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The Tyche of Antioch by Sophie Park

Lady of Fortune, Mystery and Propaganda

In the ancient world, Tyche (Gk. τύχη; Lat. Fortuna) was the goddess of fortune. Romans were especially fond of objects in her likeness, which they believed would bring them good luck, and she became closely linked to everyday human affairs. Her cult statues served as protectors and representatives of cities. As a monument to \nboth the founder and founding of the city, she held a lot of symbolic power, and citizens regularly worshipped her. In general, divine patronage and sacrifice were central aspects of city life. Unfortunately, the original Tyche of Antioch (a famous bronze sculpture made crafted by the Greek artist Eutychides) no longer exists.

She survives in visual reproductions (e.g. smaller-scale copies, coins, and decorations) \nand literary sources like the works of Pausanius and John Malalas. Many ancient metal sculptures have met a similar fate. Located by the foot of Mount Silpius and the river Orontes in modern-day Turkey, Antioch was the second-largest city in the east after Alexandria \nduring the Hellenistic period, and it continued to be an economic, political, and military centre under Roman and Byzantine rule.

Early Roman emperors used the statue as a part of their “political propaganda, appropriating a symbol of the city for the legitimization of their own rule over it” (Stansbury-O'Donnell). By putting her on their coins and claiming her favour, they painted themselves as the rightful rulers of Antioch. Even though Tyche was technically a pagan goddess, Christians respected her image because it served the same function as their patron saints and painted icons, maintaining her status as a protective figure.

Tyche of Antioch
Tyche of Antioch CC: Carole Raddato via Flickr

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