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Fortuna virtutem superans.

Fortune triumphant over virtue

XL.

Caesareo postqum superatus milite vidit
Civili undantem sanguine Pharsaliam:
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [e4r p71]Iamiam stricturus moribunda in pectora ferrum,
Audaci hos Brutus protulit ore sonos:
Infelix virtus & solis provida verbis.
Fortunam in rebus cur sequeris dominam?[1]

Brutus, defeated by the Caesarean troops, saw Pharsalia flowing with citizen blood. As he was about to plunge the sword into his dying heart, he spoke these words with undaunted voice: ‘Unhappy virtue, prudent only in word - why do you in reality submit to dominating fortune?’

COMMENTARIA.

M. Brutus contra Caesarem pugnans, post-
qum vidit magnam suorum stragem, iam omni-
no conclamatum, strenuas denique suas virtutes
ab adversa fortuna victas, non tamen ab ini-
micis capi nec Caesari offerri voluit, sed suis
illum de fuga adhortantibus, assurgens dixit,
fugiendum quidem esse non pedibus sed mani-
bus, mox strictum arripiens ensem huiusmodi
extrema verba protulit: O infelix virtus quae
non nisi verbis provida es, quid tandem ab
iniqua fortuna dominaris? Viros nunc iustos,
iniqui: & optimos, pessimi perdunt, & praeter
leges fasque dominantur, his viribus propriis,
prono pectore cuspidi incubuit. Vitamque
finivit, haec eleganter Plutarchus in vita M.
Bruti, circa finem, & in vita C. Caesaris etiam
in fine. & Antonius Sabellicus in 6. Enneadum libro 8.[2]
Fortunam denique dominam esse rerum disse-
rit Cicero libr. 5. Tusculanae quaestionum. 4. & in oratione
pro M. Marcello & de fortuna Plinius elegan-
ter. lib. 2. cap. 7. Iambicum Carmen quod sibi
manus inferentem Brutum dixisse Autor est
Dion, ut refert Alciatus noster lib. 2. parergi
cap. 7. & fic vertit:

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Quo non malignas mortis accusat vices
Virtute claros quae viros praeceps rapit
Vivaciores improbos Corvis sinens?
Frustra putatur esse virtus Deam
Quae fortuitis serviebas casibus.

Notes:

1. After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius became the leaders of the Republican cause. The Caesarean troops, led by Mark Antony and Octavian, Caesar’s heir, defeated them in 42 BC in two battles at Philippi in Macedonia. (Pharsalus in Thessaly was the site of the battle in 48 BC in which Julius Caesar had defeated Pompey in a previous round of the Civil Wars. Pharsalia is here loosely used, as in the Roman poets, to refer to both sites of similar civil conflict.) For Brutus’ suicide after the defeat, see the end of Plutarch’s Life of Brutus.

2. Marcantonio Coccio Sabellico (1436-1506); historian from Venice and curator of the San Marco library; wrote the Enneades, a history of the world.


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  • (story of) Marcus Junius Brutus death of person from classical history [98B(BRUTUS, M.J.)68] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • geographical names of countries, regions, mountains, rivers, etc. (names of cities and villages excepted) (with NAME) [61D(PHARSALIA)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Luck, Fortune, Lot; 'Fato', 'Fortuna', 'Fortuna aurea', 'Fortuna buona', 'Fortuna pacifica overo clemente', 'Sorte' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54F12(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Virtuousness; 'Amor di Virt�', 'Attione virtuosa', 'Guida sicura de' veri honori', 'Virt�', 'Virt� insuperabile' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57A6(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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