Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#11
Thanks for the thoughtful query, Marco, I admit I wasn't thinking about the Cary-Yale when I first connected the Phaedrus to the Chariot card. I didn't see it in the Cary-Yale til much later. At first it was just the Noblet. In fact, I still have the online course that Jean-Michel David offered in 2007 that got me going on tarot history;he elucidated the Noblet in terms of the Phaedrus myth. On that card one horse is dark (not "black") and the other is light, just like in the myth. When I re-read the Phaedrus, in several translations, along with a bunch of commentaries the interpretation made sense.
Image

It seems to me that on the original the red horse was darker than Flornoy made it. I include the Cary Sheet because that's the first known card in that style.

I don't think one should compare the card with what some artist drew in a different century, illustrating a different part of the allegory. What was available in 1441 was the Plato, newly translated and causing a furor, because of homoerotic imagery (easily edited out). I will give a little of it. It is very complex, many parts. I hope I will give enough. If not, you can go to http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/phaedrus.html. It's an old translation, reliable in some parts and not others. I read several translations, as well as commentaries. Probably there is a better version in Italian. I can't imagine reading Plato in a foreign language!
Here is what Plato says, related to the Noblet image:
The right-hand horse is upright and cleanly made: he has a lofty neck and an aquiline nose: his colour is white, and his eyes dark; he is a lover of honour and modesty and temperance, and the follower of true glory; he needs no touch of the whip, but is guided by word and admonition only. The other is a crooked lumbering animal, put together anyhow; he has a short thick neck; he is flat-faced and of a dark colour, with grey eyes and blood-red complexion; the mate of insolence and pride, shag-eared and deaf, hardly yielding to whip and spur.
From scholarly discussions of the Phaedrus (not presently at hand), I understand that it is not exactly clear what the Greek word sometimes translated as "black" (*dark" here) actually means; it might be "dun." I remember once in Catalonia (Figueres, actually), in a restaurant I was trying to clarify what kind of wine I was ordering, and the waiter pointed to his black shoes while saying the word in Catalan. We got a red wine. So we have the two horses, one darker than the other. Since the darker one is hot-blooded, and even with a "blood-red complexion", it is natural to paint him red, which is more interesting than black and conveys his hot-bloodedness. Some Tarot de Marseille decks painted the two horses the same color. I assumed that they hadn't realized the significance of the colors.

Jean-Michele also quoted the Republic, Book IV, with its three-part division of the soul, Reason as the controller, a Spirited part as the part that wants to do noble deeds and is ashamed of the ignoble, and Appetite as the rest, pertaining to the physical aspects of life. So Reason sits on top, and the two horses are the Noble and the Ignoble, i.e. Spirit and Appetite. The three together equal the soul. (The three parts of the soul also correspond to three of the cardinal virtues, which are floating around here somewhere, but that's another issue.)

In the Noblet there are no reins. The Charioteer, Reason, commands the noble horse with his voice. As for the ignoble one, well, that's a another part, which I'll get to next. The horses used to have wings, but they lost them. That's an earlier part of the story. I'll get to that later.

After the part I just quoted, the text gets difficult, and Jowett isn't the best translation, so I will paraphrase. What happens is that the three of them see the Beloved in the distance, who is not described. but has to be a person with a beautiful body, spirit, and mind. The unruly horse lunges forward and won't be dissuaded from following his lust. The charioteer and the noble horse actually yield temporarily to that horse, and then the charioteer, seeing him or her up close, remembers the archetypal Beauty he had seen among the gods when the horses had wings and he was still in the heavens. He and the noble horse are both filled with awe and respect, and they manage to force the ignoble horse to back off.. In this part there is a graphic description of how the charioteer has to pull so hard on the bridle that the unruly horse's mouth is filled with blood. (The ironic part is that the charioteer would never have remembered Beauty without the ignoble horse's lust.) Finally:
...when this has happened several times and the villain has ceased from his wanton way, he is tamed and humbled, and follows the will of the charioteer, and when he sees the beautiful one he is ready to die of fear. And from that time forward the soul of the lover follows the beloved in modesty and holy fear.
"Modesty" applies to the noble horse, "holy fear" to the ignoble one. That result, once the ignoble horse is tamed, is what is pictured on the Noblet, the ignoble horse following the lead of the noble horse with its head (even though the body wants to go elsewhere) and the noble horse listening to the words of the charioteer.
Image

The Noblet really does the best job of illustrating the triumph of the charioteer, reason and spirit over appetite.
But as I looked at other historical versions of the card, I could see the same thing, more or less. In the Issy, which Ross says Thierry Depaulis dates to 1450, there are the same two colors, although the horses have riders and the woman, the beloved, is now on top. Perhaps this is a card to commemorate a marriage or betrothal. The four ladies surrounding her point up, down, and make other gestures. I think they represent the four elements, and the lady in the middle the Quintessence, which was the result of the Rubedo in alchemy (I explain at viewtopic.php?f=12&t=31&start=30#p13823). Ross says (quoted there, from that thread):
There is a canopy over her head. It's tempting to consider it a "marriage" chariot, with all the symbolism that implies (after love, comes marriage, hence chastity/modesty, good qualities in a wife). For what it's worth, Bianca Maria was married in red, "her zodiacal color" (as noted by Pizzagalli - BM was an Aries. Leonello is also noted as considering the color of the planet for the day of the week in choosing his clothing, so symbolism like this might really be present). I don't know if this is Bianca Maria, but the clothing is outstandingly red.
Image

Above, the Catelin Geoffrey is on the right. The groom is Reason, on top is a Saturn-type (as Wisdom, Ficino's theme). Plato in his allegory personifies the horses. In those days, they didn't have Walt Disney's animated animals. To convey the personification aspect, the artist put grooms on or by the horses. On the Cary-Yale, the ignoble horse is on the groom's right and is insolently rearing its front legs. That's how the artist depicted the difference between the two horses, as opposed to the different colors. Maybe the designer had instructed different colors and the artist, seeing the beautiful lady on top, thought it should be two white horses, I don't know. The problem is that there are three messages being conveyed at once in the card: one is of the soul and its three parts; another of the respect, out of fear and modesty, for the beloved, now on top; the third is of a marriage or betrothal commemoration, in which the bridegroom, or perhaps her father if before marriage, traditionally leads the woman to her new home. The CY card assumes the Love card that came before, the heraldics in that card and the whole deck, and a Visconti tradition of betrothal or marriage commemorations in the form of illuminations on paper that refer indirectly to the bride and groom, as Kirsch has amply demonstrated in Five Manuscripts of Galeazzo Visconti, and discussed over many of my posts at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=917.

Now about wings, in reference to the PMB card. Here is where Plato introduces the wings:
The soul in her totality has the care of inanimate being everywhere, and traverses the whole heaven in divers forms appearing--when perfect and fully winged she soars upward, and orders the whole world; whereas the imperfect soul, losing her wings and drooping in her flight at last settles on the solid ground-there, finding a home, she receives an earthly frame which appears to be self-moved, but is really moved by her power; and this composition of soul and body is called a living and mortal creature...The wing is the corporeal element which is most akin to the divine, and which by nature tends to soar aloft and carry that which gravitates downwards into the upper region, which is the habitation of the gods. The divine is beauty, wisdom, goodness, and the like; and by these the wing of the soul is nourished, and grows apace; but when fed upon evil and foulness and the opposite of good, wastes and falls away.
And finally about the upper world, where the gods live, and also, once every ten thousand years, the souls of those who are less than gods and who do not have the horses of the gods:
But of the heaven which is above the heavens, what earthly poet ever did or ever will sing worthily? It is such as I will describe; for I must dare to speak the truth, when truth is my theme. There abides the very being with which true knowledge is concerned; the colourless, formless, intangible essence, visible only to mind, the pilot of the soul. The divine intelligence, being nurtured upon mind and pure knowledge, and the intelligence of every soul which is capable of receiving the food proper to it, rejoices at beholding reality, and once more gazing upon truth, is replenished and made glad, until the revolution of the worlds brings her round again to the same place. In the revolution she beholds justice, and temperance, and knowledge absolute, not in the form of generation or of relation, which men call existence, but knowledge absolute in existence absolute; and beholding the other true existences in like manner, and feasting upon them, she passes down into the interior of the heavens and returns home; and there the charioteer putting up his horses at the stall, gives them ambrosia to eat and nectar to drink.
Such beings as these--justice, temperance, and the like--have two noble winged steeds. That is what is pictured on the PMB. The souls that descend to earth are different. From their chariots, they get a view (but not their horses) of such beloved archetypes once in ten thousand years, unless at some point they live the life of a philosopher or a lover inflicted with divine madness. But they have one horse that is ignoble and pulls them down (that's the part that your 16th century illustrators depicted), and in so doing the horses lose their wings and it is only with great difficulty, pain, and resistance that they can get them back.

Image

I hope now you can see the relevance of the Phaedrus. One thing about allegories is that they are depicting or describing what cannot be depicted or described, but only hinted at. Plato wasn't writing an ekphrasis, and there are different ways of providing these hints, between language and pictures.

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#12
Some might have thought of Phaedrus, others not.

Generally we have the choice of the name "Trionfi" (likely taken from Petrarca, not from Socrates or Platon) at a "nearly" given time (short before September 1440). And the triumphal festivities, which developed to become a fashion in the time, insisted often on the use of chariots. This dominated, and in the case of early decks with female charioteers the "bride journey" seems to have been an important factor.

But you note something of interest.
Mikeh wrote: " What was available in 1441 was the Plato, newly translated and causing a furor, because of homoerotic imagery (easily edited out)."
Who translated and when precisely? I don't know it.

If we assume, that the fashion "Trionfi" (as cards and and as triumphal festivities) prepared in the late 1430s, based mainly on Petrarca, naturally somehow similar scenes (as for instance "Phaedrus") in literature would have become popular with the same action.
Likely it had been part of the increasing Trionfi fashion, that a lot of Greek scholars attended, who remembered reading about the great Trionfi in Constantinople in its good times. These stories likely inspired the Italian minds and likely everything about horses and chariots gained interests.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#13
mikeh wrote: I don't think one should compare the card with what some artist drew in a different century, illustrating a different part of the allegory.
Hello Mike, I think it is obviously essential to compare tarot cards with other illustrations of similar subjects. Of course, one cannot explain tarot in terms of tarot :)

If illustrations from a different century are the only available, one must use them, or conclude that the subject has nothing to do with tarot.
By the way, which is the oldest French or Italian illustration of the myth you have found in the course of your research on the subject? Would you be so kind to share it with us? I am looking forward to see some better visual documents than the two I have posted!

Anyway, the 1672 image I attached is chronologically close to the 1650 Noblet, and it seems to me both faithful to Plato's words and completely different from Noblet's card (in which the chariot seems almost immobile). So I think that Noblet's chariot is not an illustration of Plato's myth.

Image


Two quiet horses with different colors do not make an illustration of the Chariot of the Soul (think of the 1350 ca Chariot of the Moon in Angera, which certainly has nothing to do with Phaedrus).
angera.jpg
angera.jpg (35.17 KiB) Viewed 4707 times
The Cary-Yale chariot represents a quiet white horse with a man next to it or riding it and a rearing white horse: this is not the case with Plato's myth, in which the charioteer is on the chariot and the two horses have different colors. This is a slow triumphal chariot with a canopy on it, it cannot appropriately represent the troubled journey of the chariot of the soul described by Plato (whereas the two engravings I proposed reasonably illustrate the dynamism of the scene). In my opinion, there is absolutely no need of Plato to understand this card. A rearing horse is not enough to illustrate Plato's myth. That detail must be irrelevant or have another explanation.
mikeh wrote:Maybe the designer had instructed different colors and the artist, seeing the beautiful lady on top, thought it should be two white horses, I don't know.
This is 100% pure fantasy. A wildly irrational statement. You are making things up.

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#14
hi phaeded,

just a remark to ...
Phaeded wrote: 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.
It seems unlikely to me, that the deck for the brothers Ercole and Sigismondo was painted for them. It's likely a deck bought on the playing card market. The price is too low to assume a production specific for Ercole and Sigismondo (1/8th of the price of the decks made for Leonello, perhaps a value of 20 soldi in Florence at this time).

Further there's the clear indication in the document, that this deck was bought from the Bolognese merchant Marchione Burdochio and a servant is mentioned, who bought it.
So it hardly was made with educated aspects, as you suspected somewhere else earlier in the last days.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#15
Huck wrote,
Some might have thought of Phaedrus, others not.

Generally we have the choice of the name "Trionfi" (likely taken from Petrarca, not from Socrates or Platon) at a "nearly" given time (short before September 1440). And the triumphal festivities, which developed to become a fashion in the time, insisted often on the use of chariots. This dominated, and in the case of early decks with female charioteers the "bride journey" seems to have been an important factor.

But you note something of interest.
Mikeh wrote: " What was available in 1441 was the Plato, newly translated and causing a furor, because of homoerotic imagery (easily edited out)."
Who translated and when precisely? I don't know it.
Let me be clear that I do not apply this Phaedrus gloss to all instances of the Chariot card, such as the Charles VI, the Rosenwald, the BAR. Just the ones in the Milan succession.

Leonardo Bruni translated, paraphrased and summarized these passages from the Phaedrus in 1424, up through 257C (Michael J. B. Allen, Marsilio Ficino: Commentaries on Plato, Vol. 1, Phaedrus and Ion, p. xii). It was then ""put together" with other Plato translations some time before 1427," according to Hankins, Plato in the Italian Renaissance, pp. 65-66, available on the Web at http://books.google.com/books?id=BLgfAA ... &q&f=false. It then had wide circulation. There and in the following pages Hankins attests to the popularity and controversy around that dialogue. Allen adds (p. xii)
The dialogue certainly figured in Pletho's reconstruction of ancient pagan theology and in the uproar tht swirled around him as a consequence even after his death in 1452.

Pletho's appearance in Italy was in 1439 Florence.

A difficulty for Bruno was that it was impossible to publish a literal translation of the homoerotic parts, in which Plato makes his main points; nor did he want to. As he wrote to the poet Nicola Ceva in 1441,
There are many things in those books repugnant to our customs; things which, for the sake of Plato's honor, it would be preferable to remain silent about than to publicize.

So Bruni did paraphrases, summaries, or partial quotes. Given the controversy, Bruni's clues would have been enough so that anyone with means would have hired someone able to translate the Greek to find out what was there. Censorship evokes a desire to see what was prohibited, as we know. Even Jowett's translation, on the web, is not really accurate in these parts, because in his time, too, it was impossible to publish a literal translation. But it is not far from what Bruni would have done, so I used it. I haven't looked recently to see whether an accurate translation is available on the Web. The last time I checked there wasn't. (Thus I, too, gave a summary, not wanting to spend a lot of time copying out a good translation. I recommend that people read it in their own language. Later in this post I will list the standard page numbers of the passages that I quoted later on, so people find them easily.)

In footnote 85 on p. 68 Hankins gives a list of the passages in the Phaedrus that Bruni left out or summarized. The footnote is continued on p. 69, which is not in the Google Books version of Hankins that comes up for me, The full footnote is:
The major omissions are: 230E-234 (the speech of Lysias); 238E-241 (the second part of Socrates in reply to the speech of Lysias); 242E5-243A2 and 243C2-244A4 (references to homosexuality which Bruni bridges over by paraphrase); 250E-253C (how souls grow wings of love, a difficult passage full of erotic imagery); 257C-279C (the discussion of true and false rhetoric). 253C-256E is only summarized, with the eroticism removed, and a brief, loose rendering of 265A-B is inserted before the passage at 257A-C4, which is used as the ending. A number of single sentences and phrases are also omitted throughout the dialogue, usually in an effort to bowlderize.
The passages I quoted from were first, 253D-E, then 254E-255A, then 247D-E. Only the last, about winged and non-winged souls, did Bruni try to translate faithfully. The others he did in paraphrase and summary; but I would expect that the parts I quoted would be included, since there is nothing particularly erotic there.

Pages 69-70 of Hankins, omitted from Google Books, contain useful information about why Bruni did his translation. He was mainly interested in the nature of "divine possession", as reflected also in his poems of the time. In a letter to Marrasio Siculo, Bruni writes (Hankins pp. 70-71)
The madness of lovers is from Venus, and arises from the contemplation of true Beauty, whose image we gaze at with penetrating sight, amazed at the extreme violence of our senses, and, as though besides ourselves, we are drawn to it with every passion.
The rest of the quote, and the Latin, is on p. 71. Venus here is the chaste, temperate, etc. Beauty of the Phaedrus (now with a sex-change operation), whom I think we also see on the Cary-Yale and PMB (there also referring to a real lady).

Marco wrote,
Hello Mike, I think it is obviously essential to compare tarot cards with other illustrations of similar subjects. Of course, one cannot explain tarot in terms of tarot
Well, you can't compare tarot cards with illustrations of a different part of the allegory. And I don't see why you can't explain one tarot card in terms of another. That's the best kind of comparison, because one artist will reveal parts of the meaning that another artist didn't, and vice versa. There was a tradition here. Illustrators of the Phaedrus itself weren't concerned to represent that tradition, and probably had in their shops copies of . With the tarot, we are like blind men describing an elephant, if you know what I mean. But the most important thing is to compare the cards with what Plato says, because in a way Plato is doing an ekphrasis, giving us a picture; it's just that the most important parts of it are not easy to convey visually.

Marco wrote,
mikeh wrote:
Maybe the designer had instructed different colors and the artist, seeing the beautiful lady on top, thought it should be two white horses, I don't know.
This is 100% pure fantasy. A wildly irrational statement. You are making things up.
I will rephrase it for you, more clearly (I hadn't thought it out fully). Since the lady on top is Beauty/Chastity/Celestial Venus, her chariot properly should have two white, noble horses. Since the groom tending the horses is also Plato's earth-bound charioteer, with earthly as well as noble passions, there have to be a quiet horse and an unruly horse, to show how he is with the noble horse and not the ignoble one, respecting her as a celestial being. (In that way it continues the idea conveyed by Cupid's blindfold in the Love card and in the virtue cards.) The CY Chariot combines 3-4 ideas (ideal Beauty, real lady, real lover/warrior) in one image, a difficult thing that a few cards, such as the Issy, also attempted, but which many, such as the PMB (only two: ideal and real lady) and the Noblet (real lover/warrior) did not.

Added later: I am not sure what you mean by "You are making things up". It seems to me that all I am doing is explicating probable visual metaphors in the Cary-Yale card in terms of ideas current at the time. I can't see how, at this level, it's any different from what you do in explicating Popess imagery; it's just different texts, but at least as realistically grounded in the court and humanist culture of the time.

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#16
mikeh wrote:I am not sure what you mean by "You are making things up". It seems to me that all I am doing is explicating probable visual metaphors in the Cary-Yale card in terms of ideas current at the time. I can't see how, at this level, it's any different from what you do in explicating Popess imagery; it's just different texts, but at least as realistically grounded in the court and humanist culture of the time.
The difference is that you dismiss the visual examples I propose as irrelevant, without suggesting any relevant image yourself. And, above all, when faced with the inconsistency of your ideas, with the documented evidence of the fact that artists can provide good illustrations of Plato's myth, you come up with this solution:

"Maybe the designer had instructed different colors and the artist, seeing the beautiful lady on top, thought it should be two white horses, I don't know."

Bembo's card does not conform to Plato's text, but it's Bembo's fault. He sloppily decided not to follow the instructions that you are making up in your fantasy. For you, it's easier to imagine Bembo ignoring the design than to consider the idea that your theory might be inadequate.

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#18
Great image, Marco.

This page -
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busto_di_g ... con_cammeo
- has a clay bust of the statue, whose identity and dating are a matter of dispute.


http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/carro/claybust.jpg

Image


It does say that the Platonic image exists also on the base of the tomb of Cardinal Antonio and Bernardo Rossellino in the Cappella del Cardinale del Portogallo in the church of San Miniato al Monte in Florence. The date of this tomb is 1461-1466, which, given the obvious dependence of one upon the other, dates the medallion to within those dates too. Bertoldo di Giovanni was born around 1440, but it seems that his authorship of the design is in question too.

Fortunately, somebody ("sailko" - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Sailko ) took a good enough photo to see it -
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... o_02.2.JPG

Image


The point to be taken from this is that as early as the 1460s there was a "canonical" way to portray Plato's chariot, by taking cues from the text, and, given that unpainted sculpture can't show colours, having one horse with upraised head and one with head downward was the main signal.

Having reason as a charioteer doesn't require Plato in any case, since the chariot of virtue, with the driver (auriga) standing for Prudentia-Discretio-Ratione, was a fairly well-established convention among theologians and others of homiletic bent, like Bernardo Lapino (Illicino), who identified Petrarch's Laura as standing for ragione in the Triumphus Pudicitiae also in the 1460s.
Image

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#19
mikeh wrote: Let me be clear that I do not apply this Phaedrus gloss to all instances of the Chariot card, such as the Charles VI, the Rosenwald, the BAR. Just the ones in the Milan succession.

Leonardo Bruni translated, paraphrased and summarized these passages from the Phaedrus in 1424, up through 257C (Michael J. B. Allen, Marsilio Ficino: Commentaries on Plato, Vol. 1, Phaedrus and Ion, p. xii). It was then ""put together" with other Plato translations some time before 1427," according to Hankins, Plato in the Italian Renaissance, pp. 65-66, available on the Web at http://books.google.com/books?id=BLgfAA ... &q&f=false. It then had wide circulation. There and in the following pages Hankins attests to the popularity and controversy around that dialogue. Allen adds (p. xii)
The dialogue certainly figured in Pletho's reconstruction of ancient pagan theology and in the uproar tht swirled around him as a consequence even after his death in 1452.

Pletho's appearance in Italy was in 1439 Florence.

A difficulty for Bruno was that it was impossible to publish a literal translation of the homoerotic parts, in which Plato makes his main points; nor did he want to. As he wrote to the poet Nicola Ceva in 1441,
There are many things in those books repugnant to our customs; things which, for the sake of Plato's honor, it would be preferable to remain silent about than to publicize.

So Bruni did paraphrases, summaries, or partial quotes. ....
Bruni is also the leading man (for Florence) in the "Petrarca's fame" development, with his Petrarca biography in 1436. In 1439 Bruni and Manetti (who also translated from Greek to Latin and who also made a Petrarca biography) are likely the best speakers of Greek language, so predestined to play a larger role in the communicative processes during the council.
So these earlier Platon translations drop close to the "suspicious" circle of Trionfi-poem-interested intellectuals, not really close in time (1424/1427), but close by the connected persons.

Well, thanks.
Somehow we have to see, that the earliest Trionfi cards we know of (Michelino deck, before 1425, though not known to be named as such so early) by the choice of theme (Greek-Roman gods) had been also Greece-connected.
Some years later we've the theater-mascerade with Greek gods in Ferrara (1433).

We may observe, that Greek mythology motifs as playing cards reappeared relative often as a genre through the following centuries, not so much as Trionfi/Tarot cards, but as court cards. As we surely know not all playing card experiments, that once existed (how much we do know of? ... 1 % perhaps, and this might be a much too high number), it's easily possible, that other Greek gods lived in the playing cards world of 15th century. As we learned from the research of Franco Pratesi in Florence, there could be a lot of playing card trade and from a perspective relevant a few years ago it looked, as if there was not much more than nothing. And now it appears, as if Florence had been most active.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Trumps VI- XIII

#20
In the 1440-1460 picture plus caption you posted, Marco, the picture is still irrelevant, since it portrays a different part of the allegory. It is not the CY artist's fault, Bembo or some other, if he chose, or was directed, to portray different parts of the myth, and in a way that combines two sections, its beginning and end, as I explained and quoted. He got the Phaedrus right; what he did is just a bit complex. I didn't understand it for a while; but if two sets of horses were being represented, one by color and the other by posture (ruly vs unruly), he got it right. For the PMB, the artist simplified the depiction, so as just to portray the beginning of the myth, where the chariots of the gods have only white horses. Meanwhile other tarot artists chose to work with the end of the myth in various ways, in the Issy, Cary Sheet, Geoffrey, and Tarot de Marseille. None of them chose to select the part of the myth chosen by the 1440 Florentine artist. It is not Bembo's fault if that happened. There was no "standard" when the tarot Chariot was born; nor did later tarot artists have to conform to whatever other illustrators chose to do. The tarot Chariot is in a different context, specifically one of triumph, love, and the virtues (other cards in that section).

To be sure, I don't know the exact intention of the tarot designer, whether it was as I suppose or not. I doubt if many knew, even then. The fascinating details would have been a matter of playful discussion, independently of the designer's intention. The humanists and nobles, at least many of them, would not have said, "Hey, we don't really know what the designer intended; let's just play cards." They would likely have acted like Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch, who went much further out than anything I do here in their examples of interpretations. I will quote again (see also viewtopic.php?f=23&t=385&start=100#p14232 and my posts following) Murrin in "Renaissance Allegory from Petrarch to Spencer", The Cambridge Companion to Allegory p. 163f :
One's approach to the hidden meaning, however, varied, depending on the lapse of time that separated the interpreter from the text. Boccaccio assumed he could recover Dante's intention in the Commedia, but both writers agreed that an ancient poet's intention could not be recovered. In that case, Petrarch said he would not give the opinions of others. New readings are acceptable as long as the letter brings them and they are true. One must allow the possibility that the author had another reading in mind... Boccaccio will state ancient opinion and, where that fails, his own. He adopts the learned approach.
The Petrarch is from a letter. He stated something similar in the Secretum, from which I quoted in the thread I linked to. And for examples, Murrin cites Petrarch's interpretations of the Aeneid:
...In his flight from Troy, Aeneas loses his wife Creusa, that is, he loses the habit of pleasures. At Carthage, Aeneas dozes on the poop of his ship, a situation which indicates that his mind sleeps till he makes a firmer choice and sails off. Dido then cremates herself, or shameful pleasure perishes by itself...High places signify reason...
This is not to say that there are an infinite number of interpretations. We in this discussion are bound by the conceptual frameworks that were respected at that time and place; there weren't that many, I'd guess less than ten. Among these, Plato's fits well; the charioteer of the Phaedrus is very much a metaphor of that time and place, and not just in 1427, when Western Europeans started becoming aware of it; Plato was an intense subject of debate from then until Bessarion's death in 1459, according to Hankins. After that, people just went their way, with Ficino leading the Platonist path. The Phaedrus myth continued to be present in Western culture for centuries thereafter, even today. It is a highly worthy and instructive metaphor.

For the Milan-based Chariot card, it also has greater explanatory power than any text I know of. It explains (assuming I have not made any stupid mistakes in these descriptions)

1. In the CY: why one horse is calm and the other not (they are the Spirit and Appetite of the man)
2. In the CY: who the groom is (i.e. Reason)
3. In the CY: why the horses are both white (they are, in another sense, horses of a goddess come to earth)
4. In the CY: who the lady is (Chastity, Virtue, or some other perfection of feminine virtue)
5. In the PMB: why the horses are both white and winged (they are those of a goddess in the realm of the gods) and who she is (a perfection of virtues, or perhaps feminine virtues)
6. In the Issy: who the grooms are (personifications of reason/nobility and appetite), why the horses are different colors (the noble and ignoble horses), and who the lady in red is (perfection in feminine virtues)
7. In the Geoffroy: who the groom is (reason), why the horses are different colors (noble and ignoble). The man on top has yet to be explained. In the Republic, justice is separate from the other virtues and is responsible for the harmony of the others. So perhaps he is Justice.
8. In the Cary Sheet: why the two horses look in the same direction, even though their bodies tend in a different directions (the head is the symbol of reason; even appetite has a kind of reason, in the sense of reasoning how to avoid pain; so the head leads the body where the lead horse wants it to go). And why there are no reins (the noble horse responds to voice, and the ignoble to the memory of pain).
9. In the Noblet, why the red horse is looking toward the whitish horse, despite their bodies pointing differently (the red horse follows the lead of the white horse), why they are different colors, why there are no reins, and who the charioteer is (reason).

I do not think that I am over-interpreting. I am dealing with the most obvious details on the card, not little things like how many buttons there are on someone's front, etc. I do not know of any other explanation for the details I have mentioned, although to be sure the general motif of chariot, charioteer, and horses is susceptible of other interpretations, of which I have given one (as warrior, and yes, in triumph) and will give more.

THE CHARIOTEER IN THE CHURCH

I will try again to present my argument, this time from a different perspective, that of the "auriga" that Ross mentioned.. I will appeal to St. Thomas Aquinas and the Roman Catholic catechism, in which it is said "prudence is the charioteer of the virtues". That is a famous quote from the good doctor, well known at the time. I am really out of my element now, but I will try. Here is the quote from St. Thomas. I will put the word "auriga", meaning "charioteer", in bold :
Omnibus autem virtutibus moralibus motor est ipsa prudentia quae dicitur auriga virtutum.
(Now, in all the moral virtues, the first mover is prudence, which is called the charioteer of the virtues.)
(translation from http://www.ccel.org/a/aquinas/summa/XP/XP002.html).

the concept of "auriga virtutum", charioteer of the virtues. derives from St. Bernard of Clairvaux, according to Eschmann in The Ethics of St. Thomas Aquinas, at http://books.google.com/books?id=u9tyfH ... um&f=false):
Est ergo discretio non iam virtus, quam quadam moderatrix et auriga virtutum, ordinatrixque affectuum, et morum doctrix. Here is St. Bernard:
(Discretion is not so much a virtue as the moderator and charioteer of the virtues,.., [orderer of the emotions and teacher of morals?--I am guessing]
(partial translation from http://books.google.com/books?id=2kvT0J ... um&f=false).

Bernard's refusal to call discretion, i.e. prudence, a virtue--and Aquinas's rather vague wording--is perhaps a reason why there is no virtue of prudence named in the tarot.

Ultimately the figure of the charioteer in Christianity comes from St. Augustine (http://www.logicmuseum.com/wiki/Authors ... holicae#S7):
Quod si est consequens sicuti est, ut ipsum corpus cum ab anima regitur, quae virtutis compos est, multo et melius regatur et honestius eoque optime sese habeat quo est optima illa, quae sibi iusta lege dominatur, id erit hominis optimum quod animam optimam facit, etiamsi hominem corpus vocemus. An vero, si mihi auriga obtemperans equos quibus praeest alit ac regit commodissime atque ipse quo mihi est oboedientior, mea liberalitate perfruitur, negare quisquam potest non solum quod auriga, verum etiam quod equi sese optime habent, mihi deberi? Itaque sive corpus tantum sive tantum anima sive utrumque homo sit, non mihi maxime quaerendum videtur, nisi quid animam faciat optimam; nam eo percepto non potest homo non aut optime aut certe multo melius sese habere, quam si hoc unum defuisset.

But if it follows, as it does, that the body which is ruled over by a soul possessed of virtue is ruled both better and more honorably, and is in its greatest perfection in consequence of the perfection of the soul which rightfully governs it, that which gives perfection to the soul will be man's chief good, though we call the body man. For if my coachman, in obedience to me, feeds and drives the horses he has charge of in the most satisfactory manner, himself enjoying the more of my bounty in proportion to his good conduct, can any one deny that the good condition of the horses, as well as that of the coachman, is due to me? So the question seems to me to be not, whether soul and body is man, or the soul only, or the body only, but what gives perfection to the soul; for when this is obtained, a man cannot but be either perfect, or at least much better than in the absence of this one thing.
It was known that St. Augustine had been concerned to reconcile Platonism and Christianity. So the "auriga" would be seen as a metaphor suggested by the Phaedrus, but one that Augustine changed: there aren't two horses, good and bad, there is a charioteer ("coachman" in this translation) as well as Augustine himself, the passenger/owner, and the division is between soul and body.

Augustine's description is somewhat like the situation of the Geoffroy Chariot, where an old man sits on top while a groom (like the "coachman") leads the horses. It also fits that of the Cary-Yale, where a lady sits on top and a groom in service to her manages the horses. Perhaps this person who rides is comparable to Plato's Justice, which stands for the harmony of the parts and their optimal operation together. Or it is just "the perfection of the soul", in Augustine's phrase.

Likewise in Aquinas, we don't have noble and ignoble horses. We have horses that are properly trained. The "auriga", the one who does the driving, as opposed to the passenger or the horses, is for Aquinas "Prudence", i.e. practical reason in the highest sense (i.e. not self-interested). That is the same as Reason in Plato's metaphor. The horses, for Aquinas, are the virtues, which prudence leads. Elsewhere he names the cardinal virtues as prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. But "fortitude" is just the virtue of Plato's "spirit" in the soul, the part corresponding to that of the warrior in the state. And "temperance" is just Plato's virtuous Appetite in the soul, corresponding in the state to the common people and merchants, producers of goods, etc.( In Plato's Republic, Prudence or Wisdom was also a virtue, this one of the reasoning part of the soul; in the state, it would be the rulers.)

It is not clear how many horses Aquinas has in mind for prudence to lead. Perhaps it is a troika, or perhaps it is a team of six. Two will do to represent "virtues". These two properly trained horses also can represent the virtue cards that we see around this card in the tarot sequence, an easy leap of imagination and interpretation. In fact, in the A order, they are in the proper Platonic/Ciceronian/Thomist order from lower to higher; in C, it is from higher to lower. Aquinas applies easily to the card, although without explaining any of the other details. Aquinas is Plato without the drama. It is the drama of dealing with and triumphing over unruly bodily desires, while still being enflamed with love (another meaning of the red color of the ignoble horse), the love that blindfolded Cupid signifies, of a love-object perceived by the mind. It is that drama that seems to me modestly but worthily illustrated in the card's fascinating details, in the several variations of the Milan-based cards.

In closing I should perhaps point out some misleading language in the description next to the picture that Marco posted. It says that the charioteer is Mind and the two horses are Reason and Passion. The usual interpretation, which I followed, has them as "Reason", "Spirit" (or Spiritedness), and Appetite, corresponding to the three parts of the Platonic soul (whose virtues are Wisdom/Prudence, Courage, and Temperance). Those words I just put in quotes are the exact ones that Walter Hamilton uses in the 1973 introduction to his translation of that part of the myth, p. 50 of Phaedrus and Letters VII and VIII). Some slight basis for calling the charioteer Mind is in a passage sometimes translated as "intellect is the pilot of the soul", as indeed Hamilton has it (247C). However "intellect" is the same as "reason": the other translation I have, by Hackforth, has "reason alone, the soul's pilot". And the noble horse is surely not Reason, because Plato says of it that "his thirst for honor is tempered by restraint and modesty" and he "is driven simply by the word of command" (Hamilton translation, 253D; Hackforth has "lover of glory" with "temperance and modesty"). This is a description of spirit rather than reason/mind, the spirit of the noble warrior, whose virtue is courage and who obeys his reasoning commander. Finally, "passion" is a word that can describe noble passions such as "thirst for honor" as well as base ones: "Appetite", whose virtue is temperance, is better.

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