Tuesdays Talking About Mythology: Tyche/Fortuna

Hello and happy Tuesday! Since it is now 2019 and lots of folks like to make wishes and hope for better fortune for the upcoming year, I thought I should talk about the Greek goddess of fortune, Tyche. I hope y’all enjoy!

The Greek: Tyche

Tyche was born to the Titans Oceanus and Tethys (though some sources argue that her father is Zeus and she was born from him alone; this is, however, widely pushed aside in favor of the assertion that she was daughter of the titans).

Tyche often was depicted wearing a crown, holding a scepter, and depending on the occasion of which she was being alluded to or called upon, she would be shown balancing on a ball, holding a cornucopia, blindfolded, or holding a rudder. Her fickleness was often stressed and she was also given alternate names that she’d be referred to as depending on the context of her fortune. For instance, if she was doling out good fortune, she was often called Eutychia whereas if she was doling out bad fortune, she was often called and synonymous with the goddess Nemesis.

Tyche was the goddess of fortune, chance, providence and fate. As Eutychia, the “good” side of her, she was the goddess of good fortune, luck, success and prosperity. As Nemesis, the “bad” side of her, she was goddess of fair distribution, indignation/retribution for evil deeds as well as the balancer of undeserved good fortune.

Surprisingly enough, Tyche did not play that much of an essential role in day to day life within Greek society outside of Athens. The Athenians believed their citizens to be blessed by the goddess and had many shrines dedicated to her. This contrasts with the few sparsely populated temples to Tyche scattered throughout the rest of Greece. The rest of Greece usually attributed their fortunes, both good and bad, with the will and temperament of Zeus since he was seen as the supreme almighty who controlled all within the realm of man.

The Roman: Fortuna

Fortuna was said to be the first born daughter of Jupiter, King of the Gods and Ruler of the Heavens. Note that this is a different parentage than her Greek counterpart who was born from Titans rather than a God.

Fortuna was the goddess of fortune, chance, providence and fate (both good and bad). She was often depicted wearing a crown, holding a scepter, balancing on a ball, blindfolded, and holding a rudder or wheel of some sort (hence “the wheel of fortune”).

Fortuna, unlike in the Greek society with Tyche, was highly revered and honored continuously by the Romans as she was their sole savior when it came to matters of luck and fortune. Many scholars and writers of the time called upon her within their works which have since inspired writers such as William Shakespeare, Boethius’ The Consolation of Philosophy, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The Histories of the Kings of Britain. Fortuna was seen as the fickle, blinded force of the cycle of fortune which is how she would become tied to the concept of the “wheel of fortune” in which someone (usually a king) could be at the top of the wheel with amazing fortune but soon the wheel would turn and those at the top would fall to the bottom and those on the bottom would rise to the top. This concept was often played around with by writers throughout the ages but, arguably, most hilariously so by William Shakespeare in his various plays in which kings or men of power fall to the stature of the lowly due to a shift in fortune and the lowly (usually the fool character, the lowliest of the low) would rise to the top.

Luckily for us, this is an instance in which there is more emphasis and more recognition of the Roman over the Greek counterpart (because the past gods I’ve discussed were basically synonymous of one another). While Tyche is quite similar to Fortuna, culturally there is a large gap in importance between the two as Fortuna has influenced and maintained prominence throughout the ages and Tyche was suffered to be cast into obscurity.

Closing

I hope y’all enjoyed learning a little about Tyche/Fortuna. She is one of the most called upon and romanticized gods within classical literature (aside from cupid) and is often depicted as a strong and fickle woman who is witty enough and powerful enough to have the world in her hands (which is badass for any woman to be able to do). I hope this post was illuminating for y’all as I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. If y’all have any questions about stuff I didn’t touch on, or you’d just like an elaboration on something please leave me a comment below so we can chat! I really hope this was interesting to y’all. Thanks for reading, I’ll talk mythology with you next Tuesday!png-divider-lines-pin-lines-clipart-separation-line-1-960Thanks so much for reading y’all! Let me know anything you’d like to say in the comments below, you know I love hearing from y’all!

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3 thoughts on “Tuesdays Talking About Mythology: Tyche/Fortuna

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