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"Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat: Does Fortune Actually..." Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2023 4:37 p.m. PST

… Favor the Bold?


"The Latin phrase fortis Fortuna adiuvat which translates to "fortune favors the bold" or "fortune favors the brave" has a long and storied relationship with militaries throughout history. Dating back to ancient Roman times and currently used as the motto for a number of US Navy vessels, it's a saying that begs the question: does fortune actually favor the bold?


The saying fortis Fortuna adiuvat was first used in 151 BC by ancient Roman playwright Terence in his play, Phormio. Variations and spoofs of the original were also popular among other literary figures, with the phrase also appearing in Virgil's famous poem, the Aeneid…"

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Armand

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP21 May 2023 8:07 a.m. PST

"Fortune favors the bold." is too simple and straightforward a translation. The article then takes this single translation (out of its broader context) and ties it to only one, fairly infrequent usage in English the idea that boldness means action "without hesitation or consideration".

As a Gex-Xer, I am (told that I am) culturally biased to the cynical interpretation of things. But "without hesitation or consideration" is not even close to what bold generally means, nor fortis (literally, strong).

What Terence and Virgil are getting at, in context of their stories, is that in a military situation bold action in the face of adversity can lead to victory while no action will (almost certainly) lead to defeat.

This leads to the other gross misinterpretation, the implication that "favors" means "absolutely leads to victory in every case". Adiuvat means "helps".

FFtB is a poetic translation of a phrase that was originally coined in poems and plays (that were written in verse). Likewise, used by modern militaries, it doesn't mean "Go do some outrageous Bleeped text without thinking", it means "If you're in a bind, nine out of ten times, doing something helps more than just sitting and waiting."

Never been in a unit with that motto.
Successum Merere Conemur

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 9:25 a.m. PST

etotheipi 100%

To stay closer to Latin word order and thus keep the original emphasis, I would translate fortis Fortuna adiuvat as "the strong does Fortune help".

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 3:51 p.m. PST

Thanks.

Armand

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