Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism
by Thomas Inman, M.D. (1874)
Pagan and Christian symbolism
Figures 129, 130, 131, are, like the preceding four, copied from various antique gems; Fig. 129 represents a steering oar, le timon, and is usually held in the hand of good fortune, or as moderns would say "Saint Luck," or bonnes fortunes; Fig. 180 is emblematic of Cupid, or Saint Desire; it is synonymous with le dard, or la pique; Fig. 131 is a form less common in gems; it represents the hammer, le marteau qui frappe l'enclume et forge les enfans. The ancients had as many pictorial euphemisms as ourselves, and when these are understood they enable us to comprehend many a legend otherwise dim; e. g., when Fortuna, or luck, always depicted as a woman, has for her characteristic le timon, and for her motto the proverb, "Fortune favours the bold." we readily understand the double entente. The steering oar indicates power, knowledge, skill, and bravery in him who wields it; without such a guide, few boats would attain a prosperous haven.