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Memor utriusque fortunae.

Remember Fortune’s mutability

Queis peperit dignas olim victoria laudes,
Solenni pompa hos excipiebat amor[1].
Roma suos voluit capitolia celsa subire,
Atque triumphantes concelebrare Duces.
Currus at appensam nolam tulit, atque flagellum,
Possit hic adversae sortis ut esse memor.
Bulla etiam collo βουλῆς, rerumque salubre,
Quaeque cavere decet, symbolon utile erat.
Tres quoque Alexander nolas, saevumque Leonem
Gestabat, ne esset strenuus absque metu.
Quàm facilè in luctus mutat fortuna triumphos,
Et victor servi conditione venit?
Fortunae esto memor semper fortuna in utraque,
Non facilè est aequa commoda mente pati.

In days of old, those for whom victory gave birth to well-deserved praise were welcomed home by love with a solemn parade. Rome wished them to ascend the Capitol’s heights, and to celebrate her triumphant generals. But the triumphal car bore a little bell and a whip, so the man might be conscious of fate’s adversity. And the amulet (bulla) of good counsel (βουλῆς), was a healthy and useful token of those things which are best avoided. Alexander, too, bore on his arms three bells and the cruel lion, so that he, though hardy, should never be free from fear. How quickly Fortune turns triumph into grief, and the victor returns in a slave’s state! In both fortunes, good and bad, remember always Fortune, for to bear happiness with a calm mind is not an easy thing to do.


1.  Amor is Roma backwards.

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