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Makten att bestämma människans öde: Fru Fortuna i bild och text från renässansen
Gotland University, School of the Humanities and Social Science.
2012 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
The Power to Decide Human Fate : Goddess Fortune in Pictures and in Texts from the Renaissance (English)
Abstract [en]

The capricious roman goddess Fortune is known for her strong power to influence or even decide the destiny of humans. In ancient Rome she was considered to be a good goddess, who brought the gifts of destiny and who also was seen as a possible ally. During the Middle Ages this position changed. Fortune was given two sides, a good and friendly one and a cruel impenetrable side. She was seen as one of God´s ministers and became an expression of divine providence.

My purpose with this essay is to analyse three artworks of Fortune by Giovanni Bellini, Albrecht Dürer and Master MZ, but also some texts by the renaissance humanist Niccolò Machiavelli. When examining this representation I will try to determine the iconography of Fortune and see how or if the interpretations of her differs.

The study has shown that the different representations of Fortune differ from one another of the artworks. However, there is one major resemblance that presents itself in each and every one of the artworks as well as in Machiavelli’s texts, the fact that Fortune is considered to be capricious. This attribute is frequent. In the works of art Fortune is depicted along with some kind of circular object like a ball or a sphere, a clear indication of instability. In Machiavelli’s texts Fortune is often, metaphorically or directly expressed, as capricious and unpredictable. According to Machiavelli, humans therefore have to be prepared, hold capability or virtù, to be able to resist her rapid changes. Like the humanist Machiavelli was it is likely that he represents the ancient view of Fortuna, although some medieval element cannot be omitted. Furthermore, in all of the selected works of art together, one can see elements of both an antique view of Fortuna as well as a medieval. Although the Renaissance was strongly influenced by ancient ideas and ways of life, it becomes clear that also some medieval features survived into the mindset of the Renaissance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 44 p.
Keyword [sv]
Fortuna, Niccolò Machiavelli, Giovanni Bellini, Albrecht Dürer, Master MZ
National Category
Art History
URN: urn:nbn:se:hgo:diva-1546OAI: diva2:544930
Subject / course
Renaissance Studies
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2012-08-20 Created: 2012-08-16 Last updated: 2013-07-01Bibliographically approved

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Karlsson, Johanna
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