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Fortune comes well to all that comes not late. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Fortune is a term associated both with luck and destiny, generally indicated that good tidings will come or have come to a person.


Fortune turns all things to the advantage of those on whom she smiles.
~ François de La Rochefoucauld
My life is lived, and I have played
The part that Fortune gave.

~ Dido, in Virgil's Aeneid (19 BC)
  • Ill fortune seldom comes alone.
  • Fortune, that with malicious joy
    Does man her slave oppress,
    Proud of her office to destroy,
    Is seldom pleas'd to bless.
    • John Dryden, Imitation of Horace (1685), Book III, Ode 29, stanza 9.
  • Fortune, now see, now proudly
    Pluck off thy veil, and view thy triumph; look,
    Look what thou hast brought this land to!—
    • John Fletcher, The Tragedy of Bonduca (1611–14; published 1647), Act V, scene 5.
  • Men's fortunes are on a wheel, which in its turning suffers not the same man to prosper for ever.
    • Herodotus, in A. D. Godley, translator, Herodotus (1931), vol. 1, book 1, section 207, p. 261.
  • O Fortune, cruellest of heavenly powers,
    Why make such game of this poor life of ours?
  • Fortune comes well to all that comes not late.
  • Coniunx est mihi, sunt nati; dedimus tot pignora fatis.
    • I have a wife, I have sons; all these hostages have I given to fortune.
    • Lucan, Pharsalia, J. D. Duff, translation (1928), book 7, line 662, p. 418–19.
  • Fortune in men has some small diff'rence made,
    One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade;
    The cobbler apron'd, and the parson gown'd,
    The friar hooded, and the monarch crown'd.
  • Fortune turns all things to the advantage of those on whom she smiles.
  • That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger
    To sound what stop she please.
  • The great man down, you mark his favorite flies,
    The poor advanced makes friends of enemies.
  • Will Fortune never come with both hands full,
    But write her fair words still in foulest letters?
    She either gives a stomach, and no food;
    Such are the poor, in health: or else a feast,
    And takes away the stomach; such are the rich,
    That have abundance, and enjoy it not.
  • When Fortune means to men most good,
    She looks upon them with a threatening eye.
  • The lovely young Lavinia once had friends;
    And fortune smil'd, deceitful, on her birth.
  • Adspirat primo Fortuna labori.
    • Thus Fortune on our first endeavour smil'd.
    • Virgil, Aeneid, Book II, line 385 (trans. John Dryden).
  • Vixi, et, quem dederat cursum Fortuna, peregi.
    • My life is lived, and I have played
      The part that Fortune gave.
    • Virgil, Aeneid, Book IV, line 653 (trans. John Conington).

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 289-93.
  • To be fortunate is God, and more than God to mortals.
  • Si fortuna juvat, caveto tolli;
    Si fortuna tonat, caveto mergi.
    • If fortune favors you do not be elated; if she frowns do not despond.
    • Ausonius, Septem Sapientium Sententiæ Septenis Versibus Explicatæ, IV. 6.
  • That conceit, elegantly expressed by the Emperor Charles V., in his instructions to the King, his son, "that fortune hath somewhat the nature of a woman, that if she be too much wooed she is the farther off."
  • Therefore if a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune: for though she be blind, yet she is not invisible.
  • Just for a handful of silver he left us,
    Just for a ribbon to stick in his coat;
    Found the one gift of which Fortune bereft us,
    Lost all the others she lets us devote.
    • Robert Browning, The Lost Leader. Referring to Wordsworth when he turned Tory.
  • Cæsarem vehis, Cæsarisque fortunam.
    • You carry Cæsar and Cæsar's fortune.
    • Cæsar's remark to a pilot in a storm. Sometimes given: Cæsarem portas et fortunam ejus. See Bacon, Essays, Of Fortune.
  • Fortune, the great commandress of the world,
    Hath divers ways to advance her followers:
    To some she gives honor without deserving;
    To other some, deserving without honor;
    Some wit, some wealth,—and some, wit without wealth;
    Some wealth without wit; some nor wit nor wealth.
  • Vitam regit fortuna, non sapientia.
    • It is fortune, not wisdom, that rules man's life.
    • Cicero, Tusculanarum Disputationum, LIX.
  • Fors juvat audentes.
    • Fortune favors the brave.
    • Claudianus, Epistles, IV. 9. Cicero—De Finibus, Book III. Div. 4. Stobæus—Floril. Tit, XXX, p. 135. Sophocles, Deperditorum Dramatum, Fragmenta.
  • Eheu! quam brevibus pereunt ingentia fatis.
    • Alas! by what slight means are great affairs brought to destruction.
    • Claudianus, In Rufinum, II, 49.
  • If hindrances obstruct thy way,
    Thy magnanimity display.
    And let thy strength be seen:
    But O, if Fortune fill thy sail
    With more than a propitious gale,
    Take half thy canvas in.
  • Let fortune empty her whole quiver on me.
    I have a soul that, like an ample shield,
    Can take in all, and verge enough for more.
  • Neuer thinke you fortune can beare the sway,
    Where Virtue's force, can cause her to obay.
    • Queen Elizabeth, preserved by George Puttenham in his "Art of Poesie", Book III. Of Ornament, "which" (he says) "our soueraigne Lady wrote in defiance of Fortune".
  • Fortune truly helps those who are of good judgment.
  • Multa intersunt calicem et labrum summum.
    • Many things happen between the cup and the upper lip.
    • Aulus Gellius, Translation of Greek Proverb, Book XIII. 17. 3.
  • Vicissitudes of fortune, which spares neither man nor the proudest of his works, which buries empires and cities in a common grave.
    • Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter LXXI.
  • Das Glück erhebe billig der Beglückte.
  • Ein Tag der Gunst ist wie ein Tag der Ernte,
    Man muss geschäftig sein sobald sie reift.
    • The day of fortune is like a harvest day,
      We must be busy when the corn is ripe.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Torquato Tasso, IV. 4. 62.
  • Too poor for a bribe, and too proud to importune;
    He had not the method of making a fortune.
  • Fortune, men say, doth give too much to many,
    But yet she never gave enough to any.
  • The bitter dregs of Fortune's cup to drain.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book XX, line 85. Pope's translation.
  • Laudo manentem; si celeres quatit
    Pennas, resigno quæ dedit, et mea
    Virtute me involvo, probamque
    Pauperiem sine dote quære.
    • I praise her (Fortune) while she lasts; if she shakes her quick wings, I resign what she has given, and take refuge in my own virtue, and seek honest undowered Poverty.
    • Horace, Carmina, III. 29.
  • Curtæ nescio quid semper abest rei.
    • Something is always wanting to incomplete fortune.
    • Horace, Carmina, III. 24. 64.
  • Cui non conveniet sua res, ut calceus olim,
    Si pede major erit subvertet; si minor, uret.
    • If a man's fortune does not fit him, it is like the shoe in the story; if too large it trips him up, if too small it pinches him.
    • Horace, Epistles, I. 10. 42.
  • Horæ
    Momento cita mors venit aut victoria læta.
    • In a moment comes either death or joyful victory.
    • Horace, Satires, I. 1. 7.
  • Fortune, that favours fools.
    • Ben Jonson, Alchemist, Prologue. Every Man Out of His Humour, I. 1. Googe, Eglogs. (Quoted as a saying).
  • Fortune aveugle suit aveugle hardiesse.
  • Il lit au front de ceux qu'un vain luxe environne,
    Que la fortune vend ce qu'on croit qu'elle donne.
    • We read on the forehead of those who are surrounded by a foolish luxury, that Fortune sells what she is thought to give.
    • Jean de La Fontaine, Philémon et Baucis.
  • La fortune ne paraît jamais si aveugle qu' a ceux à qui elle ne fait pas de bien.
  • Barbaris ex fortuna pendet fides.
    • The fidelity of barbarians depends on fortune.
    • Livy, Annales, XXVIII. 17.
  • Non semper temeritas est felix.
    • Rashness is not always fortunate.
    • Livy, Annales, XXVIII. 42.
  • Non temere incerta casuum reputat, quem fortuna numquam decepit.
    • He whom fortune has never deceived, rarely considers the uncertainty of human events.
    • Livy, Annales, XXX. 30.
  • Raro simul hominibus bonam fortunam bonamque mentem dari.
    • Men are seldom blessed with good fortune and good sense at the same time.
    • Livy, Annales, XXX. 42.
  • Posteraque in dubio est fortunam quam vehat ætas.
    • It is doubtful what fortune to-morrow will bring.
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, III. 10. 98.
  • Quivis beatus, versa rota fortunæ, ante vesperum potest esse miserrimus.
    • Any one who is prosperous may by the turn of fortune's wheel become most wretched before evening.
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Historia, XXVI. 8.
  • You are sad in the midst of every blessing. Take care that Fortune does not observe—or she will call you ungrateful.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book VI, Epigram 79.
  • Fortuna multis dat nimis, satis nulli.
    • Fortune gives too much to many, enough to none.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), XII. 10. 2.
  • Audentem forsque Venusque juvant.
    • Fortune and Love befriend the bold.
    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria, I. 608.
  • Casus ubique valet: semper tibi pendeat hamus,
    Quo minime credas gurgite, piscis erit.
    • Luck affects everything; let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it, there will be a fish.
    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria, III. 425.
  • Fortuna miserrima tute est:
    Nam timor eventus deterioris abest.
    • The most wretched fortune is safe; for there is no fear of anything worse.
    • Ovid, Epistolæ Ex Ponto, I. 2. 113.
  • Donec eris felix, multos numerabis amicos;
    Tempora si fuerint nubila solus eris.
    • As long as you are fortunate you will have many friends, but if the times become cloudy you will be alone.
    • Ovid, Tristium, I. 9. 5.
  • Intera fortunam quisque debet manere suam.
    • Every man should stay within his own fortune.
    • Ovid, Tristium, III. 4. 26.
  • I wish thy lot, now bad, still worse, my friend,
    For when at worst, they say, things always mend.
    • Owen, To a Friend in Distress. Cowper's translation.
  • C'est la fortune de France.
  • Fortuna humana fingit artatque ut lubet.
    • Fortune moulds and circumscribes human affairs as she pleases.
    • Plautus, Captivi, II. 2. 54.
  • Nulli est homini perpetuum bonum.
    • No man has perpetual good fortune.
    • Plautus, Curculis, I. 3. 32.
  • Actutum fortunæ solent mutarier; varia vita est.
    • Man's fortune is usually changed at once; life is changeable.
    • Plautus, Truculentus, II. 1. 9.
  • Fortune had so favoured me in this war that I feared, the rather, that some tempest would follow so favourable a gale.
  • The wheel goes round and round,
    And some are up and some are on the down,
    And still the wheel goes round.
  • Who thinks that fortune cannot change her mind,
    Prepares a dreadful jest for all mankind.
    And who stands safest? Tell me, is it he
    That spreads and swells in puff'd prosperity,
    Or bless'd with little, whose preventing care
    In peace provides fit arms against a war?
  • The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
    • Psalms, XVI. 6.
  • Præsente fortuna pejor est futuri metus.
    • Fear of the future is worse than one's present fortune.
    • Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria, XII. 5.
  • Nihil est periculosius in hominibus mutata subito fortuna.
    • Nothing is more dangerous to men than a sudden change of fortune.
    • Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria, CCLX.
  • Centre fortune, la diverse un chartier rompit nazardes son fouet.
    • Against fortune the carter cracks his whip in vain.
    • François Rabelais, Pantagruel (1532), Book II, Chapter XI.
  • Chacun est artisan de sa bonne fortune.
  • Sed profecto Fortuna in omni re dominatur; ea res cunctas ex lubidine magis, quam ex vero, celebrat, obscuratque.
    • But assuredly Fortune rules in all things; she raises to eminence or buries in oblivion everything from caprice rather than from well-regulated principle.
    • Sallust, Catilina, VIII.
  • Breves et mutabiles vices rerum sunt, et fortuna nunquam simpliciter indulget.
    • The fashions of human affairs are brief and changeable, and fortune never remains long indulgent.
    • Quintus Curtius Rufus, De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni, IV, 14, 20.
  • Præcipites regum casus
    Fortuna rotat.
  • Quidquid in altum, fortuna tulit, ruitura levat.
    • Whatever fortune has raised to a height, she has raised only to cast it down.
    • Seneca the Younger, Agamemnon, C.
  • Quid non dedit fortuna non eripit.
    • Fortune cannot take away what she did not give.
    • Seneca the Younger, Epistolæ Ad Lucilium, LIX.
  • Felix, quisquis novit famulum
    Rogemque pati,
    Vultusque potest variare suos!
    Rapuit vires pondusque malis,
    Casus animo qui tulit æquo.
    • Happy the man who can endure the highest and the lowest fortune. He, who has endured such vicissitudes with equanimity, has deprived misfortune of its power.
    • Seneca the Younger, Hercules Œtæus, 228.
  • Aurea rumpunt tecta quietem,
    Vigilesque trahit purpura noctes.
    O si pateant pectora ditum,
    Quantos intus sublimis agit
    Fortuna metus.
    • Golden palaces break man's rest, and purple robes cause watchful nights.
    • Oh, if the breasts of the rich could be seen into, what terrors high fortune places within!
    • Seneca the Younger, Hercules Œtæus, 646.
  • Iniqua raro maximis virtutibus
    Fortuna parcit. Nemo se tuto diu
    Periculis offerre tam crebris potest,
    Quem sæpe transit casus, aliquando invenit.
    • Adverse fortune seldom spares men of the noblest virtues. No one can with safety expose himself often to dangers. The man who has often escaped is at last caught.
    • Seneca the Younger, Hercules Furens, 325.
  • O Fortuna, viris invida fortibus,
    Quam non æque bonis præmia dividis!
    • O Fortune, that enviest the brave, what unequal rewards thou bestowest on the righteous!
    • Seneca the Younger, Hercules Furens, 524.
  • Minor in parvis Fortuna furit,
    Leviusque ferit leviora deus.
    • Fortune is gentle to the lowly, and heaven strikes the humble with a light hand.
    • Seneca the Younger, Hippolytus, Act IV. 1,124.
  • Volat ambiguis
    Mobilis alis hora; nec ulli
    Præstat velox Fortuna fidem.
    • The shifting hour flies with doubtful wings; nor does swift Fortune keep faith with anyone.
    • Seneca the Younger, Hippolytus, Act IV. 1,141.
  • So is Hope
    Changed for Despair—one laid upon the shelf,
    We take the other. Under heaven's high cope
    Fortune is god—all you endure and do
    Depends on circumstance as much as you.
  • Fortune, my friend, I've often thought,
    Is weak, if Art assist her not:
    So equally all Arts are vain,
    If Fortune help them not again.
  • In losing fortune, many a lucky elf
    Has found himself.
  • Fortune is like a widow won,
    And truckles to the bold alone.
  • Fors æqua merentes<br.Respicit.
    • A just fortune awaits the deserving.
    • Statius, Thebais, I. 661.
  • Fortuna nimium quem favet, stultum facit.
    • When fortune favors a man too much, she makes him a fool.
    • Syrus, Maxims.
  • Fortuna vitrea est, tum cum splendet frangitur.
    • Fortune is like glass; when she shines, she is broken.
    • Syrus, Maxims. 283.
  • Miserrima est fortuna quæ inimico caret.
    • That is a very wretched fortune which has no enemy.
    • Syrus, Maxims.
  • Felicitate corrumpimur.
    • We are corrupted by good fortune.
    • Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), Book I, 15.
  • Che sovente addivien che'l saggio è'l forte.
    Fabre a se stesso è di beata sorte.
    • They make their fortune who are stout and wise,
      Wit rules the heavens, discretion guides the skies.
    • Torquato Tasso, Gerusalemme, X, 20.
  • By wondrous accident perchance one may
    Grope out a needle in a load of hay;
    And though a white crow be exceedingly rare,
    A blind man may, by fortune, catch a hare.
    • J. Taylor, A Kicksey Winsey, Part VII.
  • Forever, Fortune, wilt thou prove
    An unrelenting foe to love,
    And, when we meet a mutual heart,
    Come in between, and bid us part?
  • For fortune's wheel is on the turn,
    And some go up and some go down.
  • Audentes fortuna juvat.
  • Non equidem invideo: miror magis.
    • Indeed, I do not envy your fortune; I rather am surprised at it.
    • Virgil, Eclogæ, I. 11.

See also

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