A Roman Carnelian Intaglio of Victory Crowning Fortuna, Roman Imperial Period, ca. 2nd century CE

A Roman Carnelian Intaglio of Victory Crowning Fortuna, Roman Imperial Period, ca. 2nd century CE

RA1604

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Carved from translucent carnelian, a winged Victoria holding a laurel wreath floating before Fortuna who wears a kalathos on her head, holding a cornucopia in her right hand and a rudder in her left, standing on a groundline.

A common motif in Imperial intaglios, Victoria crowning Fortuna can be traced back to at least the second century BCE where it was struck on a Greek-influenced Parthian coin. This imagery was particularly popular with Roman emperors, generals, and politicians who looked to propagandize their successes through the goddesses of victory and fortune. While both goddesses were important parts of the Roman pantheon (Agustus himself made them cornerstones in the ethos of his power), Victoria was particularly popular with the army, leading them to conquest over their enemies, land, and death. It is thus logical that she is crowning Fortuna rather than the other way around; Victory rewards those who display virtus (or strength of character, to which Fortuna was closely tied). Connotating valor, courage, temperance, and masculinity, virtus was one of the most highly prized virtues in Rome, and those who did not possess it were in danger of inviting ill-fortune upon themselves and more importantly upon Rome.

Dimensions: Length: 5/8 inch (1.5 cm)

Condition: With extremely minor chips around the edge that do not detract, overall intact and in very good condition.

Provenance: Private DC collection, acquired in the 1970s.

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