Fortuna was the Roman goddess of fortune and the notion of her controlling a metaphorical wheel to which all humanity was tied dates back to the writings of Cicero. Through the writings of Boethius (see next bookmark), the concept later came to dominate medieval beliefs on the nature of life.
As a motif, the wheel appears all over medieval art and architecture, from illuminated manuscripts to rose windows. Often the wheel is divided into four stages showing human figures and labelled on the left "I shall reign", on the top "I reign", on the right "I have reigned" and at the bottom "I have no kingdom".
The concept has become embedded in Western culture and is manifested in many diverse ways that include the randomness of the roulette wheel and the certainties of Bob Dylan's changing times.