Re: two more streams

#41
Thank you for your excellent scholarship, as usual, Marco.

It may be that the old man is the Mincio, as you say, and the lake the one next to Mantua. The swan is a good association. However this interpretation does not exclude the one I advanced, using Dante. Dante, like Virgil, was a son of Mantua. Both are appropriate. And otherwise the scene I have excerpted (from the much larger fresco, to which you provided a link) is full of mythological details. The child on a goat still suckling its nurse is probably Dionysus fleeing the Titans; he even changes into a goat in his attempt to elude them. Above the nurse is a bacchanale, with revelers blowing trumpets and one carrying the Dionysian liknon, as seen on Roman-era sarcophagi and depicted by Mantegna in Mantua earlier. It is as Sonia Cavicchioli says in Cupid & Psyche: An Illustrated History, p. 137:
The first impression is that of a bacchanal: on the west wall we see mainly satyrs and goats; on the south wall are Bacchus and his train, with the drunken Silenus and exotic animals, while in the background, behind the figures of Cupid and Psyche, other satyrs prepare a sacrifice to Bacchus.
By the "west wall" Cavicchioli means the same fresco that the Web Gallery, http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/g ... 4east.html, calls the "east wall."

In the detail I selected, there is more than just "satyrs and goats." Romulus and Remus are in the foreground, next to their she-goat foster-mother. In the left background is the then newly appreciated statue in the Parthenon of Hercules or more likely Dionysus (
who would have once held a bunch of grapes in the hand now absent from the statue and its painted representation.

The swan, for its part, is reminiscent of Zeus, who took the same position between the other's legs in Renaissance representations of him with Leda (e.g. http://www.bodkinprints.co.uk/product.php?id=38). Cavicchioli notes that some scenes on the walls of the "Room of Psyche" are borrowed from the Hypnerotomachia. It has an illustration of Leda and the swan. I will see if I can post a copy. Perhaps the swan's pose comes from there.

The rest of the fresco, to the right of my excerpt, and extending to the other wall on its left, portrays one or more banquets. On the west wall, besides "satyrs and goats" are also Venus and Mercury. Between the two scenes, and my detail between them, these mythological details serve to situate Mantua, by the references you point out, in the realm of the gods.

As for the second stream, in relation to Mantuan geography, I notice on the map you posted, Marco, that there are two small rivers running through the middle of Mantua from either side, one from Lago Superiore and the other from Lago Inferiore, making the old part of Mantua (but not the part where the Palacio Te is) almost an island. That situation is duplicated in the fresco, if the nymph is seated on the part that connects the "island" with the mainland.

Cavicciolli says that the Palacio Te (which contain the frescoes) is itself on an island. I do not see that on the map.

For Cavicciolli, there is some ambiguity about where the banquet scenes are located, whether on earth or in heaven. She writes
When we come to the great banquet illustrated on the south and west walls (figs. 80, 81), not only the difficulty of deciphering the subject but also the ambiguity of the location strike the observer. If we admit that it depicts the conclusion in heaven of the myth, this is in contrast with Raphael's logical choice to place the final scenes at the highest point of the ceiling. In any case, it proposes a promiscuous representation of divine and mythological loves marked by a strong sensual content on the remaining two walls of the room. (p. 157)
Well, if not in heaven, it is at least in mythological space. It is not in a Neoplatonist heaven, given all the sensuality. In October of 1527, Cavicciolli tells us,
Pietro Aretino wrote to Federico II: "I believe that the very excellent Messer Jacapo Sansovino will decorate the room with a Venus as real and alive that she will fill the minds of all who see her with libidinous thoughts."
He was referring to a planned statue, not the voluptuous figure in the center of the "west wall" fresco; but the general spirit is clear. Federico awaited the statue "with devotion."

While Cavicciolli goes on in a similar vein for two pages about the "west wall" fresco, all she has to say about the detail I posted is "bacchanal" and "satyrs and goats."

Now Marco has found indications that Mantua itself is part of that scene. In this frame of mind, I can almost imagine myself sitting on a cafe terrace sipping a drink, waiting for some excellent food, and looking out on the Lago di Mezzo. I hope someday. Thanks for situating the banquet scene geographically, Marco.

In the mythological space, there are some other details I'd like to discuss.

The girl next to Love/Cupid, in the green dress, would seem to be Cupid's bride Psyche. Psyche is portrayed in a green dress numerous times in this "Room of Psyche." Admittedly, this one has a different hair style. Perhaps a different assistant did this scene. If indeed it is Psyche, that does not exclude either her or the nymph with the two jars as Mantua. But I am not sure what the allegorical significance of identifying Mantua with Psyche would be.

The coin you found is impressive. But I notice that it was done at least 50 years after the fresco. Could the identification of Mantua with a girl looking at an old man, the river, have come somewhat later than the fresco, and perhaps even been suggested by it, although it had never occurred to the original artist or program-writer?

Marco wrote
The fresco depicts a love scene, based on the gazes of the characters:
* Love (on the right) looks at Mincio
* the girl (Mantua?) next to Love also looks at Mincio
* Mincio looks at the girl with two jars (another allegory, likely, another river with a feminine name and two sources)
* the girl with two jars looks back at Mincio (and seems to be afraid)
I am not sure what the looks are about, but I don't see why it should be a love story. It may have to do with time and getting old. Psyche and Cupid can look at the old man without fear, because Psyche has conquered death. The other, a nymph, is naturally immortal; perhaps she looks with disdain at the old man, in the way of youth, who think they will always be as they are now. Otherwise, I don't know what her look is about. Perhaps all of them are looking in fascination and horror at what the old man and the swan are up to. Is it a female swan, about to get pregnant with Virgil, the one "born among the swans"?

I think we are dealing with multi-layered allegory, some details fitting one, some another, some more than one. And some, perhaps, found by a later generation.

Re: tarot and alchemy

#42
Hello Mike,
thank you for your further comments about this amazing frescos. I agree that making sense of such complex allegories is quite difficult! I am more and more tempted to make a trip to the library and see what I can find. I am curious to see which other interpretations of the “nymph with two jars” have been proposed. From what you write about the “Isle of Te”, one could also think that she is an allegory of the island... Nymph Te, why not? :)
mikeh wrote: In the detail I selected, there is more than just "satyrs and goats." Romulus and Remus are in the foreground, next to their she-goat foster-mother. In the left background is the then newly appreciated statue in the Parthenon of Hercules or more likely Dionysus (
who would have once held a bunch of grapes in the hand now absent from the statue and its painted representation.
The passage above is not clear to me. Is there a tradition according to which Romulus and Remus were raised by a she-goat?
Also, I am uncertain about the detail you associate with the Parthenon statue. Is it this one?
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Re: tarot and alchemy

#43
Ah yes. In the legend, Romulus and Remus were nursed by a she-wolf, not a she-goat. I misremembered. But perhaps Romano was playing with tradition, in accord with his Dionysian theme. The same is true of the figure in the back that reminded me of the Parthenon statue. When you look at it more closely, the hand missing from the statue is not exactly missing from the painted figure, just hidden from view. And the figure has breasts, flowing with milk, as in numerous alchemical representations of Sophia, Luna, Artemis, etc. Romano is playing with images, as I think he also does with Leda and the swan. I'll post the image from the Hypnerotomachia[ as soon as I can.

Re: tarot and alchemy

#44
Here is the Hypnerotomachia's swan, with Leda.

Image

Compare that to the swan in the fresco.

Image


I think there is enough of a match to suggest that Romano was playing with the earlier image

While I'm at it, I need to make another correction. The woman in the bacchanal doesn't have a liknon on her head, she has a basket that looks like a liknon. Romano is playing with us again. Here is the detail and a real liknon, from a Roman relief (I get the image from http://www.bacchos.org/tarothtm/5pape1.html). It is on the head of a small boy, although that head is missing; the liknon is being steadied by the Silenus behind the boy.

Image


The liknon wouldn't have been displayed in a procession, as its objects had secret, initiatory significance (per Clement of Alexandria, in a passage attempting to expose the secrets); in processions as depicted on sarcophagi, grapes and other agricultural products are shown carried by bacchantes, but usually in cornicopia.

The room containing Romano's frescoes was used for state dinners, Cavicchioli tells us. These details must have been an interesting topic of discussion, a kind of erudite Renaissance trivia game.

2 streams becoming one: the Cary Sheet

#45
Marco wrote
Mincio looks at the girl with two jars (another allegory, likely, another river with a feminine name and two sources)
It is possible that the nymph with two jars was inspired by the tarot card, specifically that of the Cary Sheet (which seems also to have been the inspiration for the Marseille image). In that case, the river with two sources might be situated in the mythic geography of the times. I am particularly thinking of the mythic geography of alchemy, and/or the Egyptianate fascinations at the time of the Borgia papacy and before. Alchemy was thought to have originated in Egypt.

Image

The geography of Egypt was interpreted alchemically: e.g. for Michael Maier in Symbola Aureae Mensae of 1617, the Nile had seven mouths, one for each metal and planet (Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis p. 217). In the 15th century, Italians were visiting Egypt and learning more about its geography. In particular, the Nile had two sources, the White Nile and the Blue Nile (http://starryskies.com/articles/2007/07/egypt-nile.html). The White Nile flowed over low hills and plains, where it picked up clay as sediment. However the volume did not vary from season to season. The flood was due to the Blue Nile, which came from the highlands of Ethiopia in a great torrent after the summer rains there. The two together constitute the regenerative Nile flood, personified (in Plutarch) as Osiris fertilizing Isis (Plutarch, Isis and Osiris XXXVIII, at http://thriceholy.net/Texts/Isis.html). The Blue Nile may also have been called the Black Nile, or simply the black river, Al Khem, identified also with the river as a whole: black was the color of Osiris, and the color of the river coming from Ethiopia at the time of the flood. As such it forms an alchemical contrast to the White Nile. The annual flood was heralded by the rising of the star-goddess Sothis, depicted with a star over her head on the walls and columns of Roman-era Egyptian temples.

On the card, we see a a high mountain on the right, and nothing except a plant on the left. These could represent the Blue and White Nile, allegorically the feminine White Nile, like the lunar "white tincture," coming from the plain, and the masculine Blue Nile, coming from the heights, nearer the sun, with water brought there by reason of the sun's beating down on the Mediterranean and forming clouds being blown to Ethiopia, as Plutarch described in Isis and Osiris XXXIX.

Admittedly, geographically the mountain should be on the left and the plain on the right; but it is possible that the carver forgot that his image would be reversed on the card. Also, "Nilo" is not a feminine name. But the figure on the card could be either masculine or feminine; Romano, if the card was his source, chose to interpret it as feminine. Moreover, if feminine she could be seen as the container of the streams, just as Isis was the container for the Nile. Also, Sothis, if she is the figure on the card, was a goddess.

Another possible source for the card (besides Plutarch) is the zodiacs at the Roman-era temple at Dendera, which show figures pouring water from two vessels; at least one of them (the middle one below, for sure) was identified there with Aquarius. I don't know if the Renaissance knew about the Dendera zodiacs. One reason for thinking that they did is that just at this time, and not earlier or later, was Aquarius shown in a sexually ambiguous way; also, Gemini was shown as a female-male pair, just as it is at Dendera.

Image

The images above, from these zodiacs, come from Desroches-Noblecourt, Le Fabuleux Heritage de l'Egypte. As you can see, they are sexually various. According to Desroches-Noblecourt, a French Egyptologist, the two jars represented the White Nile and the Blue Nile (p.123); whether the Renaissance said the same I don't know. Aquarius of course rose in the winter; but it was on the western horizon at the time that Sothis was on the eastern.

The two sources of the Nile might also have been amalgamated with the Tigris and Euphrates, imagined as similar to the White and Blue Nile. That is where Venus and her son fled to escape the monster Typhon, jumping into the Euphrates and changing into fishes. That would explain what appear to be two fishes on the card. The star on the jar-person's sleeve might identify that person as Venus, despite the evident lack of breasts. It would seem to be some planet, the fifth completing the series of four smaller stars in the sky. It could also have been seen as an effeminate Aquarius, the one star on the shoulder standing for a whole constellation. But in Plutarch the water-carrier is Sirius, i.e. Sothis (Isis and Osiris XXXVIII).

Re: tarot and alchemy

#46
I went to the library, but I am not happy with the results. I could only find Signorini (“La fabella di psiche e altra mitologia secondo l'interpretazione pittorica di Giulio Romano nel palazzo del Te a Mantova”) and Carpeggiani (“Giulio Romano a Mantova : una nuova stravagante maniera”). Signorini has a paragraph in which our “river allegories” are described, but it is not very informative. Here is my translation:


In the foreground, a Naiad is pouring water from two jugs. A river god is also pouring water from a jug, as he holds with his left hand a swan swimming next to him. In the background, a feminine figure, lying in the grass, is pouring water from her breast. Someone is rowing in the sea. Above, five “amorini” are playing, sitting on a mirth pergola. The first one plays the flute, the second and the third hold an open book, the fourth holds in his hand some flowering branches, while, together with the fifth, he let drop from a quiver some flowers, among which there is an arrow.


I had missed the arrow of the fifth cupid, aiming at our Naiad.
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Signorini does not make any attempt to identify the river god and the Naiad. But he does provide a couple of interesting footnotes. About the river god, he quotes Cartari:
“Erano i fiumi
fatti in forma di huomo con barba, e con capelli lunghi, che stia giacendo, et
appoggiato sopra l'un braccio, come dice Filostrato, quando dipinge la Thessaglia,
perche non si lievano i fiumi mai dritti in alto; et alle volte anchora, e per lo più si
appoggia sopra una grande urna, che versa acqua e però Statio cosi dice di Inacho
fiume, che passa per la Grecia.
Inacho ornato il capo di due corna
Sedendo appoggia la sinistra all'urna,
Che prona largamente l'acque versa.”
Rivers were represented as bearded men, with long hair, lying and leaning on an arm. This is said by Philostratus, when he depicts Thessaly, because rivers never stand up. Most of the times, a river is represented leaning on a jug, which is pouring water. This is what Statius writes about Inachus, a Greek river:
Inachus has his head decorated by horns,
he sits with his left arm on a reclining jug,
which freely is pouring water.


This is the passage from Philostratus (Imagines 2. 14):
“The River [Peneus] also rejoices as one exulting; and, keeping the usual posture of resting on his elbow (since it is not customary for a river to stand erect)”

About the Naiads, Signorini quotes Cesare Ripa:

“They are beautiful maidens, with naked arms and legs, bright and light silver-like hair, spread on their shoulders. They wear on their heads a garland of reed leaves, and below their left arm they carry a jug from which water is flowing.”

I think that the fact that our Naiad has two jugs is not irrelevant, but it is not going to drastically modify the meaning of the figure. "Pouring water" is a theme that occurs almost obsessively in this room.
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Psyche's second task

Ripa gives a number of allegories of rivers, many of which reflect the simple scheme: “old man with a jug pouring water and a symbolic animal”.
For instance, about Tevere he writes:

“The Tevere is represented n many parts of Rome. In the Vatican in particular, there is a beautiful marble statue: he is lying, with a she-wolf under his right arm, below her one can see two little children, drinking milk from her. Under the same arm, he holds a jug, from which a great amount of water is flowing. … He is bearded and has long hair.”

About the Nile:

“It is represented in a marble statue in the Vatican. He is lying, with long beard and hair. His head is crowned with flowers, leaves and fruits. His left arm is leaning on a sphinx having the face of a young girl down to her breast, and the rest of the body of a lion. Among the sphinx and the body of the Nile, a great amount of water is flowing.”

From Carpeggiani and Signorini, I got the idea that there are three interpretations of the Psyche frescos by Giulio Romano:

1. Hartt has proposed a neo-Platonic interpretation, possibly inspired by the comment about Apuleius' fable by Beroaldo. In this interpretation, Psyche represents the soul, Eros desire, the father of Psyche God, her mother matter, her sisters flesh and free will.

2. Carpeggiani has proposed an alchemical interpretation, making reference to a later text by Pertney (Dictionnaire mytho-hermétique) (1758).

3. Verhereyen and Gombrich follow a more literal interpretation, in which the frescos are seen as an apotheosis of eroticism and sensual love.

The idea that Equicola and Giovio have taken part in the design of the frescos is widespread.

Re: tarot and alchemy

#47
It was with much pleasure that I read your report, Marco. Of course I would like to know more about Carpeggiani especially. He isn't mentioned in Cavicchioli's bibliography. Thanks very much for the link to Pernety. I have been wanting to look at that book.

Sonia Cavicchioli's book doesn't seem to be available in Italian, even though it is a translation from Italian! She has what I thought was a pretty balanced discussion of Gombrich, Verheyen, and Hartt. Probably the book is a translation of her Ph.D. thesis, at the University of Bologna.

The detail of the arrow pointed at the naiad by the fifth amorino helps a lot. What occurs to me is this: Her look of apprehension is that she doesn't like the idea that the old man, perhaps inspired by Cupid and Psyche, is looking at her amorously. So the amorino will help him out by letting fly an arrow in her direction.

That arrow actually helps my alchemical analysis of the scene. The two streams in alchemy (in the examples I exhibited earlier) are Solar and Lunar. There must be a conjunction of the two for the Tincture to be produced. In Apuleius's story, the Tincture is the daughter Voluptas, if we think of the story that way. In the fresco, the two river-deities need to follow suit: both streams are needed, in conjunction, just as Dante said in his case.

Cavicchioli has a long quote from Equicola that brings ou the similarity between his and Romano's conceptions of Venus's and Bacchus's roles in the banquet scene. Another interesting point is that Equicola also "recounts the allegorical interpretation [of Apuleius] suggested by Fulgentius." I didn't know about that. Fulgentius's account is at http://www.theoi.com/Text/FulgentiusMyt ... s2.html#23. It looks to me similar to the "Neoplatonist" account of Hartt's--and not very related to Romano. It needs to be kept in mind that Equicola died in 1525, somewhat before the work was underway on the frescoes. His work, from what little I have read about it, probably has points of contact with Romano and also points of divergence.

Of the books in English, Verheyen's looks the most interesting. I will try to get it on Interlibrary Loan. He develops the comparisons to the Hypnerotomachia and the Palazzo Te as an island. Here is a quote from Cavicchioli on Verheyen:
He maintains that in the cycle, Palazzo Te is identified as Venus's island of Cythera, the setting for the episode frescoed on the north wall, whose protagonists are Venus, Mars, and Adonis, and where Polia and Polyphilus then see them. The Room of Psyche, in his view, is the heart of the island, since the letter from Aretino cited earlier documents the fact that it was intended to hold a statue of the goddess, just like the center of Cythera as described in the Hypnerotomachia. The analogy would explain the presence of the vast marine landscapes and seascapes (corresponding to Colonna's description) providing the backdrop for the large banquet scene, which according to Verheyen, then, portrays a symposium taking place on Venus's island.
Then, if the Palazzo Te is in fact on an island, your Mantua-geography analysis is not inappropriate.

While waiting for Verheyen, I will look at your link to Pernety. And I notice that Signorini has has an article in English I can probably get. Now if only I could find Carpeggiani...

Re: tarot and alchemy

#48
mikeh wrote: Of the books in English, Verheyen's looks the most interesting. I will try to get it on Interlibrary Loan. He develops the comparisons to the Hypnerotomachia and the Palazzo Te as an island. Here is a quote from Cavicchioli on Verheyen:
He maintains that in the cycle, Palazzo Te is identified as Venus's island of Cythera, the setting for the episode frescoed on the north wall, whose protagonists are Venus, Mars, and Adonis, and where Polia and Polyphilus then see them. The Room of Psyche, in his view, is the heart of the island, since the letter from Aretino cited earlier documents the fact that it was intended to hold a statue of the goddess, just like the center of Cythera as described in the Hypnerotomachia. The analogy would explain the presence of the vast marine landscapes and seascapes (corresponding to Colonna's description) providing the backdrop for the large banquet scene, which according to Verheyen, then, portrays a symposium taking place on Venus's island.
I think this makes a lot of sense. As you have noted, the room seems to be designed to generate the illusion of taking part to a banquet of the gods. The painted banquet was on the Isle of Venus, the actual banquet was on the Isle of Te, the two banquets and the two islands are identified (and most likely Federico Gonzaga is identified with Cupid and his lover with Psyche).

Re: tarot and alchemy

#49
I managed to get Verheyen's English-language book from the library. He shows a 1575 map of Mantua, where both Te and Mantua are on islands. A high-resolution colored version of this map is on the Web:

http://historic-cities.huji.ac.il/italy ... I_50_b.jpg

About the lake behind Te on this map, Wikipedia says:
A fourth lake, Lake Pajolo, which once completed a defensive water ring of the city, dried up at the end of the 18th century.
Marco wrote
...and most likely Federico Gonzaga is identified with Cupid and his lover with Psyche
Yes, because Federico was known for his passionate nature. But I have found some precedent for your previous suggestion, in an English-language article by Signorino ("Two Mantuan fantasies: Lombardy in the image of a garden and an architectural vertigo. The fortunes of the Hypnerotomachia in Mantua", Word and Image 14:1, 1998, pp. 186ff). It is in a prose work of 1474 by Pietrodamo de' Micheli, who was a "lawyer, man of letters and Mantua's first printer," according to Signorini (p. 186). The prologue to his Orologio describes a dream about a garden with a stream running through it, and alongside it several beautiful women. Signorini says:
The garden was Lombardy, the long wall to the south--the Appenines, and the women--the cities of Lombardy. Of the women the most beautiful (the city of Mantua) was seated on the grass, amongst flowers, near a brook of limpid water (the Mincio river), underneath a laurel (symbol of Virgilian poetry) and with her spouse (the marquis Ludovico Gonzaga II), who seated to her right held her by the hand. Between the couple were exchanged but lovers' smiles: the whole more eloquently written about by Pietradamo. (p. 186f)
Signorino then gives the text in Italian and English. Here is the relevant part
...she had come here, from heaven, to seek repose: all newly garmented and adorned. Her gloriously divine and celestial face imparted the great splendour of her honesty and the sacredness of her customs...With such suave, sweet and docile smiles and glances, lifting her eyes at times, she looked at and was looked at, in return, by her highly decorous spouse, who seated majestically to her left [sic: the Italian has "al dextro lato"], held her by the hand. (p. 187)
In the fresco, on the other hand, neither member of the couple is well dressed, and we cannot even see her face. But it is at least an example of Mantua as a woman, and moreover as the bride of its Marquis. Similarly, Psyche was the legal spouse of Cupid. But before that she was his mistress; so we can take our pick, Mantua or la Boschetti.

And now on to alchemy. Signorini goes on to describe another work by a Mantuan author. I highlight the most relevant bit in bold:
Less than fifty years following the publication of Pietradamo's work the phantasia...plus quam phantastica [fantasy ...more than fantastic] of Mantuan Teofilo Folengo (1491-1544) -- the most eminent macaronic poet -- in his chivalrous poem Baldus, imagines a fantastic astronomical and alchemical machine; an architectural vertigo built atop an island, lost at sea, yet home to Baldus and his companions of a thousand adventures. (p. 188)
This work appeared in four editions, according to Signorini, although he only mentions three: "the Macaronea XII of the Toscolanense edition (Toscalano del Garda, 1521)"; "Book III of Mafelina -- the Cipadense edition (published in Venice, late 1540s)"; "and in Vigaso Cocaio -- the fourth edition of the work (Venice, 1552)" (p. 189).
Baldus and his companions find themselves in a giant spinning piazza bordered by a cloister and topped by a vault, both spinning as well, with a stationary sarcophagus in the center. This work, we are told, was commissioned by Manto, legendary founder of Mantua. And the sarcophagus is "destined for Federico Gonzaga II (Mantua's fifth marquis from 1519 to April 7, 1530 and first duke from April 8, 1530 to 1540)" (p. 189f). In the 1552 edition this is changed to Francesco Gonzaga III, who ruled from 1540 to 1550. Signorino continues (and I again highlight the most relevant bits):
This vertiginous invention is followed by the ascent of Baldus and his companions to the seven Ptolemaic planets: that crucible of secrets and of a highly complicated alchemy. It is thanks to the philosopher's stone -- the mysterious veritrium (the 'Triparole' [threeword] which in the poet's verses becomes an image of Christ as well of his birth, death and resurrection) -- that the alchemical goldsmiths concoct Gold under the direction of Manto, the mythical founder of Mantua. (p. 192)
After reflecting a bit on the symbolic significance of the spiral staircase they climb in the center of the spinning vault, above the sarcophagus, Signorino concludes:
Baldus' ascent (missing in the Toscalanense edition) atop the revolving celestial royal palace of Manto -- the soothsayer to whom it is conceded to live eternally -- presents us, therefore, with aspects of a sacred ascent to a cosmic reality. In this sense, it is opportune to the development of the mystical climb to the celestial spheres that the heroes come to dwell, while moving from planet to planet, on the nature of the alchemical operations particular to each star.. For both Baldus and his companions, their participation in magical combinations of the most disparate of elements is the necessary prelude to Manto's esoteric revelations. Manto would proclaim that the heroes are now to preside over all riches and so instruct their own master goldsmiths in the art of making Gold, having themselves discovered the means thanks to the virtues of Triparole', which with its many mysterious names the soothsayer secretly places, along with the rest of her wisdom, in the heroes' ears. (p. 192f)
In other words, in Mantua of the time of the Palazzo Te, alchemy was very much in the air, not just gold-making but acquiring the means to extend life and the symbolic relationship between the philosopher's stone and Christ.

I have made an Interlibrary Loan request for Carpeggiani's book. I hope I can get it.

Re: tarot and alchemy

#50
Thank you for quoting Pietrodamo's passages: I think this kind of court allegories could indeed be the explanation for the river scene in Psyche's room.

About Folengo, here is the text of Baldus. Macaronic Latin is quite strange and rather funny. It's difficult to take seriously anything written in this style :)
The passage about Manto and Gonzaga's grave seems to be at pag.154.

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