Tyche (English: //; from Greek: Τύχη, meaning "luck"; Roman equivalent: Fortuna) was the presiding tutelary deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city, its destiny. She is the daughter of Aphrodite and Zeus or Hermes.
In literature, she might be given various genealogies, as a daughter of Hermes and Aphrodite, or considered as one of the Oceanids, daughters of Oceanus and Tethys, or of Zeus. She was connected with Nemesis and Agathos Daimon ("good spirit).
The Greek historian Polybius believed that when no cause can be discovered to events such as floods, droughts, frosts or even in politics, then the cause of these events may be fairly attributed to Tyche.
Tyche had temples at Caesarea Maritima, Antioch, Alexandria and Constantinople. In Alexandria the Tychaeon, the temple of Tyche, was described by Libanius as one of the most magnificent of the entire Hellenistic world.
Stylianos Spyridacis concisely expressed Tyche's appeal in a Hellenistic world of arbitrary violence and unmeaning reverses: "In the turbulent years of the Epigoni of Alexander, an awareness of the instability of human affairs led people to believe that Tyche, the blind mistress of Fortune, governed mankind with an inconstancy which explained the vicissitudes of the time."
Tyche appears on many coins of the Hellenistic period in the three centuries before the Christian era, especially from cities in the Aegean. Unpredictable turns of fortune drive the complicated plotlines of Hellenistic romances, such as Leucippe and Clitophon or Daphnis and Chloe. She experienced a resurgence in another era of uneasy change, the final days of publicly sanctioned Paganism, between the late-fourth-century emperors Julian and Theodosius I who definitively closed the temples. The effectiveness of her capricious power even achieved respectability in philosophical circles during that generation, though among poets it was a commonplace to revile her for a fickle harlot.
In medieval art, she was depicted as carrying a cornucopia (horn of plenty), an emblematic gubernaculum (ship's rudder), and the wheel of fortune, or she may stand on the wheel, presiding over the entire circle of fate.
- Greek pronunciation
- Modern pronunciation
- Pindar, Twelfth Olympian Ode.
- As on an Attic amphora, 5th century BCE, Antikensammlung Berlin, illustrated at Theoi.com.
- Polybius. The Rise Of The Roman Empire, Page 29, Penguin, 1979.
- Libanius, in Progymnasmata 1114R, noted by Spyridakis 1969:45.
- Noted by Spyridakis, who demonstrated that earlier suggestions of a source in Fortuna Primigenia of Praeneste was anachronistic.
- University of California Davis faculty: Stylianos Spyridakis
- Spyridakis, Stylianos. "The Itanian cult of Tyche Protogeneia", Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 18.1 (January 1969:42-48) p. 42.
- C. M. Bowra, "Palladas on Tyche" The Classical Quarterly New Series, 10.1 (May 1960:118-128).
- DK Multimedia: Eyewitness Encyclopedia, Stardome, Virgo: miscellaneous section
- Media related to Tyche at Wikimedia Commons