TYKHE (Tyche) was the goddess of fortune, chance, providence and fate. She was usually honoured in a more favourable light as Eutykhia (Eutychia), goddess of good fortune, luck, success and prosperity.
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Tykhe was depicted with a variety of attributes--holding a rudder, she was conceived as the divinity guiding and conducting the affairs of the world, and in this respect she was called one of the Moirai (Moirae, Fates); with a ball she represented the varying unsteadiness of fortune, unsteady and capable of rolling in any direction; with Ploutos (Plutus) or the cornucopia, she was the symbol of the plentiful gifts of fortune.
Nemesis (Fair Distribution) was cautiously regarded as the downside of Tykhe, one who provided a check on extravagant favours conferred by fortune. The pair were often depicted as companions in Greek vase painting. In the vase painting (right) Nemesis (Indignation) with her arm around Tykhe (Fortune) points an accusing fingure at Helene, who Aphrodite has persuaded to elope with Paris.
FAMILY OF TYCHE
<1> OKEANOS & TETHYS (Hesiod Theogony 360; Homeric Hymn 2.420)<2> ZEUS (Orphic Hymn 72, Pindar Olympian Ode)<3> PROMETHEUS (Alcman Frag 3)
<1> PLOUTOS (Aesop Fables 130, Pausanias 9.16.2)
TYCHE (Tuchê). 1. The personification of chance or luck, the Fortuna of the Romans, is called by Pindar (Ol. xii. init.) a daughter of Zeus the Liberator. She was represented with different attributes. With a rudder, she was conceived as the divinity guiding and conducting the affairs of the world, and in this respect she is called one of the Moerae (Paus. vii. 26. § 3; Pind. Fragm. 75, ed. Heyne); with a ball she represents the varying unsteadiness of fortune; with Plutos or the horn of Amalthea, she was the symbol of the plentiful gifts of fortune. (Artemid. ii. 37.) Tyche was worshipped at Pharae in Messenia (Paus. iv. 30. § 2); at Smyrna, where her statue, the work of Bupalus, held with one hand a globe on her head, and in the other carried the horn of Amalthea (iv. 30. § 4); in the arx of Sicyon (ii. 7. § 5); at Aegeira in Achaia, where she was represented with the horn of Amalthea and a winged Eros by her side (vii. 26. § 3; comp. Plut. De Fort. Rom. 4; Arnob. adv. Gent. vi. 25); in Elis (Paus. vi. 25. § 4); at Thebes (ix. 16. § 1); at Lebadeia, together with agathos daimôn (ix. 39. § 4); at Olympia (v. 15. § 4), and Athens. (Aelian, V. H. ix. 39; comp. Fortuna.) 2. A nymph, one of the playmates of Persephone. (Hom. Hymn. in Cer. 421.) 3. One of the daughters of Oceanus. (Hes. Theog. 360.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
PARENTAGE OF TYCHE
Hesiod, Theogony 346 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :"Tethys bore to Okeanos (Oceanus) the swirling Potamoi (Rivers) . . . She
Pindar, Nemean Ode 12. 1 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :"Daughter of Zeus Eleutherios (Liberator), Tykhe (Tyche, Fortune) our saviour goddess."
Alcman, Fragment 64 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (Greek lyric C7th B.C.) :"Tykhe (Tyche, Fortune) sister of Eunomia (Right Order) and Peitho (Persuasion) daughter of Prometheus."
Orphic Hymn 72 to Tyche (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :"Queen Tykhe (Tyche) . . . born of Eubouleos (Eubuleus)
TYCHE COMPANION OF PERSEPHONE
Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 5 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.) :"She
Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 415 ff : "
Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 30. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :"Homer is the first whom I know to have mentioned Tykhe (Tyche) in his poems. He did so in the Hymn to Demeter, where he enumerates the daughters of Okeanos (Oceanus), telling how they played with Kore (Core)
TYCHE AS THE CONSTELLATION VIRGO
The constellation Virgo was usually identified with the goddess Dike (Justice).
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Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 25 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :“Constellation Virwalk . . . Others call her Fortuna
TYCHE GODDESS OF FORTUNE
Pindar, Olympian Ode 12. 1 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :"Daughter of Zeus Eleutherios (the Liberator), Tykhe (Tyche, 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."
Pindar, Isthmian Ode 4. 48 ff :"Yet even for those who strive, Tykhe (Tyche, Fortune) maybe conceals her light, ere yet their steps attain the furthest goal; for her gifts render both of good and ill. And often does the craft of lesser souls outstrip and bring to naught the strength of better men."
Simonides, Fragment 8 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric III) (Greek lyric C6 to C5th B.C.) :"If the greatest part of virtue is to die nobly, then Tykhe (Tyche, Fortune) granted it to us above all others; for we strove to crown Greece with freedom."
Greek Lyric V Anonymous, Fragment 1019 (from Stobaeus, Anthology) : "Tykhe (Tyche, Fortune), beginning and end for mankind, you sit in Sophia"s (Wisdom"s) seat and give honour to mortal deeds; from you comes more good than evil, grace shines about your gold wing, and what the scale of your balance gives is the happiest; you see a way out of the impasse in troubles, and you bring bright light in darkness, you most excellent of gods."
Aeschylus, Agamemnon 661 ff (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :"
Aeschylus, Libation Bearers 55 ff :"The awe of majesty
Aeschylus, Libation Bearers 963 ff : "But soon time (khronos) that accomplishes all will pass the portals of our house, and then all pollution will be expelled from the hearth by cleansing rites that drive out calamity. The dice of fortune (tykhai) will turn as they fall and lie with faces all lovely to behold, favorably disposed to whoever stays in our house."
Aeschylus, Doubtul Fragment 254 (from Stobaeus, Anthology 1. 6. 16) :"Sovereign of all the gods is Tykhe (Tyche, Fortune), and these other names are given her in vain; for she alone disposeth all things as she wills."
Aesop, Fables 84 (from Chambry & Avianus, Fabulae 12) (trans. Gibbs) (Greek fable C6th B.C.) : "A farmer struggling as he plunged his plough-share into the earth saw a treasure-trove leap forth from the furrow. All in a rush, he immediately abandoned the shameful plow, leading his oxen to better seed. Straightaway he obediently built an altar to the Goddess Ge/Tellus (Gaea, Earth), who had gladly bestowed on him the wealth contained within her.The Goddess Tykhe/Fortuna (Tyche, Fortune), feeling slighted that he had not thought her likewise worthy of an offering of incense, admonished the farmer, thinking of the future while he was rejoicing in his new-found affairs : ‘Now you do not offer the gifts that you have found to my shrine, but you prefer to make other gods the sharers of your good fortune. Yet when your gold is stolen and you are stricken with sadness, you will make your complaints to me first of all, weeping over your loss.’"
Aesop, Fables 261 (from Chambry & Babrius, Fabulae Aesopeae 49) : "The Traveler and Tykhe (Tyche, Fortune). A Traveler wearied from a long journey lay down, overcome with fatigue, on the very brink of a deep well. Just as he was about to fall into the water, Lady Tykhe (Fortune) it is said, appeared to him and waking him from his slumber thus addressed him : ‘Good Sir, pray wake up: for if you fall into the well, the blame will be thrown on me, and I shall get an ill name among mortals; for I find that men are sure to impute their calamities to me, however much by their own folly they have really brought them on themselves.’Everyone is more or less master of his own fate."
Aesop, Fables 535 (from Life of Aesop 94) :"Zeus once ordered Tykhe (Tyche, Fortune) to show mankind the two ways: one the way of freedom and the other the way of slavery. Prometheus made the way of freedom rough at the beginning, impassable and steep, with no water anywhere to drink, full of brambles, and beset with dangers on all sides at first. Eventually, however, it became a smooth plain, lined with paths and filled with groves of fruit trees and waterways. Thus the distressing experience ended in repose for those who breath the air of freedom. The way of slavery, however, started out as a smooth plain at the beginning, full of flowers, pleasant to look at and quite luxurious, but in the end it became impassable, steep and insurmountable on all sides."
Aesop, Fables 469 (from Avianus 12) : "A farmer had started turning the earth with his plow when he saw a treasure suddenly spring into view from the depths of the furrow. His spirit soared as he abandoned the lowly plow and drove his oxen off to better pastures. He immediately built an altar to the earth goddess Tellus (Earth)
Aesop, Fables 470 (from Babrius 49) : "A workman had thoughtlessly fallen asleep one night next to a well. While he slept, he seemed to hear the voice of Tykhe (Tyche), the goddess of fortune, as she stood there beside him. ‘Hey you,’ the goddess said, ‘you"d better wake up! I am afraid that if you fall into the well, I will be the one that people blame, giving me a bad reputation. In general, people blame me for everything that happens to them, including the unfortunate events and tumbles for which a person really has only himself to blame.’"
Plato, Laws 757b (trans. Bury) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :"
Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 30. 4 - 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :"The people of Pharia
Orphic Hymn 72 to Tyche (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :"To Tykhe (Tyche, Fortune), Fumigation from Frankincense. Approach, queen Tykhe, with propitious mind and rich abundance, to my prayer inclined: placid and gentle, mighty named, imperial Artemis, born of Eubouleos
Aelian, Historical Miscellany 2. 29 (trans. Wilson) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :"Pittakos (Pittacus)
Aelian, Historical Miscellany 3. 23 :"Alexandros"
Aelian, Historical Miscellany 13. 43 :"Note that the Athenian general Timotheus was reckoned to be fortunate. People said fortune was responsible, and Timotheus had no part in it. They ridiculed him on the stage, and painters portrayed him asleep, with Tykhe (Fortune) hovering above his head and pulling the cities into her net."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 16. 220 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :"And you Tykhe (Tyche, Luck), how many shapes you take, how you make playthings of the children of men! Be gracious, all-subduer!"
FORTUNA ROMAN GODDESS OF FORTUNE
Fortuna was the Roman equivalent of the Greek Tykhe. She also resembles the Greek goddesses of fate Moira and Aisa.
Seneca, Hercules Furens 524 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :"O Fortuna (Fortune), jealous of the brave, in allotting thy favours how unjust art thou unto the good!”
Seneca, Medea 159 ff : "Fortuna (Fortune) fears the brave, the cowardly overwhelms."
Seneca, Medea 286 ff : "The estate of thrones, which fickle Fortuna (Fortune) disturbs with changeful lot."
Seneca, Oedipus 6 ff : "Does any man rejoice in royalty? O deceitful good, how many ills dost hide beneath thy smiling face! As lofty peaks do ever catch the blasts, and as the cliff, which with its jutting rocks cleaves the vast deep, is beaten by the waves of even a quiet sea, so does exalted empire lie exposed to Fortuna (Fortune)."
Seneca, Oedipus 81 ff : "What boots it, husband, to make woe heavier by lamentation? This very thing, methinks, is regal--to face adversity and, the more dubious thy station and the more the greatness of empire totters to its fall, the more firm to stand, brave with unfaltering foot. ‘Tis not a manly thing to turn the back to Fortuna (Fortune)."
Seneca, Oedipus 786 ff : "How heartless Fortuna (Fortune) assails me on every hand!"
Seneca, Phaedra 978 ff : "Fortuna (Fortune) without order rules the affairs of men, scatters her gifts with unseeing hand, fostering the worse; dire lust prevails against pure men, and crime sits regnant in the lofty palace. The rabble rejoice to give government to the vile, paying high honours even where they hate. Warped are the rewards of uprightness sad virtue gains; wretched poverty dogs the pure, and the adulterer, strong in wickedness, reigns supreme."
Seneca, Phaedra 1141 ff : "On doubtful wings flies the inconstant hour, nor does swift Fortuna (Fortune) pledge loyalty to any."
Seneca, Troades 258 ff : "Ungoverned power no one can long retain; controlled, it lasts; and the higher Fortuna (Fortune) has raised and exalted the might of man, the more does it become him to be modest in prosperity, to tremble at shifting circumstance, and to fear the gods when they are overkind. That greatness can be in a moment overthrown I have learned by conquering. Does Troy make us too arrogant and bold? We Greeks are standing in the place whence she has fallen."
Seneca, Troades 695 ff : "Pity a mother, calmly and patiently listen to her pious prayers, and the higher the gods have exalted thee, the more gently bear down upon the fallen. What is given to misery is a gift to Fortuna (Fortune)
Seneca, Troades 734 ff : "As for Troy"s throne, let Fortuna (Fortune) bear that whithersoe"er she will."
Statius, Silvae 3. 3. 85 (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :"And now from on high a light illumined his loyal home, and Fortuna (Fortune) towering to her loftiest entered apace."
Statius, Silvae 5. 1. 137 ff : "What god joined Fortuna (Fortune) and Invidia (Envy)
Apuleius, The Golden Ass 4. 31 ff (trans. Walsh) (Roman novel C2nd A.D.) : "The lowest possible specimen of humanity, one who as the victim of Fortuna (Fortune) has lost status, inheritance and security, a man so disreputable that nowhere in the world can he find an equal in wretchedness."
Apuleias, The Golden Ass 7. 2 ff : "Learned men of old had good grounds for envisaging and describing Fortuna (Fortune) as blind and utterly sightless
Apuleius, The Golden Ass 6. 19 ff : "I implore you by your personal Fortuna (Fortune) and your Genios (Genius, Guardian Spirit)to come to the aid of this destitute old man."
Apuleius, The Golden Ass 9. 1 ff : "But truly, if Fortuna (Fortune) disapproves, nothing can turn out right for any mortal, and neither wise planning nor shrewd remedies can overtun or reshape the pre-ordained arrangements of divine providence."