Fortuna Equestris is an aspect of the Roman Goddess of Fate and
Luck Who was an especial patroness of the equestrian class or equites,
sometimes called knights, as well as their horses.
The equites were originally the horse-soldiers of the
Roman army, taken from the three old Roman tribes. These tribes were some of
the original settlers of Rome and constituted the earliest patrician class,
and were made up of the Ramnes, Latins who had a settlement on the Palatine
hill, traditionally founded by Romulus; the Tities, Sabines living on the Quirinal
and Viminal hills, people of King Tatius, who joined with Rome; and the Luceres
on the Caelian hill, an Etruscan tribe. From these peoples were chosen both
the senators and the equites; in the case of the equites one century
of one-hundred horsemen from each. The state provided the horse, as well as
money for its upkeep; with time the number of equites was increased,
and incorporated people from other tribes. Equites were required to be
of spotless character as well as of patrician or "noble" birth, and
represented a sub-class of the wealthy of Rome who had special political privileges.
Fortuna had several titles relating to the classes of Roman society.
She could be Fortuna Patricia, Fortune of the patrician or noble class, Fortuna
Plebis, Fortune of the plebeians, the common people who were originally those
descended from the conquered Latin tribes and who did not have the rights and
privileges of the patricians; and Fortuna Equestris of the equites. These
epithets indicate just how deeply divided ancient Roman society was by class,
as they needed three separate and distinct varieties of Fortuna so each class
could have its own.
Fortuna Equestris had a temple at Antium, the modern Anzio, which
was once the capital of the Volsci of Latium, a tribe who spoke a language closely
akin to Umbrian, and who were often enemies of Rome; She may originally have
been a Deity specific to that area. She also had a temple in Rome itself, built
by Flaccus, a consul (roughly a "president" of Rome under the Republic),
who vowed to build it during a battle with the Celts of Iberia (Spain). He made
it out of the battle alive, and in 173 BCE dedicated Her temple in the Circus
Flaminius (actually a square rather than a horse-trackthe temple to Juno
Regina was located there as well), near to the Theatre of Pompey. He also
appropriated some fancy marble tiles for Fortuna's temple from the splendid
temple of Juno Lacinia near Croton, but the Senate
made him put them back.
The festival of Fortuna Equestris was August 13th, the date of
the dedication of Her temple in Rome.
She may be equated with Fortuna Manens,