Roman mythology, Portunes (alternatively spelled "Portumnes" or "Portunus") was a god of keys and doors and livestock. He protected the warehouses where grain was stored. Probably because of folk associations between "porta" "gate, door" and "portus" "harbor", the "gateway" to the sea, Portunus later became conflated with Palaemonand evolved into a god primarily of ports and harbors. ["Portunus gives to the sailor perfect safety in traversing the seas; but why has the raging sea cast up so many cruelly-shattered wrecks?" the Christian apologist Arnobiusasks, ca 300 CE ("Seven Books against the Heathen" III.23 ( [http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG1008/__P3.HTM on-line text] ).] In the Latin adjective "importunus" his name was applied to untimely waves and weather and contrary winds, and the Latin echoes in English "opportune" and its old-fashioned antonym "importune", meaning "well-timed' and "badly-timed". Hence Portunus is behind both an "opportunity" and "importunate" or badly-timed solicitations (" OED").
His festival, celebrated on
August 16, the seventeenth day before the Kalendsof September, was the Portumnalia, a minor occasion in the Roman year. On this day, keys were thrown into a fire for good luck in a very solemn and lugubrious manner. His attribute was a key and his main temple in the city of Rome, the Temple of Portunus, was to be found in the Forum Boarium.
Marcus Terentius Varro, "De Lingua Latina" vii.19.
* [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Portumnalia.html William Smith, 1875. "A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities"( John Murray, London,): "Portumnalia"]
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