess Fortuna
No matter which interpretation one chooses to explore, Fortuna was usually depicted with the same common symbols and similarities. In one hand, the goddess held a cornucopia (or horn of plenty) – think American Thanksgiving basket or a traditional sign of a good harvest.
From this, all good things were believed to flow in great abundance. This aspect of her depiction symbolized her ability to bestow prosperity. Originally, this horn was thought to represent a ram or goat’s horn given by the god Jupiter as a reward to the woman who took care of him as a baby.
Horns are also known phallic symbols, which would have complimented the female fertile energy associated with Fortuna. No matter which way it is viewed, this cornucopia symbolized a horn of infinite supply.
Meanings Of Goddess Fortuna
Fortuna was also commonly shown holding a ship’s rudder or steering wheel in the other hand. As the sealer of fates, this would have represented the all-ruling control that she had over the lives of the Romans.
The circular shape of the wheel would refer to the cyclical nature of life, with reference to the cycles of fate: the ups and downs in fortune. Wheels had other symbolic value in the ancient Roman belief system, as well.
As a symbol of never-ending energy, the wheel illustrated how energy is required for anything to occur. The wheel is capable of constantly spinning, moving through all things in a revolutionary nature. The Romans understood this fact most: life is not linear. It is always cyclical.
This idea is further perpetuated with another of Fortuna’s symbols: the wreath. Again reminding us of the circular motions throughout life, the wreath was also viewed as a feminine symbol, as they are indicative of the shape of a womb; there, too, was the circular nature of life instigated and acted out.
However, the wreath stood for other meanings to the Romans, as well. As symbol of victory, they indicated the rewards that one could be granted by Fortuna as long as the person has achieved and is worthy. Roman wreaths were made of various materials specific to the god or goddess that they were created for.
In Fortuna’s case, the wreaths would have been made of Narcissus blossoms in order to commend her beauty and speak to her fertile notions. No matter which way you spin it (pun certainly intended), all of these aspects of both the wheel and the wreath made reference to Fortuna’s role as the goddess of fertility, grantor of fortunes, and sealer of fates.
Another common symbol of this goddess continued to use the theme of roundness but in a three-dimensional realm. Fortuna was often depicted with a globe to reflect the magnanimity of her control. Her influence reigned supreme, the fate of the world resting in the palm of her hand.
As such, the globe was used to express her ability to oversee the activity of the world and its people. It further expresses the same ideas that symbolize a circle, such as the infinite, cycles, etc. However, unlike the two-dimensional circle, the symbolism of the globe branches out further and includes more powerful qualities, such as completeness and totality, community, and protection.
In addition to the popular symbols depicted both alongside Fortuna and as emblems of her, the goddess was often portrayed as blind. This was understood to teach the Romans that good luck does not always come to those who appear to deserve it. Rather, it goes much deeper and beyond the simple and obvious appearance.