Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Fortunatus has never assiduously pursued virtue. He has been compelled, however, by his poverty to lead a life of patience and temperance. One day, after wandering for three days in a forest and sustaining himself by eating nuts, he unexpectedly encounters the goddess Fortune. This meeting is to transform his life. The goddess, who enjoys both the praises and the curses of men as tokens of her power, chooses to smile on the old man. Of her six gifts—wisdom, strength, health, beauty, long life, and riches—she offers him one. Believing that all other blessings will naturally flow from it, Fortunatus chooses wealth. To effect his wish, she gives to him a magic purse that will always contain ten pieces of gold, no matter how frequently he draws from it. This gift, she tells him, will last until he and his sons die. After reproaching him for his foolish choice, she sends him on his way home.
At home, Fortunatus finds his sons, Ampedo and Andelocia, in a despondent mood. Andelocia, the worldly son, has been lamenting his lack of food and money, while his more virtuous brother, Ampedo, has been greatly worried about their father’s plight. Fortunatus, returning in rich attire, tells them they need sorrow no longer, for he is presenting them with four bags of gold and will give them more when it is gone. Then he announces his intention to travel and associate with the mighty men of the world.
Meanwhile, Fortune is joined in the forest by Virtue...
(The entire section is 1089 words.)
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