Fortuna fortibus favet (Fortune favors the brave)

Good and bad luck in ancient Rome was controlled by the goddess Fortuna, who could be persuaded to favor or smite a person by certain actions. Do any of the following look familiar? Many ancient Roman superstitions have survived to this day.

“Such fear of the gods (deisidaimonia) was what the Romans meant by ‘superstition’ (Veyne 1987, p 211).

Superstitious Romans : Happy Rome

Bringers of Bona Fortuna:

Cut your hair on the 17th and 29th of a month to prevent headaches and baldness
Say “Good health” (bona salus) after someone sneezes
Say “two” (duo) at the sight of a scorpion to prevent it from stinging
Silently cut your nails, beginning with the index finger, while in Rome on a market day
Spit on your hand after inflicting a blow to lessen any resentment from the person struck
Spit on your right shoe before putting it on
Spit on your urine
Retrieve a thrown horseshoe
A bride touches a doorpost with pig fat upon entering her new home

Superstitious Romans : Unhappy Rome

Bringers of Mala Fortuna:

Superstitious Romans : Fortuna as the Greek Tyche

Attacking the memory of a dead person
Sweeping a floor when a dinner guest is leaving
Removing a table or serving tray while a guest is still drinking
Mentioning fires at a banquet, which is remedied by pouring water under the table
Attending a banquet that has an even number of diners