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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [K1r p145]

Fortuna virtutem superans.

Fortune triumphant over virtue

EMBLEMA CXIX.

Caesareo postquąm superatus milite, vidit
Civili undantem sanguine Pharsaliam;
Iam iam 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?’

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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  • 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
  • geographical names of countries, regions, mountains, rivers, etc. (names of cities and villages excepted) (with NAME) [61D(PHARSALIA)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • (story of) Marcus Junius Brutus death of person from classical history [98B(BRUTUS, M.J.)68] Search | Browse Iconclass

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In Deo laetandum.

Joy is to be found in God

Aspice ut egregius puerum Iovis alite pictor
Fecerit Iliacum[1] summa per astra vehi.
Quis ne Iovem tactum puerili credat amore?
Dic haec Maeonius[2] finxerit unde senex?
Consilium mens atque Dei cui gaudia praestant,
Creditur is summo raptus adesse Iovi.

See how the skilful illustrator has shown the Trojan boy being carried through the highest heavens by the eagle of Jove. Can anyone believe that Jove felt passion for a boy? Explain how the aged poet of Maeonia came to imagine such a thing. It is the man who finds satisfaction in the counsel, wisdom and joys of God who is thought to be caught up into the presence of mighty Jove.

Notes:

1.  ‘The Trojan boy’, i.e. Ganymede, son of the Trojan prince, Tros, snatched away by the gods to be Jove’s cup-bearer. See Homer, Iliad 20.232ff, though the eagle is a post-Homeric addition. The Greek motto in the accompanying illustration, gannusthai medesi, means ‘to delight in counsels’, referring to a supposed etymology of the name Ganymedes, for which see Xenophon, Symposium 8.30.

2.  ‘The aged poet of Maeonia’, i.e Homer. His place of activity is disputed. Chios or Smyrna is most likely - these are places in the central coastal area of Asia Minor, known as Lydia or Maeonia.


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