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La Concezione della Fortuna in Petrarca
Vol. VII/2005/1, pp. 247-261
Linking the tradition of antiquity (fatum, fortuna, casus) with Christian doctrine (deus, providentia), Petrarch tries to interpret fortune as an important and unpredictable force originating partly from God, partly from the talents and actiones (virtues, sins) of man, crucially influencing the lives of individuals and peoples. Fortune being essentially changing, unpredictable, it would be erroneous to found one's life on it, but it must be taken into account: one should reduce its possibilities, and learn to handle its favours and blows. One can best limit its effects by avoiding mortal sin, developing activity-related virtues (fortitudo, iustitita), and handling consciously its interference with one's life: not overestimating its favours, and developing our virtues in connection with moderation and constancy (prudentia, temperantia, patientia). If one can, to some extent, handle fortune, one can become more independent, can significantly influence one's own destiny: instead of forfeiting happiness in the afterlife, one can live a life in harmony with that.