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→ (Agathe) Tyche (Good Fortune).

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Athenian Political Art from the Fifth and Fourth Centuries BCE: Images of Political Personifications 

Amy C. Smith, edition of January 18 2003

page 25 of 26

· (Agathe) Tyche (Good Fortune) ·

᾿Αγαθὴ Τύχη

Read about the evidence
Pindar (Pind. Hymn. fr.).
Pausanias (Paus.).
Aeschylus (Aesch. Ag.).
Euripides (Eur. Cycl.).

Discussion: As early as the mid-fifth century Tyche is noted as a civic deity by Pindar (Pind. Hymn. fr. 39 Snell-Mihler [=Paus. 4.30.6]). In Agamemnon (produced in 458) Aeschylus infers that she is a savior goddess (Aesch. Ag. 664). Tyche is not personified or deified in pre-Socratic fragments, except Empedocles' On the Nature of Things, where he notes that “…all things are conceived in the will of Tyche” (DK,1 B 103). She is most prominent in the works of Euripides (e.g. Eur. Cycl. 607). Even that author continues the sophistic trend of regarding Tyche as a force that is important, but separate from the gods.

Whereas the Classical authors expound on Tyche's fickle ways, and the good and bad luck that is granted in certain situations, or to certain individuals, the Tyche noted in Attic inscriptions always bears the epithet Agathe (Good); it is natural that her worshippers would have supplicated her good side. In the first half of the fourth century Tyche becomes the recipient of dedications and sacrifices (IG II2, 4564 notes a dedication to the twelve gods and to Agathe Tyche).

Read about the evidence
Pausanias (Paus.).
Hesiod (Hes. WD).
Sophocles (Soph. OC).
Euripides (Eur. Hipp.).
Scholia (Sch. Aesch.).
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Finally, by the last quarter of the fourth century Agathe Tyche became a goddess in her own right: in his speech regarding his administration, Lycurgus makes reference to the Temple of Tyche, which was repaired as part of his renewal of the city, according to a contemporaneous inscription (IG II2, 333.19-20 [335/4]). We cannot be sure of the location of Tyche's sanctuary at Athens, although an inscription indicates that it was located at some point along the Long Walls. It is tempting to place her in the Agora, given the prominence of the concept of tyche in Pausanias' discussion of the altars to Eleos (Mercy), and to Aidos (Reverence), Pheme (Rumor), and Horme (Impulse), all located in the Agora (Paus. 1.17.1). Pausanias does not mention a cult to Agathe Tyche in Athens; it is interesting also to note that, of the cult personifications he does mention in this passage, none are known in extant Greek art, and only one, Aidos ( Αἰδός), is personified in Classical Greek literature (Hes. WD 200; Soph. OC 133; Eur. Hipp. 78; Sch. Aesch. PB 12).

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Tyche's civic nature, for which she became extremely popular in the Graeco-Roman period, is not explicit in fifth century Attic literature. Starting in the middle of the fourth century, however, she is certainly revered, if not worshipped, as a protector of civic fortune: more than a thousand inscriptions dating from 360 to 318 invoke Agathe Tyche, in many of which the “Good Fortune of the Demos of Athens” is specified.

Read about the evidence
Aelian (Ael. VH).
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Agora, Athens (in text as “Agora”).

Classical Attic representations of the personification Tyche are limited to the fourth century. Agathe Tyche appears on six Attic reliefs [1], [2], [3], [9], [10], and [11]. On [1], probably a votive relief, she is labelled with an inscription on the upper moulding. In this representation she carries the keras (cornucopia), the fertility attribute that she shares with Ploutos, in both hands. A female figure, seated but otherwise identical to the Tyche on [1], is illustrated on a contemporary votive reliefs, [2] and [10]. The diminutive honorand approaches the seated goddess who is labelled on [2]. Tyche's cult status is inferred in these representations, because the honorand raises his right hand in the common gesture of worship. Other lost fourth century representations of Tyche are the statues by Xenophon of Athens [4], and at least two by Praxiteles of Athens, [5] and [6]. [5] served a cult statue in the Sanctuary of Tyche at Megara. The existence of Praxiteles' Athenian statue in the Agora (Aelian locates it in the Copenhagen: Ael. VH 9.39) has encouraged Olga Palagia to identify as Tyche a monumental fourth-century female statue found in the Agora [12].

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An inscribed votive relief in Copenhagen [3], dated to the middle of the fourth century, attests Zeus' association with Agathe Tyche and Philia. The relief illustrates a family of worshippers approaching a pair of deities on a couch. The accompanying inscription explains “Aristomache… dedicates to Zeus Epiteleios Philios and to Philia, the mother of the god, and to Agathe Tyche, the wife of the god” (IG II2. 4627). The reclining male god shown must then be the primary recipient of the dedication, Zeus (Epi)teleios (Zeus who brings things to completion), the patron of matrimonial concord, along with Hera Teleia. Since only one of the two named goddesses is shown, it is most likely that she is meant to be Zeus' consort (according to the inscription), Tyche—which might explain why Zeus here carries the keras of Tyche. On a mid-fourth century votive relief in Piraeus [10], Tyche alone is approached by the pair of worshippers, yet the dedication is to the Good Gods, Agathei Theoi, which probably refers to Agathe Tyche and Agathos Daimon together. Agathos Daimon is shown with Agathe Tyche (and Philia) on a mid-fourth century relief decorated statue base from the Athenian Acropolis [2]. Once again, the male figure, who is here identified as Agathos Daimon, bears the keras; Agathe Tyche, also identified by inscription, bears no attributes, but holds her veil toward Agathos Daimon in the anakalypsis (unveiling) gesture that suggests her status as his consort.


Read about the evidence
Pausanias (Paus.).
Pausanias (Paus.).
Aelian (Ael. VH).
Pliny (Plin. HN).
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  1. [Certain example] Athens, NM 1343: standing female figure, holding a keras (cornucopia), labelled [ΑΓΑ]ΘΗ [ΤΗ]ΧΗ, on a votive relief (IG II2, 4644), ca. 380-370.
  2. [Certain example] Athens, Acropolis 4069: a standing female figure on a relief decorated statue base dedicated to Agathos Daimon and Agathe Tyche, ca. 360-350, with a possible representation of Philia.
  3. [Certain example] Copenhagen, NCG 1558: a seated female figure on a votive relief dedicated to Agathe Tyche and other gods (IG II2, 4627), ca. 350.
  4. [Certain example] Acrolithic statue of Tyche, with Ploutos (Wealth), in the Sanctuary of Tyche, Thebes, by Xenophon of Athens and Kallistonikos of Thebes, ca. 350 (Paus. 9.16.2).
  5. [Certain example] Statue of Tyche, in the Sanctuary of Tyche, Megara (near the Aphrodite Temple), by Praxiteles, ca. 350 (Paus. 1.43.6).
  6. [Certain example] Statue by Praxiteles, ca. 350, near the Athens, Athens (presumably in the Agora at Athens (Ael. VH 9.39; Plin. HN 36.23).
  7. [Possible example] Berlin 30036: a standing female figure, labelled ...Υ...Ε... (which may be restored as “Eukleia,” but has also been restored as “Tyche”), on the name vase (a pointed amphoriskos) of the Heimarmene Painter (name vase), ca. 430-420, with representations of Nemesis, Peitho, Heimarmene, and perhaps Themis.
  8. [Possible example] Louvre MNB 1320: a standing female figure, perhaps Tyche, on an acorn lekythos in the manner of the Meidias Painter, ca. 410-400, with possible representations of Harmonia, Hygieia (Health), and Peitho.
  9. [Possible example] Athens, NM 1459: a standing female figure, probably Tyche, holding a phiale and a keras (?), on a votive relief, ca. 350, with a probable representation of Philia (shown above, under Philia).
  10. [Possible example] A female figure on a votive relief (IG II2, 4589), in the Piraeus Museum (no inv. no. known), ca. 350.
  11. [Possible example] A female figure on a votive relief (Schöne 1872, 54, no. 107, pl. 26.), formerly in the Archaeological Society, Athens, ca. 350.
  12. [Possible example] Agora S 2370: colossal statue of a goddess, ca. 335-330, perhaps Demokratia, Themis, or Tyche (shown above, under Demokratia).

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