Fortune, Chance and Real Life: Pacuvius, lines 37-46

“Philosophers claim that Fortune is insane, blind, and savage,
That she stands on a rolling and treacherous stone—
Whichever way chance tips that stone, fortune falls nearby.
They say that she is insane because she is merciless, unsteady and faithless.
They repeat that she is blind because she does not see where she goes;
she is savage because she makes no distinction between a worthy or worthless man
But there are different philosophers who deny that Fortune exists
Who say that the law that governs everything is chance.
This is closer to real life and habit teaches us through experience.
Just as Orestes who once was a king, was also once a beggar.”

Fortunam insanam esse et caecam et brutam perhibent philosophi
Saxoque instare in globoso praedicant volubilei
Quia quo id saxum inpulerit fors,eo cadere Fortunam autumant.
Insanam autem esse aiunt quia atrox incerta instabilisque sit;
Caecam ob ream esse iterant quia nil cernat quo sese adplicet;
Brutam quia dignum atque indignum nequeat internoscere
Sunt autem alii philosophi qui contra Fortunam negant
Esse ullam sed temeritate res regi omnes autumant.
Id magis verisimile esse usus reapse exeriundo edocet.
Velut Orestes modo fuit rex, factus mendicus modo.

Pacuvius? Perhaps not a household name like Ennius, Naevius or even Livius Andronicus–but according to the tradition he was Ennius’ nephew, a painter as well as a poet, and one of Rome’s greatest tragedians. Of course, we have only fragments.

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