Quotations about:
    good luck

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You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.

Cormac McCarthy (1933-2023) American novelist, playwright, screenwriter
No Country for Old Men (2005)
Added on 6-Mar-24 | Last updated 6-Mar-24
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KENT: Fortune, good-night. Smile once more; turn thy wheel.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
King Lear, Act 2, sc. 2, l. 188 (2.2.188) (1606)
Added on 14-Aug-23 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
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Blest is the man who cheats the stormy sea
And safely moors beside the sheltering quay;
So, blest is he who triumphs over trial.
One man, by various means, in wealth or strength
Outdoes his neighbour; hope in a thousand hearts
Colours a thousand different dreams; at length
Some find a dear fulfilment, some denial.
But this I say,
That he who best
Enjoys each passing day
Is truly blest.

[εὐδαίμων μὲν ὃς ἐκ θαλάσσας
ἔφυγε χεῖμα, λιμένα δ᾽ ἔκιχεν:
εὐδαίμων δ᾽ ὃς ὕπερθε μόχθων
ἐγένεθ᾽: ἑτέρᾳ δ᾽ ἕτερος ἕτερον
ὄλβῳ καὶ δυνάμει παρῆλθεν.
μυρίαι δ᾽ ἔτι μυρίοις
εἰσὶν ἐλπίδες: αἳ μὲν
τελευτῶσιν ἐν ὄλβῳ
βροτοῖς, αἳ δ᾽ ἀπέβησαν:
τὸ δὲ κατ᾽ ἦμαρ ὅτῳ βίοτος
εὐδαίμων, μακαρίζω.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 902ff (Stasimon 3, Epode) [Chorus/Χορός] (405 BC) [tr. Vellacott (1973)]

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Blest is the man who 'scapes the stormy wave.
And in the harbour finds repose:
He too is blest, 'midst dangers brave,
Who soars above the malice of his foes:
And now these, now those possess
Superior talents or success;
Distinct their aims; but hope each bosom fires.
There are, a rich encrease who find,
The vows of some are scatter'd in the wind:
But in my judgement blest are they
Who taste, tho' only for the day.
The joys their soul desires.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

Happy is he who has fled a storm on the sea, and reached harbor. Happy too is he who has overcome his hardships. One surpass another in different ways, in wealth or power. There are innumerable hopes to innumerable men, and some result in wealth to mortals, while others fail. But I call him blessed whose life is happy day today.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

Who hath 'scaped the turbulent sea,
And reached the haven, happy he!
Happy he whose toils are o'er
In the race of wealth and power!
This one her, and that one there,
Passes by, and everywhere
Still expectant thousands over
Thousands hopes are seen to hover,
Some to mortals end in bliss;
Some have already fled away:
Happiness alone is his
That happy is to-day.
[tr. Milman (1865)]

Happy he, who from the storm,
Has the breaker escaped, and the harbour has reached;
Happy he who after toil
Is the victor, for many the ways in which man
Wins him power, and wins him wealth.
Thousand-fold ever to thousands of men,
Hope follows upon hope,
With some it grows unceasingly,
With some it wastes to nothingness.
But he whose life is ever fresh,
Lives in unbroken happiness.
[tr. Rogers (1872), l. 865ff.]

Happy is he who hath escaped the wave from out the sea, and reached the haven; and happy he who hath triumphed o’er his troubles; though one surpasses another in wealth and power; yet there be myriad hopes for all the myriad minds; some end in happiness for man, and others come to naught; but him, whose life from day to day is blest, I deem a happy man.
[tr. Coleridge (1891)]

Blest who from ravening seas
Hath 'scaped to haven-peace,
Blest who hath triumphed in endeavour's toil and throe.
This man to higher height
Attains, of wealth, of might,
Than that; yet myriad hopes in myriad hearts still glow:
To fair fruition brought
Are some, some come to nought:
Happy is he whose bliss from day to day doth grow.
[tr. Way (1898)]

Happy he, on the weary sea
Who hath fled the tempest and won the haven.
Happy whoso hath risen, free,
Above his striving. For strangely graven
Is the orb of life, that one and another
In gold and power may outpass his brother.
And men in their millions float and flow
And seethe with a million hopes as leaven;
And they win their Will, or they miss their Will,
And the hopes are dead or are pined for still;
But whoe'er can know,
As the long days go,
That To Live is happy, hath found his Heaven!
[tr. Murray (1902)]

-- Blessèd is he who escapes the storm at sea,
who comes home to his harbor.
-- Blessèd is he who emerges from under affliction.
-- In various ways one man outraces another in the race for wealth and power.
-- Ten thousand men possess ten thousand hopes.
-- A few bear fruit in happiness; the others go awry.
-- But he who garners day by day the good of life, he is happiest. Blessèd is he.
[tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

Happy the man who from the sea
escapes the storm and finds harbor;
happy he who has surmounted
toils; and in different ways one surpasses another
in prosperity and power.
Besides this, for countless men there are countless
hopes -- some of them
reach to the end in prosperity
for mortals, and others depart;
but him whose life day by day
is happy do I count blessed.
[tr. Kirk (1970)]

Happy he from the sea escaping
out of the storm, arriving at anchorage;
happy he fleeing labour's straining;
in many manners may men surpass other men
in prosperity and in power.
Thousand-fold upon thousand-fold
hopes come crowding upon us,
and some finally prosper
for mortals, some are vanish'd:
who day by day has a livelihood of happiness, he is blessed
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

Happy the man who withstands
life's assaults.
Somehow, in some way, some man surpasses some other
in position and fortune.
For millions of men there are millions of hopes.
For some, these ripen into happiness,
for others into nothing.
Count lucky the man who is happy on this one day.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

That man is blessed who fled the storm
At sea and reached the bay.
And he is blessed who rose above
His toil. In various ways
One man outstrips in wealth and power
Another: countless men
Have countless hopes: some end in joy,
But others drift way.
The man who day to day has luck
In life -- that man I bless.
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

Happy the man who escapes
the storm at sea and reaches harbor.
Happy, too, is he who overcomes
his toils. And in different ways one man
surpasses another in prosperity and power.
Besides, countless are the hopes
of countless men, Some of those hopes
end in prosperity for mortals, others vanish.
But I count him blessed whose life,
from day to day, is happy.
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

Happy the man who has come away
safe on the beach from a storm at sea,
happy the man who has risen above
trouble and toil. Many are the ways
one man may surpass another
in wealth or power,
and beyond each hope there beckons another
hope without number.
Hope may lead a man to wealth,
hope may pass away;
but I admire a man when he
is happy in an ordinary life.
[tr. Woodruff (1999)]

Happy is he who escapes
A storm at sea and finds safe harbor.
Happy is he who has risen above
Great toils. In different ways,
Some persons outdo others
In their wealth and power.
And hopes are as many as those who hope --
Some will end in rich reward, others in nothing.
But those whose lives are happy
Day by day -- those
I call the blesséd.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000)]

Blessed is he that out of the sea
escapes the storm and wins the harbor;
blessed he who triumphs over
trouble: one man surpasses another
in respect to wealth or power.
Furthermore, in countless hearts
there live countless hopes, some
ending in good fortune,
though some vanish away.
But the man whose life today is happy,
him I count blessed.
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

Joy of the storm endured,
And the harbour safely reached.
Joy of hardship overcome.
Joy of striving for wealth and power.
Joy of hope. Joy of dreams,
Fulfilled or unfulfilled.
And most blessed they who takes their joy
In the simple detail of the day by day --
[tr. Teevan (2002)]

Happy is the man who has escaped the storms of life’s angry seas and found a harbour; and happy is the man who have endured those storms.
Men are infinite in number and their hopes have no end and some of these hopes bring joy to some and nothing to others.
I say blessed is the man whose life has been happy -- so far.
These are useful pieces of advice. True wisdom.
[tr. Theodoridis (2005)]

Blessed is the one who's fled the
Storm at sea and come to harbour;
And happy is he who rises above
Hardships; for one may sur-
Pass another in wealth or in power,
But these are a lot hopes to a lot of
Different people; and many end in
Happiness while others fail mis’rably
But the one who's happy day-to-day,
Is the one who's truly blessed.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

Whoever has escaped a storm at sea
is a happy man in harbour,
whoever overcomes great hardship
is likewise another happy man.
Various men outdo each other
in wealth, in power,
in all sorts of ways.
The hopes of countless men
are infinite in number.
Some make men rich;
some come to nothing,
So I consider that man blessed
who lives a happy life
existing day by day.
[tr. Johnston (2008), l. 1106ff]

Lucky is the man who escapes a storm at sea
and finds his way home to safe harbour --
the man delivered from hardship.
We all compete for wealth and power,
and for every thousand hearts a thousand hopes.
Some wither, some bear fruit.
But the one who lives from day to day,
finding good where he can:
he is happy --
he is a lucky man.
[tr. Robertson (2014)]

Fortunate is the one who flees
The swell of the sea and returns to harbor.
Fortunate is the one who survives through troubles.
One is greater than another in different things,
He surpasses in fortune and power --
But in numberless hearts still
Are numberless hopes: some result
In good fortune, but other mortal dreams
Just disappear.
Whoever has a happy life to-day,
I consider fortunate.
[tr. @sentantiq (2018)]

Happy is the one who escapes a sea-storm
and comes home to the harbor.
And happy is the one who stands against their hardships.
Happy are they who endure.
One man may exceed another, in his own way.
In wealth.
In power.
Countless hopes for yet-more-countless people.
Sometimes hope wins out, gives us riches --
And sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we fail.
But the one who can live in spite of this,
who is happy day to day.
That one is blessed.
[tr. Pauly (2019)]

Blessed is the one who finds a harbour safe from the winter sea. Blessed is the one who travels beyond affliction. Blessed is the one who wins great joy. Numberless more have their dreams. Some hopes are fulfilled, some vanish. Whoever lives happily from day to day I bless.
[tr. Behr/Foster (2019)]

Fortunate [eudaimōn] is he who has fled a storm on the sea and reached harbor. Eudaimōn too is he who has overcome his toils. Different people surpass others in various ways, be it in wealth [olbos] or in power. Mortals have innumerable hopes, and some come to telos in prosperity [olbos], while others fail. I deem him blessed whose life is eudaimōn day by day.
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

Added on 23-May-23 | Last updated 11-Jul-23
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Such is the life of man, nor wholly blest,
Nor wholly wretched; on her votaries Fortune
now smiles, then frowns. Since our prosperity
Is thus unstable, is not an exemption
From grief the greatest pleasure life can yield?

[τοιόσδε ϑνητῶν τῶν ταλαιπώρων βίος’
οὔτ᾽ εὐτυχεῖ τὸ πάμπαν οὔτε δυστυχεῖ,
εὐδαιμονεῖ δὲ καύϑις οὐκ εὐδαιμονεῖ.
τί δῆτ᾽ ἐν ὄλβω μὴ σαφεῖ βεβηκότες
οὐ ξῶμεν ὡς ἥδιστα μὴ λυπούμενοι;]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Antiope [Αντιοπη], frag. 196 (TGF, Kannicht) (c. 410 BC) (Amphion?) [tr. Wodhall (1809)]

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translation:

Such is the life of wretched mortals;
a man is neither wholly fortunate nor unfortunate;
why then, on entering prosperity which may be insecure,
do we not live as pleasantly as possible, without distress?

Such it is, the life of miserable mortals:
neither wholly fortunate nor unfortunate.
He is prosperous and then he is not prosperous.
Why then, when we stand in uncertain happiness,
do we not live as pleasurably as possible, without distress.
[tr. Will (2015)]

Added on 13-Sep-22 | Last updated 4-Oct-22
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Every time it rains, it rains
Pennies from heaven.
Don’t you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven?

You’ll find your fortune falling
All over town
Be sure that your umbrella
Is upside down.

Johnny Burke (1908-1964) American lyricist [John Francis Burke]
“Pennies from Heaven” (1936)
Added on 8-May-20 | Last updated 8-May-20
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Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Wealth,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 3 (1860)
Added on 14-Apr-20 | Last updated 22-Feb-22
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Here’s a man who’s wangled millions;
Yet the parasite’s not done.
Fortune gives too much to many,
Yet, strange to say, enough to none.

[Habet Africanus miliens, tamen captat.
Fortuna multis dat nimis, satis nulli.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 12, epigram 10 (12.10) (AD 101) [tr. Marcellino (1968)]

"On Africanus." Africanus is identified in some sources as a captator, one who sucked up to a childless millionaire in order to inherit part or all of their estate.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

As riche as Cresus Afric is:
for more yet hunts the chuffe:
To muche to many, fortune gives,
and yet to none inuffe.
[tr. Kendall (1577)]

Fortune, some say, doth give too much to many:
And yet she never gave enough to any.
[tr. Harington (fl. c. 1600); Book 4, ep. 56; overall ep. 310]

African has a thousand pounds in store,
Yet he desires, and hunts, and rakes for more:
Fortune hath overmuch bestow'd on some;
But plenary content doth give to none.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

He fawns for more, though he his thousands touch:
Fortune gives one enough, but some too much.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Millions has Africa; yet grasps at more:
Too much have many, none sufficient store.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.65]

Africanus possesses a hundred thousand sesterces, but is always striving by servility to acquire more. Fortune gives too much to many, enough to none.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 3, ep. 92, "Sufficient Fortune"]

Africanus possesses a hundred thousand sesterces, and yet covets more. Fortune gives too much to many, enough to none.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Fortune to many gives too much, enough to none.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

African us possesses a hundred millions, yet he angles for more. Fortune to many gives too much, enough to none.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Although he is a millionaire,
He courts the rich who lack an heir;
Fortune gives much to many a one,
But just enough she grants to none.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Africanus has a hundred million, but still he fishes for legacies. Fortune gives too much to many, to none enough.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Africanus is a tireless legacy-hunter
though he's a wealthy man.
Fortune gives too much to many,
enough to none
[tr. Kennelly (2008)]

Although worth millions, Africanus hunts a legacy.
To many Fortune gives too much, enough to nobody.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Africanus has a hundred million, and still he's hunting legacies. Fortune gives too much to many, but "enough" to none.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Added on 21-Nov-18 | Last updated 27-Nov-23
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“Well?” said Greycat. “Does fortune smile upon us?”
“She smiles,” said Dunaan. “And she frowns.”
“How, at the same time?”
“Fortune has a very flexible countenance.”
“That is well known.”

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
Five Hundred Years After (1994)
Added on 24-Feb-17 | Last updated 24-Feb-17
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When I contemplate the common lot of mortality, I must acknowledge that I have drawn a high prize in the lottery of life … the double fortune of my birth in a free and enlightened country, in an honourable and wealthy family, is the lucky chance of an unit against millions.

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) English historian
Memoirs of My Life and Writings (1796)
Added on 6-Sep-16 | Last updated 6-Sep-16
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CALAMITY, n. A more than commonly plain and unmistakable reminder that the affairs of this life are not of our own ordering. Calamities are of two kinds: misfortune to ourselves, and good fortune to others.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Calamity,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
Added on 3-Mar-16 | Last updated 16-May-23
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Fortune favors the bold.

[Audentis Fortuna iuvat]

Virgil the Poet
Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 10, l. 284 (10.284) [Turnus] (29-19 BC) [tr. West (1990)]

The Rutulian prince exhorting his men to meet Aeneas' Trojans on the beach as they land. Not a sentiment invented by Virgil. See also Terence.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Fortune assists the bold.
[tr. Ogilby (1649)]

Fortune befriends the bold.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Fortune assists the daring.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

Fair fortune aids the bold.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Fortune assists the bold.
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 380]

Fortune aids daring.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

For Fortune helpeth them that dare.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Fair Fortune aids the bold.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 37, l. 342]

Fortune will help the brave.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Fortune aids the daring.
[tr. Fairclough (1918)]

And luck helps men who dare.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Fortune always fights for the bold.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

For fortune
helps those who dare.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), ll. 395-96]

favors men who dare!
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), ll. 392-93]

Fortune favours the brave.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Fortune speeds the bold!
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 341]

Added on 25-Feb-13 | Last updated 21-Jun-23
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No occurrences are so unfortunate that the shrewd cannot turn them to some advantage, nor so fortunate that the imprudent cannot turn them to their own disadvantage.
[Il n’y a point d’accidents si malheureux dont les habiles gens ne tirent quelque avantage, ni de si heureux que les imprudents ne puissent tourner à leur préjudice.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶59 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]

Present in the original 1665 edition. In manuscript, this was originally drafted as:

One could say that there are no lucky or unfortunate accidents, because clever people know how to take advantage of bad ones, and the imprudent very often turn the most advantageous harm to themselves.

[On pourrait dire qu’il n’y a point d’heurcux ni de malheureux accidents, parce que les habiles gens savent profiter des mauvais, et que les imprudents tournent bien souvent à leur préjudice les plus avantageux.]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

It may be affirm'd that either there are not any happy or unhappy accidents, or that all accidents are both happy and unhappy, inasmuch as the prudent know how to make their advantages of the bad, and the imprudent many times turn the most advantageous emergencies to their own prejudice.
[tr. Davies (1669), ¶128]

There is no accident so exquisitely unfortunate, but wise Men will make some advantage of it; nor any so entirely fortunate, but Fools may turn it to their own prejudice.
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶60]

No accidents are so unlucky, but that the prudent may draw some advantage from them: nor are there any so lucky, but what the imprudent may turn to their prejudice.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶8; [ed. Lepoittevin-Lacroix (1797), ¶58]

No accidents are so unlucky, but what the prudent may draw some advantages from; nor are there any so lucky, but what the imprudent may turn to their prejudice.
[ed. Carville (1835), ¶5]

There are no circumstances, however unfortunate, that clever people do not extract some advantage from; and none, however fortune, that the imprudent cannot turn to their own prejudice.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶60]

There are no accidents so unfortunate from which skillful men will not draw some advantage, nor so fortunate that foolish men will not turn them to their hurt.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871)]

A clever man reaps some benefit from the worst catastrophe, and a fool can turn even good luck to his disadvantage.
[tr. Heard (1917)]

No event is so disastrous that the adroit cannot derive some benefit from it, nor so auspicious that fools cannot turn it to their detriment.
[tr. Stevens (1939)]

There is no accident so disastrous that a clever man cannot derive some profit from it: nor any so fortunate that a fool cannot turn it to his disadvantage.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]

There are no experiences so disastrous that thoughtful men cannot derive some profit from them, nor so happy that the thoughtless cannot use them to their harm.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959)]

There are no accidents so unfortunate that clever men may not draw some advantage from them, nor so fortunate that imprudent men may not turn them to their own detriment.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

Added on 2-Feb-12 | Last updated 3-May-24
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A wise man turns Chance into good Fortune.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English physician, preacher, aphorist, writer
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, # 475 (1732)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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