Fortuna, the goddess of fortune, became an important deity in the tumultuous final centuries BC, when people looked to her for good luck—and protection from bad luck. The goddess holds a horn of plenty in her left arm and rests her right hand on a rudder, because she directs the course of events as if she is steering a ship. The statuette is unfinished—the area with drill holes was meant to be removed.
Statuette of Fortuna
Bust of a Goddess
A frontal bust of a female figure wearing a chiton, a Greek women’s garment. Its Hellenistic date (4th-2nd cen. BC) would mean that it was an antique heirloom at the time of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
Room of the Household Shrine
On the screen is a view of the service courtyard, parts of which are digitally restored here. All the walls are decorated in the “zebra stripe” design that imitates marble. As you move around the courtyard you can see into a large space with the remains of the household shrine on the back wall.x
Household Shrine (Lararium)
Most Roman houses and villas contained shrines (lararia) where all members of the household, free and slave, worshipped. The main deities honored at these shrines were called the Lares, who were responsible for the well-being of the family. The family also paid their respects to the protective spirit (genius) of the male head of the household, the paterfamilias. These minor deities were attached to specific families and places. They were honored in addition to the major Roman gods, like Jupiter and Venus, who were also worshipped at public temples and festivals. During household ceremonies, lamps were lit and offerings of food and other items were placed at the shrine.
Household shrines often contained mass-produced statuettes of other deities with whom members of the household felt an affinity, like the ones here of Attis (left), Fortuna (right), and an unknown goddess (center). Though these particular terracotta statuettes were not found in the lararium that faced peristyle 32 in Villa A. Attis was found in room 44 and Fortuna in room 73, both spaces that had special niches in their walls that might have held these devotional images. These deities were brought from the East, from Greece and Phrygia (modern Turkey), so they may have been especially meaningful to slaves who had also been brought to Italy from those regions. Fortuna, the goddess of fortune, became an important deity in the tumultuous final centuries BC, when people looked to her for good luck—and protection from bad luck.