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Gutta fortunae prae dolio sapientiae

Original post date: Thursday, February 15, 2007

In English: A drop of luck rather than a vat of wisdom.

I've been doing proverbs about Latin Fortuna for several days, and as I mentioned earlier on, there are many different perspectives on the power of Luck and its place in people's lives. Today's proverb endorses Luck in the strongest terms possible: it's better to have just one drop of good luck, which is more potent than a cask full of wisdom.

You might remember an earlier proverb that stated something quite the opposite: Victrix fortunae sapientia, "wisdom is the conqueror of fortune." So does one drop of fortune beat a gallon of wisdom... or not?

The world of proverbs has room for everybody, as you can see. Proverbs are not a single philosophical system, tending towards a single conclusion, completely consistent. Instead, they are a swirling compendium of the thoughts of many people distilled over time into a few pithy words. Different people see different forces at work in their lives: luck, hard work, wisdom, divine providence... and there are proverbs endorsing each and every one of these world views.

What I really like about today's proverb is the great contrast between the gutta and the dolium, between the "drop" and the "vat." How many drops in a vat? Who knows ... and who cares? It just takes one drop of fortune to do the trick!

So, wishing you a nice drop of good luck, here is today's proverb read out loud:

149. Gutta fortunae prae dolio sapientiae.

The number here is the number for this proverb in Latin Via Proverbs: 4000 Proverbs, Mottoes and Sayings for Students of Latin.

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