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p212 Fors Fortuna

Article on pp212‑214 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):
A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.

Fors Fortuna, fanum: a temple of Fors Fortuna on the bank of the Tiber, outside the city, ascribed to Servius Tullius (Varro, LL VI.17: dies Fortis Fortunae appellatus ab Servio Tullio rege quod is fanum Fortis Fortunae secundum Tiberim extra urbem Romam dedicavit Iunio mense; Dionys. IV.27: ναοὺς δύο κατασκευασάμενος Τύχῆς . . . τὸν δ᾽ ἕτερον ἐπὶ ταῖς ἠιόσι τοῦ Τεβέριος, ἣν ἀνδρείαν προσηγόρευσαν, ὡς καὶ νῦν ὑπὸ Ῥομαίων καλεῖται, where Fortis is incorrectly taken for an adjective and translated ἀνδρεία, as also by Plutarch (de fort. Rom. 5): πρῶτος μὲν γὰρ ἰδρύσατο Τύχης ἱερὸν Μάρκιος Ἄγκος . . . καὶ τάχα που τῇ Τύχῇ τὴν ἀνδρείαν παρωνόμασεν ᾑ πλεῖστον εἰς τὸ νικᾶν Τύχης μέτεστι), who is evidently referring to the same temple, although he attributes its erection to Ancus Marcius. That this temple was on the right bank of the Tiber is shown with reasonable certainty by the calendars (Fast. Amit. ad VIII Kal. Iul.: Forti Fortunae trans Tiberim ad milliarium primum et sextum; Fast. Esq.: Forti Fortunae trans Tiberim ad milliarium I et VI; CIL I2 p243, 211, 320), which, however, mention two such temples, one at the first, and the other at the sixth, milestone on the via Portuensis, the latter close to the grove of the Arval Brethren.1 Both had the same festival day, 24th June.

In 293 B.C. Sp. Carvilius let the contract for a temple of Fors Fortuna near that of Servius (Liv. X.46.14: reliquo aere aedem Fortis Fortunae de manubiis faciendam locavit prope aedem eius deae ab rege Servio Tullio dedicatam). This was of course on the right bank of the river, but Carvilius' temple is mentioned nowhere else by name, nor is the day p213of its dedication known. It cannot be one of the two temples of the calendars, for they were five miles apart (vid. sup.), and there must, therefore, have been three in existence in the time of Livy, to any one of which his notice of a prodigium in 2 B.C. may refer (XXVII.11.3: in cella [aedis] Fortis Fortunae).

Finally in 17 A.D. Tiberius dedicated another temple to this goddess (Tac. Ann. II.41: fine anni . . . aedes Fortis Fortunae Tiberim iuxta in hortis quos Caesar dictator populo Romano legaverat . . . dicantur). As the Fasti Esquilini at any rate antedate 17 A.D., and as the day of dedication was near the end of the year, not 24th June, Tiberius' temple cannot be identified with either of the two temples of the calendars. If our sources are so far correct, this made the fourth temple of this goddess in Trastevere.

There are four later references to a temple of Fors Fortuna on the right bank of the Tiber: (1) Plutarch, Brut. 20: καὶ τῷ δήμῳ τῶν πέραν τοῦ ποταμοῦ κήρων ἀπολελειμμένων οὗ νῦν ἐστι Τύχης ἱερόν; (2) id. de Fort. Rom. 5: τὴν δὲ πρὸς τῷ ποταμῷ Τύχην Φόρτιν καλοῦσιν . . . ὡς τὸ νικήτικον ἀπάντων κράτος ἔχουσαν. καὶ τόν γε ναὸν αὐτῆς ἐν τοῖς ὑπὸ Καίσαρος τῷ δήμῳ καταλειφθεῖσι κήποις ᾠκοδόμησαν ἡγούμενοι κἀκεῖνον εὐτυχίᾳ γένεσθαι μέγιστον, ὡς αὐτὸς ἐμαρτύρησε; (3) Donatus ad Ter. Phorm. 841: Fors Fortuna . . . huius aedes trans Tiberim est; (4) Not. Reg. XIV: Fortis Fortunae.

(2) plainly implies that Plutarch believed that the temple in the gardens of Caesar was built after Caesar's death, or at least after he had achieved success; and (1) is consistent with this view. Therefore, if we are to attach any weight to Plutarch's statements in this matter, they must refer to the temple erected by Tiberius. (3) might refer to any one of the four; and (4) to any but that at the sixth milestone from the city.

There remains to be considered Ovid's description of the festival of 24th June (Fasti VI.773‑786):

quam cito venerunt Fortunae Fortis honores!

post septem luces Iunius actus erit.

ite, deam laeti Fortem celebrate Quirites!

in Tiberis ripa munera regis habet.

pars pede, pars etiam celeri decurrite cumba;

nec pudeat potos inde redire domum.

ferte coronatae iuvenum convivia lintres,

multaque per medias vina bibantur aquas.

plebs colit hanc, quia, qui posuit, de plebe fuisse

fertur et ex humili sceptra tulisse loco.

convenit et servis serva quia Tullius ortus

constituit dubiae templa propinqua deae.

ecce suburbana rediens male sobrius aede

ad stellas aliquis talia verba iacit.

Because of the plurals, munera regis (776) and propinqua templa (784), this passage is interpreted by some as referring to two temples of Fors p214Fortuna, that is, the two mentioned in the calendars, at the first and sixth milestones, with one of which the temple of Carvilius either is (Mommsen, Wissowa, Peter, Gatti), or is not (Hülsen, Otto) identified. Munera regis, however, has no force in this connection, and lines 781 and 785 seem to refer distinctly to only one temple. If line 784 (propinqua templa) be interpreted in the ordinary way, Ovid must allude to two temples at least, and as two five miles apart can hardly be called propinqua, we must suppose that he has in mind that at the first milestone, the old foundation of Servius, and that built by Carvilius near it, which the poet erroneously regards as Servian. In this case also we must assume three temples in Ovid's time, that at the sixth milestone, of which nothing remains at present; one at the first, presumably that generally regarded as Servian, to which Varro and Dionysius refer, and Plutarch in de Fort. Rom. 5; and that erected by Carvilius. Both of these last two were close to the gardens of Caesar, and might have been within their limits, while that of Tiberius is distinctly said to have been in the gardens. This fact may have caused confusion in later writers, and Plutarch's topographical statements are frequently unreliable. The theory that Carvilius' temple may have been replaced by that of Tiberius is not supported by the language of Tacitus. There seems, therefore, to be no escape from assuming the existence of three temples near the first milestone and the gardens of Caesar, unless there is error in the sources.

One at least of these temples was in existence in the fourth century (Not.), and in this neighbourhood many small votive offerings in bronze have been found (NS 1888, 229; Mitt. 1889, 290‑291). The ruins of a concrete podium faced with peperino, with architectural fragments, which were found in 1861, may perhaps belong to the temple of Servius (BC 1884, 26‑27; Ann. d. Inst. 1860, 415‑418). For the discussion of these temples, and further literature, see HJ 644‑645; Becker, Top. 478‑480; Rosch. I.1501‑1502; RE VII.16‑18; WR 256- 257; Pr. Reg. 216; CIL I2 p320).


The Authors' Note:

1 Here were found four dedications to Fors Fortuna (CIL I2 977‑80 = NS 1904, 366; CIL VI.167‑9; cf. BC 1904, 317‑324).


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