Writing Prompts for Fors Fortuna

Queen of Hearts public domain via publicdomainvectors.org

Introduction: 


This series of posts has simple goals: provide some basic history on a holiday/event from the past and use that history to spring board potential writing prompts and themes. For some, the history on its own will be enough to come up with some story ideas.  For others, I offered some starting points with themes, scenes, and possibilities I see for the holiday at hand.  


Happy writing and please share a snippet or link to your inspired works ^_^ I’d love to read them.

History: 

Fortuna is the Roman Goddess of fortune (both good and ill).  Her name translates to “she who brings.”  The common people and the slaves found her cult appealing because she offered an escape from poverty.  They offered small works of bronze to her in hopes she would “change their fate.”  Her popularity extended to the Middle Ages where Saint Augustine wrote “How, therefore, is she good, who without discernment comes to bother the good and to the bad?…It profits one nothing to worship her if she is truly fortune…let the bad worship her…this supposed deity.” (except from City of God).  

Her popularity preserved her image.  They depict her with a ship’s rudder, a ball or Rota Fortunae (wheel of fate) and a cornucopia.  In ancient times they sometimes represented her as veiled or blindfolded, but these associations where handed over to Justice in the modern era.

Very little lore or worship knowledge remains of Fortuna’s holidays.  I suspect that the popularity of the commoners, that kept her imagery and idea in circulation long after the fall of Roman aristocracy but we’ve lost her rituals and lore somewhere in their oral traditions. 

Fortuna’s rein included Roman leaders.  One of her aspects was the Fortunat Publica (the official good luck of the Roman People).  On April 5th this term meant “everyman’s luck” and how each man has his own access to his fate (male idea).  But it had reaching impact on Roman leaders.  Fortuna in this guise became chance events tied to the virtus (strength of character), so public officials who lacked this virtue invited ill fortune on themselves and all of Rome.  

On June 24th (or perhaps Midsummer), a celebration on the anniversary of her temples’ completion took place.  Followers would float downstream on decorated boats and barges (or walk along the river) from the city to Fortuna’s temple.  When at the temple they would drink, play games of chance and place bets.  Scholars believe this was a holiday filled with mirth and joy.  

As the day closed, followers would row back home drunk and adorned in garlands.  Some speculate that Fors Fortuna was sacred to gardeners and florists.  They would go into market on this day with songs and prayers for Fors Fortuna and those celebrating her day would buy the flowers to decorate themselves, the boats, and her temple.  Minimally, it seems a lucrative time for gardeners and florists.  

Sources: 

Wikipedia org

Britanica.com

thaliatook.com

latinata.com

Writing Prompts

1. We all have lucky habits or superstions that bring good/bad luck to us.  Write a story that incorporates these newer superstions with the older practices of Fortuna.  

2. Luck is an ambiguous term.  Some people believe it’s the capricious nature of life and others believe one “makes their own luck”.  Which way do your characters lean?  Write an event that changes their minds.  

3. What would a character look like with maxed out luck stats?  Would that mean they had good or bad luck?  Would their life be full of extremes?  Would they have a relationship with Fortuna or another luck goddess?  Write an origin.  

4. Are casinos and gambling spaces modern shrines to Fortuna?  Would a day playing poker or roulette mirror the joviality said to happen on the 24th?  And if a casino is Fortuna’s temple and “the house always wins” what does this say about Fortuna and her relationship to her worshipers? 

5. How would Fortuna judge a modern leader’s virtus?  Or any leader’s virtus throughout history?  Does she have a hand in the rise and fall of empires or has she slacked on her duties? 

6.Fortuna’s name means “she who brings,” it’s an evocative start to any story.  What has she brought you or your character?

7. St Augustine makes an interesting implication in his writing regarding Fortuna.  He implies to be a god one must be “good” or at least to be a god worthy of worship one must be “good”.  But Fortuna, like God is capable of good and ill.  She has a code where the ill she offers men comes from their own weakness, much like the God Augustine worships.  Explore this dissonance further in a fictional story.  

8.  In her time, Fortuna was a lesser known, less powerful goddess, yet her name recognition today is stronger than many of the more common gods of the time. “Wheel of fate” is still a common expression.  What themes transcend time and space?  Write a story set in the future, the present, or the past and connect it to far-flung time relatives.  OR connect a theme across species.

9. What happened at the temple on June 24th?  Write “A Day in the Life” story regarding the celebration or worship. 

10. Did Fortuna ever change someone’s fate?  Write a “rags to riches “story.

Enjoy these prompts and looking for more try my post with prompts for Midsummer or Matralia

Writing Prompts for Matralia

Vector illustration public domain licence. Found at publicdomainvectors.org

Introduction: 


This series of posts has simple goals: provide some basic history on a holiday/event from the past and use that history to spring board potential writing prompts and themes. For some, the history on its own will be enough to come up with some story ideas.  For others, I offered some starting points with themes, scenes, and possibilities I see for the holiday at hand.  


Happy writing and please share a snippet or link to your inspired works ^_^ I’d love to read them.

History

The ancient Roman festival of Matralia takes place on June 11th.  


Matralia is a lesser-known holiday honoring Mater Matuta.  Free women who were single or in their first marriage would bring offerings of cakes or earthen cookware to the temple.  Their sisters’ children sometimes accompanied them (but never their own). 


While at the temple, the matron may lure a slave in, whom she would abuse (slap and drive from the temple), then she would place a garland around Mater Matuta’s statue and all the women there would pray for the safety and health of their sisters’ children.  

 
Mater Matuta is an indigenous Latin goddess the Romans considered like or the same as Aurora (Goddess of the Dawn) and/or Eos (Greek Titaness of Dawn).  Over time Mater Matuta also became associated sea harbors and ports.  She was sometimes confused with Leucothea (Greek sea goddess).  Considering both Aurora and Eos rise from Oceanus each morning to herald the coming day, it is easy to see how she could become connected to the watery realm. 


Sources:

Wikipedia

Britanica

Prompts: 
-Mater Matuta’s celebration centers on asking for favors for others, but the ritual includes cruelty to the most vulnerable in Roman society, what does this imply?  


-Write a slave’s perspective on this celebration.  

Do they have a supernatural experience or is it more cruelty they endure?  

Does this day stand apart from other treatments they’ve received or is this another day in their life?


-Scene: Two sisters who’ve always gone together to Mater Matuta’s temple and brought each other’s children, this past year one of the sister’s husband died in battle and she remarried.  The other sister must go alone to the temple, leave her children behind, and take her sister’s children. 

Write either sister’s perspectiveWrite from the perspective of one child.

Write from the perspective of one husband.

Write from the perspective of Mater Matuta, why the one sister is lost to her now and how the other sister’s children suffer for it.

 
-Explore Mater Matuta’s motivation for calling on only single or first marriage women to worshipIs this a purity issue?

Is Mater Matuta looking out for the women and killing husbands (perhaps at sea) who mistreat their wives but she can only intervene once.

Both Aurora and Eos are known for sexual liaisons with mortals, maybe they use these festivals as an opportunity to scout out new bed mates? 


-Why does Mater Matuta take in her sister’s children?  Is she a patron for the motherless?

 
-Does Mater Matuta answer all the women asking after their sisters’ children? What does she want for the children she blesses?  


-When does Mater Matuta hear these prayers or bless these children?  What is the festival like from her perspective?


-Do we have a similar custom in today’s society?  While many values family ties, is there a day where you seek only your niece or nephew’s wellbeing and what does that day look like?  What would the supernatural force look like?


-If people were to celebrate Matralia today, what is the desired outcome and what are the rules you’d follow?  

Do your characters omit cruelty to slaves or substitute it?

Do your characters maintain a temple or do they create a makeshift one? 

Do your characters keep the old rules and only allow single women or women in their first marriage to participate?

Do it involve any of the traditional elements of the day or do they transform the practice?