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TYKHE CULT
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Roman Name
Τυχη Tykhê Tyche Fortuna
OTHER TYKHE PAGES
Tykhe General Info. & Myths

TYKHE was widely worshipped as the guardian spirit of a city's good fortune. As such she was usually depicted crowned with the turrets of a city-wall and holding a cornucopia (horn of plenty) brimming with the fruits of the earth.

Photographs of several Tykhe cult statues are linked to below. In most of her representations she is barely distinguishable from Demeter: the crown, cornucopia and Ploutos-child being common attributes of both goddesses. Indeed Tykhe (Lady Fortune) often appears to be merely an aspect of the goddess Demeter.


S18.1 TYCHE
S18.2 TYCHE
S3.2 TYCHE
S18.3 TYCHE

The first statue depicts Tykhe holding the infant god Ploutos (Wealth personified) and a cornucopia in her arm. She also wears an elaborate turret-crown. According to Pausanias a similar statue, crafted by the Athenian sculptor Zenophon, graced her temple at Thebes.
The second is a reduced marble copy of a colossal bronze statue of the goddess produced by the sculptor Eutyches for the Greek colony of Antioch in Syria. Here she is shown with her familiar turret crown, in the form of the town's city walls, and seated upon the back of the swimming river-god Orontes.
The third statue depicts a goddess with turret crown, cornucopia and rudder or plough-shaft. The figure may be either a Demeter or Tykhe, depending on the identification of the third attribute.
The fourth statue is the quintissential Tykhe, with her attributes of turret crown and cornucopia.


CULT IN ATTIKA (SOUTHERN GREECE)

I) ATHENS Chief City of Attika

Aelian, Historical Miscellany 9. 39 (trans. Wilson) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"One must admit that the following examples of love are ridiculous and bizarre . . . A young man at Athens, from a noble family, fell deeply in love with a statue of Agathe Tykhe (Good Fortune) standing near the Prytaneion. He flung his arms round the statue and kissed it, and then, losing his head and spurred on by a passion, he appeared before the Council declaring, with many an entreaty, that he was willing to buy the statue for a large sum. When he failed to persuade them, he put a large number of crowns and garlands on the statue, offered sacrifice, decorated it richly, and killed himself, after uttering prolonged lamentation." [N.B. The Prytaneion was the administrative centre of the city, where officials would also entertain.]


CULT IN MEGARIS (SOUTHERN GREECE)

I) MEGARA Chief City of Megaris

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 43. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Near the temple of Aphrodite [in Megara] is a sanctuary of Tykhe (Fortune), the image being one of the works of Praxiteles."


CULT IN KORINTHIA (SOUTHERN GREECE)

I) KORINTHOS Chief City of Korinthia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 2. 8 :
"There is also a temple of Tykhe (Fortune) [in Korinthos], with a standing image of Parian marble."


CULT IN SIKYONIA (SOUTHERN GREECE)

I) SIKYON Chief City of Sikyonia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 7. 5 :
"On the modern citadel [of Sikyon] is a sanctuary of Tykhe Akraie (of the Height), and after it one of the Dioskouroi. Their images and that of Tykhe are of wood."

II) TITANE Village in Sikyonia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 11. 8 :
"In the portico [of the sanctuary of Asklepios at Titane in Sikyonia] are dedicated images of Dionysos and Hekate, with Aphrodite, the Meter Theon (Mother of the Gods), and Tykhe (Fortune). These are wooden, but Asklepios, surnamed Gortynios, is of stone."


CULT IN THE ARGOLIS (SOUTHERN GREECE)

I) ARGOS Chief City of Argolis

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 20. 3 :
"[At Argos] is a temple of Tykhe (Fortune), which must be very old it if be the one in which Palamedes [mythical hero] dedicated the dice that he had invented."

II) HERMIONE City in Argolis

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 35. 3 :
"The sanctuary of Tykhe (Fortune) is said by the Hermionians [of Hermione, Argos] to be the newest in their city; a colossus of Parian marble stands there."


CULT IN MESSENIA (SOUTHERN GREECE)

I) PHARAI Town in Messenia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 30. 4 :
"The people of Pharia [in Messenia] possess also a temple of Tykhe (Fortune) and an ancient image."


CULT IN ELIS (SOUTHERN GREECE)

I) ELIS Chief City of Elis

Pausanias, Description of Greece 6. 25. 4 :
"The Eleans [in the city of Elis] have also a sanctuary of Tykhe (Fortune). In a portico of the sanctuary has been dedicated a colossal image, made of gilded wood except the face, hands and feet, which are of white marble. Here Sosipolis (City Saviour) too is worshipped in a small shrine on the left of the sanctuary of Tykhe."

II) OLYMPIA Village & Sanctuary in Elis

Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 15. 6 :
"On entering the Wedge [at Olympia] itself you see altars of Tykhe (Good Luck), Pan and Aphrodite."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 17. 3 :
"Here [in the temple of Hera at Olympia] too have been dedicted [statues of] Leto, Tykhe (Fortune), Dionysos and a winged Nike (Victory)."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 15. 5 :
"[In the city of Elis] just inside the Beak is an altar of Tykhe Agathe (Good Fortune)."


CULT IN AKHAIA (SOUTHERN GREECE)

I) AIGEIRA Town in Akhaia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 26. 8 :
"I remember observing at Aigeira [in Akhaia] a building in which was an image of Tykhe (Fortune) carrying the horn of Amaltheia. By her side is a winged Eros (Love), the moral of which is that even success in love depends for mankind on fortune rather than on beauty. Now I am in general agreement with Pindar’s ode, and especially with his making Tykhe one of the Moirai (Fates), and more powerful than her sisters."


CULT IN ARKADIA (SOUTHERN GREECE)

I) MEGALOPOLIS Chief City of Arkadia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 30. 7 :
"[At Megalopolis, Arkadia is] a temple of Tykhe with a stone image not less than five feet high."


CULT IN BOIOTIA (CENTRAL GREECE)

I) THEBES Chief City of Boiotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 16. 2 :
"[At Thebes, Boiotia there] is a sanctuary of Tykhe (Fortune), who carries the child Ploutos (Wealth). According to the Thebans, the hands and face of the image were made by Zenophon the Athenian, the rest of it by Kallistonikos, a native. It was a clever idea of these artists to place Ploutos (Wealth) in the arms of Tykhe (Fortune), and so to suggest that she is his mother or nurse."

II) THESPIAI Village in Boiotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 26. 8 :
"[At Thespiai, Boiotia there is an] image of Tykhe (Fortune), and in another place that of Hygeia (Health) . . . Athene Ergane (Worker), as well as that of Ploutos (Wealth), stands beside her."

III) LEBADEIA Village in Boiotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 39. 4 :
"This is what happens at the oracle [of Trophonios in Lebadeia, Boiotia]. When a man decides to go down to Trophonios, he first lives a certain number of days in a building which is consecrated to Agathe Tykhe (Good Fortune) and the Daimon Agathos (Good Spirit). Living there he purifies himself."


CULT IN EPEIROS (NORTHERN GREECE)

I) STEPHANEPOLIS Town in Epeiros

Aelian, On Animals 12. 30 (trans. Scholfield) (Greek natural history C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"Tame fishes which answer to a call and gladly accept food are to be fond and are kept in many places, in Epeiros for instance, at the town formerly called Stephanepolis, in the temple of Tykhe (Fortune) in the cisterns on either side of the ascent."


CULT IN LYDIA (ASIA MINOR)

I) SMYRNA City in Aiolis / Lydia (Greek colony)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 30. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Bouplaos a skilful temple-architect and carver of images, who made the statue of Tykhe (Fortune) at Smyrna, was the first whom we know to have represented her with the heavenly sphere upon her head and carrying in one hand the horn of Amaltheia, as the Greeks call it, representing her functions to this extent."


CULT IN SYRIA (WESTERN ASIA)

I) ANTIOKHEIA City in Syria (Greek colony)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 6. 2. 7 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"A statue of Tykhe [made] for the Syrians on the Orontes, which is very much venerated by the local people."
[N.B. This Tykhe was a gilded bronze goddess in the act of being crowned; she sits enthroned with her feet on the river-god Orontes. There was a religious cult of Tykhe of cities. Her only known Greek festival was at Lampsakos, but she had an important cult at Antioch.]

The most famous likeness of Tykhe is the statue by Eutykhes (early 3rd century BC) it represents the city goddess of Antiochia: wearing the mural crown and clad in a loose-fitting mantle she is seated on a rock, with her right foot resting on the shoulder of the river god Orontes, who is emerging from the water. See image S18.2.


CULT IN SICILY (SOUTHERN ITALY)

I) HIMERA Town in Sicily

Pindar, Olympian Ode 12. 1 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Daughter of Zeus Eleutherios (the Liberator), Tykhe (Fortune) our saviour goddess, I pray your guardian care for Himera, and prosper her city's strength. For your hand steers the ships of ocean on their flying course, and rules on land the march of savage wars, and the assemblies of wise counsellors."


CULT IN KAMPANIA (SOUTHERN ITALY)

I) LATIN WAY Road in Kampania

Strabo, Geography 5. 4. 11 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The following are also Kampanaian (Campanian) cities [in Italy]--Kales and Teanon Sidikinon, whose territories are separated by the two temples of Tykhe (Fortune) situated on either side of the Latin Way."


CULT OF FORTUNA IN LATIUM (CENTRAL ITALY)

I) ROME Chief City of Latium

Strabo, Geography 8. 6. 23 :
"And I may almost say that the most and best of the other dedicatory offerings at Rome came from there [the city of Korinthos which was sacked by the Romans]; and the cities in the neighborhood of Rome also obtained some; for Mummios, being magnanimous rather than fond of art, as they say, readily shared with those who asked. And when Leucullus built the Temple of Eutykhia (Good Fortune) [i.e. the Roman Fortuna] and a portico [in Rome], he asked Mummios for the use of the statues which he had, saying that he would adorn the temple with them until the dedication and then give them back. However, he did not give them back, but dedicated them to the goddess, and then bade Mummios to take them away if he wished. But Mummios took it lightly, for he cared nothing about them, so that he gained more repute than the man who dedicated them."


CULT TITLES OF TYKHE

Tykhe had a few cult titles such as Agathe Tykhe (Good Fortune) and Tykhe Akraie (Of the Height) describing the location of one of her shrines:--

Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Αγαθη Τυχη Agathê Tykhê Agatha Tyche Good Fortune
Ευτυχια Eutykhia Eutychia Good Fortune, Luck
Ακραιη Akraiê Acraea Of the Heights
Αυτοματια Automatia Automatia Self-Animate
Μειλιχιος Meilikhios Melichius Gentle, Soothing
Σωτηερια Sôtêria Soteria Saviour

ENCYCLOPEDIA TYKHE TITLES

AUTOMA′TIA (Automatia) a surname of Tyche or Fortuna, which seems to characterize her as the goddess who manages things according to her own will, without any regard to the merit of man. Under this name Timoleon built to the goddess a sanctuary in his house. (Plut. De Sui Laude, p. 542, e.; Nepos, Timol.

MEILI′CHIUS (Meilichios), i. e. the god that can be propitiated, or the gracious, is used as a surname of several divinities. Of Tyche or Fortune. (Orph. Hymn. 71. 2.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Sources:

  • Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
  • Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
  • Aelian, On Animals - Greek Natural History C2nd-3rd A.D.
  • Aelian, Historical Miscellany - Greek Rhetoric C2nd-3rd A.D.