Fortuna. Figure of cast gold, with gold suspension loop on the back. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.  (via | V&A Search the Collections)


This small gold figure of a woman carrying a horn of plenty represents Tyche (to the Ancient Greeks) or Fortuna (to the Ancient Romans), and is a personification of chance or luck. She probably held a rudder (symbolic of her role as the divinity who guided and conducted the affairs of the world) in her other hand, now missing. The figure was probably made in the Eastern Roman Empire, in the 1st or 2nd centuries of the Christian Era, and was probably one of a pair, each worn suspended from an earring. Its form and function recall Ancient Greek models. Although rings, bracelets, necklaces and brooches were worn by wealthy Romans, they were less inclined than their Greek predecessors to display their status by way of gold jewellery, as such ostentation went against contemporary notions of virtue and decorum.



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