Given that there is no strong link to a literary source that connects all of the 16 gods/heroes of Marziano’s deck, and moreover, no reference anywhere to the Marziano/Michelino deck aside from its acquisition by Marcello in 1449, should we not conclude this classical gods deck was a personal gift that otherwise never saw the light of day in terms of a more public circulation?
If it were a gift to someone within his court (i.e., someone cultured, who would appreciate the didactic nature of the game), and given the strong theme of love within the deck (more on that below), why not his beloved Agnes del Maino? Three circumstantial items all support this theory:
1. Agnese – or Agnes - derives from the Greek hagnē, meaning "pure" or "holy". The name passed to Italian as Agnese …that saint is depicted in art with a lamb, as her name resembles the Latin word for "lamb", agnus, which also indicates purity as the symbol of Jesus. Daphne as the refuser of Apollo is the pagan epitome of chastity – thus an appropriate stand-in for a woman named Agnes, whose virtue would have been extolled by her Ducal lover (despite being merely a lover, and not a wife).
2. Daphne is a “central” motif of the Marziano deck, as proposed by Huck: http://trionfi.com/daphne-in-tarot, albeit I disagree with Huck’s theory of why Aeolus was included. The 12 standard gods need no explanation and Hercules inclusion to Olympus has a classical pedigree, so that leaves Aeolus, Daphne and Eros as unexplained. In the first book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, however, these three figures are all mentioned; a summary of Metamorphoses 1. 262 ff: the destruction of wayward mankind involves Zeus calling upon Aeolus to release his winds from his famous cave, releasing storms of blinding rain from heaven. The story of mankind’s rebirth from the flood via the story of Deucalion/Pyrrha is then told, with earth then sending out Python against mankind. Python is slain by Apollo who then mocks Eros’ puny bow, with Venus’ son in turn smiting the sun god with his erotic bow with irrational love for Daphne. Why would any of this appeal to Visconti? Visconti, descended from the 12 gods via Venus and Anchises, had this mythical geneaology also painted by Michelino. Visconti, as Hirsh has shown in her discussion of Visconti manuscripts (discussed here viewtopic.php?f=11&t=983&p=14572&hilit= ... own#p14572 ), identified with the sun and indeed, one of their main stemma is the radiate (turtle)dove. Germane to the Marziano deck, within his suit of Turtledoves in the category of “virginities” we find Daphne. Filippo, descended from the gods like an Apollo, has reached out for his own Daphne – Agnese, who nonetheless retains some semblance of purity in his eyes. This is an illicit love and condemend by the goddess of rightful wedlock, Hera, who in turn controls Aeolus. Turning to perhaps an even more famous text in medieval Italy, we find in Virgil’s Aeneid 1. 50 ff, Juno/Hera calling on Aiolos to send a storm to destroy the fleet of the Trojan hero Aeneas. In fact Marziano specifically singles out Virgil for his description of this card (“...to his authority it was conceded, like Virgil, to soothe the waves, and by the wind to raise them, and in whatever way to agitate in all respects the kingdom of Neptune.”). Aiolos/Aeolus then is an enemy of mankind generally (Ovid) and specifically against the origin of Viconti’s line, the Trojan Aeneas (Virgil). Aiolus is present as “dragon" slayed by Visconti's line, that triumph proving his courtly worth for Agnes/Daphne. Given the connection of Visconti's main enemey to the sea, Venice, Aeolus was a pefect metaphorical enemy.
3. The date of the Marziano deck: 1418 (Pratesi’s proposed dating and the earliest that Marziano was in Visconti's court; Michelino also was not in Milan until 1417). Per Biglia, the affair between Visconti and Agnes also began in 1418 http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/agn ... ografico)/. Given that coincidence, is it far-fetched to see the Marziano deck as a wooing gift to his lover at the onset of the love affair?
Finally, is there any connection between the Marziano deck and the most complete surviving deck created under Visconti, the CY? In suits and trump subjects there is simply no connection; moreover the 3 males for 3 females in the CY court cards is not even matched in an equal gender split of the Marziano deck (there are 9 males, 7 females). However, I do see a strong echo of the Daphne theme in what we now call the Chariot. Hurst has made it amply clear ( viewtopic.php?f=11&t=917&p=13575&hilit= ... ing#p13575) that the jousting shield and woman upon a chariot is taken from representations of Chastity. And what is emblazoned on CY’s Chariot/Chastity’s shield, fending off the wanton arrows of Eros? The radiate turtledove, the suit of “virginity” in the Marziano deck in which we find Daphne. Of course my own theory is that on the CY chariot is the chaste offspring of Visconti and Agnese, Bianca, herself offered in marriage to bind Sforza more closely to Visconti via the dowry of the daughter and Cremona. How appropriate that a gift to the mother was commemorated in a card of the second deck for the daughter, if this were all true?