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Title: Roman constructions of fortuna
Author: Matthews, Lydia Lenore Veronica
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 8897
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis investigates the Roman idea of fortuna, by examining its representation in different media (coins, cults, philosophy, and literature) and the thought worlds which these media inhabited. Drawing chiefly on evidence from the late Republic and the first two centuries of the Empire, I examine the interactions between the meanings of fortuna and the contexts in which they occur, showing how fortuna was used to construct understandings of broader social processes. Chapter 1 charts how various groups and individuals appropriated the religious character of fortuna into discourses of power to promote their interests, from the first archaic cults through to Imperial fortunae. By propitiating fortuna, the founders and worshippers of these cults attempted to ‘tame’ fortuna by representing themselves or the groups to which they belonged as particularly favoured by this deity. Chapter 2 examines how literary authors used fortuna to talk about ideas of social status, luck, chance, and fate. How these authors chose to describe fortuna, or which powers they chose to ascribe to her, were choices frequently determined by the text’s relationship to the structures of Roman power. Chapter 3 examines the iconography of fortuna on Imperial coins, for which I used a statistical methodology to quantify her numismatic representation. This sets our understanding of the interconnections between numismatic iconography and cultural and political history on a firmer basis and allows us to analyse more precisely how fortuna was imagined in imperial ideology. I look at the periods in which fortuna was most often deployed and when her iconography and legends underwent the greatest changes, discussing the political and cultural contexts that motivated these uses. Chapter 4 addresses philosophical conceptions of fortuna. I look at what was peculiarly Roman about how Roman Stoics and Epicureans figured fortuna in their physics and ethics, focusing especially on the philosophical and cultural implications of their concern with fortuna.
Supervisor: Morgan, Teresa Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of the ancient world ; Latin ; Italic literatures,i.e.,Latin ; Religions of antiquity ; fortuna ; chance ; luck ; roman ; coins ; cult