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Altar Dedicated to Fortuna Salutare

Roman art

This altar was mentioned in 1700 by Montelatici in the storerooms of the Villa Borghese, where it was kept until 1832, when it was reported in its current location in the portico.

The four-sided sculpture has complex moulding at the top and bottom and, on the sides, representations of the tools used for ritual sacrifice, a patera and a small pitcher. The front bears an inscription dedicated to Fortuna Salutare, who the Romans venerated as a tutelary divinity who protected the destiny of men.

The sculpture is roughly datable to between the first and second centuries CE.

Object details

I-II secolo d.C.
Luni marble
altezza cm 79; larghezza cm 61; profondità cm 58; altezza lettere cm 5,5-5,8

Borghese Collection, cited for the first time by Montelatici in the ‘stanze sotterranee’ (‘underground rooms’; 1700, p. 309). Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese, 1833, C., p. 42, no. 13. Purchased by the Italian State, 1902.





Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1994-95 - Abacus di Nicoletta Naldoni and G. Tautschnig
  • 2008 - Consorzio Capitolino of Elisabetta Zatti and Elisabetta Caracciolo


The socle of this four-sided altar is composed of a listel, a cyma reversa, an astragal and a band worked coarsely with a claw chisel. The moulding at the top is composed of a listel, below which are a cyma recta followed by a listel and a cavetto, distinguished below by a step. On the front, the inscription is framed by a listel, a cyma reversa and a step. The three-line funerary inscription is dedicated to the personification of Fortune:




On the right and left sides are, respectively, a bowl for libations called a patera and a small pitcher called an urceus.

In 1700, the altar was mentioned by Montelatici in the ‘Stanze sotterranee’ (‘underground rooms’; p. 309).  In the inventory of 1762, it is listed as a support for a ‘Fortuna a sedere senza braccie’ (‘seated Fortune without arms’; pp. 207–208). Nibby cited it for the first time in 1832 on view in the Villa Borghese’s portico (pp. 10–11). Until 1873, it was used as a base for the statue of Mercury seated with a turtle. In 1893, Venturi mentioned it as the base for the fragment of the statue of Apollo (Indicazione 1854 (1873), p. 5 no. 2; Venturi 1893, p. 9). The cult of the goddess Fortune was particularly popular among the Romans, who venerated her as the force that guided and determined the fate of men, distributing happiness, comfort and wealth. Nibby mentioned a speech by Plutarch, “De Fortuna Romanorum”, dedicated to this goddess (pp. 10–11). The sculpture is roughly datable to between the first and second centuries CE.

Giulia Ciccarello