[Milton-L] "Fortune" in Renaissance literature

Mulryan, John JMULRYAN at sbu.edu
Fri Jul 26 14:28:26 EDT 2013

Allow me to point out that I covered this subject at length in "'Through a Glass Darkly': Milton's Reinvention of the Mythological Tradition,"  (Duquesne UP, 1996) under the categories Fate(s), Chance, Fortune, Kairos, Occasion, and Opportunity. See index. John Mulryan.

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Salwa Khoddam
Sent: Friday, July 26, 2013 1:45 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] "Fortune" in Renaissance literature

But there's also "good fortune" where Fortune (as a goddess or angel) conforms with Divine Providence.
Machiavelli has a broad and inclusive discussion on Fortune in chapter 25 of The Prince. He defines Fortune as the "arbiter of half of our actions, but that she still leaves the control of the other half, or about that, to us." Under this definition can be included fatalities, "virtues" humans are born with (i.e., what we consider now "genes"), chance (eventually under Divine Providence for a Christian), other circumstances, and even human intentions (like a prince's decision to go to war at a certain time) because the results of these intentions are never guaranteed. And of course who could forget Machiavelli's "unfortunate" comparison of Fortune to a woman?

Salwa Khoddam PhD
Professor of English Emerita
Oklahoma City University
skhoddam at cox.net<mailto:skhoddam at cox.net>
----- Original Message -----
From: J. Michael Gillum<mailto:mgillum at ret.unca.edu>
To: John Milton Discussion List<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Friday, July 26, 2013 10:35 AM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] "Fortune" in Renaissance literature

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.


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

some considerations on the different 'faces' of Fortune in Medieval
and Renaissance literature:

referring to this passage as a starting point:

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.
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