Tyche was the goddess of fortune, chance, providence and fate and protector of the town or city of Antioch. The goddess embodied the idea of the city, so she was usually shown seated on a rock, her legs crossed in a gracious gesture that highlights the elegant fullness of the drapery that was wrapped around her. Tyche’s image has been depicted in many ways, with varying features of emblematic adornment. Sometimes she is depicted bearing in her hand two rudders, with one of which she steers the bark of the fortunate, and with the other that of the unfortunate among mortals. Other times she appears blindfolded, and stands on a ball or wheel, indicative of the fickleness and ever-revolving changes of fortune. In her right hand she is usually holding a funnel-shaped container, a cornucopia or horn of plenty that is used to store fruits and vegetables, a symbol of wealth and fertility. On her head she wears a crown notched with towers that evoke the city walls. A swimmer with youthful features sometimes appears at the feet of the goddess, with his torso emerging from the waters, thus the young man is a personification of the river Orontes, which flows past the town.
Tyche was the goddess of fortune and prosperity of a city in Greek mythology. She was the daughter of Aphrodite and either Zeus or Hermes, although some sources referred to her as an Oceanid, a daughter of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. She became synonymous with other deities, such as the Roman Fortuna, as well as Cebele, Nemesis, Isis, Demeter, Astarte, and sometimes (although some believe erroneously) with one of the Fates (Moirai). Tyche was considered to be the source of all unexpected events in human life, whether good or evil and she was supposed to have invented the first set of dice.
Tyche is Fortune, a powerful goddess who loves different and unpredictable ways, and permanently offers instructive examples to those who neither know nor expect the incredible changes which she can effect. Tyche is one of the mightiest divinities when it comes to human affairs, as beauty and good reputation are in her keeping, and even success in love depends on Fortune. In fact, some believe that most things depend on her, including such cardinal things as health, wealth, power, good marriage, and lovely children.
Tyche also took pleasure in dashing hopes. Thus what mortals might achieve and enjoy through years of efforts, she could come along and destroy in one single day by what is called a ‘reversal of Fortune’, a phenomenon which is normally unpredictable, and that is often regarded as curious, for things may suddenly begin to appear as they are upside-down. In this manner, great careers come to abrupt ends. It does not matter how powerful, or rich, or beautiful someone is when Fortune tries one of her vicissitudes. For at any moment she may just make him or her be seized by a desperate malady and die, or she may bring all achievements and plans to an end by any means. And when this happens, Tyche is called cruel and harsh, but when things go well, she is seen as giving gifts, and is therefore called generous.
Others call her uncertain, for no one knows what she will bring next moment. It is known that arrogant people are hated among gods and men, and for that reason it has been considered adequate to be humble in front of this goddess, abstaining from acts that go beyond man’s powers. For neither wisdom nor strength can prevail over Tyche, who works swift changes in the prosperity of men, showing that those who become elated above measure, give proof of their own weakness in the next turn, when she heaps upon them whatever calamities she pleases.