Trumps VI- XIII

#1
In his 2007 post about the order of the trumps, Michael Hurst quotes Dummett:
Ignoring the Virtues, we can say that the sequence of the remaining trumps falls into three distinct segments, an initial one, a middle one, and a final one, all variation occurring only within these different segments.
...
[the second segment (VI-XIII)] could be described as representing conditions of human life: love; the cardinal virtues of Temperance, Fortitude..., and Justice; the triumphal car; the wheel of fortune; the card now known as the hermit; the hanged man; and death.
Michael comments this segment with an illustration from a 1485 manuscript of a poem by Pierre Michault written in 1465. The poem is titled "La Danse des aveugles" (the dance of the blind) and it describes the role of Love, Fortune and Death as the powers shaping human life. It is evident how this concept is a good parallel to the central segment of the trump sequence:
* Love, Fortune and Death are immediately identifiable by their names in both the poem and the trump sequence (Amour, Fortune, Mort);
* the three concepts appear in the same order in the poem and in the trumps;
* the iconography is quite similar (Love with a bow, Fortune with a wheel, death as a skeleton).

A 1543 edition provides this summary of the text:


Amour, fortune et mort , aveugles et bandés ,
Font dancer les humains chacun par accordance :
Car aussitôt qu'amour a ses traits débandés,
L'homme veut commencer a dancer basse dance;
Puis fortune, qui sait le tour de discordance ,
Pour un simple d'amour fait un double bransler,
Plus inconstant beaucoup que feuille d'arbre en l'air.
Du dernier tourdion la mort nous importune ;
Et si n'y a vivant qu'on ne voye esbranler
A la dance de mort , d'amour et de fortune.


Here is my unreliable translation:

Love, fortune and death, blind and blindfolded,
make all people dance to their rhythm:
As soon as love has slacken its leads,
people want to start dancing a low dance;
Then fortune, who knows the turns of discordance,
Makes a double dance for a simple love,
Much fickler than a leaf in the air.
Death bothers us with the last pavane;
We can see that no living being can escape
The dance of death, love and fortune.


It is great to see how the identification of the three main sections of the trump sequence (0-V, VI-XIII. XIV-XXI) makes it possible to find and understand visual and textual parallels to the trumps in mainstream medieval moral allegories. I like the simplicity and meaningfulness of all this.
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Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#2
Marco,
I partially agree with Dummet on whether “the sequence as a sequence has any special symbolic meaning. I am inclined to think that it did not”; but I do not believe the subjects chosen were “random” - there had to be a source that accounts for at least 21 subjects, specifically a 3X7 structure (with the "zero" card, Fool, tacked on). More on that some other time.

At all events, I found this line from the poem you found of interest in regard to the head scarf sometimes referred to as a “banderole” about Death’s skull in the CY and PMB:
Love, fortune and death, blind and blindfolded,
The Viscotni-Sforza Death cards seem to have lifted the blinding scarf above the eyes, up onto the forehead, to indicate Death is no longer blind, thereby implying he is directing his arrows and/or scythe (meanwhile Eros remains blind with his arrows). Why?
Image
Image


Phaeded

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#3
Yes, good observation, Phaeded. Also, Fortune is blindfolded, too, in the Brera-Brambilla and the PMB,

http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x80/ ... sforza.jpg

But often in other art, she isn't, e.g. http://www.pinterest.com/ekdavern/signs-and-symbols/

(This site has the Brera-Brambilla, too.)

So does she play favorites or doesn't she? There seems to be a difference of opinion. But the Visconti say she doesn't.

Similarly the blindfold is off the Cupids in the Charles VI, http://www.letarot.it/cgi-bin/pages/sag ... to%205.jpg. And the lovers are different, too, less serious, more in a party mood, than in the PMB, which seems modeled on the Cary-Yale, to me clearly headed toward marriage. With all the heraldics, it's the union of two families. Then there's the Rosenwald, where the man has the attitude of Mars at the Schifanoia.

http://trionfi.com/0/j/d/rosenwald/p/06.jpg
http://www.wga.hu/art/c/cossa/schifano/ ... april_.jpg

In the Rosenwald, the light-burst has been added, too. What is that? Where else is Cupid or an Erotes shown with a light-burst? Ah, mystery!

For good facts on Cupid's blindfold, you probably know Wind, Pagan Mysteries of the Renaissance, which goes into the Neoplatonic nuances (very influential in the Middle Ages) at great length in three places: at the end of his essay on Pico della Mirandola, all of the next one called "Orpheus in Praise of Blind Love," and some of the essay on "La Primavera" (where, of course, Cupid is blindfolded). I'll review them. It would be a good project to see how old the traditions of these blindfolds are, i.e. how "standard" and "conventional" they are, and what they meant. We assume they are, but that may be because we've seen so many post-1450 images of them. I really don't know. 1465, the date of the poem, isn't early, compared to the tarot, even if it is in French. And also, it would be nice to know how old the sequence Love-Fortune-Death is, in other contexts.

Good start, Marco. I'm finding out how little I know.

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#4
Phaeded wrote:Marco,
I partially agree with Dummet on whether “the sequence as a sequence has any special symbolic meaning. I am inclined to think that it did not”; but I do not believe the subjects chosen were “random” - there had to be a source that accounts for at least 21 subjects, specifically a 3X7 structure (with the "zero" card, Fool, tacked on). More on that some other time.
Hello Phaeded,
to me it seems meaningful that the three cards appear in this obvious chronological order. If they appeared in a different order, we would find in tarot a different, less understandable, story. The sequence of the three concepts Love, Fortune and Death represents a sketch of human life: the initial happiness of youth represented by Love, then the turn of the wheel of Fortune, finally Death, the unavoidable ending. I think that the verses summarizing Pierre Michault's poem make the point rather clearly.

This tripartite structure is expanded in tarot:
(a) the successes of early life are represented by Love and the Chariot;
(b) the cause of the downturn is the joint action of Time (the Hermit) and Fortune;
(c) the tragic ending of life is represented by Treason (the Hanged Man) and Death.

Another good visual analogue is the Trento Triumph of Love we discussed here. In this case, we find Love, Time and Death, again in the same order in which they appear in Tarot:


Riches, Beauty and Grace lead the chariot.
Sluggishness drives, before the king there are
Anger and Suspect, the king is Love himself who is followed by
slow Time, Pain, sad Shame and dark Death.


For an example of Time and Fortune acting together and delivering man to Death, see this 15th Century illustration posted by Michael Hurst.

In different orderings of the trumps, the two members of (a) and (b) can be switched, and the three virtues appear in different places, mostly in the context of this section. Once the central section of the trumps is recognizing as a representation of the vicissitudes of human life, the virtues can be understood as the qualities required to face such vicissitudes. A relevant parallel is this engraving we recently discussed, which also represents an allegory of human life and death and includes the virtues as the guides to the salvation of the soul.

Since this section represents human life, it must end with Death, which invariably is the last of the six allegories listed in (a), (b) and (c) above.
Phaeded wrote:At all events, I found this line from the poem you found of interest in regard to the head scarf sometimes referred to as a “banderole” about Death’s skull in the CY and PMB:
Love, fortune and death, blind and blindfolded,
The Viscotni-Sforza Death cards seem to have lifted the blinding scarf above the eyes, up onto the forehead, to indicate Death is no longer blind, thereby implying he is directing his arrows and/or scythe (meanwhile Eros remains blind with his arrows). Why?
Image
Image
I don't know the answer to your question. I have asked myself the meaning of Death's headband, but I don't remember finding an explanation for it. I think that, of the triad Love, Fortune and Death, Death is the one that is most commonly represented as non blind, whereas Love is blindfolded most of the times.

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#5
mikeh wrote:it would be nice to know how old the sequence Love-Fortune-Death is, in other contexts.
Hello Mike,
I think it is difficult to say how old this sequence is, i.e. to make a sensible hypothesis about the earliest occurrence of this triad. Love and Death are an ancient pair, dating back at least to classical Greece. So the element to investigate is Fortune, which, in the form present in the tarot, I think was more or less invented by Boethius (VI Century CE).

Much of Petrarch's work could be seen as related to this triad. It certainly is centered on Love (his Love for Laura) and (Laura's) Death. Fortune also is an important concept in his work. See for instance sonnet 274:


Datemi pace, o duri miei pensieri:
non basta ben ch'Amor, Fortuna et Morte
mi fanno guerra intorno e 'n su le porte,
senza trovarmi dentro altri guerreri?

Et tu, mio cor, anchor se' pur qual eri,
disleal a me sol, che fere scorte
vai ricettando, et se' fatto consorte
de' miei nemici sí pronti et leggieri?

In te i secreti suoi messaggi Amore,
in te spiega Fortuna ogni sua pompa,
et Morte la memoria di quel colpo

che l'avanzo di me conven che rompa;
in te i vaghi pensier' s'arman d'errore:
perché d'ogni mio mal te solo incolpo.


[here "Fortuna" is translated as "Fate"]:

O harsh thoughts of mine, grant me peace:
is it not enough that Love, Fate and Death
make war on me around, and at, the gates,
without me finding other battles within?
 
And you, my heart, are you still what you were,
disloyal only to me, receiving wild company,
and forging alliances, so quickly
and so readily with my enemies?
 
In you Love hides his secret messages,
in you Fate reveals all his triumph,
and Death the memory of that blow
 
that must shatter all my advances:
in you wrong thought arms itself with error:
so I charge you alone with all my ills.


Michael J. Hurst has often mentioned Petrarch's “De Remediis Utriusque Fortunae” (Remedies for Fortune Fair and Foul) as an important text. I guess that the black and white sides of Fortune's face in Michault's illustration correspond to Fair Fortune and Foul Fortune. Similarly, Petrarch mentions Happy Love as an example of Fair Fortune (I, 69, De Gratis Amoribus) and Death as an example of Foul Fortune (II, 119, De Morte).

Another work mentioned by Michael Hurst is the Amorosa Visione (Vision of Love) by Boccace. According to Wikipedia: “It tells of a dream in which the poet sees, in sequence, the triumphs of Wisdom, Earthly Glory, Wealth, Love, all-destroying Fortune (and her servant Death)”.

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#6
Marco wrote:
to me it seems meaningful that the three cards appear in this obvious chronological order. If they appeared in a different order, we would find in tarot a different, less understandable, story.
But we are dealing with an object whose very reason for being is to be constantly shuffled into new sequences. To quote the Lizard King: "The world becomes an apparently infinite, yet possibly finite, card game. Image combinations, permutations, comprise the world game."

To put the most obvious and most lasting use of the cards aside - to be played as a game - I find it too tempting not to explore the trumps as something that was not also used as a didactic tool for young princes. Randomly dealt hands can be turned into a story regarding the condition of the realm that the prince and his humanist tutor could expand upon in numerous topoi (what Italo Calvino does in his tarot-inspired novel, The Castle of Crossed Destinies). Exhibit 1 is of course the trionfi made expressly for the young princes of the d'Este house in the early 1440s. Trionfo then as a continuation of the 'mirror for princes' genre - going back to Vincent of Beauvais' Speculum Maius (The Great Mirror), the compendium of all of the knowledge of the Middle Ages, comprised of three parts: the Speculum Naturale, Speculum Doctrinale and Speculum Historiale. I've pointed out many times where the World card seems connected to Prudence and her mirror (see especially my 07 Feb 2013, 10:22, reference to a Visconti Hours illumination here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=917&p=13644&hilit= ... rld#p13644 ), Prudence's mirror attribute directly referencing the speculum genre of literature. The cards then as an abridged encyclopaedia - an illustrated mirror of the world - with which a ruler's children played the "world game" before taking the reigns of power themselves.

Put another way: was the sequence (of which we have at least 3 different traditions) as meaningful as "fortune's" juxtaposition of cards dealt out in a hand, whether in a ludic or literary context?

Phaeded

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#7
Phaeded wrote:But we are dealing with an object whose very reason for being is to be constantly shuffled into new sequences.
Yes, for most English-speaking Tarot enthusiasts the trumps are a tool for fortune-telling, and in fortune-telling their purpose is to be randomized. It doesn't matter whether or not they have any ranking at all. For New Age followers of the prophet Jung, the trumps are a tool for psychological projection and, again, their purpose is most commonly served by their being randomized.

Many other Tarot enthusiasts are not fortune-tellers or New Age believers but still have no idea what the cards were intended for or what their figures represent. Some of them are just incorrigible story-tellers who may present a different fiction every month, ranging from the alchemical to the zodiacal, from numerology to Gnosticism, from wedding commemorations to the celebration of military victories. Few of these infinite possible interpretations require a defined sequence, and it's much easier and more fun for the story-tellers to ignore the order of the cards.

In fact, believe it or not, the Major Arcana were originally trumps for a card game. The only way they can serve as trumps is if everyone playing the game knows the ranking. Therefore, the trump cycle's "very reason for being", to serve as trumps in a card game, requires them to be a ranked hierarchy, just as the suit cards are ranked in order to play any trick-taking game.
Phaeded wrote:I find it too tempting not to explore the trumps as something that was not also used as a didactic tool for young princes.
Indeed, some of us are well past the initial exploratory phase. That didactic design is what some of us have been explaining, in detail, for over a decade now. However, it is precisely the order which conveys the meaning, which allows us to rule out some meanings and confirm others.

Again, if one simply wishes to make up 21st-century story of one's own preference, it is best to throw away the sequence. That leaves the fantasist unconstrained in making up their own stories. But for anyone with an interest in the story told by Tarot, the 15th-century story created by Italian Roman Catholics, they will need to respect the actual design of the game -- especially including the order of the cards. This was one of the most important insights presented by Dummett: historically, the iconographic question concerns the sequence of the trumps. Taking the cards out of context and making up stories has no value in terms of historical explanation.

It may be worthwhile to reiterate an alternative to the fortune-telling, Rorschach-test approach of the tens of thousands of would-be Calvinos who just make up a story..., and then make up a different one the next week. The ordered series of subjects do constitute a speculum principis. The many different orderings in early Italian decks were analyzed by Michael Dummett, who discerned and explained their common structure. The story told by the ranked hierarchy is a moral allegory, with three distinct sections. The lowest trumps, from the Emperor and Pope down, represented Mankind. This is paralleled in hundreds of other works of didactic art. Most of those works include the Emperor and Pope as the highest-ranking figures, and they vary wildly in the other figures which may be represented. However, recognizing the general design of this pervasive motif enables us to interpret the unique specifics in a reasonable manner.

The middle trumps, as Marco has been patiently explaining, generally show successes in love and war as the lower-ranked allegories; the inevitable reversals of Time and Fortune in the center; culminating in downfall, represented by Betrayal and Death. This is the basic narrative arc of Boccaccio's De Casibus, which was extended and revised into the famous Mirror for Magistrates tradition. It can be viewed in terms of an Ages of Man motif or in terms of the Wheel of Fortune. In either case, it is a vitae humanae design, reflecting man's lot in this life. In one fashion or another, these circumstances of fickle Fortune were combined with the three Moral Virtues. In the Tarot de Marseille ordering, each pair of circumstances, good or bad, were triumphed over by the most appropriate of the virtues, creating a neatly structured pattern in the tradition of Petrarch's De Remediis. The highest-ranking trumps include the two striking eschatological triumphs of Revelation 20, over the Devil and over Death, along with the signa coeli.

Is every deck the same? Certainly not. Are all of the details unarguably clear? Certainly not. Tarot is a unique work, and the surviving examples are complex and varied. But anyone who insists that the only parallels which matter are those which exactly match is a fool. Artists create new works based on old themes every day. Tarot was a complex and novel work, but it is based on very conventional themes, and it was executed using mostly conventional subjects. The overall design is apparent, and it is just such a mirror for princes. It is also a universal story, a mirror for Mankind, as the triumphs and downfall of princes are, by extension, applicable to Everyman.

As long as I'm posting, let me mention that the ribbon on Death's head is a crown, a Hellenistic diadem. Wikipedia notes:
A diadem is a type of crown, specifically an ornamental headband worn by Eastern monarchs and others as a badge of royalty. The word derives from the Greek διάδημα diádēma, "band" or "fillet",[1] from διαδέω diadéō, "I bind round", or "I fasten". The term originally referred to the embroidered white silk ribbon, ending in a knot and two fringed strips often draped over the shoulders, that surrounded the head of the king to denote his authority. Such ribbons were also used to crown victorious athletes in important sports games in antiquity.
It is therefore a symbol of triumph, like a wreath or a king's crown. In that sense it parallels many other examples of a crowned Death figure. The ribbon/diadem is unusual, but a crowned Death figure, often the rider on a pale horse, is pretty common. Again, parallels need not be exact to be informative.

The diadem is also a symbol of extreme power, because of the famous story of Mark Anthony offering the diadem to Caesar after the victory over Pompey. There are some works of art illustrating that, sometimes using different forms of crown. The diadem does turn up occasionally in other works of art, including a couple that I've commented on.

Bellini's Pagan Allegory
http://pre-gebelin.blogspot.com/2009/04 ... egory.html

Mors Omnia Aequat
http://pre-gebelin.blogspot.com/2008/05 ... d-out.html

Blunder and Bullshit
http://pre-gebelin.blogspot.com/2008/05 ... lshit.html

It also shows up on ancient coins and sculptures, but since it just looks like a headband it is usually ignored.

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

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#8
Marco wrote,
Much of Petrarch's work could be seen as related to this triad. It certainly is centered on Love (his Love for Laura) and (Laura's) Death. Fortune also is an important concept in his work. See for instance sonnet 274:
Datemi pace, o duri miei pensieri:
non basta ben ch'Amor, Fortuna et Morte
mi fanno guerra intorno e 'n su le porte,
senza trovarmi dentro altri guerreri?
...
[here "Fortuna" is translated as "Fate"]:

O harsh thoughts of mine, grant me peace:
is it not enough that Love, Fate and Death
make war on me around, and at, the gates,
without me finding other battles within?
...
Michael J. Hurst has often mentioned Petrarch's “De Remediis Utriusque Fortunae” (Remedies for Fortune Fair and Foul) as an important text. I guess that the black and white sides of Fortune's face in Michault's illustration correspond to Fair Fortune and Foul Fortune. Similarly, Petrarch mentions Happy Love as an example of Fair Fortune (I, 69, De Gratis Amoribus) and Death as an example of Foul Fortune (II, 119, De Morte).

Another work mentioned by Michael Hurst is the Amorosa Visione (Vision of Love) by Boccace. According to Wikipedia: “It tells of a dream in which the poet sees, in sequence, the triumphs of Wisdom, Earthly Glory, Wealth, Love, all-destroying Fortune (and her servant Death)”.
Yes, excellent, Marco. That's the kind of context that makes sense for the tarot--Boccaccio and Petrarch.

I have been thinking about what Cupid blindfolded vs. not blindfolded might mean, as we see the contrast in the CY/PMB vs. Charles VI. The "Triumph of Love" paintings and engravings are no help. Some have him blindfolded, some don't. Petrarch in the Trionfi doesn't say one way or the other, that I can find. One must assume his eyes are open.

I found a drawing of Cupid shooting his arrow from the precise time, place, and artist as the Cary-Yale,or at least the PMB (Camille Medieval Art of Love p. 41). Here he has his eyes open:

Image


I form a hypothesis. When love's physical eyes are blinded, then the mental eyes can be opened. Cupid fires Lancelot with carnal love. But the love on the CY Love card is spiritual or mental, i.e. with discernment, as befitting a marriage, which needs to be long-lasting, as opposed to a fling in the changing world of the senss and the body.

This hypothesis is supported by the next card in the series (in the C order at least), the Chariot (http://a-tarot.eu/test/cary-yale-chariot.jpg). One horse is tumultuous, the other controlled by the groom. The reference is probably to the recently translated section of Plato's Phaedrus, with its two horses, a tumultuous one held back by the other and the Charioteer, but now holding the reins from below instead of, in the dialogue, on the chariot. Reason here has his feet on the ground, as we say.

In the Phaedrus, it is the base horse of the appetites that draws the charioteer toward sensuous beauty, and which the charioteer and the noble horse restrain with difficulty. It is the eyes that are operating here. But the sight brings to the charioteer's mind the memory of true Beauty, which he had seen before he entered this world. Correspondingly, a beautiful woman is on top of the CY Chariot, with the dove of love, or turtledove of faithfulness, as part of her dowry. She is the image of archetypal Beauty, which is also the Chastity of Petrarch's Trionfi. In the Phaedrus, she exists in the archetypal world, but also has images down below.

Further confirmation is in the PMB, in which the two horses have wings (at left in http://www.letarot.it/cgi-bin/pages/sag ... 7pmbcy.jpg). In the Phaedrus, the horses have wings in the archetypal world and lose them when they descend to earth. The one in the CY is the image of Chastity, then, since the horses don't have wings and one needs to be restrained. The CY man and woman are the same as in the Love card, loving each other with their minds, even though the archetypal beauty, masculine and feminine (as pictured in the PMB), shines as well in their bodies.

We see this also in Botticelli's La Primavera (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primavera_%28painting%29). A blindfolded Cupid aims his arrow carefully at the middle of the Graces, identified by Edgar Wind (Pagan Mysteries of the Renaissance p. 117) as Castitas, Chastity, who gazes upon Mercury, god of reason.

In the Charles VI, as I said earlier, the unblindfolded Cupids fire their arrows into a party atmosphere of sensory grace but nothing mental or spiritual. In this deck, likewise, the Charioteer is a warrior, like Mars, dedicated to victory in the world of the senses and of the heart in the sense of courage (the center at http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5e7P4Y3Wo3w/S ... hariot.jpg; the others are the "Mantegna" Mars and the Rothschild sheet's Chariot). In the artwork of chivalry, such warriors are shown kneeling in front of their ladies in chains or ropes (Camille p. 11).
Image

as also in the Rosenwald Lover or the Schifanoia image, minus the ropes.

This is the Love of Petrarch's Trionfi. His examples are Antony and Cleopatra and so on. The eyes, which see physical beauty, are the instruments of these chains. And so we have the open-eyed Erotes of Botticelli's Mars and Venus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_and_V ... ticelli%29) and various examples of Venus Victrix (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5e7P4Y3Wo3w/T ... aVenus.jpg).

It is like Lancelot and Geneviere in the Bembo drawing. We see Lancelot's physical beauty, which Geneviere gazes at, while he, wounded and fired in the genitals, gazes at her. Or a medieval illumination in which Love shoots the lady in the eyes, with a shaft that pierces also the lover, skewering them together (Camille p. 40).

Image


This I think is the context of the Charles VI. It, at least in its Love and Chariot, is made for a youth. It fits the lines of Shakespeare's famous "All the world's a stage" speech, describing the male in juvenetas and adolescencia, the spheres of Venus and Mars (he starts with the Moon and ends with Saturn):
...And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth...
The other, the CY or PMB, has in mind a mature couple, in wisdom if not in years, or at least, in the CY where he controls the reins, a mature male. The CY and PMB have an allegorical meaning in relation to the Phaedrus and its Beauty/Chastity and Reason, as well as to the planets Venus and Mars at their best. The Charles VI is related to the same planets, as images of the "children of the planets" show (e.g. http://www.billyandcharlie.com/planets/planetsbook.html), but more in terms of the stages of life. The next stage, in Shakespeare's poem, is the Justice (Shakespeare's Sun; see http://poetry.rapgenius.com/William-sha ... rics#lyric), and then a man past his prime, who scholars think was influenced by Giordiano Bruno's depiction of Jupiter in [iTriumphant Beast[/i]. but also bears visual resemblance to Saturn (and the ancient pun Chronos/Cronos).

There were probably different correspondences. It was a literary and artistic convention, if not more, in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, to see life as a progression through domination by one planet after another, as Shakespeare's speech and other examples show--but in various orders (for example, Shakespeare goes from Venus to Mars, skipping the Sun until later) and perhaps more than one planet operating at any one time, as in life. People were accustomed to rich, elusive allegory; it wasn't simple one-to-one correspondences, as were striven for in the 18th century (much less sets of them, as with the Golden Dawn). I'm not sure how all the cards in this part of the sequence would work in this type of schema; there are various possibilities, from the point of view of ethical instruction and historical references (I've been expounding on these topics on the Popess thread, starting at viewtopic.php?f=23&t=385&start=90#p14231).

I certainly enjoy the differences among these representations of the same cards in the sequence.

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#9
Michael Hurst,
Is there a reason you have to persist with your long-winded diatribes regarding New Age beliefs? I don’t think anyone on this thread subscribes to those beliefs – least of all me. The Calvino reference was to extempore literary practices (he simply made up stories based on the random juxtaposition of cards), not fortune telling.

I also did not deny there was a sequence; instead I questioned its significance:
was the sequence (of which we have at least 3 different traditions) as meaningful as "fortune's" juxtaposition of cards dealt out in a hand, whether in a ludic or literary context?
To suggest that Quattrocento culture would be satisfied with the rote memorization of a sequence as the meaning of an iconographical puzzle is to belittle that learned humanist culture back into it’s medieval predecessor culture.

The earliest trionfi-like deck we know of came with these concluding prefatory remarks from its humanist creator: “…since through the keeness of your own acumen you dedicated several to be noted and celebrated Heroes, renowned models of virtue, whom mighty greatness made gods, as well as to ensure their remembrance by posterity. Thus by observation of them, be ready to be aroused to virtue” (Marziano to F. Visconti, Ross’s translation). While there is an overall hierarchy of the 16 “celestial gods” what was important for Marziano to communicate was the meditation of the individual hero-cum-god as a classical exemplar (and while the VS cards are generally late international gothic there are classicizing attempts such as the Fortitude card in the PMB).

Right after the Anghiari deck for Malaesta and the CY deck with a presumed date of 1441, we find decks painted for Leonello d'Este and the Este princes Ercole and Sigismondo. We find the d’Este humanist, Guarino, just like the Visconti humanist, conveying a very similar message in his wedding gift to Leonello in 1435, a translation of Plutarch’s Lysander & Sulla, in which he states in the dedicatory letter: “And you should certainly not let it disturb you, most humane prince, that among the things worth recording about these generals you will meet with some cruel deeds….The cruelties as well as the honourable traits of their (i.e. Lysander’s and Sulla’s) characters I hold up to you as a mirror, that you may imitate the good when you see it, and avoid and detest the vices….” (Marianne Pade, The Reception of Plutarch's Lives in Fifteenth-century Italy[/i], 2007: 249).

Classical exemplars were the principal mirror for princes but the forces/virtues/vices of the world in which they operated was also laid out before them, like original encyclopedic speculum works; Guarino himself outlined the program for the Muses at Belfiore for the d’Este. A prince behaved like a Scipio or Caesar within an updated model of the world – I argue that trionfi were such a species of representation of the major facets of the world. The thematic meaning of each trump could be juxtaposed with any other trump - a contextual meaning, much less the primary meaning of the “trump-in-itself”, would hardly be restricted in terms of the serial order necessary for the mere trump-taking of the ludic game. To return to the giant upon whose shoulders you have fallen off on this point: whether “the sequence as a sequence has any special symbolic meaning. I am inclined to think that it did not.”
mjhurst wrote:
the ribbon on Death's head is a crown, a Hellenistic diadem.

I find it unlikely that Ptolemaic and Seleucid coins were making the rounds in Italy by 1450 with any regularity, when in fact there was preoccupation with Roman coins, mirrored in the Scipio-Caesar debate. Moreover you presume a widespread iconographic understanding of the Hellenistic diadem which I find unlikely in light of the continuing depiction of the classical gods in medieval costumes throughout the 15thcentury (e.g., Saturn/time in the early tarot cannot be said to be classical; his PMB hat some Byzantine approximation). And there are crowns throughout the decks - why introduce a Hellenistic crown only for Death?

Marco provided a source that clearly shows that Fortune, Love and Death could be collectively shown as blindfolded and given two of the three are blindfolded in the VS decks, its begs the question as to why the third, Death, is not blindfolded. Not only is he not blindfolded in the CY deck but eyeballs have been restored to the skull with which he looks downwards at his victims. At all events the flowing of the ends of the blindfold - not a diadem – can often be found on Eros:
Image

Phaeded

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#10
mikeh wrote:This hypothesis is supported by the next card in the series (in the C order at least), the Chariot (http://a-tarot.eu/test/cary-yale-chariot.jpg). One horse is tumultuous, the other controlled by the groom. The reference is probably to the recently translated section of Plato's Phaedrus, with its two horses, a tumultuous one held back by the other and the Charioteer, but now holding the reins from below instead of, in the dialogue, on the chariot. Reason here has his feet on the ground, as we say.
Hello Mike,
when I read things like this I often wonder about their origin. In the case of the Platonic “Chariot of the soul”, I found that it has been associated with the tarot card by John Opsopaus (“a life-long Pagan dedicated to the Gods of the Greek, Roman and Etruscan pantheons”) in 1996. Opsopaus seems to mention Plato only as an inspiration for his own creation, the Pythagorean Tarot, and does not impose this idea on ancient tarot. I think occultists made the association before. Do you remember where you got this idea from?

Anyway, why do you think that the Cary-Yale Chariot “probably” derives from Plato's Phaedrus? The primary meaning of the card is “triumph” (as explained by Gertrude Moakley and Michael Hurst, and documented in ancient sources such as Pietro Aretino and Francesco Piscina).
The secondary meaning is an allegory of Chastity (as explained again by Michael). Is it really probable that there is a heterogeneous tertiary meaning derived from Plato?
And how does the tertiary meaning fit with the sequence? In the De Casibus (I, 103, De Victoria) triumphing over one's enemies is listed as one of the examples of Fair Fortune. Chastity trumping Love is an echo of Petrarch's Triumphs. But why should a representation of the soul's conflicts appear in this particular position?
I think that the possibilities of a Platonic tertiary meaning are quite small, less than 30%.

The oldest image of Phaedrus' chariot I have found dates to 1566 (an emblem by Adamo Scultori for the Accademia degli Eterei) and is very close to Plato's text:
* the horses are running (denoting the difficulty of driving them);
* there is a single person in the chariot (according to Plato, the soul is made of three elements: two horses and a charioteer);
* the charioteer is holding the bridles;
* the chariot is winged, denoting it as an allegory;
* one of the horses is black, the other is white;
* one of the two horses is headed down, the other is headed up.
eterei300.jpg
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Also a later image, however less faithful to the Phaedrus, is reasonably close to Plato's text (“La spada di honore”, 1672).
* the horses are running (denoting the difficulty of driving them);
* the charioteer (Reason) and the Soul are both on the chariot;
* they are winged, in order to denote them as allegories;
* the charioteer has the whip mentioned by Plato;
* one of the two horses is headed down, the other is headed up.
spad2.jpg
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How “probable” is it that an image lacking these features is related to Plato's Phaedrus?
In the card we have:
* no wings;
* a person that seems to be driving one of the horses, but who is outside the chariot;
* no whip;
* a chariot that seems not to be in motion;
* no horse heading down;
* no black horse.
By the way, in the Visconti-Sforza we have winged horses, but they are identical, so it seems obvious to me that they cannot represented the duality discussed by Plato.
I think that a representation of Phaedrus' chariot without any of the above distinctive features is unrecognizable. Those cards would be a very poor representation of Plato's myth. In my opinion, the probabilities that this was an intended meaning are less than 10%.

Finally, do we have examples of the Italian iconography of Phaedrus' “chariot of the soul” in 1450 ca?
As far as I know, such an ichonographic tradition is undocumented at that time, but I may be wrong. So, being in doubt, I estimate the probabilities of images of this subject at that time as a 50%.

30%*10%*50%= 1.5% ... I would not call this “probable”, but rather “not completely impossible”.

Something is probable if it is supported by evidence, but this is not the case with this idea, unless you can provide images that unambiguously illustrate Plato's myth and are chronologically and visually much closer to Bembo's cards.

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