[Milton-L] "Fortune" in Renaissance literature

J. Michael Gillum mgillum at ret.unca.edu
Fri Jul 26 11:35:27 EDT 2013


In the typical late-medieval scheme, fortune or luck is dispensed by the
stars and planets, and their propensity for dispensing injustice and bad
luck is a consequence of the fall. Milton engages this scheme in PL 10.

To the blanc<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_10/notes.shtml#mont>
 Moone
Her office they prescrib'd, to th' other
five<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_10/notes.shtml#planets>
Thir planetarie motions and aspects
In Sextile, Square, and Trine, and
Opposite<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_10/notes.shtml#signs>
,
Of noxious efficacie<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_10/notes.shtml#nox>,
and when to joyne [ 660 ]
In Synod<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_10/notes.shtml#synod>
 unbenigne, and taught the fixt
Thir influence malignant when to showre,
Which of them rising with the Sun, or falling,
Should prove tempestuous:

In the opening of *Decameron*, Boccaccio's narrator is unable to say
whether the plague was caused by the operation of the heavenly bodies or by
God's just punishment of sin. The idea of luck as opposed to providence was
a source of tension, then as now, but the very existence of luck in the
fallen world could be understood as an expression of negative (punitive)
providence.

Today, those on the left tend to take the older view that poverty is a
consequence of Fortune, while those on the right take the 19th-century view
that poverty is a consequence of natural law in its moral aspect.

Michael


On Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 1:57 AM, Dario Rivarossa
<dario.rivarossa at gmail.com>wrote:

> Dear scholars and friends
>
> some considerations on the different 'faces' of Fortune in Medieval
> and Renaissance literature:
> http://tassonomia.blogspot.it/2013/07/face-to-face-3.html
>
> referring to this passage as a starting point:
> http://tassonomia.blogspot.it/2013/07/face-to-face-1.html
>
> I honestly cannot recall whether Milton dealt with this issue, though
> his treatment of Chaos is quite telling. Literary additions will be
> welcome, as usual.
> Best!
> d
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