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Fortuna virtutem superans.

Fortune triumphant over virtue

Caesareo postquąm superatus milite vidit
Civili undantem sanguine Pharsaliam:
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?’

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Fortune surmontant Vertu.

Brutus par Cesar surmonte,
Se tua, surpris de destresse:
Mais premier questre ainsy dompte,
Pronunca tel parolle expresse:
Vertu malheurese en adresse,
Que ne es que en parler opportune,
Que ne es tu ez choses maistresse,
Sans estre servante a fortune?

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.


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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 Virtł', 'Attione virtuosa', 'Guida sicura de' veri honori', 'Virtł', 'Virtł insuperabile' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57A6(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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