Re: Museo Cospiano (1677)

Huck wrote:
24 Jun 2013, 05:43

The text:
A rough translation, may include errors, corrections and amendments welcome:

5. A bunch [FASCIO], or, as is commonly called, a PACK [MAZZO] of ANCIENT CARDS of a Moral Game, called the Game of the Passions, which are Love, Hope, Jealousy, and Fear. It is divided into 40 (XL) Simple Cards and 21 (XXI) Triumphs. The Love cards are marked with the Arrow; those of Hope with the Vase; of Jealousy with the Eye; of Fear with the Whip. And each of these symbols in the ten cards is increased by one up to ten, such as the Swords and Cups, etc. in the cards, which are much grander and larger. And so the number of symbols shows the value of the card.
Each of the ten has four cards of distinguished figures representing a King, Queen, Knight and Fanta, which are taken from History. The other figures of the Triumphs are characters from historical families famous for some vice or virtue; and the cards of the Vicious lose against those of the Virtuous. In each card there is a square in which is written an explanatory tercet; and the tercets, from the first to the last, are connected together with the rhyme scheme that make of each a little poem, or stanza in terza rima. Here, for example, are the first three, as written above the images of Sardanapolo, Ippolita and Atteone, which, like all the other of the Triumphs, follow in order of the Imperial (Roman?) Numbers:

I.Ocio Sardanapalo ocioso in piume
tenne: e in lascivie concubine: e gola
tanto che del regnar perse el costume.

II. Faticha fece Hippolyta che sola
meritoe de le Amazone corona
e i scithia e in grecia ancor suo nome vola.

III. Desio accese Atheon de una persona
celeste: si che in cervo fu converso
perho troppo alto lhomo el desio non pone.


From the Dialect of which can be argued the antiquity of these cards is not less than 170 (CLXX) years. And the character with which they are printed corresponds to that used at the beginning of the Press. At the same time it compares with the way in which the engraving of the images, which are in wood, resemble that of figures printed about the beginning of the past century.

The inventor of the game gives in the first card an explanatory Sonnet, which serves as the frontispiece of the Book of these playful and moral companions:

Quattro Passion dell’Anima Signora
Hanno quaranta Carte in questo Gioco
A la più degna la minor dà loco
E il lor significato le colora.

Quattro Figure ha ogni colore ancora
Che a i debiti suo’ officii tutte invoca,
Con Vinti e uno Trionfo; e il più da poco
E’ un Folle, e pur quel Folle il Mondo adora.

Amor, Speranza, Zelosia e Timore
Son le Passioni, e un ternario han le Carte
Per non lasciar chi giocarà in errore.

el numero ne’ versi si comparte
Uno, duo e trè fin’ al grado maggiore.
Resta mò a te trovar del gioco l’arte.

And because he knew something of a mixed state of morality, he apologized in the last, and stated his intention with these verses:


Veggio il mio error, pur il commun inganno
Sieguo, e stimo il mio fallo assai minore,
Ché errar con la piu parte è mancho errore
Che sol salvarsi in un publico danno.

Gli homini veggio che ingannando vanno
Lor stessi, in farsi parer corte l’ore:
Onde, per far l'inganno anchor magiore,
Questo gioco ho composto e i' stesso il danno.

Perché altro non è lui che sproni, anci ale
Che 'l tempo è tanto pretioso e caro,
Via manda, come corda d'archo un strale.

Ma poi che a traer quel non è riparo,
E il fuggir tedio è instincto naturale,
Scusomi anch'io si da natura imparo.

edited to add: Oops, I missed to translate the final paragraph - it says something about a Doctor Montalbani, the overwhelming donation to the Museum, and some of the words in this last sonnet not being considered to be of the period nor the use of the cards ??
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

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Ross G. R. Caldwell and 12 guests