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Consolations of Christianity

"Whom the poets call Fortune we know to be God."

The printer's device shows a naked Fortune with her usual accoutrements. Her wheel, however, is being turned by the hand of God, placing this illustration very much in the Christian tradition. Despite the insistence of Christianity and, no doubt, widespread belief in the idea of an unknowable Providence, the everyday experience of Fortune's power was unchanged. Perhaps as a direct consequence, Fortune gradually took on the attributes of Occasion and Nemesis. This change in the iconography of Fortune implies that she can be controlled by those who are ready to take advantage of opportunity and who practice self-restraint.

Ulrich von Hutten. Dialogi. Fortuna. Mainz, 1520 (Detail).

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