"O Fortuna", a.k.a. "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi", was used as the leitmotif of John Boorman's 1981 film Excalibur, based on the legend of King Arthur - it is used in the introductory sequence, when Uther manages to have his way with Igraine in the guise of her husband, thus begetting Arthur.

The usage of "O Fortuna" in Excalibur also gives a hint as to Boorman's personal view of Fate. There is a dark, brooding tone to the sequences in which Boorman uses the song - he apparently felt that the vagaries of fate, to which the song is a hymn, were grounds for depression, rather than elation.

O Fortuna is also commonly known by the modern club going scene due to a mid 90s dance/techno remix of the original Carl Orff piece by a band called Apotheosis. As Apotheosis has contributed little to nothing more to the musical world, they are left bearing the moniker of the plagarist and are largly relegated to the unknown and overly pretentious corners of the club and rave scenes.

Here follows the entire set of lyrics from Carmina Burana: O Fortuna, a composition that's about the Wheel of Fortune, or the Wheel of Life. You start off, Regnabo, I will reign -> Regno, I reign -> Regnavi, I have reigned -> Sum fine regno, I am done reigning/I'm finished.

Carl Orff - Carmina Burana,
O Fortuna, (Chorus) O Fortune

Latin lyrics                        English lyrics

O Fortuna                           O Fortune,
velut luna                          like the moon
statu variabilis,                   you are changeable,
semper crescis                      ever waxing
aut decrescis;                      and waning;
vita detestabilis                   hateful life
nunc obdurat                        first oppresses
et tunc curat                       and then soothes
ludo mentis aciem,                  as fancy takes it;
egestatem,                          poverty
potestatem                          and power
dissolvit ut glaciem.               it melts them like ice.

Sors immanis                        Fate - monstrous
et inanis,                          and empty,
rota tu volubilis,                  you whirling wheel,
status malus,                       you are malevolent,
vana salus                          well-being is vain
semper dissolubilis,                and always fades to nothing,
obumbrata                           shadowed
et velata                           and veiled
michi quoque niteris;               you plague me too;
nunc per ludum                      now through the game
dorsum nudum                        I bring my bare back
fero tui sceleris.                  to your villainy.

Sors salutis                        Fate is against me
et virtutis                         in health
michi nunc contraria,               and virtue,
est affectus                        driven on
et defectus                         and weighted down,
semper in angaria.                  always enslaved.
Hac in hora                         So at this hour
sine mora                           without delay
corde pulsum tangite;               pluck the vibrating strings;
quod per sortem                     since Fate
sternit fortem,                     strikes down the string man,
mecum omnes plangite!               everyone weep with me!

Second verse: Fortune plango vulnera, I bemoan the wounds of Fortune

Fortune plango vulnera              I bemoan the wounds of Fortune
stillantibus ocellis                with weeping eyes,
quod sua michi munera               for the gifts she made me
subtrahit rebellis.                 she perversely takes away.
Verum est, quod legitur,            It is written in truth,
fronte capillata,                   that she has a fine head of hair,
sed plerumque sequitur              but, when it comes to seizing an opportunity
Occasio calvata.                    she is bald.

In Fortune solio                    On Fortune's throne
sederam elatus,                     I used to sit raised up,
prosperitatis vario                 crowned with
flore coronatus;                    the many-coloured flowers of prosperity;
quicquid enim florui                though I may have flourished
felix et beatus,                    happy and blessed,
nunc a summo corrui                 now I fall from the peak
gloria privatus.                    deprived of glory.

Fortune rota volvitur:              The wheel of Fortune turns;
descendo minoratus;                 I go down, demeaned;
alter in altum tollitur;            another is raised up;
nimis exaltatus                     far too high up
rex sedet in vertice                sits the king at the summit -
caveat ruinam!                      let him fear ruin!
nam sub axe legimus                 for under the axis is written
Hecubam reginam.                    Queen Hecuba.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.