The wall in one of the rooms in the 13th-century Caetani Castle in Sermoneta, Latina is inscribed with the words “Rotat omne fatum” (Fate turns ceaselessly) right below the decorated coat of arms of the family that gave its name to the fortress in the late 13th century, perhaps hoping for eternal fame.
The motto is taken from Seneca’s tragedy “Thyestes”, and comes from a broader passage that encourages the theater audience not to trust favorable situations and not to despair when facing adversity, because the gods mix good and bad fortune – and there is nothing man can do about it.
The bleak quote seems quite fitting inside a castle – a type of building meant to symbolize power with grandeur and solidity, which so often turns into a massive paradox in the face of human instability.
In the case of Sermoneta, the Caetanis bought the castle from another family, the Annibaldis, and then had to sell it in the 16th century to their enemies, the Borgias.
Over time, the thick walls of this fortress have been home to a series of powerful figures, from emperor Frederick II to pope Boniface VIII, from Charles V to Lucrezia Borgia.
And today they are still standing in their ironic majesty, despite the constant changes in men’s fate.