There's a hard choice to make in an English translation of this wonderful saying: is each person the maker of his own luck? or of his own fortune? The Latin word fortuna can be translated either way. I've chosen the "luck" option since that is a more striking and surprising statement. The idea of "making a fortune" has become almost a cliche in English, meaning, sadly, "to make money." But making your own luck: that's a much more challenging idea!
Luck is something that allows you to put things beyond your own control or responsibility: if something bad happens because of bad luck, it's not your fault; if something good happens because of good luck, you get the benefits although you might not get to take full credit for this happy circumstance.
So, to make your own luck, to be the maker of your own fortuna, would mean to be the person who takes responsibility for the things that happen to you, both good and bad.
In a sense, this saying is the more complete version of yesterday's saying: Homines plerique ipsi sibi mala parant, "Many people themselves prepare evils for themselves." Yes, people are the makers of evil against themselves, their own bad luck - but they can also be the makers of their good luck as well, their own "fortune."
In Rome, Fortuna was also personified as a goddess, and there is a delightful Aesop's fable about how angry Fortuna gets about being blamed for things that, she insists, are not her fault.
A workman had thoughtlessly fallen asleep one night next to a well. While he slept, he seemed to hear the voice of Fortuna, the goddess of luck, as she stood there beside him. "Hey you," the goddess said, "you'd better wake up! I am afraid that if you fall into the well, I will be the one that people blame, giving me a bad reputation. In general, people blame me for everything that happens to them, including the unfortunate events and tumbles for which a person really has only himself to blame."So even though it looks like today's saying might put her out of business, I think Fortuna herself would agree that each person is the one who brings their own "fortune" into being.
And here is today's proverb read out loud:
942. Est unusquisque faber ipsae suae fortunae.
The number here is the number for this proverb in
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