Thursday, 11 December 2014

Wheel of Fortuna

How was medeival society influenced by Fortuna's Wheel?

The relationship mysticism and its importance with in the belief system of Medieval society is a strong example of this. Fortune or Fortuna’s Wheel (Rota Fortunae) known by some is an ancient and medieval philosophy that refers to the constant changing nature of fate. It is a wheel that is owned and spun by Fortuna. It can change individual places on the wheel at random, thus determining their “fate.” They can have great misfortune, or be blessed with good. 

The wheel itself is depicted in many manuscripts both medieval and ancient and highly referenced in the medieval allegorical religious teachings of the time.
John Lydgate's Siege of Troy, showing the Wheel of Fortune

Fortuna Wheel's beginnings began in Ancient Greek mythology, as a celestial zodiac with 8 points, and the 9th being the pointer.  It is referenced in the play Everyman c. 1495. In this play the wheel is known to play reference to the value placed on everyday things, and stress the “temporary” nature of them. Death comes of course unexpected to those who do bad deeds, there is emphasis placed on doing good deeds in order to secure a place in Heaven.

The emphasis of these philosophies and the strong religious teachings of the day more than likely were very prominent in the morals of many of the day. For many in the Middle Ages, this would have been more than likely a very important aspect of their beliefs and thought process.  To many this piety, and loyalty show the value placed on morality and to keep in mind the teachings both allegorical and religious of the day in thought and decision making process. 

Unfortunately, as history rolls on, many were not completely in control of what was to come next in life. Plagues and famine and poor crop production, were seen as signs of poor fate that directly came from the Wheel of Fortuna and influenced the basic belief system of the time.

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