Re: A definitive Medici marker on the CVI page of swords?

Phaeded wrote: I think the compass was too closely identified with Prudence in the mid-Quattrocento and the most prominent set of virtues in Florence - that of the Campanile and the Loggia dei Lanzi - shows Temperance holding the mixing vessels: ... erance.jpg ... _Lanzi.jpg
[the baptistery's temperance's sheathed sword is neither here nor there for this argument: ... ERANCE.JPG ]
Indeed, the CVI’s own Temperance trump adheres to the older model of mixing vessels.

I am aware of the association between the compasses and Prudence. (For an earlier example of this association, see Giotto’s Prudence, Arena Chapel, ca. 1306). That said, I believe you overstate this association. I’ve also seen the motif of the compasses linked with the virtue, Justice. (Cf. the Capella Eleonora, Palazzo Vecchio, by Bronzino, ca. 1540-45, where it appears, along with the gallows square, as an attribute of this virtue.) The majority of works for the subject period continued to show the polycephalic Prudence with mirror and serpent or book, sans compasses. This holds true as well for the Loggia dei Lanzi and Campanile, which you cited. On the other hand, the Temperance by Brueghel the Elder (ca. 1560), which I referenced in my earlier post reflects a competing tradition that continued to link the compasses with Temperance.

Interestingly, however, Prudence was also linked with the Venus Pudica (or hand gestures associated with her). Along these lines, please see the Pulpit, Pisa Cathedral (1302-1310), which Giovanni Pisano apparently modeled after that constructed by his father, Nicola, at Siena. You’ll also note that the Pisa Temperance is given the attribute of the compasses. Fortitude holds the carcass of a lion. Justice holds her usual scales and sword.

I find this of interest in view of the Venus Pudica-like hand gestures given the naked, female protagonist in the CVI Judgment/Fama trump, as well as the monarch in green cloak shown in the CVI Death trump.
Fortitude and Prudence.jpg
Fortitude and Prudence
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Justice and Temperance
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Phaeded wrote: Considering that one of the compass arms, per your detail, is placed on one of the bands of the armillary-like sphere - either the celestial equator or ecliptic - wouldn't it be most likely that the latter as indicated and the other arm attempting to indicate one of the lunar nodes for the important issue of eclipses? This is the moon card after all....
An interesting possibility. That said, I fail to see how this might preclude an association between the Moon trump and Temperance or Lachesis, for that matter. The theme of measuring is still present.

Re: A definitive Medici marker on the CVI page of swords?

mikeh wrote:Kate wrote
Another remarkable feature of the CVI is the marked resemblance between the Hermit/Vecchio and the Emperor. The facial features of the two are the same, except that the Emperor presents his left profile to the viewer, whereas, the Hermit presents his right profile. The Hermit’s beard is longer, presumably, reflecting the passage of time. The Emperor’s cuirass has been discarded, appropriately, in favor of a travelling cloak and shoes for the Hermit. The gold detailing, which decorates the hem of the Emperor’s blue tunic faces left; that of the Hermit’s tunic faces right consistent with their reversed facial profiles. The five-petalled flower, which decorates the Emperor’s cuirass becomes a five-petalled, living flower at the feet of the Hermit as he, presumably, prepares to ascend the mount before him. Clearly, the two are the same man. But who or what does this man represent?
Interesting idea, that they are the same person.


The only 15th century ruler I know of who went from ruling to being a monk is Amadeus VIII of Savoy, made duke by Emperor Sigismund ( ... e_of_Savoy). That was before he was elected pope. However it was a military order of monks, so perhaps he would have kept on his cuirass. Savoy was an ally of both Milan and Florenence, and not only that, Amadeus was the younger Sforzas' step-grandfather, of a sorts (i.e. not legally), as well as being some sort of distant cousin (through an earlier Visconti-Savoy marriage).

On the other hand, many people spent time in monasteries temporarily. Cosimo il Vecchio had his own private cell at San Marco. I don't know how much the cards look like him. It doesn't have to. Another possibility: it is a family resemblance only, so related as Jupiter to Saturn, or Piero the Gouty to Cosimo il Vecchio. It does not even have to be a reference to a particular actual person, if it is an allegorical progression. In any case, there does seem to be a definite linkage intended between these cards, different stages of life modeling different teachings about life.

I’ve assumed these figures to be allegorical in nature—not a reference to any contemporary persons. I’ve not precluded an alchemical subtext, where the deck is concerned.

Re: A definitive Medici marker on the CVI page of swords?

Kate wrote:Huck:

The CVI would seem to employ considerable economy insofar as depicting more than one theme in a given trump. Like you, I believe that the CVI incorporates the three Theological Virtues. Along these lines, a contemporary practice, which I believe merits consideration, paired the Theological and Cardinal Virtues. One such model attributed to 12th Century theologian/philosopher, Alain de Lille (as cited by Lynn White, 1978), paired Faith with Prudence, Hope with Fortitude, and Charity/Love with Justice. I broached this subject with Phaeded some time ago after he posted a photo of Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Maesta (ca. 1335)—viz. in terms of the colors associated with the Theological Virtues in Dante’s Commedia and, later, the Medici device/Magi. Of course, other related models existed. I believe that Augustine paired Faith and Justice, for instance. ... aesta-.JPG

In terms of the woman with spindle depicted in the CVI Sun trump, certainly, it could allude to the Florentine textile industry, in addition to a healthy number of other persons/themes. For instance, in the Campanile’s Industries of Man series of bas-reliefs by Andrea Pisano, the West wall’s third relief known as “The First Labors of Adam and Eve” portrays Eve with a spindle as Adam sows seed. Alternatively, it has been speculated that the south wall’s bas-relief concerned with weaving depicts either Naamah (sister of Tubalcain) or the goddess, Athene, as the purported patron of that art. Given the lady’s association with the CVI Sun trump, I’m tempted to speculate that it might reflect a Neoplatonic/Ficinian influence, but this speculation is tentative at this point.
The CVI develops its association to chess in context of an already existing Chess association for the Cary-Yale, which possibly had a logical basis by taking a 5x16-structure (well, hypothetical). If the analyzes are right, than star-moon-sun replaced the 3 theological virtues ... for the later Tarot structure ... however, the Charles VI has no star.
So ... if the idea is right, that sun-moon-star arrived in a later development, the Trionfi-system of CVI would have stood between a 7-virtues (+ Love) as pawns (Cary-Yale) and and a Trionfi-model with 4 cardinal virtues and sun-moon-star (+ Love).

Why Love as the 8th pawn?

Older chess had occasionally these starting formation:


Short-assize versions, said to be from 16th century, but the principle was definitely older.

Queen and Queen's pawn had a special function in these openings. A similar special role was given to the Queen in the "Freudensprung" in the Courier game:


There's only one female figure in the chess set and this might have inspired the fantasy first in the chess versions and then in the Chess-with-Trionfi or Trionfi-with-chess meditations.

The Charles VI imported sun+moon (without star) ... possibly the idea existed to use "7 planets" for the pawns:

Sun, as we see it
Moon, as we see it
Venus, as it is in the Love card
Jupiter for the virtue Justice
Saturn for the virtue Temperance ???
Mars for the virtue Fortitudo
Mercury for the virtue Prudentia (Fame ?)

... just as an idea.

The general situation was so, that Pulci got the commission to write the Morgante (1460). On the general run a big friendship to Lorenzo de Medici (17 years younger, in 1960 11 years old) developed and the Morgante became an orgasm about funny knights and a foolish giant (Morgante), later a second foolish giant Margutte (a giant cook, who could eat very much).
My idea is, that Pulci got the commission to write the long poem for children and to educate some sort of interest for literature. The long-time project of the Morgante was part of this education. When the years passed ... 1463 ... the Morgante had reached chapter 15 (so it is analyzed) and Lorenzo was old enough to be seen as "grown-up". So, I assume, the literature teaching was finished, and a playing card project was made to give it a crown, naturally reflecting the funny ideas in this long time. A Pulci-plus-children mix, with not much respect for high humanistic sensibilities.

A little later (1466) Pulci appears as the one, who is the first to mention the game Minchiate, in a letter to Lorenzo. On the long run, Minchiate, not Tarot, became the the national game of Tuscany ... under the long rule of the Medici. And Lorenzo became famous as the most important Medici.

Pulci expanded the poem later to 23 chapters (around 1473) and finally 28. Pulci's ironic ideas inspired Boiardo, Boiardo inspired Ariost and later Torquato Tasso (the liberated Jerusalem), all in the interest to increase the fame of the Este.

Orlando's friendship to Morgante starts with a stone-throwing battle and that's the motif of the Charles VI Fool.


Re: A definitive Medici marker on the CVI page of swords?

Greetings Huck, et al,

In the CVI Pope trump, the Cardinal, left, holds his left hand over his right breast—a gesture, which by contemporary convention bespeaks the Theological Virtue, Faith. The Cardinal, right, holds his crossed hands over his lower body—a gesture associated with the Theological Virtue, Hope.

By comparison, the CVI Death trump portrays both the Pope and Cardinal, right, holding their crossed hands over their lower bodies as frequently seen at burials or tomb effigies—again, in reference to the virtue, Hope, presumably, in terms of the Resurrection. The Monarch in green cloak, left, holds his hands in a manner recalling the Venus Pudica—viz. right hand over the left breast and left hand proximal to the genital area.

In the CVI Judgment trump, the naked female protagonist holds her hands in like manner for Venus, Goddess of Love and Beauty.

In the CVI Love trump, the male lover of the central couple has legs splayed in a manner suggestive of lust. However, the male lover of the rear couple, right, holds his right hand over his left breast (the anatomical position of the heart) and a gesture, understandably, associated with the Theological Virtue, Charity/Love. Meanwhile, the lady, which is the object of his affections, holds her left hand to her lower body, proximal to her mons Venus, as she clasps her dress.

Turning to the first couple, left, of the CVI Love trump, the male lover holds his two hands crossed over his chest—a gesture duplicated by the two genii portrayed in the CVI Emperor trump and one, which I’ve seen variously associated by different artists with the Theological Virtue, Hope, the Cardinal Virtue, Temperance, and the Phlegmatic Humor.

As previously mentioned, the floral pattern of the Pope’s robe matches that of Fortitude. Thus, I began working with the following hypotheses, which pair the Theological and Cardinal Virtues:





As for exemplars in the CVI’s third tier, why not the Sun-World-Judgment sequence?

Re: A definitive Medici marker on the CVI page of swords?

Kate: I don't see that the 3rd man in the Love card's putting his hand to his heart suggests the theological virtue of Charity. It is rather that he feels love, in his heart, of the type that exists between the sexes; it might also be a gesture of devotion, as in love of country in a pledge of allegiance or while one's national anthem is being played. That the lady has her hand near her genital area is probably to fend off, or make a pretense of fending off, the man's hand should it go from his heart to below the waist, as in the case for example of the Schifanoia fresco ( ... e7cd3a.jpg).

I think you are right about the man's stance in the central couple. There the lady's hand is nowhere near her genital area, which suggests that she doesn't mind.

It seems to me that the two kneeling figures in the Emperor card are pages, and their crossed hands over their chests suggests a pledge of loyalty, devotion, and obedience. It is the same for the 1st man in the Lover card, pledging his devotion. It is even similar with tomb effigies: submission to God's will, whatever it may be. Hope has a different gesture, that of hands in prayer while looking upward. That they are crossed over the lower body suggests to me a placement by the artist so that the onlooker will not see the lower body: so it is in effect a "Venus pudica" pose, not by the person himself but like that of someone covering that part of a dead body from view.

As for the cardinals' gestures on the Pope card, I would need to see examples of these hand-positions on particular examples of of Faith and Hope. It seems to me hand to the breast could still be an attitude of devotion and allegiance, and likewise for the two hands crossed over the lower body.

I did not understand what you were comparing to Sun, World, and Judgment? Faith, Hope, and Charity? Fortitude, Justice, Prudence? For myself, it seems to me that the Star fits Hope (Star of Bethlehem), the Moon Faith (Faith needed in the darkness of this world), and the Sun with Charity (it gives its bounty to all unceasingly). It is one threesome being compared to another threesome.

As for the theological/cardinal pairings you have, I know that Justice and Charity were frequently paired: justice tempered by mercy. I don't see why Faith shouldn't be paired with Fortitude: it takes Fortitude to maintain one's Faith under adversity. Either Hope or Faith could be paired with Prudence: Prudence demands both, as well as Charity. But I don't see the point of such pairings. Please explain.

Re: A definitive Medici marker on the CVI page of swords?


Mike: Thank you for your kind reply.

The predella from Raphael’s Deposition/Baglioni Altarpiece (1507) readily comes to mind as making the most overt use of body language relevant our discussion. The predella consists of three panels illustrating the Theological Virtues. Faith (shown, here, at bottom; originally at left of the predella) holds her left hand to her right breast, whilst grasping the Eucharistic chalice with her right hand. Hope (shown, here, at top; originally at right of the predella following Charity at the central position) holds her two hands clasped together. However, the two putti, who flank Hope, hold their hands in a crossed position. Hope’s putto at right holds them over the lower body. Hope’s putto at left holds them over his chest.

The following detail of the Sistina’s Handing Over the Keys, so-called, by Perugino (ca. 1481-82) shows St. Peter with his left hand over his right breast as he obtains the keys to the kingdom from Christ. Meanwhile, St. John holds his right hand over the left breast—the anatomical position of the heart. Presumably, the figure that stands behind and slightly to the right of Peter with hands clasped together is St. James. You will recall, of course, that St. Peter was associated with the Theological Virtue, Faith, St. James with Hope, and St. John with Charity/Love (Cf. Dante’s Commedia, Paradiso’s Eighth Sphere).


Here, it bears mentioning that the right hand placed over the left breast was also linked with the Redemption/Resurrection. One finds earlier use of this motif in Andrea Pisano’s “statue” (actually, a relief) of Solomon (ca. 1343) as a purported OT prophet of said. This statue originally decorated the third order, west wall, of Florence’ Campanile. (It was later removed to the north wall to make room for Donatello’s statues.)


This motif was then further developed into the classical Venus Pudica pose—viz. with the left hand covering the genital area as the right hand continued to cover the left breast over the heart. The index and middle fingers of both hands were separated.

The separated fingers, when placed over the left breast as if around a nipple conceivably evolved from the Madonna Lactans motif. The mystic lactation of St. Bernard, of course, comes to mind, albeit portrayals of this event—though not consistently—more typically show the saint receiving milk from the right breast as the Christ child nursed from or rested at her left.



Lactation of St. Bernard, Bibliothèque de Troye, Frontispiece des Clémentines, Incunable 41 T.2 (late 15th Century):


The exact origin/import of the separated index and middle fingers at the Mons Venus remains, for me, a matter of speculation. However, Giovanni Pisano’s Justice, Pisa Cathedral (1302-1310), posted earlier, would seem to merit further investigation relative to the subject under discussion. Here, you’ll note the separated index and middle fingers of the left hand, adjacent the sword and lower body.


Returning to the Sistina, we find use of the Venus Pudica pose in the portrait of Sixtus II (patron saint of Sixtus IV). Significantly, this work, attributed to Botticelli (ca. 1481), resides in the third register just past Perugino’s Handing Over the Keys and at the left border of Roselli’s Last Supper.


Interestingly, use of this motif was not restricted to sacred art (or depictions of Popes). One finds a plethora of Renaissance half portraits in which the subject appears with right hand over the left breast, index and middle fingers separated. Over time, use of the motif spread, presumably, from Italy to north of the Alps, in both Catholic and Protestant nations…

Bronzino’s Portrait of Piero de' Medici (ca. 1550-70)

Lorenzo Lotto, Man with a Golden Claw (ca. 1527)


Further, one encounters, often in more “discrete” form, use of the full, Venus Pudica pose in secular art or portraits.

For a bit of transparent propaganda, Baccio Bandinelli’s Clement VII Crowning Emperor Charles V

Portrait of Francesco I de’ Medici by Maso Da San Friano


Mention was also made in my earlier post to two of the four humors. Specifically, in the Love Trump, the splayed legs of the male lover, central couple, would seem to bespeak lust—a trait of the sanguine temperament as reflected in the Deutsche Kalendar (ca. 1498).

Alternatively, arms crossed and resting above the two breasts may also suggest the phlegmatic humor. Unfortunately, owing to time restrictions, I was unable to obtain contemporary depictions of this, but would offer Pier Francesco Mola’s Allegory of the Phlegmatic Temperament (ca. 1650).


Finally, before signing off, it bears mention that contemporary portrayals of the melancholic humor as reflected in the Deutsche Kalendar, cited above, at times featured a woman with a spindle.

My apologies for the rushed response. No lack of interest in your kind insights or discourtesy is intended.


Re: A definitive Medici marker on the CVI page of swords?

Greetings Phaeded, et al,

Phaeded wrote:
Considering that one of the compass arms, per your detail, is placed on one of the bands of the armillary-like sphere - either the celestial equator or ecliptic - wouldn't it be most likely that the latter as indicated and the other arm attempting to indicate one of the lunar nodes for the important issue of eclipses? This is the moon card after all....

Detail: CVI Moon Trump

I’m not as well versed on astrology as I should be.

Is the compasses’ upper arm resting at (1) the intersection between the solar path (ecliptic) and lunar path . . .


. . . or (2) the intersection between the celestial equator and ecliptic?


Alternatively, is the diagram indicating something else?

The compasses’ lower arm would seem to rest at a line drawn from the book’s page at left to the following page, at right, as if to connect their two respective narratives.

The second page apparently depicts a stickman walking amidst a night sky decorated with the moon and stars. Il Vecchio would seem to be the most obvious candidate.

Of particular, symbolic interest are what appear to be the geometric figures of a triangle and circle drawn immediately behind our stickman.

Re: A definitive Medici marker on the CVI page of swords?

Kate wrote: Is the compasses’ upper arm resting at (1) the intersection between the solar path (ecliptic) and lunar path . . .


. . . or (2) the intersection between the celestial equator and ecliptic?
There are E-W horizontal bands, probably indicating clima, and the central bisecting line would be the same as the celestial equator. The angled band has to be the ecliptic, inclined by about 23 degrees to the celestial equator, the plane that is perpendicular to the rotational axis of the Earth. The compass point within the sphere is on a point presumably south of the equator on the ecliptic, assuming the star atop the "cross" figure indicates something like the pole star, and thus not to any prime celestial intersection. If anything it could indicate the descending or south lunar node is where it crosses from north of the ecliptic to south of the ecliptic.

But the other point of the compass is outside of the "celestial map" and is thus nonsensical - for the ecliptic represents the zodiac - part of the fixed stars, and there is nothing beyond the fixed stars unless you want to get theological. And the line that point of the compass is tracing, half way to the "cross's" horizontal arm, is where exactly, if beyond the fixed stars? But judging by the "magical" (from the Picatrix?) symbols on the facing page of the astronomer's book (I don't see a "stick man"), perhaps magical operation is precisely what these astronomers are up to?
Alternatively, is the diagram indicating something else?
I find that elongated sail or harp shape on the facing page closest to the celestial diagram quite reminiscent of the shape formed by the PMB's Moon's girdle cord (both even have the smaller, secondary loop below the larger 'sail/harp' shape):

Just hazarding a guess here - the lunar nodes were equated to a dragon, or rather a Dragon's Head (Caput Draconis, or ascending moon's node) and Dragon's Tail (Cauda Draconis, or descending moon's node), connected by this "cord"; the astrological conceit in the Moon card then would be control - knowledge - of this dragon's movements which 'caused' lunar and solar eclipses. The northern latitude is generally considered more powerful and beneficial than southern latitude, so the Head (which marks the Moon's crossing into northern latitude) is more beneficial than the Tail (marking a crossing to southern latitude). Medieval astrologers considered the Head to be naturally masculine, and 'beneficial' because its nature is composed of the nature of Venus and Jupiter. By contrast, the Tail is naturally feminine, and 'malefic' because its nature is composed of the nature of Mars and Saturn. Also note in your image of the lunar nodes, the sigil designating them is a rounded U (inverted or upright) with knobs/knots terminating the ends - just like the portion of the PMB Moon's girdle below the "harp" shape. And of course a dragon/snake was a prime Visconti symbol in exercising 'bon droyt' over their dominion - not to mention an earlier Visconti was obsessed with eclipses: "Contemporary accounts document Giangaleazzo's dread of solar eclipses (especially understandable in view of the sun's role as one of his principal emblems), and he very probably would have regarded [sol-lunar] tables indicating the possibility of such events as aids in promoting an auspicious ducal reign" (Edith Kirsch, Five Illuminated Manuscripts of Giangaleazzo Visconti, 1991: 28).


Re: A definitive Medici marker on the CVI page of swords?

Hi Phaeded,

Yes, in magnified view, I see the cord, which is tethered to the triangular-, sail-, or harp-shaped figure depicted on Page 2 of the book. Further, this cord would seem to be attached at the other end to a star. The star appears to be eight-pointed--the same as the star depicted in Page 1 of the book and located below the "cross" figure.

It is worth noting that a repeating pattern of eight-pointed stars decorates the dress of the CVI's Justice. If the deck contained a Star Trump, it seems likely that that star was eight-pointed as well.


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