October 22, 2008

Lady Luck

Albrecht Durer's engraving of Fortuna. Image courtesy of wikipedia.

It's interesting that one of the Roman divinities to survive well into the Christian era was the goddess Fortuna, the personification of luck. This was the subject of Howard Rollin Patch's 1927 book, The Goddess Fortuna in Medieval Literature.

One of her symbols is her famous wheel, which was the inspiration of the TV game show Wheel of Fortune. It's not a bad image, which is probably why it has endured so long. As you've no doubt noticed if you've ever ridden a Ferris Wheel, as it spins along sometimes you go up and sometimes you go down.

As the ancient Roman writer Seneca put it in his tragedy Agamemnon,

Whatever Fortune has raised on high, she lifts but to bring low.

I think Fortuna's wheel image is a good one to keep in mind as one navigates life's vicissitudes. If things are going good, don't assume that will always be the case. If things are going bad, remember that this too is subject to change.

Nobody owns her.

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