Portunus, Portumnes, and Portunes are all variant spellings of the name of the Roman god of gates, doors, harbors, fords and possibly warehouses. Linguistically, the words opportunity and importune both derive from Portunes, who had influence over the timing of waves and thus could dictate the moments and events in the lives of those on or near the sea.

Portumnes appears as a man (possibly two-headed) with a key in his hand.

His holy day is August 17, the Portunalia, when one throws a key into a fire to ensure good luck.

Traditionally, a Roman paterfamilias would offer prayer to Portunes when the household door was first opened in the morning and when it was locked up for the night.

Interpretations and mash-ups

As is often the case, the melding of cultures and traditions have blurred the line between this deity and several others recognized by the the Romans. Portunes may (or may not) be the same being as:

In the interpretatio Cthulhiana, keys, gates and doorways would, of course, identify him with Yog-Sothoth.


Game and Story Use

  • Despite not being one of the major deities, Portunes could still be a powerful figure in a historical game set in the Roman Empire, or a fantasy game drawing on Classical Mythology.
    • Sailors might pray or sacrifice to Portunes for a safe voyage and especially a safe return home.
    • A city that disrespects Portunes may find its gates open to the enemy.
  • Portunes might be invoked in magic designed to seal, contain, secure, ship, or open. Such magic might bolster or thwart various security measures, or be used to pass through a customs inspection. He might be called upon to create an opportunity, or to ensure proper timing.
  • The correct veneration of Portunes might be an important part of maintaining the threshold of a Roman home against unwelcome spiritual intruders.
  • The Penates may be an aspect of Portunes.
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