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Friday, March 17, 2017

[GBM] Fortune speaks

by the School of Andrea Mantegna

Adonis is a hunter. While chasing a doe, he reaches the southern coast of "Palestine" (actually Phoenicia at "that time," but what time? Some years or decades after the war of Troy, as some episodes in the poem let us guess). There, he sees a boat abandoned by fishermen; and suddenly a strange woman comes towards him walking on the sea. She is one of the most important personages of Renaissance literature and art: Fortune. Her typical features are listed in the words by which Marino describes her and she introduces himself. But, as a matter of fact, her role will be a minor one because, in the whole poem, a great and arbitrary cosmic power will be mainly exercised by Love rather than her; and, in general, the lines marking the respective fields of Fortune, Love, Destiny, and Nature will prove quite blurred. Here is a passage, anyway, in which Fortune defends her honor:

1.52

"Even if the people's old opinion     the Christian theologians', rather
sees me as a false idol, a vain shadow;
'blind, foolish, the enemy of virtue'
calling me, as well as fickle and crazy;     like Love
according to others, a powerless tyrant
often defeated by human wisdom---
yet I am a fairy and goddess and queen:     N.B. the fantasy side
Nature obeys me, Heaven bows."