Fors is an ancient Roman Goddess of prosperity, good luck, and
divine blessings. Her name means "She Who Brings", from the Latin
verb fero, and indicates the abundance and success it was hoped She would
bring. She was early on assimilated to Fortuna, probably
originally a Goddess of fertility, and for a time They may have been worshipped
as a pair, later merging into the Goddess called Fors Fortuna. Fors Fortuna
represents Fortune in the classic sense as Goddess of luck or chance, who was
acknowledged as sometimes being fickle or wanton. However She was especially
worshipped by slaves and the common people, as the Goddess who could bring about
rags-to-riches transformations, and at least two of Her temples were founded
by former slaves in gratitude for their changed luck.
Fors Fortuna had several temples in Rome, though exactly how
many and where is rather hard to pin down as the written sources can be contradictory.
One, said to have been built by either Ancus Marcius or Servius Tullius (in
some tales the son of a slave-woman), both early Kings of Rome, was built on
the right (north) bank of the Tiber. Its festival date, which usually commemorates
a temple's founding, was the 24th of June. Another temple of the same festival
day was said to have been built some 5 miles away along the via Portuensis (a
road which ran along the right bank of the Tiber), near the sacred grove of
the Arval Priests, a very ancient brotherhood of twelve whose job it was to
make sacrifices for the fertility of the fields. There may have been yet another
temple to Fors Fortuna on the right bank of the Tiber, dedicated in 293 BCE
by one Carvilius, a Roman freedman who opened the first public school in Rome
and who is credited with having invented the letter G. And three hundred years
later, the emperor Tiberius was said to have dedicated another temple to Fors
Fortuna, in the gardens (or on the land of the estate) of Julius Caesar, in
the year 17 CE.
At these temples Fors Fortuna was given votive offerings by worshippers,
in the hopes that their prayers for good luck would be answered; and many small
offerings to Her of bronze have been found in the area of Her temples.
The festival of Fors Fortuna on June 24th was celebrated with
a pilgrimage to Her temple(s) that proceeded along the Tiber, both on the banks
of the river and in the river itself on boats and barges which were decorated
for the day. It was a festival of much mirth and joy, and much wine-drinking.
It may also have been traditional to play games of chance or place bets at Her
parties, for She was the Goddess who brought luck in gambling as well.
Also called: "the Fatal Goddess", "Lucky Chance"