Re: Why this number of trumps?

#11
Hi, RAH,
R.A. Hendley wrote:Perhaps, the number 22, with its associations to Revelations, had become a general symbolic number representing the 'end times', like the number of planets (7) had become a rather general number of fate and luck. :-?
If you accept some analysis like that of Timothy Betts, (Tarot and the Millennium, 1998), that the trump cycle is about the End Times, that might make sense, but most theories of Tarot's meaning don't focus on that. The trump cycle ends like every other story in the Christian world, with resurrection to judgment, but that is not what it's about.

In more general terms, the idea that 21 or 22 is somehow special, symbolic of something, is certainly the most common answer to RLG's question, and has been since 1781. All the alphabetic, numerological, astrological correspondences, as well as things like the points on a die, chapters of Revelation, and so on, that have been suggested might be cataloged. Most of them, however, are the same "explanation": Someone liked the number, for whatever reason you pick from the list, but it tells us little or nothing about the design of Tarot and any other item could just as well be picked from the list. One magic number is as good as another as long as none of them have any real connection with the design of the trump cycle.

The main exceptions, i.e., magic numbers that do have some meaningful relationship with gaming, appear to be the statistician Kendall's proposal (that it matches the 21 outcomes with two dice, which is a real gaming consideration and which is consistent with the 56 suit cards as the outcomes of three dice), and Ross' proposal about the tradition of anti-gaming sermons.

Best regards,
Michael
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: Why this number of trumps?

#12
Hi Michael, and all,

You're a tough act to follow.

Firstly, I think the following point -
mjhurst wrote: Beyond that, however, the three virtues in Tarot are a complete set, in the same sense that the four Cardinal Virtues are a complete set and the seven Cardinal Virtues are as well. The group of Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance constituted the Moral Virtues. Prudence was one of the five "Intellectual Virtues". It was often grouped with the three Moral Virtues because, as Aquinas explained, it has moral action as its object. The best detailed discussion of the seven Cardinal Virtues -- four classical and three Christian -- at the time and place of Tarot's invention, is in Aquinas.
cannot be emphasized enough. The way groups of virtues are used, which ones, and their number is entirely dependent on the context of the work. These three virtues do form a well-known distinct group - as you note, the "moral" virtues (but isn't "appetitive virtues" the more common way to distinguish these three from Prudence? - that's the term I've been thinking in anyway).

In any case, the search for "missing Prudence" is a red herring, if you assume that the inventor of the trumps was theologically astute enough to choose the appetitive virtues for a specific reason. I assume it was so, and this gives a clue as to the meaning of the these three virtues in either the A or C families of orders.

They are called "appetitive" because they control the two appetites (or "passions") - the "concupiscible" and the "irascible".
There are two passions, the concupiscible passion and the irascible passion.

There is a passion through which the soul is simply inclined to seek what is suitable according to the senses, and to fly from what is hurtful, and this is called the concupiscible: and another whereby an animal resists the attacks of any agents that hinder what is suitable and inflict harm; and this is called the irascible, whence we say that its object is something arduous, because its tendency is to overcome and rise above obstacles. Now these two are not to be reduced to one principle: for sometimes the soul busies itself with unpleasant things against the inclination of the concupiscible appetite in order that, following the impulse of the irascible appetite, it may fight against obstacles... This is clear also from the fact that the irascible is, as it were, the champion and defender of the concupiscible, when it rises up against what hinders the acquisition of the suitable things which the concupiscible desires, or against what inflicts harm, from which the concupiscible flies. And for this reason, all the passions of the irascible appetite rise from the passions of the concupiscible appetite and terminate in them; for instance, anger rises from sadness, and having wrought vengeance, terminates in joy. For this reason also the quarrels of animals are about things concupiscible-- namely, food and sex, as the Philosopher says (De animalibus VIII). ( (ST I, 81, 2. cf, ad.1.)
http://www.aquinasonline.com/Topics/sensappt.html

Another important moral thinker, Duns Scotus (1266-1308), in his discussion of the Beatitudes, even inadvertently supplies a reason that Prudence is not necessary in Tarot:
And so in the eight beatitudes are expressed the two infused appetitive virtues and the three acquired moral virtues, fortitude in itself and temperance in two of its species, justice in three species. But the two intellectual virtues, one acquired, which is prudence, and the other infused, which is faith, are not expressed either as such or in their species, but they are sufficiently presupposed by the appetitive virtues, because the will is not best disposed without a corresponding virtue in the intellect.
(Allan Bernard Wolter, William A. Frank, "Duns Scotus on the Will and Morality" (Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 249)

Following Scotus' precedent, we can "presuppose" Prudence by the very presence of the appetitive virtues (since they cannot operate without that intellectual virtue).

Michael has given an argument for C, so I'll defend A. As a group, Temperance, Justice and Fortitude (Bologna, Rosenwald) or Temperance, Fortitude and Justice (Minchiate, Charles VI) need no further justification than being collectively the appetitive virtues.

Coming after the Love and Chariot makes it seem possible to interpret Love as the concupiscible passion and the Chariot as the irascible. I can't say if a conquering hero is a typical portrayal of something like "the irascible appetite", but Love seems to be a suitable one for the concupiscible (I bolded Aquinas' remarks above about the irascible "rising from" the concupiscible and being "the champion" of the concupiscible to emphasize the possible relationship between Love and Chariot).

I think by choosing this group, the inventor was saying something about the appetites (which are implied by the group as a group).

Going on in the Bolognese sequence, even though these five are the moral perfection of the active life, they cannot withstand the forces of Chance, Old Age (or Time), Betrayal, and Death. Then comes the apocalyptic or at least eschatological section.

Whether or not this is a good interpretation of these five cards, I hold with Michael that there is no good reason to think something is missing from the virtues in Tarot because it is not the full list of Cardinal Virtues.

(It is possible to interpret the Florentine order, where the Chariot trumps Fortune (but not the other "inevitabilities"), as implying an understanding of it being the irascible appetite as well, since there is a strand of humanist rhetoric which emphasizes the difficult Senecan "self-mastery" explicitly as being able to overcome Fortune).

Ross
Image

Re: Why this number of trumps?

#13
mjhurst wrote: The main exceptions, i.e., magic numbers that do have some meaningful relationship with gaming, appear to be the statistician Kendall's proposal (that it matches the 21 outcomes with two dice, which is a real gaming consideration and which is consistent with the 56 suit cards as the outcomes of three dice), and Ross' proposal about the tradition of anti-gaming sermons.
Here is my most recent statement of that theory, to be published in Taros (Journal of the Association for Tarot Studies) vol. 2.

The Number 21 and the Tarot Trumps
________________________________________

In the first installment of his article "Fibonacci and the Tarot Trumps" (Taros, The Journal for Tarot Studies, no. 1 (2006) http://association.tarotstudies.org/taros/1_faber.html ), Roland Faber argues that Maurice Kendall's suggestion, later taken up by Gertrude Moakley, that the number of tarot trumps can be explained by analogy to the number of unique throws of two dice, which is 21, is insufficient to explain the number of tarot trumps:

“…many suggestions were put forward by occultists and historians to explain the substructure of the 22 trumps. They were based on the proposition that one must account for a fundamental, intrinsic subdivision into 21+1 elements, with 21 as the number of trumps and 1 representing the Fool, which in the ancient game was not numbered or—later—was numbered either 0 or 22.
“However, until today neither any occult proposal nor any (even profound) historic research has unearthed “rational” (or, for that matter, historically appropriate) arguments that can “explain” the fact of the trump-structure of the Tarot as necessarily implying exactly 22 (=21+1) trumps. On the contrary, the 22 trumps appear as a rather odd addition to a game otherwise structured into 4 suits of 14 cards. Indeed, nothing can be cited which explains the presence of the number 22 in the Tarot. Hence, the number of the trumps seems to be an accidental feature of the conglomerate that became the game of Tarot.
“If the 22 trumps really were there from the very beginning, that is, from the first decades of the 15th century on, we must admit that we know neither why there are 22 of them nor where this number came from.
“The first [solution], suggested by G. Moakley in the 1960s, pointed to the astonishing fact that there is, indeed, something related to both the 4x14 suit cards and the 21 trumps, namely the much older game of dice, from which they might have stemmed. If we take the total number of choices possible when throwing three or two dice, it adds up to either 56 (= 4x14) or 21, respectively. Although this may be a somewhat interesting connection, reaching back to the invention of “games of fortune,” as dice and cards where considered in the late 14th century when cards came into existence, unfortunately, the bare number of dice-throws does not at all account for the substructures of the 4 suits and the 21 trumps. Besides, the number of throws of two dice only sum up to 21, not 22. The number 22 remains mysterious, that is: the number 22 seems to be isolated from the necessities of the game, the 4x14 suit cards, and the possible symbolic sources for the imagery of the Tarot trumps (unless we accept the Fool to be an addition of the number 0, which, however, is not part of the game of dice).”

On the face of it, and since it offers no explanation for the presence of 0 the Fool, this seems to be a reasonable objection. However, there are good reasons to take Kendall's perhaps off-hand remark as providing a sufficient explanation of the number of tarot trumps. In what follows I will argue that in the context of the time of the invention of the tarot pack, and in the themes of the trump sequence itself, the number 21 can be shown to be relevant and potentially attractive to a game designer. Moreover, the presence and role of the Fool can also be explained by analogy to the contemporary Italian dice game.

THE NUMBER 21 AND DICE GAMES.

The number 21 is not a particularly important number in medieval Christian symbolism. Hopper's classic work "Medieval Number Symbolism" (1938, frequently reprinted) does not offer a single example. The earliest account of symbolism for the number 21 that I can find comes from Petrus Bungus (Pietro Bongo), “Numerorum Mysteria” (1584), where he says that it was important for Pythagoreans and that it represents “the completion of human perfection” (absolutionem humanae perfectionis), because it is the Trinity multiplied by the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

However, earlier in the middle ages and in the 15th century, the number 21 was important in common dice games. The numerical properties of a cubical die provided the mathematical basis for the understanding of probability in throws, and thus the rules of various games. The number of points on a die are 21 (sum of 1 to 6), and the unique throws of two dice are 21 (1-1, 1-2 etc. to 6-6). Dicemakers made the opposite faces of the cube add to 7 (1-6, 2-5, 3-4).

As early as the year 965, Bishop Wibold of Cambrai (France) designed the rules of his moral dice-game around the mathematical properties of dice; the sum of points on one die is 21, the unique rolls of two dice are 21, and the rules of many three-dice games, including Wibold’s, are based on two results which add to 21.

By 1283, when Alfonso X of Aragon had his Book of Games composed, the scoring of the dice game "Zara" (Hazard) was based on the principle of "soçobra", which is the difference between the result of the throw and 21. "Soçobra" means literally "below-above", "under-over" or "topsy-turvy", and has come into modern Portuguese in the form "soçobra", and into Spanish as "zozobra" meaning "shipwreck" (capsizing) and even figuratively as "anxiety". In its original sense in Alfonso's book, it refers to the relation between the die-point on the top and its opposite on the face below (e.g. 1 and 6, 2 and 5, 3 and 4).

In their study of Alfonso's game of Zara, Basulto, Camuñez, and Ortega explain -

"In the text of the game of Azar, the “soçobra” of a point is another one that is the complement of value 21. This means that, if on having thrown three dice the sum is 15 points, then the soçobra of 15 will be equal to 21 - 15 = 6 points. Where the value 21 = 3 (6 + 1) is, in this game of three dice, equal to 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6, that is the sum of the points of the six faces of the die. Besides this, a point and its soçobra have the same probability (...). In case of throwing two dice, the point 4 is the “soçobra” of point 10, because 4 + 10 = 14 which at the same time is equal to 2 (6 + 1), that are, two dices, each one with six faces."

("Azar Game in the Book of the Dice of Alfonso X the Learned", trans. by S. Basulto Pardo at http://www.ehess.fr/revue-msh/pdf/N174R837.pdf , p. 7 (PDF of original in _Mathematics and Social Sciences_ (44e année, n° 174, 2006(2), p. 5-24))

Deriving from the Arabic term for "the dice" (az-zahr), the word "zara" became a generic term for dice games, as well as keeping its original signification as the name of a particular game.

Zara was mentioned by Dante in the Purgatorio, Canto 6.1 -

Quando si parte il gioco de la zara,
colui che perde si riman dolente,
repetendo le volte, e tristo impara;

(When everybody leaves after dicing,
he who has lost remains, distressed,
repeating the throws, and sadly learning)

- and in discussing this passage, many of Dante's commentators through the 14th and 15th centuries provide valuable clues to how zara was played in Italy during that time.

For instance, whereas in Alfonso's rules of Azar, throwing the points 3-6 or their soçobras 15-18 on the first roll was called an "azar", and was an instant win, in the rules of the game as it was played in Italy in the 14th and 15th centuries, rolling an "azar" was considered a null roll and the dice had to be rolled again.

This rule is explained in Francesco da Buti's circa 1390 commentary on Dante's Purgatory, Canto 6.1-12:

"Note that this game is called zara from the occurrence of the points rolled with three dice below 7 and above 14; and when they get these points, the players say 'Zara', as indicating 'Null', like the zero in the Abacus; and these are not allowed, because they don't have three parities like 7 and 14 and the points in between; thus seven has three parities: that is, threes and ace, five and two aces of one and threes (3-3-1, 5-1-1, 3-3-1); and thus 14, sixes and 2, fours and 6, fives and 4; and so for the other throws in the middle: and this is not found in 3, 4, 5, or 6, nor in 15, 16, 17 or 18, which would be in one or two ways at the most as can be seen by looking at them."

(E nota che questo giuoco si chiama zara per li punti diventati che sono in tre dadi da sette in giù e da quattordici in su; e però quando vegnano quelli punti, diceno li giocatori: Zara; quasi dica: Nulla, come zero nell'Abbaco; e questi sono vietati, perchè non ànno tre parità come à sette e quattordici e li punti che sono in quel mezzo: ecco sette àe tre parità; cioè terno et asso, cinque et ambassi di uno e tre; e così quattordici, seino e dua; quaderno e sei; cinque e quattro; e così l'altre volte che sono in quel mezzo: e questo non si trova in tre, in quattro, nè in cinque, nè in sei, nè in quindeci, nè sedici, nè dicesette, nè diciotto, li quali vanno una o due al più come può vedere chi li ragguarda.

(Text from the Dartmouth Dante Project, from the edition Commento di Francesco da Buti sopra La Divina Commedia di Dante Allighieri, editor: Crescentino Giannini, Fratelli Nistri, Pisa, 1858-62. Electronic version of Purgatorio and Paradiso courtesy of Lexis Progetti Editoriali, 2001.
http://dante.dartmouth.edu/search.php ))

PREACHING ON GAMES OF CHANCE BEFORE AND AFTER BERNARDINO OF SIENA.

In order to appreciate the unique importance of the number 21 in the preaching about games in the 15th century, and Bernardino of Siena's key role in its prominence, it is necessary to survey preaching against of games of chance before and after Bernardino.

Dice were always subject to strict legislation and were the subject of anti-gambling sermons starting as early as pseudo-Cyprian in the 3rd century; these in turn were always informed by the Biblical image of Roman soldiers playing dice for Christ's seamless tunic (Matt. 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:33; John 19:23-25; the Gospel image itself was inspired by a verse in Psalm 22:18 (Vulgate 21:19)), thus associating dice-play deeply with sacrilege. Pseudo-Cyprian wrote that a wise man invented games of chance at the inspiration of the Devil (Zabulus). He refuses to name the devil directly responsible, but from the context it is clear that he is referring to Plato's story of the Egyptian Thoth inventing dice and "tables" (any board game using dice) in his dialogue "Phaedrus" (274d). Thus dice and games of chance in general were long regarded with a wary eye by legislators and theologians, and in the later middle ages writers began to develop a catalogue of the sins associated with gambling.

Conveniently for us, in 1686 Jean-Baptiste Thiers assembled five such lists in the two centuries immediately preceding Bernardino. Note that although they have mostly common elements (thus indicating a tradition of sorts), the evils of gambling appear in no particular order and according to different schemes.

Caesar of Heisterbach (c. 1170-1240), in 1222, gives five such sins, writing that "God has an aversion to games of chance, because they are the cause of anger, envy, quarrels and the loss of possessions, and because those who play them express themselves with crude language".

Thomas of Cantimpre (1201-1272), writing in his allegorical "Bonum universale de Apibus (circa 1263) wrote that "there is a game full of vanity under the Sun. For those who play games of chance are so full of hate for the world, that it is difficult to find anything nastier. These are games which strip the poor, and enrich beggars; which make nobles dishonest people and more contemptible than peasants; which cause men to despair, so that they become thieves, robbers of another's goods, and murderers. Once those who play them get the habit, they can not easily break it. They go at it with so much fervour, that they renounce their sense of propriety before everyone, so that they undress down to the parts of their bodies that natural modesty would have one hide."

Henry of Segusio ("Hostiensis", Bishop of Ostia 1261-1271) made a list of sixteen: contempt for the Laws of the Church, usury, robbery, scandal, vain and offensive speech, blasphemy, petty theft, violence, duplicity, murderous quarrels, deceit, wasting time, covetousness, impurity, vain praises, life of infamy.

The Dominican Raymond of Pegnafort (or Pennafort; c. 1175-1275), in his commentary on the Decretals of the Popes (1234), said that "it is a great sin to play games of chance, because of nine things which are encountered in these games: the first is the desire to win. The second, planning to enrich oneself at the expense of the other. The third, the shocking usury of eleven for twelve, not only in one year, or one month, but in a single day. The fourth, the great number of lies and idle and useless talking. The fifth, blasphemy. The sixth, the bad example given to those who watch the game. The seventh, the scandal one creates for people of good will. The eighth, contempt for the Laws of the Church. The ninth, the waste of time and the loss of the good works one could be doing instead of playing."

Thiers notes that Nicholas of Lyra also produced a list like Raymond in his commentary on the seventh Commandment, and then mentions a long summary list by the Franciscan Alvarus Pelagius (c. 1280-1352), from his most famous work "De planctu ecclesiae" (The Plaint of the Church), written and amplified between 1330-1340. Alvarus' list contains 17 sins which accompany games of chance: contempt for the Laws of the Church, robbery, usury, scandal, lying and idle and vain talk, blasphemy, petty theft, violence, duplicity, murderous quarrels, deceptions, wasting time and the chance for good works, the hunger to win, impurity, vain praises given to players, infamy, and perjuries.

But using the number of points on a die as the basis of a sermon does not begin until the career of Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444; made a saint in 1450), a Franciscan like Alvarus Pelagius 70 years before.

Bernardino's list of the evils of games of chance is more systematic and thorough than any writer before him. In a sermon quoted by Thiers, Bernardino condemns those who play games of chance on three counts - on account of the greatness of their sinning, on account of their folly, and on account of their malice.

He lists 12 sins under each of the first two counts, and 4 under the third, for 28 kinds of evils.

But in his sermons against games, recorded since 1424, Bernardino goes further than to catalogue sins, however systematically. He developed pseudo-Cyprian's brief account of how the Devil invented games into a story of mythic proportions. He says that the Devil one day decided to parody the Church, and so created an activity that would mimick and invert the teachings, sacred objects, and practices of the Church, thus leading to damnation instead of salvation. That activity was gambling and everything associated with it. When it comes to dice, Bernardino's Devil creates a startling parallel:

"The missals are the dice which, as there are 21 letters in the alphabet, so there are 21 points on a die. The books that are on the altar - missal, gospel, and letters - are the three dice which are used to play."

(El messale sono e dadi che, come nell'abicci sono ventuna lettera, così nel dado sono ventuno punto. E libri sono dell'altare, messale, vangelo, epistola, sono e tre dadi che s'aoperano al giucare.)

(San Bernardino de Siena. Le prediche volgari (preached at Florence, 1424) ed. Cannarozzi (Pistoia, 1934) p. 435 (Sermon XXVI, "Del peccato del giuoco"))

In his Latin model-sermon against games, written around 1435, Bernardino's Satan commands:

" Yes, I want the Missal to be dice, whose convenience and durability, as well as contents, will not be less than in the missal of Christ himself, when in his missal only the alphabet, which is twenty-one letters, is included and just so many points are contained in a die. But because in Christ's missal there are different Masses for the annual cycle of saints in their glory and triumph, therefore - who am I to question all of this? - since I hold you dear from the abundance of my love, I am endowed by many of you with certain solemn masses, if by your wickedness to triumph through their power. You, devil, who is called 'Testa', I give one; 'Sbaraglio', another; 'Sbaraglino', another; 'Minoretto', another. On you named 'Sequentia', I place another;

I want the Mass 'del Sozo' to be all of the demons' common Mass. But the Mass 'de Zarro', like a Sunday mass, I reserve for my own Impious Majesty."

(Missale vero taxillum seu decium esse volo; qui quidem et tractabilior et durabilior atque continentia non erit minor quam sit missale ipsius Christi, cum in eius missali solum alphabetum, hoc est viginti una littera, comprehendatur ac totidem puncti in decio concludantur. Sed quia in Christi missali diversae sunt per anni circulum sanctorum Missae in eorum gloriam et triumphum, ideo, ne mihi videar omnia arrogare, diligo enim vos ex abundantia caritatis meae, multis de vobis impertior quasdam solemnes missas, si per vestras nequitias de illis poteritis triumphare. Tibi diabolo, qui diceris 'Testa', concedo unam; 'Sbaraglio', aliam; 'Sbaraglino', aliam; 'Minoretto', aliam. Tibi, qui 'Sequentia' nominaris, aliam superaddo; aliam quoque concedo tibi, qui 'Spagnulo rivescio' ut plurimum nuncuparis; tibi vero ad hoc et 'Badalas' aliam dono; tibi quoque 'Rapello' aliam praesto.

Missam vero 'del Sozo' volo esse omnium daemonum communem missam. Missam vero 'de Zarro', quasi dominicalem, pro mea impia maiestate reservo.

(Quadragesimale de Christiana Religione, ed. Quaracchi, 1950-1965, vol. II, pp. 22-23 (Sermon XLII, "Contra Alearum Ludos", c. 2))

This parallelism was to strike a chord in the preachers that came after him in the 15th century, both in the Franciscan and Dominican orders, who as we shall see developed two parallel but distinct ways of using the analogy.

Bernardino must have preached this kind of sermon dozens of times. However, I am not aware of any instance of Bernardino developing his equation of the number of points on a die with the letters of the alphabet nor with the names of games as demons in any systematic way. But other preachers quickly saw the potential for this and made such lists.

DOMINICANS - AN ALPHABETIC MNEMONIC.

The earliest preacher to associate each of the rolls of dice and points on a die to sins seems to be Meister Ingold, a Dominican preacher in Germany who had spent time in Italy. In 1432 he wrote a morality of 7 games called "The Golden Game", and in his chapter on dice he listed 21 sins corresponding to the unique throws of two dice, and also noted the comparison with the 21 letters of the alphabet, although in the text we have he doesn't elaborate.

Around 1445, the Dominican Archbishop of Florence, Antonino, explicitly systematized this correspondence, actually giving the list of sins in alphabetical order (Thiers quotes it in French, which turns out to be exactly the same as Antonino's disciple Gabriel Bareletta's, given further below):

"As many points as there are on a die, so many are the evils that proceed from them" (Quot in taxillis sunt puncta, tot scelera ex eo procedunt)".

Antonino's method for aligning the sins alphabetically with the number of points on a die was followed by his student Gabriel Bareletta (c. 1410-1480).

"No sin is so abominable to God, as the sin of games, and there is almost no activity in which so many evils come together as from gaming: and just as God invented the 21 letters of the alphabet, but of different kinds which afterwards were put together to compose the Bible, where all wisdom is revealed, so the Devil invented a bible, dice of course, where he put 21 points like black letters, where, in his use of them, he found out the wickedness of all sin; and as many as are the points on a die, so many are the evils which proceed from it. The first letter is A, i.e. Amissio temporis (loss or waste of time);
second is B, i.e. Blasphemia (...);
3rd C, i.e. Contumelia, because they insult each other, saying "glutton", "stupid ass" (...);
4th D, i.e. Dissipation of physical needs/worldy substance (...);
5th E, i.e. Ecclesie contemptus (contempt for the Church) (...);
6th F, i.e. Furtum (theft) (...);
7th G, i.e. Gula (gluttony) (...);
8th H, i.e. Homicidium (murder) (...);
9th I, i.e. Invidia (envy) (...);
10th K, i.e. Caristia (dearth) of things that suppport the household.
11th L, i.e. Laudatio mala (bad praise), because he praises himself for being a good player (...);
12th M, i.e. Mendacium (...);
13th N, i.e; Negligentia (...);
14th O, i.e. Odium (...);
15th P, i.e. Participatio sceleris (participation in wickedness) (...);
16th Q, i.e. Questio litigiosa (litigious complaining) (...);
17th R, i.e. Rapina;
18th S, i.e. Scandalum (...);
19th T, i.e. Tristicia (sadness) (...);
20th U, i.e. Usura (...);
21st X, i.e. Xpianitatis vituperatio (criticism of Christianity)."

(From David Clement, Bibliothèque curieuse historique et critique ou catalogue raisonné de livres dificiles à trouver (Göttingen, 1751), vol. II, p. 425; Clement is describing the edition of Bareletta's sermons from 1515, Sermones fratris Gabrielis Barelete sacrae paginae professoris divi ordinis fratrum Praedicatorum, sermon XXXIIII, Feria II quarte hebdomade quadragesime de ludis fortune, on folio LXXIX. b. col. 2., i.e. the same sermon as the 1571 edition Merlin quoted. The (...) indicates omissions in Clement's text; I assume Bareletta has followed Antonino's fuller descriptions of the sins, which I have only in French translation.)
http://books.google.fr/books?id=cA8...s&lr=#PPA425,M1


(Non est peccatum ita Deo abominabile, ut peccatum ludi, et vix est
dare actum in quo concurrant tot mala sicut ex ludo : et sicut Deus
invenit 21 literas alphabeti, aliae autem postea sunt superadditae
ad componendam Bibliam, ubi est omnis sapientia revelata, ita
Diabolus invenit bibliam scilicet dados, ubi posuit 21 puncta
tanquam literas nigras, ubi, in usu suo, reperitur omnis malitia
peccati, et quot sunt puncta in datis (sic) tot ab eo scelera
procedunt. Ideo videamus per ordinem peccata quae ab ipso procedunt.
Prima litera est A, quasi primus punctus quod est primum peccatum,
i. Amissio temporis... (Feria 2, 4 hebdomadis quadragesimae.
Venetiis, 1571, pet. in-8, p. 148, verso))

Gabriele Barletta's debt to Antonino is clear, as is the Dominican mnemonic preaching method used during this time. Furthermore, we can assume that many thousands of people heard this connection made.

FRANCISCANS - THE DEVIL'S LITURGY.

Bernardino's contemporaries and followers in the Franciscan order developed the die-point analogy in a different way, closer to that of Bernardino in mentioning the names of games as demons' names, but systematically linking them to the image of the points on the faces of a six-sided die.

For instance, Giacomo della Marche (St. James of the Marches; 1394-1476)
Bernardino's disciple, develops the theme more around 1460. Using the story of the Diabolical Liturgy invented by Bernardino, James has the Devil ordain that -

"Cards will be for images on the altar. The altar will be the money-table. The consecrated stone will be the game-board. The chalice will the be wine-ladle. The Host will be the golden ducato. Our missal will be dice with 21 points, just like the missal of Christ, with 21 points consecrated to the Devil."

(Et carte erunt ymagines ad altare. Altare erit bancum. Lapis consecratus erit tabulerium. Calix erit ciatus vini. Hostia erit ducatus aureus. Missale nostrum erit taxillus cum 21 punctis sicut missale Christi, cum 21 dyabolo consecratis.

Text from: Sermones dominicales / S. Iacobus della Marchia; ed. Renato Lioi (Ancona, Biblioteca Francescana, 1978-1982, 4 vol.), Sermo 10, "De Ludo", vol. I, p. 202-203 (thanks to Thierry Depaulis for finding and providing it))

James goes on to list a series of games/demons that, except for orthography, is virtually identical to that in the Steele Sermon, grouped according to the number of points on the face of a die. James calls the points "cellule", and the anonymous author of the Steele Sermon calls them "puncti". Both call the faces of a die "stantia" - a resting place, implying the up face, or roll, of the die. James' use of "cellule" gives an image of different rooms being viewed, where the game named is being played:

1. As
2. Ambas / Bidas
3. Suçço / Açaru / Sequentia
4. Menarecto corto / Menarecto longo / Sbaraglio / Sbaraglino
5. Perdo e venco / (missing) / Bussa aragiato (Ronfa) / Scarca l'asino / Uno tracto e meçço
6. Al bini / A lo trenta per forza / O chi bada l'as / Lo imperiale / A chi non piace la volta del compagno / Passa dece

"And all of these are names of demons" says James.

Sometime around the same time as James of the Marches, maybe a little later, an anonymous Franciscan wrote what has come to be known as the Steele Sermon, named after the owner who first published it, Robert Steele (in 1900).

The author follows the Diabolic Liturgy scenario, and lists the names of the games just as James of the Marches does (the missing game/demon on the fifth stantia is "sette o sey" (7 or 6)). Besides differing from James on the name of the points (cellule or puncti), the anonymous author also uses distinct imagery. For instance, he says that the "21 points are the steps on one ladder opening to Hell"

(Qui quidem puncti 21 sunt gradus unius scale descedentis in inferum.)

Additionally, and more famously, the author of this sermon discusses, as the last of his three examples of the evil of games, the game of Triumphs. He provides the earliest known list of the names of the standard trump cards, and he explicitly draws a parallel with the dice, saying "these are the 21 triumphs which are another 21 steps on a ladder throwing them into the depths of Hell".

(Sunt enim 21 triumphi qui 21 gradus alterius scale in profundum inferi mittentis.)

Thus, in this earliest list of trumps, perhaps 40 years after Bernardino created an analogy between the 21 points on a die and a catalogue of sins, another author alludes to a parallel between the 21 trump cards and the 21 points on a die (one ladder... another ladder), through the image of a ladder to Hell.

The die-point analogy was developed in two distinct ways over the course of about two decades (1425-1445), by the Dominican preachers and Franciscan preachers, but it occurs for the first and only time in this period. It is also the period when the tarot trumps were invented - which, in their standard form, have 21 trumps in sequence and a card outside of the series for a special purpose, the Fool.

I believe that it is highly plausible that the presence of the number 21 in dice games and the new attention drawn to this number beginning with Bernardino, could have influenced a game-designer creating a series of images to add to a card game which would illustrate the role of Fortune in life and the way of triumphing over it.

NOTE ON THE FOOL -

Francesco da Buti's explanation (above) of "zara" as a homonym of "zero", and referring the reader to the practice of leaving an empty column on the abacus for the place-holder zero when doing calculations, perhaps provides a simple explanation of the role of the Fool in the tarot - his most common and probably original purpose is a "null roll" which allows the player holding him to skip having to play a more valuable card. Moreover, the image chosen for the card would derive from this name - "nulla" is a synonym for fool or idiot, "matto" in Italian. This connection was apparent to the author of the Steele Sermon, who described the Fool as a "nulla" - "El Matto sie nulla" means "The Fool, thus he is null". For him, being a Fool was a sufficient explanation for why he was null. My theory would be that the designer chose the image of a Fool for a null because of this, a rule he had already determined would exist.

If our game designer was thinking about the analogy of a dice game, it is logical that he would think of the "soçobra" or opposite sides adding to seven and providing the probability of key rolls, and that he would also think of the null roll, skipping or voiding what might otherwise be a costly turn.

Ross
Image

Re: Why this number of trumps?

#14
Hi, Ross,
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:Firstly, I think the following point -
mjhurst wrote:...the three virtues in Tarot are a complete set....
cannot be emphasized enough. The way groups of virtues are used, which ones, and their number is entirely dependent on the context of the work. These three virtues do form a well-known distinct group - as you note, the "moral" virtues (but isn't "appetitive virtues" the more common way to distinguish these three from Prudence? - that's the term I've been thinking in anyway).
Pretty much the same thing. The three broad categories of virtue used over and over by Aquinas are the Moral, Intellectual, and Theological. Prudence is one of the Intellectual Virtues by its nature but it has the Moral Virtues as its object, so it is often classified with them. Here's a good summary of the Moral Virtues and their relationship with the appetites.
A virtue, he argued, is a habit which perfects a power that a thing has. Among the powers that we have as human beings are the intellect and THREE APPETITIVE POWERS: THE WILL and two kinds of irrational appetites -- one which accounts for our desires for various physical pleasures (called THE ‘CONCUPISCIBLE APPETITE’) and another which accounts for emotions such as anger and fear (called THE ‘IRASCIBLE APPETITE’). These powers are capable of being determined in a variety of ways and towards a variety of ends. Some of those are good for us, others are not. For instance, we can have desires for foods that are healthy, and desires for foods that are unhealthy. Hence, we need good habits to dispose us to act in good ways for the sake of ends that are suitable and good for us, including our ultimate end and highest good–genuine happiness. These good habits are the virtues and many of them are necessary in order to attain perfect happiness, which Aquinas argued earlier in the Summa Theologiae is the vision of God that the blessed experience in heaven.....

The moral virtues perfect the appetitive powers of the soul. To cite three examples, the virtue of TEMPERANCE (which concerns the pleasures that come from the table and the bedroom) is one of the virtues that perfects the concupiscible appetite. The virtue of COURAGE (which concerns the emotions of fear and confidence) is one of the virtues that perfects the irascible appetite. The virtue of JUSTICE (which concerns the interactions of people with each other) is one of the virtues that perfects the will.
A Very Short Primer on St. Thomas Aquinas’ Account of the Various Virtues
http://www.uwplatt.edu/~drefcins/233AquinasVirtues.html

Best regards,
Michael
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: Why this number of trumps?

#15
Hi Michael,

Thanks very much for your in-depth response to my enquiry. In the future, if you feel the need to point me to old posts that demonstrate your positions, I'll be happy to follow the links, and spare you the typing!

Although I don't feel completely informed enough to critique what you wrote, there are obviously stronger and weaker parts to your argument, and I will make some comments on them strictly as an outsider and novice in the field. I don't presume to have any definitive answers, but I do have questions.

Part of the thrust of your overall approach seems to be a desire for patterns to emerge, patterns that will give us a clue to what the original designer was thinking. Having found a few things that look like patterns, you continue looking for them throughout the trump sequence, and find them with more or less success. For example, you have the pair of cards Fortune and the Hermit/Time, and you see these as a pair of reversals which are triumphed by Fortitude. On the face of it, this seems to be a reasonable interpretation, and so you treat the other virtues similarly, as the culmination of a triptych.

But these triptychs only work very loosely, and are not completely convincing. For example, I would think Fortitude would be much more appropriate to the Triumphal Chariot, representing as it does victory in war. Also, Temperance might be better matched with the asceticism of the Hermit, while Justice is easily the response to the Traitor, who gets his just rewards and meets his Death.

None of these associations works for you, because it upsets the triptych idea, but if the virtues don't resonate well with the pair of cards that precede them in the Tarot de Marseille order, then why is it okay to look for variora in their meanings? You explicit say that this is what you're doing here:
mjhurst wrote:
On a personal level, a prerequisite to historical interpretation is being willing to follow the cards where they tell you to go, rather than insisting on some preconceived design. Every image is ambiguous, some a little, others a lot...

Rather than impose a preferred meaning, or connecting a card to a preferred cognate text or image, we need to find a meaning that would connect with the other cards in the sequence. In particular, each triptych has a pair of related cards and a third card that trumps them both. That is one of the conceptual units that has to make sense...

So the question to ask in each case is, what meaning makes sense of the card in its own right and in terms of its place in each level of the analysis? You must be willing to follow the cards. Most people want to guess at a meaning and then force it to fit, rather than assuming that they should fit and adjusting the meanings so that they do.
If the connections that you claim are in the tarot images were easily understood, then why are there so many different orders, (perhaps that's a question for a different thread?). If the Tarot de Marseille order made such perfect sense, and was really intended as a linear narrative, then why would other regions tamper with subsections of it? This would suggest to me that there was no easily recognizable narrative in that order, or whichever was the original order, or else it would not have been changed.

Certain cards never leave each other. It makes sense to pair the Traitor with Death, and the Devil with Hell, or Fire. But many of the other parts obviously did not make sense to people in other parts of the country, and they felt free to vary them at will, due to some 'designer's need' as I said elsewhere, the only evidence for which is the cards themselves.

From an outsider's perspective, it appears that you at times are over-complicating the story of the sequence, because parts of it are inscrutable to you. But perhaps you're correct, and the original designer really was making multiple layers of meaning work together in a very elaborate scheme; so elaborate that most people didn't get it, and rearranged the cards as they saw fit. But the undeniable fact that there are three main sequences and many variants not only argues for their being no definitive sequence at all, but also argues for the 'true' or 'original' sequence to be so obscure as to have gone over everyone's heads. That's rather convenient for a theorist, but how much is too much, and when does the theory run out of steam?

For example, how far should we follow an hypothesis before 'assuming the meaning is there' is no longer viable? You discuss the virtue of Justice as being related to Love and the Chariot, both of which give one 'dominion' over other people. I can see dominion in the wake of a battle victory, but in Love? How exactly does love allow one dominion over another? Is this how it was seen in the Middle Ages? (I don't know, I speak as a novice here) And presumably we are not talking about Love is the guise of charity, one of the theological virtues, but love as in courtly or romantic love. It is hard to see how Justice directly relates to that card; it's certainly weaker than relating it to the Traitor, or Death, or even the Wheel of Fortune. If anything, Temperance might be a better fit, simply because love so often leads to the carnal lust that temperance is supposed to...temper :-)

I suppose you will respond that compromises had to be made so that the overall design could be rendered, but this presumes a design, which is what you're trying to prove, isn't it? So it would seem that the argument has to be that of all three pairs under consideration, (Love-War; Time-Wheel; Traitor-Death), and the six possible orders of virtues (Justice-Fortitude-Temperance; Justice-Temperance-Fortitude; Temperance-Fortitude-Justice; Temperance-Justice-Fortitude; Fortitude-Justice-Temperance; Fortitude-Temperance-Justice) that the three virtues had to be placed in the Tarot de Marseille sequence as the best possible fit with the three pairs of cards that precede them.

Personally, I'd go with the last one, Fortitude-Temperance-Justice. I see Fortitude as the necessary Strength to not succumb to Cupid's arrow, and to be brave in battle; Temperance is the moderation or asceticism that allows one to grow old and not suffer an untimely death or illness, while also being the virtue applicable to modesty, which prevents one from being ensnared in the vanity of the Wheel and its ups and down; and lastly Justice is meted out to the Traitor, who deserves Death for his crimes.

Admittedly, these arguments are brief, and need citations, etc., but prima facie they are not that much worse than the ones that you make. What they are lacking is an instance of that sequence actually appearing. But according to your methodology, if these connections are persuasive, then we should be able to make the argument work; we need only find an instance of these pairs being connected to those virtues, which they are in the triangle diagram I posted on another thread.

Now I don't say all this in order to prove that the diagram is superior to your own ingenuities, it is merely used as an example of 'multiple layers of meaning' which you say is attested in the design and sequence of the cards.

mjhurst wrote:
Tarot is not compared to a riddle as mere analogy. It is in fact a kind of visual riddle, and was originally designed as such. It's mystery comes from the fact that the original version contained multiple layers of systematic meaning. This required clever design and some conflated (compromised) iconography. The person who created it was not merely theologically and artistically sophisticated, but very ingenious, occasionally ironic, and playful. Although it takes considerable exposition to explain the solution to a contemporary audience, it is possible to make sense of all the pieces and their combination. At least, that's my story.
If there can be four different levels of interpreting the cards, then who's to say that the designer didn't want the pairs connected to more than one virtue? In your sets of triptychs the virtues triumph over pairs of cards, whereas in the triangle, they connect with different pairs of cards. If the only evidence we have to go on is sequence, and how well the idea of certain virtues fits with the idea of certain cards, then we are at least allowed to explore whether other diagrams besides the triptychs you argue for will actually work also. After all, the designer of the tarot was making a 'visual riddle', and the trickier the riddle, the more depth it has to it, since it does not give up its secrets all at once. I would suggest that some aspects of this riddle were not comprehended at all by many players, and thus different regions changed the order around. But whether non-linear aspects of the sequence were ever contemplated, I cannot say, which is why I asked Ross elsewhere if only linear sequences were considered feasible to explain the order of the trumps.

Despite my thinking out loud, please don't take my remarks as being too critical of your work, since I am not competent to offer a thorough rebuttal, nor am I trying to do so. Merely making comments as a novice. The fact is, I like a great deal of your analysis, even if I do not agree with it in every detail. The theory that the trump sequence is in three broad sections seems pretty obvious, and the nitty-gritty is looking at the details of those sections to see if there is anything more substantive lurking. You seem to have ferreted out quite a bit of the nuances, and it makes for some interesting speculations. So thanks for the time and effort you put into responding.

But to get back to the main point of this thread; from yours and Ross' comments, I take it that there is evidence that 21, and by extension 22, was a deliberate number initially chosen for the trumps; or is it more appropriate to say that very early in tarot history, this number was settled on? I suppose until we have determined which was the earliest trump sequence, and definitively ruled out the 5 x 14 or other theories, then we won't know for sure?

RLG

Re: Why this number of trumps?

#16
RLG wrote:For example, how far should we follow an hypothesis before 'assuming the meaning is there' is no longer viable? You discuss the virtue of Justice as being related to Love and the Chariot, both of which give one 'dominion' over other people. I can see dominion in the wake of a battle victory, but in Love?
Well I am pretty sure that I can find poetry of the period that treats of love in terms of conquest, so it is not an outlandish idea; nonetheless I agee it appears the least satifactory and weaker of the interpretations of pairs related to a virtue. The weakest aspect however is that the pattern of 7x3 (2+1) does not really work, the examples Michael gives for the lower six he himslef admits are not particularly satisfactory; he even include the possibility of the papi representing the 'missing prudence' though perhaps not as his preferred option - personnally I agree with his point that there is no missing prudence - the three virtues exist as a set of their own, and can be found as such in other works.
(Love-War; Time-Wheel; Traitor-Death), and the six possible orders of virtues (Justice-Fortitude-Temperance; Justice-Temperance-Fortitude; Temperance-Fortitude-Justice; Temperance-Justice-Fortitude; Fortitude-Justice-Temperance; Fortitude-Temperance-Justice) that the three virtues had to be placed in the Tarot de Marseille sequence as the best possible fit with the three pairs of cards that precede them.

Personally, I'd go with the last one, Fortitude-Temperance-Justice.
As in my previous post I think the sequence Temperance, Fortitude, Justice (the sequence also to be found in the other two main orders) would suit the 2-1 pattern better, but I agree in essence that they can be switched around without undue violence to the principle of Michael's interpretation of a 2-1 pattern. But it is all a bit of a stretch to come up with interpretations to fit the imagined pattern overall and it all becomes imposing a reading to fit the pattern rather that a natural reading of the narrative arising from the perception of the pattern -

~ one could stretch a reading of a virtue with a pair other way too: as the triumph over virtue, blind fortune triumphs over justice in this world in which the wicked prosper and virtuous suffer, fortitude against the viscitudes of life is powerless against the triumph of death, and the triumph of the devils tempatations over temperance is what led to the fall in the first place (this is not meant as a serious interpretation).
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Why this number of trumps?

#17
Hi RLG,

Just a suggestion for this question -
RLG wrote: If the connections that you claim are in the tarot images were easily understood, then why are there so many different orders, (perhaps that's a question for a different thread?). If the Tarot de Marseille order made such perfect sense, and was really intended as a linear narrative, then why would other regions tamper with subsections of it? This would suggest to me that there was no easily recognizable narrative in that order, or whichever was the original order, or else it would not have been changed.
Michael once sent me a quote while we were discussing the Pope-Emperor wrestling picture a few years ago, which gives a lot of insight that I think also applies to understanding why there are various trump orders -
While the modern political cartoon must be so composed
that it can be read and understood at a glance, the older politi-
cal picture was often extremely complicated crowded, even
overloaded, and remained so down to the beginning of the
Industrial revolution -- surely a far from accidental coinci-
of production and consumption. Sometimes the early
picture could be interpreted in a variety of ways, calling for
literate interpreters and lengthy discussion. Contemporary stu-
dents might have disagreed about their detailed meanings just
as present-day historians may differ in the interpretation of the
15th and 16th century prints reproduced here.
It is not certain
whether the meeting of pope and emperor depicted in these
two prints, took place near 1460 or in 1470 between Pius II
(1458-64) or Paul II (1464-71) and Emperor Frederick III.
From "World Politics" (Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs), p. 90 (my bold)

"Contemporary students might have disagreed about their detailed meanings..."

This is why there are different orders. However, even though the detailed meanings of the various sequences indicate different understandings of the series on the part of their inventors, what is inescapable is that the same GENERAL understanding (the three main parts) remains intact in ALL orders (excluding only the Virtues, and then only possibly in B-Eastern). This means everybody got the "gist" of it, but fussed about with particular placements in the "middle section" (I call this gist, by analogy with biblical criticism, the "synoptic" view - and it is neat that there are three families of trump orders, just as there are three synoptic gospels).

But since all the orders use, in various arrangements, the same 22 subjects, this implies that there was an original set in a particular order that would explain both the choice of subjects and their sequence. It may have been too localized for it to have been precisely understood outside of its original context, and contemporary players might have disagreed about the detailed meaning of the sequence (and changed it accordingly), but the synoptic story was clear.

Ross

(NB - the different arrangements of the Papal and Imperial figures I see simply as an issue of where to put a Popess. Only she actually moves, relative to the other figures. The order of precedence of Empress-Emperor-Pope is inviolable. The Popess can occupy every position below the Pope and above the Bagatto).

The A order versus the B and C with regards to the World or Angel being higher is also significant, although in my view it does not change the overall eschatological meaning of the last section in any family.)
Image

Re: Why this number of trumps?

#18
I simply want to say that this is one of the most exciting, interesting, and useful threads I have read in a long time.

Following on RLG’s comment about love and Justice, I would also like to point out that the poetical treatment romantic love was given in the Middle Ages -and is still given today- made use of several war-metaphors. A romantic conquest was akin to a war loot. In general terms, the fact that we surrender to love makes us vulnerable to our beloved. In a more precise way, in Medieval marriages husbands ruled over their wives. In that context, advising fairness/justice in love was consisting with the idea of Justice as the moral virtue that regulates our dealings with others.

Best,

EE
What’s honeymoon salad? Lettuce alone
Don’t look now, mayonnaise is dressing!

Re: Why this number of trumps?

#19
EnriqueEnriquez wrote: Following on RLG’s comment about love and Justice, I would also like to point out that the poetical treatment romantic love was given in the Middle Ages -and is still given today- made use of several war-metaphors. A romantic conquest was akin to a war loot. In general terms, the fact that we surrender to love makes us vulnerable to our beloved. In a more precise way, in Medieval marriages husbands ruled over their wives. In that context, advising fairness/justice in love was consisting with the idea of Justice as the moral virtue that regulates our dealings with others.
I agree to a certain extent, I made the same point myself and so don't consider it totally outlandish; nonetheless it is a bit of a stretch I think, the more obvious and traditional pairing with cupiditas is with temperance.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Why this number of trumps?

#20
SteveM wrote:
EnriqueEnriquez wrote: Following on RLG’s comment about love and Justice, I would also like to point out that the poetical treatment romantic love was given in the Middle Ages -and is still given today- made use of several war-metaphors. A romantic conquest was akin to a war loot. In general terms, the fact that we surrender to love makes us vulnerable to our beloved. In a more precise way, in Medieval marriages husbands ruled over their wives. In that context, advising fairness/justice in love was consisting with the idea of Justice as the moral virtue that regulates our dealings with others.
I agree to a certain extent, I made the same point myself and so don't consider it totally outlandish; nonetheless it is a bit of a stretch I think, the more obvious and traditional pairing with cupiditas is with temperance.
Hi Steve,

I don’t know. Moderation in love doesn’t makes sense to me. Moderation in lust would be a different matter. As far as I understand, courtly love was OK, as long as it was Platonic. The case could be made that otherwise lust can lead you to treason and treason could make you a good candidate for death. So, moderating the bodily appetite would be advisable, but I don’t know if that counts as having moderation in love.

Best,


EE
What’s honeymoon salad? Lettuce alone
Don’t look now, mayonnaise is dressing!

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