Now I turn to Andrea Vitali's essays in 2020. I want to emphasize that you can more or less read these essays for yourself in English and other languages by following my suggestions at viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1906
. Essentially what you do is search on Google for "Saggi Letarot" and next to what comes up, click on the blue "translate this page". However at the link I have given some tips about how to decipher Google Translate when it doesn't make sense.
Andrea's first 2020 essay is Di una Lettera del Doni ad Annibal Caro -1552 -
A un poeta pazzo ben si addicono le carte dei tarocchi"
Of a Letter from Doni to Annibal Caro -1552
Tarot cards are well suited to a mad poet
Google Translate does not handle 16th century Italian poetry and poetry-like prose very well. But I think what is going on is that this Doni, born 1513 Florence, has written a poem which he imagines in his letter to have been written by someone else, a poet madly in love with a certain lady, with many allusions to Titian, Petrarch, the myth of Icarus, etc. Doni then comments on this poem. At the end of these comments, he says that he gives the Fool card to the lady, while keeping the Devil for himself. Andrea says that the Fool represents the poet's condition relative to the lady, and the Devil relative to himself. I wish Andrea had said more. The Devil presumably is chosen because the poet feels like he is burning in hell. And the Fool is chosen because of his love madness. This is my guess as to what Andrea means, but to me it is none too clear.
Next we have I Tarocchi Siciliani nelle opere di Giovanni Meli
Con una introduzione sulla storia del tarocco in Sicilia
The Sicilian Tarots in the works of Giovanni Meli
With an introduction on the history of the tarot in Sicily
Melli (Palermo 1740-1815 wrote in Sicilian dialect, his first work in 1762, but the poem cited here published in a collection of his poetry in 1787 but written considerably earlier. Fortunately, the poem has been translated into modern Italian, which Google Translate does a good job with.
He introduces it with material from Michael Dummett's Il Mondo e l'Angelo
, 1993, on the beginnings of the Sicilian tarot, repeating the story that the game was introduced there by a new governor in 1663. (This view is somewhat compromised these days, since Franco Pratesi's 2011 essay pointing to a 1630 reference to the game in Palermo.) Andrea then lists the Sicilian trumps in order, which he will use in interpreting the references to the tarot. In the poem Don Quijote and Sancho Panza and Don Quijote, the the World card is referenced, with its picture of Atlas carrying the World on his shoulders, and the tarocchi as a whole is compared to a house of cards that falls just as the last card is being put into place. In another poem, La Fata Galanti,
Jupiter is mentioned as the first of the triumphs, or highest, and Miseria as the lowest of them, which the translator mistranslates as the Bagatto. In one last poem, the poet recommends the tarot, among other things, as a recipe against the cold.
Next is Gesuiti e altri religiosi fra carte e tarocchi
Ombre e luci
Jesuits and other clerics, between [ordinary] cards and tarot
Shadows and lights
In this essay Andrea first cites a couple of passages critical of the Jesuits of the 18th century. In one, a cynic about religion goes to a sermon intending to laugh at the Jesuit preacher, but ends up being converted. However in a poem he is not without criticism of the Jesuits' tyranny over people by means of the confessional, harping on every little error someone makes.
Next is a long passage critical of the Jesuits, of which the one relevant sentence is the following: " Questo basterebbe, per esser messi in universale diffidenza presso i Popoli, nelle vostre grandi assoluzioni, che date, e farle stimare quanto quelle di Papa-monco, o del de’ Tarocchi Papa sei." Google Translate has : "This would be enough, in order to be placed in universal distrust among the People, the great absolution, which you give, and to make them esteem how much those of Papa-monco, or of the Tarocchi Papa are." Monco means "maimed, incomplete", according to online dictionaries. Andrea does not explain the meaning. I guess it is a play on the word "tarocchi", meaning both "crazy people" and the card of the mutilated Pope in the game. It further suggests to me the meaning of "tarocco" as "maimed". In English the word "lame" can have such a meaning, i.e. "stupid".
Next, a poem complains satirically that noble ladies' only criticism of Christianity is that they don't let dogs in the temple; later the poem indicates that for them it is upsetting for them to lose the Bagatto, against which they tell themselves "Patience, for the love of God."
Another deals with the criticism that foreigners visiting Rome come away with a bad impression of the clerics there, because they are seen so much playing cards.. The reply is that they do not play games of chance, and only for small stakes. One or two hours in the evening is just an innocent diversion, what is worse than playing is such murmurs in criticism, or so says a Roman priest of 70 or 80 and an exemplary life. Another excuse is that it is acceptable for those clerics involved in diplomacy, who must engage pleasantly with the nobility.
We also learn about how the clerics celebrate Carnival. Nuns dress up as men, with mustaches and swords and the clothes of their confessors, who are in the audience. Other shows bring in sleight of hand artists. The Jesuits watch Latin comedies. Other times two priests will perform, one acting out an ignorant person speaking nonsense in the language of the people, the other someone learned. In this context the word "bigoti" is used to describe the pious, in what appears to be a different sense than nowadays, when it is applied to the overzealous and self-righteous.
Another quotes a certain Cardinal Lugo, who said that if he saw a Jesuit playing cards, he would charge him with a mortal sin. For all that, Andrea says that even though card-playing at synods was forbidden, many in attendance did so anyway.
A Swiss says that the time spent playing card would be better spent on something more edifying, such as learning botany or minerology. Andrea ends by citing the Jesuit priest Claude-François Ménestrier (1631-1705), who among numerous works wrote a book about "the game of blazon cards", an educational game teaching the coats of arms of the French noble families.
Next comes an essay in three parts on the 1761 fantasy comic opera "L’Amore delle tre melarance" (The Love of Three Oranges)
, upon which Prokofief later based his opera of the same name. Besides Commedia d'Arte characters, the play opens with various tarot figures: the Fool, Fortune, and the king, knight, page, doctor (!), and ten numeral cards in Cups, as well as the Knights of Swords and Coins. In Act Two a Magician (Mago) is added, as well as "the hours", said to weave the thread of life, and so include the Fates, as on the Charles VI Sun card. Another "hour" is named Corragio
, courage. There are also devils and a sorceress. Act Four opens in a cloister, with its backdrop a painting called "The Hermit of the Tarot" (L'Eremita dei tarocchi
). In the last scene comes an "Angel of Harmony" to wrap things up with a happy ending. Besides these characters, Andrea finds resemblances between the plot and the tarot sequence.
The next essay is Pasquino e i tarocchi
Una statua parlante a satireggiare il clero romano
Pasquino and the Tarot
A talking statue to satirize the Roman clergy
Here we learn the origin of "Pasquinade", a satirical literary composition, directed at the clergy or the powerful in general. It comes from the Roman legionaire and tailor Pasquino, famous for a biting tongue, whose statue can be seen in a corner of the Villa Orsini in Parione of Rome. Andrea in other essays has already talked about a couple of them, and now he adds a few more. In one, the author complains of the high price of artichokes, relative to what the people can afford: "Ho ragione se io tarocco", which Andrea translates "I rightly curse [imprecare]". It is "tarocco" as a verb, as he has explained elsewhere. In another, Pasquino has a different derogatory vulgar term for every cardinal in Rome, all in rhyme. He calls one of them a "Cazatello / Un proprio bagatello de tarochi", meaning a "little prick, a proper Bagatto of tarocchi".
Finally, there is one about the Pope and the Popess, in answer to the question of whether she was history or romance, i.e. fiction. Apparently with reference to the mythical Pope Joan, the Protestants wanted the Popess but not the Pope, while the Catholics defend the Pope and deny the Popess. So Pasquino said that the way to reconcile them was to unite the Pope and the Popess in marriage. The curate objected that the Popess only existed in the figures of the tarot. The physician then asked, could the same be said of the Devil? The poor curate had found himself in a bind (imbroglio).
The next essay is Il significato di Tarocco in Andrea Moniglia-1660
Nel dramma per musica ‘La Serva Nobile'
The meaning of Tarot in Andrea Moniglia-1660:
In the musical drama 'La Serva Nobile'
In this essay Andrea identifies two occurrences of the word "tarocco" in two different comic operas by Moniglia. In La Serva Nobile
(The Noble Servant), one character asks another, “E quel tarocco di Fernando?” (6). i.e., "And that tarocco
of Fernando?". Andrea then refers to another work, a Declarations
on the meanings of words in his works (I think), by the same author in reference to that use of tarocco
, where he gives as synonyms "Balordo, Fantoccio, Malfatto". Malfatto
means "malformed", which could apply to a person either mentally or physically. Fantaccio
means "puppet", applied to a person someone with no will of their own, led around by others. By bolardo
is meant someone who is obtuse, slow, ingenuous (although what Andrea writes is ingegno
, meaning "intelligent", rather than ingenuo
). It also indicates a confusion of mind. So it is close to "stupid".
The other use is in La Vedova
(The Widow), where one woman, Frasia, one of the principals, is talking to an old servant woman, Geva:
: Leonora [one of her daughters]
Today must get married
With the Father of Leandro. And this fool [sciocco
Now he says to her, now he writes to her
That a Lover of her lives;
Understand, Geva, in truth tarocco
In this case Moniglia paraphrases tarocco
, i.e. "I am angry". So there are two meanings for tarocco
. Andrea reconciles them by saying that the second comes from the first: it is because of the confusion or stupefaction, preventing the person from attaining in that moment the necessary calm, that that the person is angry.
The next essay is Vita del Picaro Gusmano d’Alfarace - 1599
Le avventure, fra carte e tarocchi, di un furfante pentito
Life of the Rogue Gusmano d'Alfarace - 1599
The adventures, between cards and tarot cards, of a repentant villain
This essay is mainly about a novel translated from Spanish of Mateo Alemán, purporting to be the confessions of someone who cheated at cards. Google translate does a good job with the passages that Andrea has selected, about the methods of cardsharps. The Italian translation, even if from the early 17th century, is fairly simple. So I won't bother summarizing it or Andrea's account of him, which is also straightforward. The only confusing part is the end of a quote from the frontispiece " ...le Virtù conducono al supremo de gli Honori; et che i Vitij traboccano nel precipitio delle miserie, et fino alla mendicità” . I translate it as "the Virtues lead to supreme Honors; and the Vices overflow into the precipice of misery and even begging."
To put the Italian into Google Translate's English, let me remind you, follow my suggestions at viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1906
The only things that are difficult to read are selections from two other authors, both 17th century Italian. You can get the general drift from Google Translate, although not enough to call it a real translation. If Andrea wants to include a translation into modern Italian, he can, but it hardly seems worth the trouble. There is one mention of cards, in the phrase "da carte
"; Google translate has "from papers"; it should be "of cards," I think, since the words before were about rogues and swindlers. There is only one mention of tarot, and it is straightforward, just about playing tarot and other card games. If you want to know the names of the other games in Italian, just highlight the Google Translate English text.
To be continued