I have nothing to add to the Fibbia discussion. I see both sides.
So now chapter 4.
[start p. 43]
TRIUMPHS AND THE GAME OF TRIUMPHS
THE TRIUMPH, Joan Evans tells us in her book Pattern
(II 14), was to the Renaissance what the sacrament had been to the Middle Ages. In Italy, this type of procession was so popular that it actually hindered the development of the drama. (1)
The triumph had three ancestors: the ancient Roman triumph celebrated to honor a victorious military hero, the medieval religious procession, and the processions of knights traditionally held in connection with jousts and tourneys. The Renaissance interest in the Greek and Roman classics revived interest in the Roman triumph. History tells us that the Roman triumph originated in Etruria, which became the modern Tuscany in which Florence lies. It seems natural, therefore, that the Renaissance triumph was a special feature of festivals at Florence.(2)
In Milan, the religious processions very early took on the dramatic quality of the triumph. At Epiphany, for example, the story of the Magi was acted out in a procession which used the whole city for a stage.(3) The three Kings from the East rode into the city on fine horses, preceded by a long cortege. Trumpets were blown. Apes, baboons, and other animals were to be seen in the procession, no doubt destined to be offered to the Holy Child as gifts, along with the gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Directly ahead of the Kings a golden star moved through the air, supported on a nearly invisible wire, At the columns of St Lawrence, Herod and his scribes appeared in effigy, as a reminder of the conference between them and the three Kings. From there the procession moved on to the Church of St Eustorgius, where the Kings worshipped before the image of the Christ Child in His Mother's arms. After that they lay down to sleep, and a winged angel flew down (assisted by a cable) to warn them not to go back the way they had come, but to leave through the Roman Gate of the city.
[notes originally p. 51]
1. For the hindrance to the drama see Burckhardt (Civilization p 407).
2. For triumphs in general see Burckhardt (Civilization pt V ch 8). For the processions of knights see Evans (Pattern I 108) and Bacon (Selected), essay 37: "Of Masques and Triumphs." His essay 45: "Of Building," should also be read, for it explains why palaces built during the Renaissance have their great halls "for feasts and triumphs." For the Etruscan origin of the triumph see Beard (History p 23).
3. For the Epiphany procession at Milan see Vianello (Teatro p 18).
[start p. 44]
A procession such as this, with the gradual addition of more and more sideshows, could easily turn into the procession of triumphal cars so popular in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
It was the knights' processions which contributed to the triumph the exciting feature of rows of mounted men andfootmen, all dressed alike, who marched before each triumphal car. Giorgio Vasari wrote that, in his opinion, it was the Florentine painter, Piero di Cosimo, who first adapted Carnival maskings to the character of a triumph, or at least that it was he who brought them to perfection, by introducing the long trains of men all dressed to suit the character of a particular triumph. At night this made a most impressive sight. The marchers carried lighted torches which were reflected in the rich caparisons of the horses and the splendid dress of their riders. Each cavalier was attended by six or eight men, also mounted, dressed alike, and carrying torches. A triumphal car may have had as many as four hundred attendants. (4)
Sometimes, instead of passing through the streets, a procession would go around the great courtyard of a palace while the spectators sat at the windows. It was then called a carrousel. Today our amusement park merry-go-rounds still have triumphal "cars" and horses for the "knights" and are often called carrousels.
The Visconti and Sforza families, like the Medici of Florence, loved these elaborate processions. The first Sforza duke had refused a triumphal entry into Milan, but his descendants made up for it. Again and again in the art of their time it is a Sforza we see pictured on a triumphal car, from Battista Sforza, Duchess of Urbino, in Piero della Francesca's painting, to Bianca Maria Sforza, the Empress, in Jörg Kölderer's series of miniature paintings, "The Triumphs of Maximilian." (5)
When Costanzo Sforza married Camilla D'Aragona in 1475, the occasion was celebrated by the performance of a Triumph of Fame, with Fame sitting in a car upon a great globe, surrounded by heroes: Scipio, Alexander, and Caesar. When the bride made her solemn entrance into the city of Pesaro, she was greeted by a Triumph of Chastity. The figure of Chastity was clothed in silver, and carried a golden palm-branch in her hand. Another car carrying six ladies who represented great heroines of purity followed the triumphal car. They were all clothed in white and carried lilies. At the end of a two-day celebration in the castle, with splendid banquets and congratulatory
[note originally p. 51]
4. For Vasari's remarks see his Lives II 416.
5. The triumph of Federigo of Urbino and his wife will be found in most collections of Piero della Francesca's work. The two paintings are reproduced in miniature in Burckhardt (Civilization, the edition published by Harper, 1958, II 418-419) but they appear over the wrong captions, which have been transposed. For Kölderer's triumphs see Waetzoldt ("Jörg"). Kölderer was also responsible for the architectural design of the huge print by Albrecht Dürer and his assistants, made up of 192 separate woodblocks, "The Triumphal Arch of Maximilian." A copy of this is on permanent exhibition on the main floor of The New York Public Library, in the south corridor. Here the serpent of Milan appears among the many heraldic devices.
[start p. 45]
recitations, a confectionery piece representing this same triumph of Chastity was offered to the newlyweds. (6)
In the summer of 1481, when Catherine Sforza and her husband Girolamo Riario entered Forli, they passed through triumphal arches in streets hung with splendid tapestries. They were met by crowds of young men in white, carrying palm-branches, and a car filled with children who addressed them in song. Bands of music played while the bells of the city rang joyfully. Catherine's horse was caparisoned in cloth of silver embroidered with pearls, and the noble pair were accompanied by a group of noblemen dressed in white and gold, who carried a canopy over their heads. Here we have all the magnificence of the triumph, without the characteristic triumphal car or its allegorical figures. (7)
Chastity as the subject of a triumph was derived from Petrarch's famous poem, I Trionfi
(8), the main outline of which supplied themes for decorative art and triumphal processions, and finally for the game of triumphs played with the tarocchi. There were six triumphs in I Trionfi
. First was the triumph of Cupid over gods and men, even over the great god Jove, and Petrarch too, who was lovesick for his Laura. When artists illustrated this triumph (9) they showed Cupid on a great car drawn by white horses, aiming darts or arrows at the lovers who are the unhappy captives accompanying his triumph. The second triumph is that of Chastity, which celebrates Laura's refusal of Petrarch's love. The tradition of courtly love required the lover to choose a married woman for the object of his affections, and the lady to remain coldly aloof. Chastity is a silver-clad figure with ermine on her banner, who rides on a car drawn by unicorns and overcomes fickle Fortune. Fortune appears in the illustrations sometimes as a figure standing on a ball and carrying a sail, sometimes simply as a storm at sea. Chastity's chief captive is Cupid himself, for the basic formula in a series of triumphs is that the leading figure in each becomes the chief captive or victim of the triumph which follows. In tapestries we sometimes see the victim lying beneath the wheels of the next triumphal car, but Cupid does not suffer this fate. Instead, he sits on the front of Chastity's car with his bow broken and his hands bound behind his back.
Petrarch's Laura died in the Black Death, and the third triumph in his poem is the triumph of Death. Death, in the form of a skeleton, rides on a car drawn by black oxen. But Death in turn falls victim to Laura's fame, and the personified Fame rides in a car .drawn by ele-
[notes originally p. 52]
6. For Costanzo Sforza's wedding see Weisbach (Trionfi p 86).
7. For Catherine Sforza's entry see Young (Medici p 515).
8. For the popularity of Petrarch's poem see Ernest H. Wilkins, The Making of the "Canzoniere" (Roma 1954 p 370); also Masséna (Pétrarque, p_102, note 3). Though the poem was dull, the idea of the six triumphs (not Petrarch's, by the way; in the actual poem there is only one triumphal car, that of Cupid) was so attractive that everyone wanted to own a copy of the poem, preferably with illustrations. Wilkins (p 217) quotes an inscription made by the owner of one copy claiming that he wanted to have his darling Petrarch beside him in bed and at table, and to live and die with it — claiming also to have ordered the copy at a date (1370) which Wilkins calls "unreliable" (for Petrarch had not yet finished the poem then). For the use of the theme in decorative art see Hind (Catalogue, p 10) and Schubring (Cassoni, text p 21-22, 199, and many instances in the volume of plates).
9. The best source for illustrations of The Triumphs is Masséna (Pétrarque), which is profusely illustrated.
No one seems to have noticed that playing cards originated at a time when pictures in general were becoming portable, in contrast to the art of earlier times, which had been mainly mural painting and the illumination of books. As soon as you have a set of little pictures you can hold in your hand, especially if they belong to a series, a game is almost inevitable (witness the games children play with the cards given away with bubble-gum, etc). For the rise of panel painting see Hauser (Social p 264). If playing cards were brought to Europe from China, as is sometimes supposed, why were they so late in coming? Marco Polo could have brought them back half a century before we begin to hear any authentic mention of their existence in Europe.
[start p. 46]
phants, blowing her own many-mouthed trumpet. Time brings oblivion even to great fame, and so the next car, drawn by stags, carries Time, old, leaning on crutches and holding an hourglass.
The happy ending comes with the triumph of Eternity, in which Petrarch and Laura are united in everlasting bliss. Illustrators show this as an image of the Holy Trinity, mounted on a car drawn by the "four living creatures" which are symbols of the four Gospels: a man, an eagle, a lion, and an ox. In the sky appear the chief captives of this triumph, the Sun and Moon, representatives of the Time which they measure. They are no longer necessary in the full light of Eternity. That is why the last of modern tarocchi trumps has the four living creatures in its four corners, and the Star, the Moon, and the Sun are three of the highest tarocchi trumps.
The ludus triumphorum
, or game of triumphs, had several variations before it became fixed as the game played with twenty-one triumphs and a Fool which we find condemned in sermons of the fifteenth century. (In calling them "triumphs" we are using the English word of which "trump" is a variant form; in Italian the same word, "trionfo," is used both for triumphs and for trumps.) The earliest game of triumphs may have been the sixteen-card set which is thought to have been painted for the third Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti, by Michelin da Besozzo. In this set there were four groups of triumphs, with four cards in each group. The lowest was the triumph of .the Virtues: Jupiter, Apollo, Mercury, Hercules. Next was the triumph of Riches represented by Juno, Neptune, Mars, Aeolus. Then the Virginities: Chastity (Pallas), Diana, Vesta, Daphne. Finally came the Pleasures: Venus, Bacchus, Ceres, and Cupid, with Cupid triumphing over all. The plot of this grouping of triumphs may have been suggested by an ironic passage in the Divinae Institutiones
of Lactantius, one of the ante-Nicene Church Fathers. (10)
Sometimes it is difficult to conclude whether a series of triumphs is simply a set of pictures, or whether it is a set of playing cards. The so-called "Tarot of Mantegna," for example, is a set of five triumphs with ten cards in each but so large and thin that one wonders if they should be called "cards" at all. Another set obviously not a card game is Ktilderer's "Triumphs of Maximilian," boasting of that emperor's achievements and possessions. (11) The modern minchiate cards of Florence have thirty-five numbered trumps and six unnumbered "wild" cards, which originally must have
[note 10 originally p. 52; note 11 originally p. 53]
10. For the sermons condemning the game of triumphs see the notes for VI; "The Trumps and the Fool." For the sixteen-card set see Durrieu ("Michelino"). This may be the set mentioned in Decembrio ("Philippi"), which is worth quoting in full: "Cap. LXI. De variis ludendi modis: Variis etiam ludendi modis ab adolescentia usus est, nam modo pila se exercebat, nunc folliculo: plerunque eo ludi genere, qui ex imaginibus depictis sit, in. quo praecipue oblectatus est adeo, ut integrum eorum raffle, & quingentis aureis emerit, auctore vel in primis Martiano Terdonensi eius Secretario, qui Deorum imagines, subjectasque his animalium figures, & avium miro ingenio, summaque industria perfecit."
Masséna (Pétrarque p 106-7) quotes the passage from Lactantius (liber I, cap XI) who mentions a poem about the "triumphum Cupidinis ... pompam in qua Jupiter cum caeteris diis ante currum triumphantis ducitur catenatus."
The game of triumphs must have originated among the aristocracy, for it is seldom or never legislated against, as were ordinary playing cards. Schreiber (Altesten p 76) shows that "taxillos vel naybos" were forbidden by the statutes of the city of Perugia in 1425, but triumphs were not mentioned (possibly, of course, because they had not yet been invented). In 1488 Brescia forbade "buschatia" and defined this as "omnis Indus taxilloram et cartarum exceptis ludis tabularum et rectis ludis triumphorum et seachornm." Schreiber shows also that in 1489 the city of "Salo am Gardasee," and in 1491 the city of Bergamo, passed similar laws, both excepting the game of triumphs from the prohibition. At Carnival time the prohibition was temporarily lifted (Arch stor lomb xviii (1886) 28-29).
11. In looking through Hind (Early) one often comes upon series of pictures which might easily have served for the game of triumphs, especially a set by Nicoletto da Modena (pl 640 ff), which show Minerva, Hercules, Orpheus, Abundance, Mercury, Neptune, Venus, Ceres, Apollo, Pallas, Mars, Fortune, and Ceres. This artist actually made tarocchi (pl 68). For the "Tarot of Mantegna" see Hind (Catalogue p 17-25). For Kölderer see Waetzoldt ("Jörg"). The Sola-Busca tarocchi (shown in Hind, Early, vol iv of plates, 370 ff) are a fanciful set with twenty-one trumps representing characters of antiquity: Catullus, Nero, Nimrod, etc. The suit cards are also pictures, and are obviously the source of the more attractive suit cards drawn by Pamela Colman Smith in 1910 for A. E. Waite's Pictorial Key to the Tarot.
[start p. 47]
been the "game of the triumphs of Petrarch" which we find listed in the Rosselli inventory. All six of Petrarch's triumphs are clearly to be seen in the minchiate trumps. They show Cupid and his captives, as in the tarocchi, but with more respectable captives than the Pope and Popess; then the triumph of Chastity accompanied by Temperance, Fortitude, Justice, and her captive, Fortune. The triumphs of Death and Time are the same as in the tarocchi, except that the Hanged Man has a pair of money bags, and Time has not been changed into the Hermit of the modern tarocchi. The triumph of Fame is represented by the virtues Hope, Prudence, Faith, and Charity, each wearing Fame's curious aureole. The triumph of Time also appears in the cards representing each of the four elements and the twelve signs of the zodiac. In the six unnumbered cards appears the triumph of Eternity: the Star of the Magi, the Sun and Moon (for some odd reason the Sun ranks below the Moon in the minchiate), the World, the Angel (blowing Fame's many-mouthed trumpet, and sometimes actually going by her name, "La Renommée"), and the Fool. (12)
Often there was a sentimental softening of Petrarch's story when its theme was used in decoration, making it the story of Everyman rather than the specific story of Petrarch's love for Laura. We find this as far away from Italy as England, where Sir Thomas More's father had on his walls the "pageants" of Childhood, Manhood, Venus and Cupid, Age, Death, Fame, Time, and Eternity. Wedding chests, too, were frequently decorated with a selection made from the six triumphs, only those most appropriate for the occasion being depicted. (13) Shakespeare's comedy, Love's Labour's Lost
, opens with lines which refer to the last four triumphs:
Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live registered upon our brazen tombs,
And then grace us in the disgrace of death;
When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,
The endeavour of this present breath may buy
That honour which shall bate his scythe's keen edge,
And make us heirs of all eternity.
The other triumphs were omitted — perhaps designedly, for in this play the speaker of these lines is suggesting to his audience such a womanless life that even Chastity would be out of place, and much more Cupid.
[notes originally p. 53]
12. For the minchiate see Hargrave (History p 228-230). The Rosselli inventory is quoted in Hind (Early vol I). Item no 72 is a set of plates for printing the "giuocho del trionfo del petrarcha in 3 pezi." Other blocks or plates for printing games are also listed: "giuoco d'apostoli chol nostro singnore, in sette pezi, di Iengno" (Hind thinks this pious game of Apostles and Our Lord shows Savonarola's influence), a "giuoco di sete virtu in 5 pezi, di lengno," and a "giuocho di pianeti cho loco fregi. [friezes], in 4 pezi."
13. For More's pageants see Evans (Pattern) I 153. She cites and quotes the passage from "Dibdin, Typographical Antiquities, ix, 431." For the wedding-chests see Schubring (Cassoni).
[start p. 48]
The tarocchi trumps are not so much a softening of the Petrarch story as they are a ribald take-off. Perhaps because, in the merry mood of Carnival, everything possible was done to make fun of the solemn story. Two of the great Cardinal Virtues are, in the tarocchi, taken out of context and made to accompany Cupid with obviously sexual and scatological reference ("inter urinas et faeces nascimur"). The Pope is given a mate, but those who wish may take the Pope and Popess for Jupiter and Juno. Chastity is banished in favor of her enemy, Fortune. Time is reduced to being an attendant of Death, and Fame is forgotten. Most impudent of all, Eternity is put on a level with the other triumphs, instead of being unnumbered and so left "out of this world" as in the minchiate pack. Undoubtedly it was this audacity and irreverence that made the tarocchi trumps so popular, in fact the game of triumphs par excellence.
The story told by the tarocchi trumps is a basic human story, and it is not surprising to find chapter headings in a recent Freudian study of history that might have been suggested by the trumps, although there is nothing to show that the author is acquainted with them: "The Problem. — Eros. — Death. — Sublimation. — Studies in Anality [much concerned with the Devil]. — The Way Out; the Resurrection of the Body." (14) Today the names of the more auspicious trumps are favorite names for magazines and newspapers: Fortune, Time, The Sun, The World. There is even a magazine which goes by the name of Eros, Cupid's Greek name.
Since the tarocchi included such universally favorite themes, it is no wonder that they attracted much interest, particularly after Time began to triumph over the Fame of Petrarch himself and his original story was forgotten. Even as early as 1550 an invective against playing cards entitled Il Traditor
could ask: "What does the Popess mean, the Car and the Traitor, the Wheel, the Fool, the Star, the Sun, Strength, Death, and Hell?" (15)
Boiardo, who wrote his Orlando Innamorato
less than fifty years after the Visconti-Sforza tarot cards were painted, shows more understanding of their meaning. He wrote a set of verses, two sonnets and seventy-eight terzine (one for each of the tarocchi), which were a fanciful design for a proposed new set. The suit signs were to be darts (for Love), vases (for Hope), eyes (for Jealousy) and whips (for Fear). It was customary in his time to think of the court cards in each suit as having a personal name. For his fancied set they were to be: in the suit
[notes originally p. 53]
14. Chapters in Norman O. Brown, LIfe against Death; the Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (Middletown, Conn. Wesleyan Univ Press 1959).
15. The invective against cards is cited and quoted in Morley (Old p 25). I have paraphrased it somewhat.
[start p. 49]
of Love, Polyphemus for the Page, because he loved Galatea; Paris for Knight, because of his love for Helen of Troy; Venus for Queen, pictured in a car drawn by swans, as she is shown on a wall of the Schifanoia Palace at Ferrara. Jupiter would be King. In the suit of Hope, iforatius Codes, noted for his bravery, would be Page; Jason, Knight; Judith of Bethulia, Queen; and Aeneas, King, because of the hope which sustained him in his journey from Troy to Italy. Hundred-eyed Argus would be Page in the suit of Jealousy; the. Knight, Turnus, rival of Aeneas for the hand of Lavinia; the Queen, Juno, to be shown riding in a car drawn by peacocks, whose many-eyed tails are a symbol of watchful jealousy. Juno's jealousy of the amorous Jupiter was proverbial. The King of this suit would be Vulcan, jealous of Mars's success with his wife Venus. In the suit of Fear the court cards are to be Phineus, Ptolemy, Andromeda, and Dionysius, all unhappy victims of this emotion. (16)
In listing his proposed trumps Boiardo starts with the Matto, the Fool, who stands for "the world, by madmen vainly loved." The Fool is to be dressed very gaily in red and yellow adorned with bells and is to be shown riding on an ass. Here is the first evidence of the tendency of the Fool to usurp the place of the first, which we shall consider later.
A complete list of Boiardo's proposed trumps follows: I Idleness (Sardanapalus), II Labor (Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons), III Desire (Actaeon), IV Reason (Petrarch's Laura, with her ermine banner of Chastity and Cupid as her captive), V Secrecy (Antiochus), VI Grace (the three Graces), VII Disdain (King Herod, who killed his beloved Mariamne "per sdegno"), VIII Patience (Psyche), IX Error (depicted by Jacob, who found he was in error in thinking he had won Rachel through seven years' labor), X Perseverance (Penelope), XI Doubt (King Aegeus, who was in doubt about the return of his son Theseus from Crete ), XII Faith (Sophonisba), XIII Deception (Nessus), XIV Wisdom (Hypermnestra), XV Chance (Pompey ), XVI Modesty (Emilia, Scipio's wife), XVII Peril (Julius Caesar), XVIII Experience (Rhea, mother of Jove), XIX Time (Nestor), XX Oblivion (Dido), XXI Strength of mind (Lucretia, who killed herself because her honor had been violated).
Boiardo's writing also gives some rules for playing the game. The pip cards of the good suits, Love and Hope, are to rank from ten as high card to ace as lowest. In the bad suits (Fear and Jealousy) the order is to be reversed "because more love and more hope are better
[note originally p. 53]
16. See Boiardo (Tutte tx 702-716 and 748-749) for the proposed new tarocchi.
[start p. 50)
than less, and less jealousy and fear are better than more." After the play for tricks the players score the number of points they have made in the good suits, and subtract from this the points they have in the bad suits. The player who has the best score has the right to impose a forfeit on the one with the lowest. In these rules there is a kind of gallant reversal of the actual rules, for Boiardo's vases are certainly feminine symbols, yet he equalizes this suit of Hope with the masculine suits of Swords and Staves in the existing tarocchi.
In French literature of the Renaissance the best known mention of the tarot is in Rabelais' Five Books of Gargantua and Pantagruel
, where tarot is listed as one of the games played by Gargantua, and is significantly missing from the list of the various means of divination used by him. However, we know that cards were used for fortune-telling in Renaissance times. The method was based on the older system of fortune-telling with dice, and involved only one of the ordinary suits — never the tarocchi trumps. Yet one seldom or never finds cartomancy listed as one of the serious methods of divination used during the Renaissance. (17)
Further reference to the tarot is found in this curious riddle which appears in a French translation of Straparola's Facetious Nights
, although it is nowhere in the original Italian work:
Ce guerrier indompte, hardy, victorieux,
Et qui, tousjours vainqueur, triomphe en toute guerre,
Sera d'un coustelas mort renversé par terre,
Et son règne detruict, jadis tant glorieux.
Après, pour un vieillard, o cruauté des cieux!
L'homicide poison secrettement s'enserre
Dans une couppe d'or ou d'argent ou de verre,
Dont en fin it mourra dolent et soucieux.
Mais le ciel pour cela n'apaisera son ire,
Car avec un baston, au premier de l'empire
Peu après l'on verra rompre et briser le chef.
Ce faint, pour peu d'argent la fortune ennemie
Le monde accablera, puis tous reprendront vie
Tant Brands comme petits, pour mourir de rechef.
(Translation by James Revak, posted by Hurst at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=754&start=53#p11504
; my comments are in brackets, and also Ross's suggestions at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=754&start=53#p11507
This untamed warrior, bold, victorious,
And who, ever the victor, triumphs in any war,
Will die by a knife [I think "cutlass"] upside-down over the ground,
And his reign destroyed, once so glorious.
Next, for [I think "by"] an old man, o cruelty of the heavens!
The murderous poison secreted inside [Ross: "secretly locks/fixes/binds itself"]
In a cup of gold or silver or glass,
In [I think "of"] which he will finally die sorrowful and anxious.
But for that will heaven not mitigate its anger,
Because shortly after the beginning of the empire
One will witness the breaking and smashing of the leader with a club.
But for that, Heaven will not appease its anger;
For, with a club, at the beginning of the empire,
Very soon one will see it [Heaven, Ross says] break and smash the head.]
For want of [Ross, perhaps "for a little"] money, this event, adverse fortune
Will overwhelm the world [I think, the world will overwhelm]; then everyone, the great and small alike
Will live again to die from rechef [Ross "die again"].
The story goes on to say that this riddle was heard with great wonder, and no one could think what it might mean. Then the gentleman
[note originally p. 53]
17. See our bibliography for the Rabelais references. The Renaissance method of cartomancy, using only the suit of coins, is shown in Grillot de Givry (Witchcraft figs 283-284). Compare this with fig 289, which shows the sixteenth-century (and earlier) method of telling fortunes from the fifty-six throws of three dice. Grillot de Givry has a good deal to say about tarot cards, and apart from his unsupported statement that medieval sorcerers used them for divination, there is much good sense in what he says.
[start p. 51]
who had posed it revealed that the answer was nothing other than the game of tarot. Although this solution was apparently received without comment by the rest of his companions, the riddle seems rather obscure. It is true that each of the four stanzas contains the name of one of the four suits ("coustelas," "couppe," "baston," "argent"), and here and there some of the trumps seem to be hinted at. Beyond that, one can only guess at what seems to be a likely explanation. It is possible that the first stanza refers to an undaunted warrior who loses a trick in swords, and the second to an old man who loses in cups. In the third a great man loses a trick in staves, and in the last someone is able to trump because he has no cards of the suit led, which was coins. Here all the characters of the card world come to life, only to die once more. This is rather like the imaginative parables about the game of chess, where all the pieces "die" and are put away in their bag at the end of the game. (18)
We have seen that the trumps of our cards are visual representations of the popular triumphs of the fifteenth century, and that they were originally a separate game, based on the story of the three triumphs of Cupid, Death, and Eternity. Now we will look more particularly at the two characters in the triumphal procession who are the most important of them all in their relationship to the tarocchi.
[note originally p. 53]
18. The Straparola riddle was brought to my attention by Prof Archer Taylor, who is an authority on riddles as well as on many other things. See Straparola (Facétieuses II 371-372: 12th night, 7th tale).
Scan of pp. 50-51 (notes): https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-28yH3dnG8Ow/ ... 023det.jpg
Scan of pp. 52-53 (notes): https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xUnZRPxwgik/ ... 024det.jpg