March 19, 2015

Fortune favors the brave, the bold – and the prepared, the well-armed and the well-endowed...


“Fortune favors the brave.”
       Latin proverb traditionally attributed to
Terence (c. 190-159 B.C.)
Many sources say that the first recorded use of this ancient proverb was in the play Phormio (161 B.C.), written by Publius Terentius Afer, the Roman playwright known as Terence for short. It’s a common translation of the Latin phrase “fortis fortuna adiuvat,” which is spoken by a character in Act 1 of Phormio. However, like “Charity begins at home,” another saying traditionally credited to Terence, “fortune favors the brave” is not quite a literal translation of what he wrote in Latin and it may have been a proverbial saying before Terence used it. 
       The Latin word fortis (sometimes misspelled as fortes) does mean brave and fortuna means fortune. Fortuna with a capital F, used in some versions of the classical quote, refers to the Goddess Fortuna (Fortune). However, adiuvat is more literally translated as helps or aids, rather than favors (in the sense of liking or preferring someone). In the Aeneid (c. 19 B.C.), the Roman poet Virgil used another well known variation of the saying: “Audentis Fortuna iuvat.” Both Latin versions have also been translated as
“Fortune favors the bold.” (Audentis, sometimes given as audentes, comes from the Latin verb audeo, which means to dare or to be bold. Iuvat, sometimes spelled juvat, means to help or aid.)
       Regardless of the version or translation, the basic meaning of the saying is clear. Succeeding or being a winner is usually not just a matter of random luck. A person who takes action, acts boldly, takes some risks and strives hard to achieve a goal is more likely to succeed, win or be rewarded than someone who doesn’t.


“Fortune favors the prepared mind.”
       Attributed to Louis Pasteur
       French chemist and microbiologist
       This saying, widely attributed to Pasteur, appears to be a simplified, popularized translation of a remark he made during a lecture at the University of Lille on December 7, 1854. What he actually said, in French, was “Dans les champs de l'observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés.” A more literal and accurate translation of this line in English is: “In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind


“The great soldier of our century said, ‘Fortune favors the heavy battalions.’”
Jefferson Davis (1808-1889)
       American politician and statesman, best known for serving as the President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War
       An observation Davis made
in his book The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (1881). It obviously reflected first-hand experience showing that — regardless of how brave and bold one’s soldiers may be — the side equipped with bigger, better weaponry tends to have the advantage in a battle or a war. Davis didn’t say who he meant by “the great soldier of our century.”


“Fortune does not favor the quitter, but neither does it favor the man who insists in hanging on long after he has been proved wrong and advised to change.”
       The Retail Clerks International Association (forerunner of the
The Retail Clerks International Union)
       Advice given
in a 1925 edition of the group’s Advocate magazine


“An unregulated market is not a market, but simply a lottery in which fortune favors the most cynical.”
Nicolas Sarkozy
       President of France
Remark at the conference of the G-20 agriculture ministers in Paris, June 2011


“Fortune favors the large-testicled.”
Chuck Sudo 
       American journalist, Former Editor-in-Chief of the Chicagoist
       Advice for fans of Fantasy Football and manly terminology
in a post on the Chicagoist

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