Thank you again for translating that post.EnriqueEnriquez wrote:I find your take on the three moral virtues to be he most useful model...
Ah, the posture question.EnriqueEnriquez wrote:In the Tarot de Marseille Justice and Strength ‘pose’ in front of us almost as role-models for a certain moral assets within man while Temperance as a psychopompos feels more as an external aid for the soul. Do you see the three of them playing the same role? Does a winged Temperance suggest the soul shall find moderation after death, or does it suggest that the soul should practice moderation in the afterlife? Could you share your thoughts on this?
Let's assume that the Pope and lower cards represent Mankind, and that the Devil and higher cards represent an eschatological epilogue to Mankind's moral allegory. In that case, then the nine middle trumps are the narrative allegory per se.
The first thing to note is that the lowest and highest cards in this group are weird. That is, they are unique when compared with most other Tarot decks. The Love card shows the requisite Cupid, but the tableau as a whole appears to be related to the Choice of Hercules, or Hercules at the Crossroads. In fact, it is closely similar to Paolo Veronese's 16th-century depiction.
Honor et Virtus post mortem floret
What we see are two meanings conflated. One is the standard Tarot trump subject, an allegory of Love. The other is the choice between virtue and vice. This defines the overall theme of the middle trumps.
The triumphs of Love and the Triumphal Chariot, victory in love and war, personal and public spheres, both confer personal benefits and power over others: husband over wife and victor over vanquished. Justice, which triumphs over these two subjects, is precisely the virtue which mitigates the exercise of such advantages.
The Hermit, (not Time, the more common subject of the Old Man card), is facing the lower cards as if to advise asceticism in place of such worldly values. (This allegory of Asceticism might be analogous to figures like the Pagans Diogenes and Crates, or the Christian saints Macarius, Sisoes, or Barlaam, each for arguably appropriate anecdotes about their lives and teachings.) Fortune, at the center of the sequence, is obviously a turning point in the cycle. Fortitude is a conventional subject paired with Fortune, and is needed to triumph over both Asceticism and Fortune. Note that she faces the higher cards -- Fortitude is also required to deal with Betrayal and Death.
Death and Temperance are facing each other. They form a visual pair, just like the Fool and the Mountebank which form an easily recognizable tableau. Or the Empress and Emperor, one formally posed and the other more casually (but in a position associated with passing judgment), reaching out an almost touching their scepters. With regard to being "external", she is both internal (triumphing over Death in several ways) and external, transitioning to the eschatological section.
The uniquely winged virtue Temperance was chosen to triumph over Betrayal and Death partly because she is mixing water with wine, symbolizing the sacrament. Given wings and coming after Death, she has also been turned into a psychopomp. But as Temperance per se she reminds one of Faith, i.e., faith in resurrection as expressed by St. Paul (quoting Isaiah): "If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die'." (1-Co 15:32) That is, if we do not believe that we are to be resurrected and judged, we may as well live like the impious and wicked. If you don't believe in Christ's triumph over Death, then live like the Pagans, drink till you puke and orgy till your balls fall off. The converse of this is, if you do believe in resurrection and judgment then be temperate. Virtue is thus an act of faith.
On a more mundane level, temperance in speech and action will prevent one from being executed as a Traitor, while temperance in other appetites will stave off the Reaper himself, at least for a time.
A bit later in 1-Corinthians we find the other key quote, from which Christians justified Nike/Victory triumphing over Death: "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible: and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality. And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?" (1-Co 15:52-5)
So... moderation in life is one of the ideas that seems to be suggested, both for mundane reasons and as an act of faith in the resurrection to come. This constellation of meanings, some looking back on the life cycle of the middle trumps and others looking forward to the highest section to come, all work together in a very complex and yet very neat package.
The overall design of the middle trumps shows two successes, two reversals, and two indications of downfall. Each pair is triumphed over by an appropriate virtue. The success-reversal-downfall cycle is an allegorical representation of the De Casibus narrative arc of Boccaccio, while the circumstance-virtue pairings are the allegorical version the De Remediis schema of Petrarch. Overlaid on that complex design are the conflations we see most strikingly in Love and Temperance.
LOL -- does that clarify or obscure?