Fortune favours the bold, Fortune favours the brave, Fortune helps the brave , and Fortune favours the strong are common translations of the famous and often-quoted ancient Latin proverb “Fortes fortuna adiuvat”.

The phrase means that Fortuna, the Goddess of luck, is more likely to help those that take risks, take action, and develop their skills proactively. It was first written by Terence, who lived in the second century BC, in his play “Phormio”,[1] but it has been quoted many times since. The phrase is often associated with Virgil’s epic poem, the Aeneid, appearing in book 10 line 284, in the slightly different form “audentis fortuna iuvat.”[2]

The Roman consul Lucius Cornelius Sulla was said to believe in the influence of the goddess Fortune in his life. He was a consummate risk-taker, achieving martial distinction by taking risks on the battlefield such as wearing disguises and living among the enemy. He was also the first of the great Republican Romans to march upon Rome- a great taboo, but one which cemented his power and influence.

Julius Caesar also transformed his fortunes when he marched on Rome, with the famous words alea jacta est (the die is cast) as he crossed the Rubicon river. The utterance was a commitment of his fate to Fortune. While Caesar was a thorough and professional soldier, many of his greatest victories were achieved by taking bold risks which often exposed him and his troops to great danger, but often resulted in memorable victories. Obviously, his last gamble, attending the Senate on the Ides of March without his lictors (bodyguards) exposed him to successful assassination.

Pliny the Younger quotes his uncle Pliny the Elder as saying ‘fortune favours the bold!’ (‘fortes’ inquit ‘fortuna iuvat’) when commanding his ship to sail closer to Vesuvius in 79 AD, an action that was to lead to his death in the eruption.

It was the motto of airbase RAF East Fortune in Scotland, the English football team KAG FC, the Scottish clan Dickson/Dixon, and the American 3rd Marine Regiment.

This phrase underlies the meaning of the 5th episode of the 6th season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; “Favor the Bold”. Captain Sisko quotes it, stating that it is an old saying, before leading a fleet of ships into combat when they are outnumbered two to one in an epic battle.

The phrase is the name of a Boston, Massachusetts clothing company, called “Fortune Favours The Bold” and “FFTB.”

The phrase is used as the motto of IFA Premiership football club Linfield, in the Latin form ‘Audaces Fortuna Juvat’.

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