Day of Fortuna Reduci
October 3 through 12
Day of Fortuna Reduci, Augustus Returns!
(Portions of the lesson which may be repeated from last year are shown in bold italics. Please be sure to review any repeated portions and study the new material.)
Last week we talked about Cleopatra’s overwhelming ambition to be the Pharaoh of a matriarchal Egypt, her desire to represent herself as the New Isis, and her unfortunate affair with Mark Antony, the husband of Octavian’s sister, Octavia, an affair which provoked a war in which Alexandria and Egypt fell into the control of the Roman Empire and Octavian. Last week, the birthday of Octavian, who later chose to be known as Augustus, was the first day of the Augustalia, and the first of three holidays we will have this year for Fortuna Restitutrix.
Augustalia was a great Pagan festival in Rome, honoring the return of Caesar Augustus, who was formerly known as Octavian. The Augustalia festival, similar to Greek fests, with musical and athletic contests held over several days in many cities, including Alexandria in Egypt.
In the spirit of Augustalia and musical competitions, we have brought new musicians to our worship services over the last few weeks. And, while we are not sure on exactly which day of the festival the story of Cleopatra and the New Isis should be told, we believe this story demanded inclusion, partly because of the dramatic mystique of Cleopatra; partly because of t her link to Fortuna-Isis; and also to show how Alexandria, Egypt influenced Fortuna Reduci.
Ironically, although the deification of Cleopatra was offensive to the Roman people, Augustus was deified himself, and temples were built to Augustus the god, after his passing, although most NeoPagans do not recognize his deification.
Augustus, was an incredibly powerful and influential leader around the turn of the century from B.C.E. to C.E. He was said to be the greatest ruler of the Roman Empire and his reign became known as the Augustan Era, or Pax Romana, the peace of Rome.
Augustus is also mentioned in the bible’s new testament, in which he was said to be the author of a new taxation for all the people of Rome, although some historians believe the bible gives an inaccurate report. The New Testament states that Jesus and Mary traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, via Galilee, to be registered for a taxation which happened during a census as Quirinus was governing Syria. (Luke 2:1-7). Quirinus is recorded to have arrived in Syria in 6 C.E., after the birth of Jesus.
Augustus was a humanitarian who gave money to the plebs and funded public buildings out of his personal bank accounts. Augustus not only appreciated architecture, he also supported many other new works in Rome, including the work of poets and historians, Virgil and Ovid.
Augustus passed at a ripe old age, in his seventies in 14 C.E., survived by his second wife and his stepson, Tiberius. Augustus was the first emperor of Rome. His rise to power followed the victory at sea against his former friend, Mark Antony. He was said to be a very handsome man, who did not like adornment. He was also somewhat short in stature. Augustus was prone to illness. As we mentioned last week, his illness prevented him from meeting Cleopatra, who met Mark Antony, instead.
Two bronze pillars, built in Rome, were inscribed with Augustus’ history as told by Augustus himself. In the inscription on these pillars, Octavian refers to himself as divine Augustus and says he funded his first militia, at the age of 19, from his own wealth. He was the adopted heir of his great uncle, Julius, who left his wealth to 18-year-old Gaius Octavius. After a debate in which he was directed to allow no harm to come to the Roman Empire, he was elected by the popular vote.
Augustus avenged his own father’s passing, setting a precedent for putting his family foremost in his political decision-making, as he later avenged his sister’s divorce against Mark Antony. Many successful campaigns are described, by land and sea. He preferred to pardon foreign people whom he trusted, and settled areas as Roman colonies. He won awards, and the laurel
Augustus was offered a dictatorship, and refused it. He held other political positions, permitted his name to be held sacred and was offered the priesthood, which was his father’s title. He was a very popular leader and easily won the vote in elections. Augustus mentions the altar of Fortuna Redux, which was built in front of the temple of Honor and Enterprise and the Capena gate. This altar was consecrated by the senate because of his safe return. The priests and Vestal virgins were directed to make an annual commemoration on the day of Augustus’ return.
Augustus’ numerous payments to the Roman plebs may, in part, account for his popularity. He supplemented the treasury with money from his own pocket and from the Caesar family estate.
Augustus built numerous buildings, including the senate house, the Chalcidicum, the temples of Apollo in the Palatium, of Divine Julius, of Jupiter in the Capitol, of Quirinus, of Minerva, of Juno Regina, of Jupiter Libertas on the Aventine, of the Lares at the head of the Sacred Way, of the home Gods on the Velia, of Juventas, of the Great Mother in the Palatium, the Lupercal, the portico at the Circus Flaminius (which he named Octavia after his sister who had built an earlier portico at the same site), and the gallery in the Circus Maximus.
Augustus also restored the Capital and theater of Pompeii without having his name inscribed upon them. He had conduits and the aqueduct repaired, completed works by his father including the Forum Julium and the basilica between the temples of Castor and Saturn. He also reconstructed 82 temples of the Gods. He rebuilt the Via Flemenia and every bridge except two.
Augustus also built a temple of Mars and the Forum Augustum on private property, and a theater at the temple of Apollo. He gives the costs for all this construction in detail.
After a victorious campaign in Asia, Augustus restored all the ornaments that had been plundered, and removed 80 silver statues of himself on horseback and sold them for gold, which he gifted to the temple of Apollo in his name, and in the name of his followers, who had made the statues. He also liberated the waters from pirates while at sea.
Augustus extended the borders of the Roman Empire to Gallic territory, Spain, Germany, the Alps, Ethiopia and created colonies in Africa, Arabia and, of course, Egypt and Alexandria. Several conquered kingdoms, he handed over to allied rulers.
Augustus also restored territories lost under other commanders. We do not know if perhaps he is referring to Mark Antony, because Mark Antony and Cleopatra’s names are not mentioned absent from the inscription. Augustus states that he was 76 years old at the time of the writing. He passed shortly after this inscription was written and, on his deathbed, he quoted a line which was used by actors in his day: “Since I’ve played well, with joy your voices raise/ And from your stage dismiss me with your praise”.
His safe return we celebrate in Fortuna Reduci was, of course, many years before and was, by the time of this inscription, already very old news. Augustus had many safe returns in his long career.
The Fortuna Restitutrix Holiday, September 23, was Augustus’ birthday and date of return. The Fortuna Reduci holiday, October 5, was established later for a deified Augustus. The Fortuna Redux holiday, October 12, presented the altar of Fortuna Redux. The final Fortuna Redux holiday, December 15, dedicated the altar of Fortuna Redux for supplications, and became the Goddess to appeal for safe return of loved ones, especially those travelling in foreign countries.
We suggest, at Temple of Fortuna Dot Com, that a yellow-ribbon theme may be a contemporary theme to honor Augustalia and Fortuna Reduci. Mama Fortuna has placed three yellow ribbons at the front altar of Fortuna during this holiday season, to be kept there until the December 15 holiday of the altar dedication, so that we may make our formal petition for safe return of our own loved ones and friends who are travelling abroad. Please enjoy our donated gift of music this week.
We hope to expand this holiday into a true, Pagan Augustalia festival future years.
Isis-Fortuna bronze lararium statue
from the private collection of Henry Walters
public domain image
coin images from
Coins of the Roman Republic
photographs by Dr. Tom Buggey
used with permission
LacusCurtius A Gateway to Ancient Rome
Documents Illustrating the Reigns of Augustus and Tiberius – Macquarie University
Answers – The Most Trusted Place for Answering Life’s Questions