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Opportunity knocks

Posted by ESC on September 25, 2001

In Reply to: Opportunity Knocks posted by Stephanie on September 25, 2001

: I'm looking for the origination of the phrase "Opportunity Knocks". Please email me a website of where this information can be found or the answer itself.

: Thank you!

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS BUT ONCE - "When you see an opportunity to improve your lot, act quickly and resolutely - you may never get another chance. The proverb dates to ancient times (around 8 A.D. ). The early fifteenth-century French 'Il n'est chance qui ne retourne' ('There is no opportunity which comes back again') is very similar in meaning. It has been traced back to 'Bandello' by English writer and politician Geoffrey Fenton (c. 1539-1608)). First attested in the United States in 'Port Folio' ." From the Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996). Page 268.

A second reference has more details:

"In 'Epigrams (around 370), the Roman scholar Ausonius recounted an amusing description of the goddess Opportunity, who was said to be hairy in front and bald behind: 'I am a goddess seldom found and known to few.I am ever flying. I am bald behind that none may catch me (by the hair) as I flee. Remorse bears me company. When I have flown away, she is retained by those who did not grasp me as I passed.' The idea of missed opportunity is much older still, of course, and the saying, 'Opportunity is seldom presented, easily lost,' appeared in 'Sententiae' (about 43 B.C.) by the Latin writer Pubilius Syrus. The politician and writer Sir Geoffrey Fenton gave an early English version in 'Bandello' , 'Fortune once in the course of our life dothe put into our handes the offer of a good torne,' while Thomas Selton's translation of 'Don Quixote' advised, 'It is not fit that whilst good lucke is knocking at our doore, we shut it.' The founder of the Pennsylvania colony, William Penn, likewise warned, 'Opportunities should never be lost, because they can hardly be regained,' in 'Some Fruits of Solitude' . A saying closer to the current version, 'Fortune knocks once, at least, at every man's door,' was recorded in 'The Port Folio' , and the exact wording of the modern saying appeared over a century later in John Dos Passos's novel, 'The 42nd Parallel' . The saying, repeated or adapted in print frequently during the twentieth century, rightly urges us to be quick to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. But another saying, from Francis Bacon's Essays , is also worth remembering: 'A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.'" From Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993). Page 144.

See also: the last words of Sir Francis Bacon.

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