I'm looking for an ancient quote that resembles something like, "Now that the gods are involved, fate is sealed / all hope is lost / it's useless to fight our fate" vel sim.

Essentially, I'm looking for some recognition that the gods have changed the nature of whatever activity was going on, and that now the rest of that activity is set to follow the will of the gods.

This path doesn't have to be limited to fate; it could also be a recognition that the gods are too powerful to fight against.

For a sample scenario of where this could be used, imagine the warriors on the battlefield leading a charge, then once the gods are involved, they realize their hopes are dashed. They now know they are going to lose, that all hope is lost.

Of course, the scenario doesn't need to be pessimistic, just fatalistic. The important aspect is that there's a recognition that something has changed with the plan, either because the gods are now involved, or else that the gods have made the fate known.

It's as if, halfway through dying by Oedipus' hand, Laius realizes what the gods have done and just goes through with it. Or if Croesus upon realizing what the Oracle meant gives up fighting against Cyrus' army. I don't think we see these two things happened, but one could expect a quote there recognizing the futility of human action once the gods' actions are made known.

Is there a quote you like in an ancient text that says something like that? It doesn't have to be limited to Classical works, though those are preferred.

  • I'm guessing alea iacta est is out for not involving the gods?
    – Rafael
    Nov 13, 2023 at 17:00
  • My first loose association was Vergil's fato profugus, though in that case profugus is much more literal.
    – brianpck
    Nov 13, 2023 at 17:26
  • @Rafael That could have worked, but the context negates it. It's the opposite viewpoint as what I was looking for, i.e. the mortals deciding the fate, rather than seeing the gods arrive/take action.
    – cmw
    Nov 13, 2023 at 19:19
  • @brianpck That's a great one, too. Not quite hitting the mark, but close.
    – cmw
    Nov 13, 2023 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


Not pessimistic, but: haec Iovem sentire deosque cunctos spem bonam certamque domum reporto ("We take to heart the good and certain hope that this is the will of Jove and all the gods." literally: I take home the good and certain hope that Jove and all the gods think this) from the Hymn to a New Age. Variously:

Deos credo voluisse. (I believe it to be the will of the Gods) Plautus

quodve putem sidus nostris occurrere fatis, (What star should I think contrary to my fate?)
quosve deos in me bella movere querar (What gods should I complain of warring against me?)
Ovid, The Amores

Virum bonum concedas necesse est summae pietatis erga deos esse. Itaque quicquid illi accidit, aequo animo sustinebit; sciet enim id accidisse lege divina, qua universa procedunt. Quod si est, unum illi bonum erit, quod honestum; in hoc enim positum est et parere dis nec excandescere ad subita nec deplorare sortem suam, sed patienter excipere fatum et facere imperata. Seneca, Letter to Lucilius, Number 76.

A good man, you will admit, must have the highest sense of duty toward the gods. Hence he will endure with an unruffled spirit whatever happens to him; for he will know that it has happened as a result of the divine law, by which the whole creation moves. Because if there is one good, then it is honor, for one of its dictates is that we shall obey the gods and not blaze forth in anger at sudden misfortunes or deplore our lot, but rather patiently accept fate and obey its commands.

  • Thanks. These are good. Not quite exactly what I was looking for, but good quotes. It doesn't have to be pessimistic, but fatalistic. The element missing though is the recognition in the change, as if someone were on a path, but now their choices no longer matter. I'm going to edit the question to make that clear.
    – cmw
    Nov 13, 2023 at 19:18
  • @cmw I added another. Nov 13, 2023 at 20:04

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