Re: Cebetis

#51
mikeh wrote: ... what I take to be a metalcut version of version D ... makes changes which the artist thought important enough to justify departing from the Master.
I also want to comment on this sentence, in relation to the "families of images" I previously mentioned.
In my opinion, the most important features are those that are NOT varied, so my view is the opposite of yours. The common traits that are shared by all the members of a family are what make them recognizable as members: they are the distinctive features. The traits that are more commonly varied are the less important to me. For instance, the Bagat always has a desk, while the objects on the desk can vary. This is not because the objects on the desk are so important that a card maker thought they deserved his personal interpretation, but because they are tiny details that do not make a great difference on the image as a whole.

Re: The meaning of the first six trumps

#52
marco wrote: But what about the subject of this thread and the meaning of the first six trumps?

As you know, in my view (derived from Michael Hurst's writings) these six trumps represent the tripartite ranks of men (see above and this post by Michael):
* the Fool and the Bagat represent the lowly;
* the Emperor and the Empress represent the noble;
* the Pope and the Popess represent the clergy.
From what I can anticipate, my current thinking is bound to disappoint at least Michael and Marco.

I don't think these six are a meaningful grouping. That is, I don't think the Fool and Bagatto were meant to be interpreted as somehow relating to the four papi.

I think that the Fool and Bagatto are symbolically outside the sequence (which allows them to play wild cards, as they are in the Bolognese game). The Bagatto is the lowest trump in play because there has to be one, and the papi are not ranked, except that all of them are lower than Love. It has to be Fool or Bagatto, and the designer chose the Bagatto to be in that position (perhaps because he is at his table doing his bagatella, while the Fool wanders around).

The papi are a meaningful group, and follow symbolically directly from the four Kings, in which role they complete the ranks of mankind with the highest positions of all. All of the low cards, including the figure cards of the pack (and perhaps, more speculatively, the number cards symbolizing professions, i.e. all of the rest of humanity), are captives of Love. The Triumphator is not a captive of Love, but he is a captive of Fortune (despite rising up the Wheel by chance or virtue, which is why the Virtues are grouped on one side, the "up side" of the Wheel). No matter how good your fortune, Old Age (Time) is inescapable, and perhaps the designer chose a Traitor after to show the same thing as in the Casa Rella fresco, "Slow Time and Pain and Sad Shame and Dark Death" (in the Tarot you might think of "pain" as implied by both Old Age and the punishment of the Traitor). Somehow inexorable time and pain and shame were linked to these 15th century Italians, in a way not so habitual for us.

The cards after Death are a rising from lowest hell to highest heaven and end of time. What the lightning strikes (originally a tower) is really irrelevant (it could be a tree or a man, as has been done), as are the vignettes or scenes below the Star, Moon and Sun, and the figure on the World card (whom I think was originally meant to be the World Soul, to keep with the habit of personification in the trumps). The essential idea is just going up and out, in increasing brightness and significance. Lightning is fire from (the sub-lunar) heaven, the Star is less bright than the Moon, the Moon than the Sun, and the Sun than the whole "world" (not just the Earth, but the whole world-system, mundus, cosmos). All of this ends and is recreated in perfection with the Last Judgment.

So, I suppose I have to see four rather than three "sections" to the trump sequence. I think the Chariot has to be directly after Love (and must be below the Wheel), because it is meant to depict the highest Fame and good fortune at the outset of this section, and it is contrasted, at the opposite end of the section, with the lowest Infamy and bad fortune. So the design, both overall and in the three sections, is very clever and well-constructed.
Image

Re: The meaning of the first six trumps

#53
Hi, Marco,

Thanks for the comments and links.
Marco wrote:It seems we basically agree on the fact that the Genius has little to do with the Bagat: we don't even get to a 50% similarity. It is visually completely different and it only has a similar position in a sequence which is a vague parallel to the trump sequence.
Right.
Marco wrote:I also want to comment on this sentence, in relation to the "families of images" I previously mentioned. In my opinion, the most important features are those that are NOT varied, so my view is the opposite of yours. The common traits that are shared by all the members of a family are what make them recognizable as members: they are the distinctive features. The traits that are more commonly varied are the less important to me. For instance, the Bagat always has a desk, while the objects on the desk can vary. This is not because the objects on the desk are so important that a card maker thought they deserved his personal interpretation, but because they are tiny details that do not make a great difference on the image as a whole.
External cognates can be valuable, but not when they are taken out of context and matched with a Tarot card which is also taken out of context. This is a sort of two-way free association, twisting two different stories into a third. Of course, like a fortune-teller picking a card at random and making up stories, it is ridiculously easy to do. In this manner, the many hundreds of different interpretations which fill thousands of books and Web pages have been created and defended. Cynthia Giles put it like this:
Certainly the synthetic process is not in itself a bad thing. But it’s all too easy to create seemingly rich and significant explanations of occult systems by building up layers of reference and allusion – without actually having sorted the worthwhile information from the worthless, and without ever showing whether the bits and pieces really do fit together in a meaningful way. … Tarot is particularly afflicted by such “synthesism” because it can be related, by even the moderately resourceful, to practically everything under the sun.
A less frivolous method uses external cognates as guides, but always returns to the context of the trump cycle to understand Tarot. There are two related, iterative methodological processes to be considered. One is the internal/external analysis of comparing Tarot subjects to external cognates, and then returning to the figure within the trump cycle. The other is the part/whole analysis: identifying the parts individually, perhaps finding similar generic subject matter in other works, and then in terms of the whole, determining what specific role they play in the Tarot hierarchy. Both the individual trump subjects and larger elements of the trump cycle have external cognates, making the possible comparisons virtually endless.

Long and highly speculative interpretations of very different works are fascinating, of course. (It may be noted in passing that works like the Table of Cebes and Fanti's frontispiece can be, and in fact have been, explained much more simply and plausibly than the readings in this thread.) However, often these sorts of post have more in common with traditional Tarot folklore than with any actual historical deck. In this case, as you pointed out, the six lowest-ranking figures of the trump series and their meaning within that hierarchical context need to be considered. You just pointed this out but, to reiterate for any who have forgotten what the six lowest trumps are, here is a recap:

* There are two low-lifes, a fool and a magician.
* There are two monarchs with secular crowns (usually imperial) and attributes.
* There are two monarchs with religious crowns (usually papal) and attributes.

Here are some illustrations which may help reinforce the point. We will begin with the oldest nearly-complete deck. Fortunately, it has all six lowest-ranking trumps extant: the Visconti-Sforza deck.

Image

Remember that stuff? THOSE are the "first six trumps". Together, they constitute a structured set of subjects. As a second example, also presumably from Milan, a printed deck survives in part: the Cary-Sheet deck. Parts of two cards are missing, but it clearly follows the same pattern.

Image

Another early printed deck survives, presumably from Florence: the Rosenwald deck. One of the six cards is missing, but it too clearly follows the same pattern.

Image

Another early printed deck survives, presumably from Ferrara: the Metropolitan, Budapest, and Dick sheets and cards are all from this pattern.

Image

Unfortunately, there are few surviving early decks, and most are fragmentary. Which cards survived appears to have been random. Thus, we can mix and match the few surviving cards from two such decks, and we see that both follow the same pattern albeit with different lost cards. Here are surviving cards from Este and Visconti decks filling out the set of six. Even when combining cards from Ferrarese and Milanese designs, the same structure is apparent. From the earliest known examples, Tarot was widely standardized.

Image

Here is another such chimera. The so-called Charles VI cards, presumably Florentine, and a Bolognese deck from centuries later. (Given the well-known conservative nature of Bolognese Tarot, this is a fair stand-in for the 15th-century decks.) Thus, the surviving cards from the four early centers of the game all reflect the same design.

Image

Last, we have the Tarot de Marseille deck. Sometime during the 15th-century Tarot became popular in France. Although early Milanese printed decks are scarce, as are early French decks, it appears that both early and later decks in both locales had essentially the same six subjects on the lowest-ranking cards.

Image

These are the lowest six subjects, including examples from Milan, Florence, Ferrara, and Bologna, as well as from France which adopted the game in the 15th century. These six cards are OBVIOUSLY designed as three pair of related subjects. Whether the specifics are clear or not, there are certainly comparisons and contrasts of some sort, making it a meaningful group. This is Tarot context, for any who may have forgotten.

It is, of course, quite easy to forget about the design of Tarot when the analytical method being employed is to take individual subjects out of context and pair them up with other subjects, also taken out of context. That is one reason why these methods, commonly known as cherry-picking and special pleading, are universally denigrated.

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

Re: The meaning of the first six trumps

#54
Hi, Ross,
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:From what I can anticipate, my current thinking is bound to disappoint at least Michael and Marco.
You should anticipate otherwise -- we've discussed it for years, and I like your analysis, at least for the Bolognese design that lacks both female Papi and ranking of the Papi. In that deck design, there must have been some different thinking going on. In standard decks, the subjects appear to be readily understood as a ranks of man motif, from low-lifes to Emperor and Pope. The variant Bolognese design is really crappy if that was intended, so I assume that was not intended. Your analysis is as good or better than any I can come up with.

Our only disagreement is whether this was an early design or a later variation. Given the fact that most decks in most locations have the female figures and most games in most locations have the ranked Papi, IMO that standard appears to have been original. Also, the earliest surviving decks -- those Visconti bastards -- had the girls.

Put another way, when Tarot dispersed each locale wanted their own version and instituted changes in the deck and game. Most of them were minor, some were more significant (like moving Justice between the Angel and the World), and some were complete, like the Sola Busca and Boiardo/Viti decks. Each variant was the result of someone rethinking the design, either a little or a lot. Your analysis of the Bolognese variant may represent what the re-designer had in mind.

With regard to the possibility of some version of the Bolognese design having been original, you should also recall that it is one of only two such possible orderings (out of more than a dozen early orderings) which I consider plausible. This is based on the idea that the virtues need to be either adjacent or equally spaced for the ordering to be internally well designed.

Best regards,
Michael

P.S.
Ross wrote:I think that the Fool and Bagatto are symbolically outside the sequence (which allows them to play wild cards, as they are in the Bolognese game). The Bagatto is the lowest trump in play because there has to be one, and the papi are not ranked, except that all of them are lower than Love. It has to be Fool or Bagatto, and the designer chose the Bagatto to be in that position (perhaps because he is at his table doing his bagatella, while the Fool wanders around).
I should also note that "symbolically outside the sequence" is a fair description of my own assessment of these two figures, allegorically. That is their sorry lot in life, and their allegorical role in the hierarchy. For some examples of these guys as social outcasts, consider these prints:

The Bagatto in Context Redux
Some Low-Lifes by Lucas van Leyden

mjh
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: The meaning of the first six trumps

#55
Michael,
How exactly is the oldest known Fool, the PMB, a "street performer?" Later iterations/(mis)interpretations are hardly the key when there is no internal evidence in the PMB to suggest he is in anyway performing.
Image


He is in fact the God-denying Fool, a manuscript tradition of illustrating Psalm 52 (see V. A. Kolve
Telling Images: Chaucer and the Imagery of Narrative II, 2009, chapter 8).

It is why Giotto's Foolishness, the closest external cognate for the PMB Fool, looks upwards, just as one usually finds the psalter fool, vainly shaking his club at either God or King David. He is simply without the grace of God - demonstrated by his atheistic idiocy.

Image
Image


Only occasionally is the Psalm 52 fool depicted as a jester, as he is here before King David, but later interpretations have lost the context of the psalm and allowed the erroneous "performer" misinterpretation:
Image


Kolve's favorite image from his study (from a Duc de Berry psalter) - not far off from our PMB Fool:
Image


Phaeded

Re: The meaning of the first six trumps

#56
Phaeded wrote:How exactly is the oldest known Fool, the PMB, a "street performer?" Later iterations/(mis)interpretations are hardly the key when there is no internal evidence in the PMB to suggest he is in anyway performing.
How is he a performer? Perhaps he is doing a Lenny Bruce routine. Or not... I'm not sure what his act is, but he is wearing a costume and, presumably, begging for money. Every example I posted, and every example I am aware of, is wearing some indication of a fool's costume.

There are basically two kinds of fools, natural and artificial. The former are morons, while the latter often pretend to be morons. Either may dress simply or more elaborately. The former might be idiots w/o portfolio, pathetic beggars who invite people to mock them in return for an occasional handout. Court "jesters" could be either genuine simpletons, or dwarfs, or people of some talent, perhaps verbal cleverness, perhaps physical skills, perhaps musical accomplishment, etc. Words are just names, and they are invariably used with some flexibility, despite the desire for a false specificity which one finds in online fora. They are all fools if they play the fool.

When any fellow, natural buffoon or practiced clown, puts on the ears, or bells, or takes up the marotte, or wears the motley, or a crown of feathers, etc., they are proclaiming their status as performers. They are putting on a show, whether they are begging in the street or have a regular gig working for a noble.

Of course, attempting to find one example which fits your preferred interpretation while discounting the rest is precisely cherry-picking. Perhaps you don't like Tarot unless you can revise it, so you attempt to find an exceptional case and focus on that, but he's still a fool. As such he plays a degraded role, that of a fool, regardless of what he is wearing. My point is that we have many different examples, and if one of them is too difficult to understand, perhaps other examples of the same card will make it clear.

Beyond that, you are arguing words rather than meaning. If you don't like the term "performer", it makes no difference to my argument. His status is still that of a degraded low-life who exemplifies Folly, just as the Magician is a professional deceiver. It's not about the names, but about the facts you want to ignore. However, performers are part of the same category of despised "professions", and that is a point which is worth making, central to Vitali's essay on the Bagatto and sin.

You might look at some of those images I linked to, especially the Porro print with other sorts of "social parasites who make a living doing unnecessary tasks or nothing; vignettes depicting beggars, thieves, injured or deformed people, lazy workers, prostitutes, and street entertainers". The fool is one of those folk, distinguished by his stupidity, his folly, just as the magician is there too, distinguished by his clever deceptions.
Phaeded wrote:He is in fact the God-denying Fool, a manuscript tradition of illustrating Psalm 52 (see V. A. Kolve
Telling Images: Chaucer and the Imagery of Narrative II, 2009, chapter 8).

It is why Giotto's Foolishness, the closest external cognate for the PMB Fool, looks upwards,
No, it isn't. He is unstable, off-balance, falling backward. This contrasts with the seated Prudence and leads to the even more off-balance Inconstancy.
Phaeded wrote:just as one usually finds the psalter fool, vainly shaking his club at either God or King David. He is simply without the grace of God - demonstrated by his atheistic idiocy.

Only occasionally is the Psalm 52 fool depicted as a jester, as he is here before King David, but later interpretations have lost the context of the psalm and allowed the erroneous "performer" misinterpretation:
There is, of course, nothing erroneous about a fool being termed a performer if he is in costume. Giotto's Folly and Bembo's Fool are both in costume.

Second, there is no such thing as "the" fool from Psalms. The "dixit insipiens" illustrations are merely fools, either natural fools or jesters. The psalm was illustrated using conventional depictions of a fool, either a very ragged man with cudgel, marrote, bladder, etc., or a figure with jester's apparel. The distinguishing feature from Psalms, sometimes present but more often not, was a round loaf of bread -- they are fools "who devour my people as men eat bread".

Third, at least half of the manuscript fools are shown as jesters, probably more. In my folder of such fools there are many dozens of examples from manuscripts. On quick inspection, it appears that about 2/3 of them are wearing parti-colored outfits, bells, the fools cap or asses' ears, etc. Most (but not all) of the ones depicted with King David are shown as such jester-fools, for the obvious reason that they are in the presence of a king. The natural fools, shown with just a cudgel and a loaf of bread, are usually alone or with God overhead. (There are less common motifs as well, such as the fool with a dog's tail in his mouth, seeming to play him as a bagpipe, and others.)

In any case, they are fools. As such, the Fool personifies Folly, and that is naturally paired with the charlatan, the deceiver, the Magician. Just as the noble sponsus (secular or religious) leads the noble sponsa, the deceiver leads the fool to his ruin. It's not that subtle.

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

Re: Cebetis--and now Alciato and Piscina

#57
Marco wrote,
mikeh wrote:So we have, assuming the relationship to the whole is 50%
Bagat: relationship to whole.....40% (i.e. 80% similar, conservative)
3 out of 8 components (giving each 2 pts) of individual image:.. 19% (Hermes, offering something he thinks important; but not clear-cut what it is, not old, stick different function)
Total 49%
Hello Mike,
it seems we basically agree on the fact that the Genius has little to do with the Bagat: we don't even get to a 50% similarity. It is visually completely different and it only has a similar position in a sequence which is a vague parallel to the trump sequence. BTW, is the 80% similarity with the respect to the whole based on the identification of a Fool in the Tabula?

We could just as well say that the Bagat is John the Evangelist, since John appears at the beginning of the Book of Revelation which also has analogies with the trump sequence. Actually, Duerer's John also has something like a desk in front of him, for his ink.

We can match anything with almost anything else with a 49% degree of success.

It is surprising to me that you cannot see the visual similarity between the Popess and Giotto's Fides, but I can only acknowledge your point of view: perception is always subjective.
On my rating scale, I would interpret 49% as a significant amount of similarity.

I was not basing my estimate on there being a Fool. There is no Fool in the image, just in the text, and even then applying to many people, not just one who represents the type. The corresponding figures in the image have no Fool attributes. On the other hand, they are fools, and that is important to the allegory, so I guess in that sense I should count them, rather weakly. as standing for the Fool. Now I wonder if there might be an ironic allusion between them, crowding around winged Fortuna, and the people crowding around Fama in the Fama depictions on birth-trays, cassoni,etc.

In my comparisons, I forgot about the lack of a table, which counts against the Bagat in the imagery category. I also forgot about the lack of the Papessa's knots, in the imagery part on that side. I don't know if the two are comparable. If so, the two omissions cancel each other out. If not, then one gets more points. It's mainly that part that is subjective, the quantification and how to interpret it, e.g. what is "significant" vs. "little".

I do see the resemblance between Fides and the PMB Popess. I have pointed it out myself on occasion, in the same breath in which I point out the relationship of Inconstancy to the Tower card, Despair to the Hanged Man, and Prudence to the Bagat (young man at a table). These are more or less visual similarities with more or less conceptual similarities. There is much commonality between Giotto's images and the PMB. In fact, I think that most or all of the cards by the first-artist PMB that cannot be presumed to have been in the Cary-Yale owe something to the Giotto series (see viewtopic.php?f=12&t=848, first post), and some in the Cary-Yale and PMB second-artist as well.

About John the Evangelist, let me repeat that I am talking about allusions, not identification. It is possible to see allusions that aren't there, to be sure; we know they're not there if there is evidence in the text that contradicts the interpretation, or the life-situation of the writer or reader, what he could have read. That's why I situate the comparison very much in time. We know that the Book of Revelation does not make any allusions to the Bagat because the Book of Revelation was written much earlier. Whether the Bagat in 1523 alludes to the author of the Book of Revelation is another matter. That's a matter of comparing the two series, related images and writings available at that time, and the context of artist and viewer/reader. Generally the author of a book is not part of the allegory, even if some artist does put him in an illustration. Someone would have to analyze the objects on the table and in his hands in terms of their contribution to the allegory in Revelation, as carried out in the sequence and in the text, as well as his demeanor, age, dress, etc. in the same context and the conventions of the type of allegory that is being considered, i.e. Christian vs. Hermetic, etc. Also competing allusions would have to be weighed within the same framework, i.e. whether the Bagat might more profitably be compared to the Alpha who is also Omega, i.e. the first and last card in the sequence.

Those were the kinds of considerations I offered in my lengthy posts on the frontispieces and on the Bagatto himself in the sequence. It takes a lot of work, and simplicity, I think, is not a criterion. What is simplest is to say that there are no allusions to anything ever. There are also good arguments vs. bad arguments. Bad arguments are ones that are very forced, making much out of very little. I am not at all sure I can say anything more precise; I at least hope I know the difference when I see it (I've been re-reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and its discussion of "quality"). That's one of the things that really fascinates me about Decker's book. I approve of his perspective, I like some of his conclusions, and I think many of his arguments for them are in my view bad. What is the difference between "bad" and "not consistent with mine"? I would hope to get some perspective from discussion here. In my post on Chapter 4 of his book. over on the Unicorn Terrace, I will give examples of what I consider both bad and good arguments for Egyptianization in the historical tarot.

I thought of another argument that the Bagat is being alluded to in the images of the old man in the Cebetis (a position I share with Decker) and the dice-thrower in the Fanti (a position I share with Place). In Alciato's 1544 list of titles, in the C order, he gives "Innkeeper" (caupo) as the title in the Bagat position. It is also the name in Piscina's Discourse. I had always thought that this was just based on thinking that the table was a desk, the wand a quill, the cup a tankard, etc. However the innkeeper as metaphor applies to the old man in the Cebetis frontispiece; he is at the front, letting people into the establishment, even giving them a brochure on the amenities and what to do if problems arise. Life is an inn with many rooms, temptations, stairways, basements, and people. In that case, the allusion in the Cebetis frontispiece is not so subtle: it is to the Innkeeper in the tarot.

On this Piscina says--and I think I have to give the Bagato a big lead-in here (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Piscina_Discorso_2):
...tutti gl' huomini di qualunque sorte si voglia, accadendogli d' ir in viaggio solevano allogiar prima alla hosteria dello Specchio ma da molto tempo in qua andarsene tutti più voluntieri a quella dil Matto, si come più convenevole, al volere, & alle attioni loro, e per ciò non senza grandissimo mistero vegiamo il Pazzo nel giuoco de Tarocchi esser dipinto a modo che sguardi indietro ad uno specchio beffandosi della fama dello [9] Specchio perduta appresso tutti gl' huomini, ì quali solevano concorrere all' hostaria soa, e perciò in faccia molto gioiosa si rallegra anzi si glorià del credito ch' egli hà, si che tutti gli houmini gli corrono dietro, e lo segue colui che s' addomanda il Bagato in habito di hoste, non senza accorto avedimento, percioche si come le Insegne delle Hostarie sono più presto da Forastieri vedutte che cercano d' allogiare che gl' istessi hosti, & che etiamdio l' insegne sogliano dar buon credito all' hostarie come veggiamo, in quelle de Gigli, Aquile, Falconi, Corone e Re, le quali in tutte le buone e famose Città demonstrano buon alloggiamento, così il Matto è stato anteposto come figura dell' hosteria al Bagato che è l' Hoste, per signficar ella esser quella famosa Hosteria nella qual la magior parte de gli huomini sogliano andar ad alloggiare.
And the published translation:
...all people of any kind, when they had to travel, used to go to the Inn of the Mirror, but for a long time they had preferred to go to that of the Fool, more appropriate to their will and their actions. This is why, with great mystery, we see the Fool in the game of Tarot being represented in such a way that he looks behind towards a mirror, making fun of the fame of [9] the Mirror, that is lost among all people, who once used to go to that inn. This is why his face is so joyful, he rejoices and glories in the credit he receives, so that all men run behind him. He is followed by the one that is called the Bagat, dressed as an innkeeper, not without subtlety, because as the signs of the Inns are seen by travelers before they see the innkeepers, and as the signs used to give good credit to the inns as we see in those of the Lilies, Eagles, Falcons, Crowns and Kings, that in all good and famous cities show good lodging, in the same way the Fool, being the figure of the inn, has been put before the Bagat, who is the Innkeeper, meaning that famous inn in which most people used to go.
The tenses in this passage drive me crazy. By the inn where they "used to go" at the end would be meant the inn they no longer go to, in my understanding of English, i.e. the Inn of the Mirror, as is clear. more or less, from the beginning of the part I have quoted. where it is said that people "used to go" to the Inn of the Mirror, but then preferred to go to the Inn of the Fool instead. Ross's footnote in the printed version explains that the Inn of the Looking-Glass is the Inn of prudence, since the Mirror is the attribute of Prudence, and the Inn of the Fool is the Inn of foolishness. So it comes out here that the Bagat, the innkeeper of the inn of prudence, would be the card of Prudence, similar to the old man in the Cebetis.

That's nice for my interpretation of the Bagat, but in all honesty I have to say that I wonder whether the published translation is correct. I am a rank amateur in Italian; I can't speak more than one word at a time, And the tenses baffle me. Nonetheless...

"Sogliano" would seem to be 3rd person present tense of "sogliare", meaning "to pass or go over the threshold of a door" (http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/florio/search/522c.html), rather than being equivalent to "solevano", imperfect of "solere" and meaning "used to". Also, the rest of the final clause looks to me a little messy. I prefer literal translations unless they make no sense. So for "così il Matto è stato anteposto come figura dell' hosteria al Bagato che è l' Hoste, per signficar ella esser quella famosa Hosteria nella qual la magior parte de gli huomini sogliano andar ad alloggiare" I read:
...so the Fool stands in front as the picture of the Inn of which the Bagato is the Innkeeper, to signify its being that famous Inn in which the majority of the people enter to go to lodge.
If so, he is the innkeeper of the inn where people go now, not the one where they used to go. The Fool is the sign out front--or in my city these days, the guy in the funny outfit waving his sign back and forth on the sidewalk to get my attention--and the Bagato is the Innkeeper of the Inn of which he is the picture, that of the Fool, foolishness. [Added next day: a problem with this translation is the adjective "famosa"; "fama" previously attached to the Inn of the Looking-glass. He would be contradicting what he said earlier. He's allowed to do that, but it requires explaining, e.g. the Inn of the Looking-Glass is no longer as famous as the Inn of the Fool.]

In either translation, the inns are a metaphor for life, which can be lived foolishly, on one side of the street, or prudently, on the other side. The two inns are those of the old Hermes Trismegistus character on the Fanti frontispiece, and--in the alternative translation I offer--that of the dice-rolling Hermes/Thoth next to him. If you choose the trickster Hermes, watch out. Like the Moon in Plutarch's story of the invention of gambling, you could lose some of your light, without help from a Trismegistus, an Agathodemon. But if you do lose, it's in a good cause. In that sense the old man in the Cebetis is not as good an approximation of the Bagat as the dice-roller plus old man in the Fanti. The Cebetis has the positive side, which I do want to emphasize even if it is not as good a fit.

While I'm at it, there are a few more places in the quote, further up, where I had trouble with the translation. One problem is with "voglia" at the beginning of the passage, which is translated as "had preferred". But WordReference says "voglia" is present tense subjunctive. However with the "but for a long time" makes "have preferred" more appropriate. Also, "accadendogli d' ir in viaggio " looks to me like "happening to travel" rather than "when they traveled"; the former is tenseless. And "perduta appresso tutti gl' huomini" looks to me like "lost with all the people", as I don't see "appresso" listed in WordReference as translated by "among". Except for "voglia", these are fine points, I know, but they make the passage more understandable. Also, since we are talking about an attribute of Prudence, I think "Looking-glass" is a more appropriate translation of "Specchio", since it connotes the hand-held thing associated with the virtue. So I get:
all people of every kind, happening to travel, used to lodge first at the inn of the Looking-glass, but for a long time have preferred to go to that of the Fool, more appropriate to their will and their actions. This is why, not without great mystery, we see the Fool in the game of Tarot being depicted in such a way that he looks behind [him] towards a mirror, making fun of the fame of [9] the Looking-glass lost with [in the sense of "dead to"] all the people who once used to go to that inn.
I imagine it as a Matto card like the ones of 17th or early 18th century Piedmont and Lombardy, the ones that sometimes had the French title "Le Fou", where his body is pointed away and to the right but he looks behind him. Piscina says he's looking at a card known for Fame; I can't help wondering it might even be called that. Since the Mirror = prudence, it is either trump 21, now called Prudence/Fame, or it is trump 14, which Alciato called "Fama", a word written on some Belgian Temperance cards, but perhaps here is the last trump in a deck with only 14. I imagine the cards in a circle, so that the last trump is behind the Fool. That's how the card is both zero and also, as in the Steele Sermon, can be the card talked about after the World. Of course all this is speculation. [Added next day: but the last card can't be 14, because Piscina goes on to describe all 22. With the published translation, it's simpler: he's simply looking at the Bagatto, across the street.]

The rest of the translation looks good. But what do I know? Please advise. [Added next day: please note that I made two changes, one at the end of the previous paragraph, and one earlier, regarding "famosa".]

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(Hans Holbein the Younger illustration to Erasmus, Praise of Folly, 1515 edition.)

Re: The meaning of the first six trumps

#58
. Michael Hurst wrote:
Phaeded wrote:
He is in fact the God-denying Fool, a manuscript tradition of illustrating Psalm 52 (see V. A. Kolve
Telling Images: Chaucer and the Imagery of Narrative II, 2009, chapter 8).

It is why Giotto's Foolishness, the closest external cognate for the PMB Fool, looks upwards,
No, it isn't. He is unstable, off-balance, falling backward. This contrasts with the seated Prudence and leads to the even more off-balance Inconstancy.
Nonsense. He stands on solid, straight legs, one foot casually turned outwards, pointing and looking upwards like the psalter fool (see the example I posted above of the jester before David pointing upwards at God in His nimbus); contrast Giotto’s Charity reaching upwards towards God to identify what is missing in the depiction of the atheist Fool. I have seen no one ever describe Giotto’s Foolishness as “falling backwards;” and what would the significance be – that it is a sign that he is somehow performing? The Giotto pair, Prudence, sees into the past, present, future – the idiot Fool is lost in the present, like an animal (one of the meanings of the feathers). The (in)ability to recognize God’s providence is why those two are contrasted – her being seated is because she has one of her traditional attributes before her: a book.
. Michael Hurst wrote:
Phaeded wrote:
just as one usually finds the psalter fool, vainly shaking his club at either God or King David. He is simply without the grace of God - demonstrated by his atheistic idiocy. Only occasionally is the Psalm 52 fool depicted as a jester, as he is here before King David, but later interpretations have lost the context of the psalm and allowed the erroneous "performer" misinterpretation.
There is, of course, nothing erroneous about a fool being termed a performer if he is in costume. Giotto's Folly and Bembo's Fool are both in costume.
Besides the allegorical headdress, the PMB Fool is most certainly not in costume but rather wears the simple ragged clothes of a peasant, amply found in the first illuminated copies of the Tacuinum Sanitatis commissioned by Giangaleazzo Visconti (even the cliff border matches that of the PMB cards so this is likely much more than just a cognate). For comparison’s sake, is this Visconti Tacuinum Sanitatis harvest peasant decorated with a wheat headdress in “costume” or simply an allegory?
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Your special pleading for a schema imposed on the PMB’s first two tarot trumps demands a “costume” (to fit in with “performer”), when in fact the feathered headdress would have been recognized by contemporaries as a symbol of evil, especially when on an elaboration of the atheistic Psalter Fool (see Ruth Mellinkoff's “Demonic Winged Headgear,” Viator 16 (1985): 367–81). The PMB is not in costume and not performing – he is the symbol of the rabble, perhaps mob rule (even the likes of “republican” Bruni deplored that phenomenon after the Ciompi revolution). To put a finer point on it in the context of which the PMB was created: the Fool is the mob which destroyed the Visconti palaces in Milan after Filippo’s death, offensive of course to the new Duchess Bianca. Moreover, what would have been deemed as the “mob” actually ran the government before Sforza starved them into submission (the baker Giovanni Ossona and the butcher Giovanni Appiani were elected captains of the Ambrosian Republic in 1449). That the skinny PMB Fool (contrast the Giotto Fool grown fat by “living on bread alone”, without God) seems to match the Tacuinum Sanitatis peasant allegory of harvest plenty but this might have been an intentional ironic twist on the Tacuinum original (Sforza’s men famously handed out as much bread as they could carry on his first ingresso into starving Milan on 2-26-1450). The wisdom of the gut: The Ambrosian Republic could not feed its own, but Sforza could. That printed tarot decks no longer had these same historical circumstances/actors to damn is obvious and accordingly they altered the appearance and meaning of the Fool (the later Rosenthal Colleoni/Sforza deck features a page with falcon in place of the fool). Yet even the later hand-painted CVI and d’Este decks, recognize the Fool as diversionary “misrule”. In both cards the people below the fool are attracted to his sexuality, another theme that was common to the Psalter fool since sexuality, like hunger/bread, detracted from the contemplation of God; relevant manuscript image here of a crowd enamored with an embracing couple as the Fool mocks God (English, c. 1415):
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The CVI shows the people below the fool picking up rocks, apparently to eat them; Kolve shows that the Psalter bread was also portrayed as stones (they are thus lead astray into his atheism). In the d’Este deck the crowd is distracted by the Fool’s sexuality again but this time he is beckoning with one hand while leading with a pennant in the other (like a pied piper). This is not “performance” – this is a moral allegory of leading astray; the pennant, something that should strictly belong to a lord or city, strongly points towards this concept of “misrule”.

Phaeded

BTW: The PMB “Magician” reaches for a straw hat worn by the peasantry - thus a would-be controller of the peasant mob (the baker or butcher assuming the guise of power and directing the mob), himself wearing the CY Coins court hat (but the ends are downturned to indicate not properly worn or perhaps old/worn and acquired second hand). How is the seated PMB “Magician” calmly holding a scepter while slyly reaching for the peasant hat without looking at it a performance instead of an allegory for the usurpation of power? The Fool and the “Magician” are connected in the PMB but hardly as street performers; more like a warning against insurrection in the streets, proper to a mirror for princes (which the PMB’s trump subjects could have imparted in addition to being a game) created after the Ambrosian Republic.

Re: The meaning of the first six trumps

#59
Phaeded wrote:
Michael wrote:[Giotto's Folly] is unstable, off-balance, falling backward. This contrasts with the seated Prudence and leads to the even more off-balance Inconstancy.
I have seen no one ever describe Giotto’s Foolishness as “falling backwards;” and what would the significance be....
The significance is what I said the significance is: he is part of a larger design. His most direct associations are in contrast to Prudence and in concert with Inconstancy.

The chapel is a brilliantly conceived allegorical tableau vivant. When one turns from the altar he faces the spectacular Judgment scene at the other end, with the saved rising to Heaven on the left and the damned hanging in Hell to the right. At eye-level on the left, leading from the altar to the heavenly host, are seven panels with virtues. They begin with Prudence, the root of all virtue, and lead to Hope. Hope takes wing, in a posture which echoes that of souls assembling in Heaven. It is an allegorical path leading all the way from the altar end of the chapel to the Judgment scene.

On the right we have the alternate path. Beginning with Folly, the root of all vices, the seven allegorical images culminate in Despair, who hang's herself. A demon grabs her soul, and this panel is adjacent to the figures in Hell, some of whom are also hanging. The person who just received the sacrament is looking forward at Heaven and Hell and Christ in Judgment, with allegorical paths of virtue and vice laid out on either side of the chapel. In that moment, he becomes part of a tableaux vivant in which he plays the central role, that of Hercules at the Crossroads.

That is the context of the figure of Folly. He is not isolated, as you would have him, but connected to the entire structure. These are not random virtues and vices, but a systematic design. Both the virtues and the vices form a concatenated path, one leading from Prudence to Hope of resurrection to Heaven, while the other leads from Folly to Despair and the eternal damnation of Hell.

Most directly, Folly is connected to Prudence, his contrasting virtue, and with Iconstancy, the next vice on the path. As I pointed out. And he wears the bells and feathers because he is a fool, (a performer), who is used to symbolize Folly (a vice).
Phaeded wrote:This is not “performance” – this is a moral allegory of leading astray
Apparently you don't understand the basic concept of allegory. The fool belongs to a category of persons; he really exists. Folly, which he symbolizes, is an abstract quality. The fool is a performer, Folly is a an abstraction. Folly may be personified as a fool. The fool is then used to symbolize Folly, in part because he is taken to exemplify the vice. The fool, along with other performers as discussed by Vitali, does in fact lead people astray.
Phaeded wrote:BTW: The PMB “Magician” reaches for a straw hat worn by the peasantry - thus a would-be controller of the peasant mob (the baker or butcher assuming the guise of power and directing the mob), himself wearing the CY Coins court hat (but the ends are downturned to indicate not properly worn or perhaps old/worn and acquired second hand). How is the seated PMB “Magician” calmly holding a scepter while slyly reaching for the peasant hat without looking at it a performance instead of an allegory for the usurpation of power? The Fool and the “Magician” are connected in the PMB but hardly as street performers; more like a warning against insurrection in the streets, proper to a mirror for princes (which the PMB’s trump subjects could have imparted in addition to being a game) created after the Ambrosian Republic.
LOL -- this is so bizarre that I am strongly inclined to think you're joking, just a troll. This sort of perverse over-interpretation is entertaining, of course. However, if you are not just trolling for laughs, then you have my sincere apology. One should not mock the handicapped. On the other hand, one should not feed the trolls, so please excuse me if I don't reply further.

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

Re: The meaning of the first six trumps

#60
mjhurst wrote:Hi, Ross,
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:From what I can anticipate, my current thinking is bound to disappoint at least Michael and Marco.
You should anticipate otherwise -- we've discussed it for years, and I like your analysis, at least for the Bolognese design that lacks both female Papi and ranking of the Papi. In that deck design, there must have been some different thinking going on. In standard decks, the subjects appear to be readily understood as a ranks of man motif, from low-lifes to Emperor and Pope. The variant Bolognese design is really crappy if that was intended, so I assume that was not intended. Your analysis is as good or better than any I can come up with.
Well, that's a relief. I see now, checking back, that we have discussed this idea before, privately, in response to a post of mine on this thread, back beginning in February of this year.

I thought my thinking on this was new (it is, relative to my 11 years of engagement with this field) - my forgetting shows what a real break I took from thinking about the sequence!
I don't think these six are a meaningful grouping. That is, I don't think the Fool and Bagatto were meant to be interpreted as somehow relating to the four papi.
Having said that, I have to admit that there are a couple of ways in which I can see a connection, in terms I can accept. One is the see-saw highest-lowest lowest-highest pattern that I "saw" in my analysis above (highest fame to lowest shame in the middle section, lowest hell to highest heaven in the final section) - if I really think it is there, then it might work for the first section too. Except that since the papi are unranked in the Bolognese game - which I take to be the original (or a twin of it, if invented in Florence - I'm even reconsidering that opinion, despite all the flurry of activity coming out of Florence recently, and coming back to Bologna) - then they must be considered as a unity in this interpretation.

The second way is from something Piscina said about Princes needing to taking pleasure in Fools and the like (there it is, page 17; the Italian word is "Buffoni"). I remembered it as one of the explanations he offered for the presence of these two under the Emperors and Popes - I suppose it could be taken that way. These entertainers could be taken as the lowest in the employ of the Imperial or Papal courts, the lowest "members" of the court, and as such - and good figures to have in a game to boot - they could represent the lowest in the iconographic synecdoche, with the princes as the highest (sort of like the two robes in the Roman memento mori mosaic we like so much, with the butterfly).


http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/imag ... napoli.jpg

This idea immediately suggested that their position in this hierarchy is analogous to the Jack in so many games and the iconography of the card. He is the lowest court figure, but one of them frequently (and spontaneously, since the various games this happens in are mostly not genetically related) becomes the most important card (see Parlett, History of Card Games (or Oxford Guide to Card Games if you have that), page 62 for a brief list of such games, and the index for games with more remarks on the "Knave" playing a special role). Similarly, the papi are the highest powers in the world, but they don't have individual values (like most of the trumps). The Matto and Bagatto value as high as the Angel, World, and the four Kings. Additionally, they can take the place of any card (excepting Kings and the Angel) necessary for counting in a sequence (except they cannot be adjacent wild cards in a sequence - those are the only restrictions on their "wildness"). So they are intrinsically the most powerful cards in the deck, when played right, despite the lowliness of their iconology. I think this ambivalence matches the role of the Jack (or Unter, often portrayed as fools or some kind of bawdy lowlife - I seem to remember some early French decks with similar iconography on some Valets - the oval cards for instance) we sometimes encounter, which seems to pop up from some kind of intrinsic ludic logic (we might call it folkish or folkloric, Jack-and-the Beanstalk kind of logic, Parsival or whatever... where a nobody rises, by cunning or chance, to become the great hero).

In any case, I'm gathering information on the Jack (by whatever name), and had this thesis about him in mind for some time, which is why the connection arose so immediately with the Bagatto and Matto.
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