Re: Francesco Filelfo: the "Odes" (early 1450s)

Huck wrote:hm ... the jstor article speaks of 9 figures, Pantea is missing in this list.

Azzone seems to have had 6 male figures beside vanaglory:
Di rimpetto alla casa degli uccelli poc’anzi additata vi era un magnifico salone, contradistinto col nome della Vanagloria, che ivi si vedeva dipinta, ed all’intorno vi furono dipinti ad oro, azzurro e smalto vari principi celebri nelle Storie, come Enea, Ettore, Ercole, Attila, Carlo Magno, ed Azzone.
Not sure why Storia di Milano left out Pantea. The number 9 would have appealed to Filelfo as that was the number of the Muses, i.e., his (incomplete) Odes (and I wonder if there wasn't a "vainglory" standing in as Apollo, father of the muses, by another artist in connection with the 9 hero/heroines cycle?). Perhaps the 9 hero/heroines were exemplars of the 9 Muses?


Re: Francesco Filelfo: the "Odes" (early 1450s)

Phaeded wrote:
Huck wrote:hm ... the jstor article speaks of 9 figures, Pantea is missing in this list.

Azzone seems to have had 6 male figures beside vanaglory:
Di rimpetto alla casa degli uccelli poc’anzi additata vi era un magnifico salone, contradistinto col nome della Vanagloria, che ivi si vedeva dipinta, ed all’intorno vi furono dipinti ad oro, azzurro e smalto vari principi celebri nelle Storie, come Enea, Ettore, Ercole, Attila, Carlo Magno, ed Azzone.
Not sure why Storia di Milano left out Pantea. The number 9 would have appealed to Filelfo as that was the number of the Muses, i.e., his (incomplete) Odes (and I wonder if there wasn't a "vainglory" standing in as Apollo, father of the muses, by another artist in connection with the 9 hero/heroines cycle?). Perhaps the 9 hero/heroines were exemplars of the 9 Muses?

The "9 worthies"...
... became a genre in 1312 , then mentioned in a book (made for the new emperor Henry VII., who died short after it; it was the 1st emperor of the house of Luxembourg).
Th oiginal 9 were 3 Jews, 3 Pagans, 3 Christians, the youngest was Gottfried of Bouillon (from the region around Luxembourg).
During 14th century it developed to expressions in art, mainly in Northern Europe, in Germany and France, mostly close to Luxembourg. The original 9 male figures got 9 female counterparts. As this it appeared in the original household of Ercole d'Este's mother (the first Italian version I know of).

Andrea Castagno styled Florentine 9 Worthies with 3 sybils, 3 condottieri and 3 poets (Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio; all 9 figures are exchanged, gender is mixed; 1448-1450 in a private household with some Medici context).
Your finding might be the 3rd in Italy, that I know of. But there might be more.
Ercole d'Este seems to have been interested in it.

I don't think, that Muses played a role generally in the genre, perhaps one cannot exclude it for Filelfo in his own interpretation.
It possibly influenced the French playing card style with famous persons as courts, identified by inscriptions; Some of the figures from the original 9 Worthies, others were more modern (the youngest figures are Jeanne d'Arc and Lahire, active in the 1430s and 1440s, perhaps one can conclude, that this time brought up this playing card style.
Lahire was the Jack of Hearts.


Re: Francesco Filelfo: the "Odes" (early 1450s)

Filelfo had been naturally an expert for Eastern matters by his longer stay in Constantinople and his involvement in diplomatic missions in Constantinople

I followed the "many Persians" in the 9-worthies-structure in the Palazzo Reale in Milan, which possibly was done with Filelfo's influence (as above presented).

I found this text ...
Empires of Islam in Renaissance Historical Thought
by Margaret Meserve (2009) ... 20&f=false

Filelfo is often mentioned.

I took one page out of it, which has a specific message:


Persia had been already "good" short after 1400, when Persians leader Timur Lenk attacked successful the Osmans and so saved Constantinople. Persia became "good again", after Constantinople had fallen 1453 and it became a possibility, that Persia might become an ally in future wars.

Re: Francesco Filelfo: the "Odes" (early 1450s)

On Filelfo's 1451 visit to Cremona. Ode 4.5 says that they arrived in Cremona and Filelfo started looking for a house to rent (p. 249). in a 1451 letter to his son Giammario he adds
In the meantime we were amusing ourselves with Xenophon, your sisters, and your brother-in-law at a decent innkeeper's.
Xenophon is another son. They return to find that their servant girl guarding the boat had suddenly died of plague, which they didn't know she had. So Filelfo's party was chased out. They found refuge in a garden and survived on grapes, presumably all gratis, since no one would take their money (p. 253).

Then at the end of Ode 4.6, the one to Alberti, he says:
Now cloudy Cremona receives me and Phoebus and the chorus of Castalian Muses as well, with all my household gods. Phoebus strums the lyre. The sisters respond, singing pleasing songs by turns. Farewell, sweet friend.
So at that point (before the second invective, 4.7) he seems to like Cremona and find it hospitable to his muses. Also, in 1451 his friend Ciriaco was probably there (Wikipedia says only that he died there in 1452; given that he was visiting Ferrara in 1449, it seems a good guess that he would have been in Cremona in 1451.) For Ciriaco, Robin, 1991, uses the term "his friend", meaning Filelfo's (p. 53). No doubt they would have discussed Plethon, whom Ciriaco had visited; perhaps also the antiquities of Egypt and Greece, and whether there was anything to Horapollo's interpretations of hieroglyphs.

The occasion for Robin's word "friend" is a 1427 letter in which Filelfo responds to
...his friend's request for a repudiation of the commentaries of the medieval schoolmen and a new interpretation of Vergil's epic
meaning the Aeneid. Ciriaco thinks Vergil didn't intend simply to "imitate Homer and praise Augustus." Filelfo doesn't disagree with that interpretation, but thinks it is more an allegory. Robin says (1991, p. 54):
Filelfo follows Servius and Fugentius in reading the first six books of the Aeneid as an allegory of the six stages in every man's journey toward the good: birth, infancy, boyhood, puberty, young adulthood, and maturity.
He never attains the good; but he shows the way. Aeneas is a "traveler moving toward truth" (1991, p. 55), and "his image grows brighter day after day". I am of course reminded of discussions on THF about the nature of the tarot sequence (search "ascent" in the Dummett's Methodology thread).

I think that the two invectives against Cremona need to be seen in the light of Filelfo's approach to the Aeneid. They are in mock-heroic style, comparing Cremona to Vergil's Hades, as Robin spells out for us in her 1991 book. The servant girl who dies of plague is Dido. The toll-collector is Charon; his certification paper from Sforza is Aeneas's golden bough. And so on. it is modeled on Horace's well-known "Journey to Brundisium", Satires 1.5. Robin says (p. 109):
Consequently the tone of Odes 4.5 is comedic rather than tragic, despite the gravity of the themes.
There is also Cicero's Phillipics, with its charges of bestiality, barbarity, criminality, insanity, derangement, and drunkenness (p. 109). In Filelfo's day, the "invective" was one of the most popular forms of poetry. I think that regarding Cremona it's mostly a joke. I'd be terrified, too, if a member of a group coming from Milan died of plague their first day in my plague-free town. Cremona is not to blame, but Filelfo, for not noticing the obvious symptoms.That's clear enough, if you read between the lines. And after all, it's his patroness's dowry city. She's the reason he was allowed to go there. I wonder if we're supposed to wonder if he foolishly gambled some of his meager funds, thinking he could outsmart the card-sharks.

Re: Francesco Filelfo: the "Odes" (early 1450s)

Huck wrote:In matters of the whole problem with the Trionfi production in Cremona it would be of interest to know the motion-profile of Bianca Maria Visconti. Where she had been when in 1452?
And we also know Cichus (Francescus Simonetta) was requesting existing tarot decks from Lodi in December 1450 but the letter pasted below from Cremona in July 1451 places Cichus there, so had the Duke (and Biaca) moved there as well? Other letters from the same archive place Sforza in Cremona from as late as 2 December (83. Francesco Sforza al luogotenente di Cremona, 1451 dicembre 2 Cremona) but is back in Lodi by 10 December. Filelfo travels to Cremona in Septmber 1451 and is there through December so that would seem to place everyone that mattered in the same city that year (while Milan festered with plague).

The July letter itself is interesting if the recipient is one and the same astrologer who dedicated his horoscope manuscript of Galeazzo Maria to F. Sforza in 1461, ten years later. In this correspondence he had apparently been asking for a clerical benefice for his payment for astrological services rendered? ... nti/6.281/
Registro n. 6 precedente | 281 di 300 | successivo
281. Francesco Sforza a Raffaele Vimercati
1451 luglio 22 Cremona
Francesco Sforza scrive a Raffaele Vimercati che non può concedere a suo figlio il priorato di Calvenzano, perché già assegnato a un altro su richiesta del segretario ducale Boschino. L'assicura che suo figlio avrà un futuro beneficio vacante.

Rafaeli de Vicomerchato.
Nuy havimo inteso una richiesta quale ne ha facto per parte tua Francisco Maletta del priorato da Calvelzano per lo tuo figliolo, ala quale volontiera nuy te havirissimo compiaciuto, ma trovamo haverlo promesso già bon tempo fa ad uno nostro quale molto se è operato per nuy in nostre strecte facende: et questo ad instantia et requisitione de Buschino, nostro cancellero (1). Siché questa volta haveray [70v] patientia. Ma ben siamo contenti che stii avisato ad qualche altro beneffitio, quale, como acade vacare, nuy te ne providerimo gratiosamente per esso tuo figliolo. Data Cremone, xxii iulii 1451.

Filelfo's letter to Ciriaco, and a Platonic poem

That letter is an excellent find, Phaeded. And thanks for recommending Kallendorf's The Other Virgil, 2007. I got it from the library and have read all the parts on Filelfo. Excellent. What I especially like is his awareness of methodology in reading 15th-17th century texts. The two paragraphs on pp. 223-24 sum it up more clearly than anything else I have read (for those without the book: a snippet is available of the end of the passage: search "critic" and then "reconstructs" at ... xiAAAAMAAJ). I feel like posting it somewhere, as it seems to me applicable to the tarot.

Kallendorf (pp. 35-f) puts Filelfo's interpretation of the Aeneid in the 1427 letter to Ciriaco in a broader perspective. Just back from Greece and sitting in his rooms waiting out the plague in Venice, Filelfo doesn't know much of the Latin scholarship of his day. So he just gives the standard account, from Prudentius and Servius, which he probably learned in school. To me that speaks all the more for this type of narrative as a generic model for the tarot. I will have to look at Prudentius and Servius, I see.

One thing Kallendorf misses, I think, is that the Visconti's myth was that they themselves were descended from Aeneas, as Filelfo would have been well aware. That affects who the Sforziad is for. Sforza is not a Visconti, but Bianca Maria is. Filelfo is critical of Sforza, but never of Bianca Maria. In comparing the Sforziad to the Aeneid, Kallendorf observes (p. 51):
For example, at a crucial point at the beginning of Aeneas's enterprise (Aen. 1.776-89), his wife Creusa encourages him and directs his attention from Troy to the new project he is to undertake. Likewise Bianca Maria (or rather, Athena in the guise of Bianca Maria) encourages Sforza to establish his kingdom on the Po, but with one key difference: Sforza had withdrawn by himself deep within his home and was in despair, thereby appearing weaker than his Virgilian counterpart.
There is also the account of how she rallied Sforza's troops at Cremona (p. 57). Bianca Maria In the Sforziad, it seems to me, is his primary reader, along with her children, and secondarily princes everywhere. That is also apparent in his ode to Bianca Maria. The Sforziad is for her and her children, I think, first, and princes everywhere, for their edification, second. Sforza, as Filelfo sees him, is like Aeneas and Filelfo himself, a perpetual outsider, full of imperfections, but hopefully the foundation of something more than himself. It didn't work out that way, of course, for either of them.

I have been looking in Robin's 1991 book for passages in Filelfo that might relate to the CY or PMB. I have found at least two, maybe more. One is in his alleged 1438 letter to Francesco Sforza. I say "alleged" because these early letters may or may not be reconstructions based on memory and editorial license done in the 1450s. The tone is very similar to the Sforziad. Robin thinks that the ending, on how a ruler has to avoid even "the mere suspicion of such a stain" as the atrocities he is protesting against, was not written for Sforza. Filelfo's "Letters" were for potential patrons elsewhere. Also, the comments about anger here differ markedly from comments that Filelfo was making as late as 1434-5 in Siena, in reference to the Aeneid on furias: "rage suits a wise man" etc. (Kallendorf p. 37).

in October 1438 Sforza's soldiers had laid siege to and then sacked his birthplace, Tolentino, with reports of atrocities, and Filelfo is giving Sforza a piece of advice. Here is the key part, a mixture of translation and paraphrase. After saying how Philip of Macedon, Alexander, and Scipio Africanus Maior were the greatest generals of antiquity precisely for their clemency, lenience, and charity, he adds (Robin 1991 p. 46):
For do you prefer to be feared perhaps rather than loved? It is best seen that hatred naturally follows in the footsteps of fear. But you can never be esteemed and loved unless you demonstrate that you are truly just and beneficent. Indeed, the just and beneficent man is neither one who either harms others intentionally nor is he one who either neglects or is unwilling to impose a policy of moderation concerning matters which he is responsible.
The good prince, Filelfo continues, must restrain his anger, casting away every emotion that stands in the way of reason and deliberation. For the man who cannot rule himself surely cannot rule others; moreover, the greatest victory of all is self-mastery. The rule Filelfo exhorts Sforza to follow is that of the Spartan Aristo, Socrates, and Christ, to be good to your friends, and to make friends of your enemies.

Filelfo's final argument rests on the immortality of the soul (animus), which he contrasts to the fragility and transitory nature of the body and worldly things. "Reason," he writes, "not desire, must always be obeyed. For, reason, above all else, demonstrates how superior we are to the rest of the earth's creatures."
First, the context is that of the virtues: beneficence, justice, moderation, all except fortitude, which is assumed in a letter to Sforza. Second, we have the soul, here declared immortal. Third, we have three components: reason (ratio), anger (ira), and desire (cupiditas). "Anger" is Filelfo's term for the middle part of the Platonic soul. We know that from a c. 1473 essay that Robin translates (p. 154f), but with a footnote that the same thing was said in a letter to Ciriaco in 1426. Here it means something like "righteous indignation"--the part of the soul that is centered in the heart and rises up against wrongdoing. Filelfo no doubt knew the emotion well.

It seems to me that what Filelfo is saying is very close to what is on the Cary-Yale Chariot card, if it illustrates one part of Plato's charioteer myth in the Phaedrus. That is, Reason, i.e. Sforza, is the groom with the calm horse (the noble horse, in Plato's terms there), which Filelfo calls Anger (which Filelfo is worried Sforza lets out of control, at least in his men). The unruly horse is Desire. On the chariot is personification of the virtues, especially Chastity, also Bianca Maria. The two horses are both white because a dark horse would be unsuitable for her, as her chariot is in the archetypal world. I know this is not a very suitable combination: his noble and ignoble horses, with her pure horses, but it is what we have on the card. Similar inconsistent combinations of imagery occurred not infrequently in the Renaissance, as in e.g. the Hercules/Mithras image I showed on the "Trumps VI-XIII" thread.

In his 1473 essay, Filelfo has a fourth character besides Reason, Anger, and Desire, namely, Mind. Reason is a function of Mind. Probably he also had this distinction in his 1427 letter to Ciriaco. In his 1427 letter he speaks of Wisdom (sapientia) vs. Prudence (prudentia):
In civic life, then, prudence alone is the master over all the rest of the moral virtues. Prudence alone moderates and rules these. But prudence is but a broken and weak thing--a quality without strength--unless it abides by and is obedient to wisdom alone, as though to a prince or queen.
As far as the "moral virtues", you will notice the prominence of "moderation". Later he adds, in reference to the Aeneid:
Although there is much about the duty of justice and piety, still fortitude is the virtue that flourishes first and foremost.
I would guess that Wisdom is a property of Mind, and Prudence of Reason. Mind might do for the lady on top of the chariot. (And if there is any relation to the tarot, there are two missing virtues, not just Prudence.) In 1473 he applies the image of the queen to mind (p. 155):
The mind holds sway over the two inferior parts of the soul like a queen in her citadel (regina in arce).

Similarly in a 1428 letter to someone named Francanzani he says (I have put in bold the most relevant parts):
Indeed, I think that our actions should be in such close harmony with the knowledge of the truth, that we would know that all of our actions should be judged in terms of their relation to the role of Wisdom. For like some queen or empress who is content to herself, after she has rid herself of all cards concerning migratory and fleeting matters, Wisdom alone is the one who, so that she may direct herself toward the light of the one supreme and and everlasting good and so that she may fix her gaze on it unguarded, places Prudence in charge over all the rest of the moral virtues, and she (as though she were their provider) assigns tasks to each individual virtue according to its own particular duties. Therefore we ought to subordinate all the moral virtues to Prudence. Prudence is the virtue that belongs to reason; but Wisdom, which belongs totally to the intellect, rules over Prudence. Whoever lives in this way, yet refuses to admit that he partakes of the highest pleasure and that he is clearly happy and blessed, should in my opinion be thought not only silly, but foolish and insane.
It does not follow, to be sure, that Filelfo designed the card. He was in Milan in time to do it. Or he may have added this touch to the letter later. If so, it might be his interpretation of the card. I have no idea. It is a coincidence to be noted.

The second coincidence in a text by Filelfo relates to the PMB Chariot, as well as to other cards. It is in a poem in Greek of 1460-61 to a patron in Florence. Robin calls it "Counsel to the Newlywed Donato on Virtue". Filelfo begins by talking about the highest good, which is virtue. Then he goes to the happiness of man and wife and the rivalry between virtue and pleasure. He says to choose pleasure only at night, and virtue the rest of the time (p. :
[13]Now I don't advise that the Muses should bow down to Aphrodite. I'd rather see that goddess be Aonian daughters' slave; leave only the idle portion of the night to the Cyprian. The rest of your time, my friend, should be wholly given to virtue.
This is being written by a man with 27 children, his last one born, by my reckoning, at age 73. The "Cyprian" is Aphrodite.

Then (23-27) Filelfo describes the mind of man:
[19] ..Just as the moon sails now to the Antipodes, an then to the lofty regions of Olympus, gazing on everything intently, so the mind contemplates everything which exists throughout boundless eternity and corruptible time. Because of his mind, then, man alone is a creature worthy of praise.
And fortune:
[28] We can laugh at the extremes of fortune, for they have no strength. Fortune changes with each day, and like a trap, it causes us to founder; hope is always fruitless.

But the Muses "will make you a most favored guest of the heavenly gods" (31). And:
[35] Once the pure soul has gazed upon the truth of existence with its perfect reason, it longs to seize it for its own. I urge you, dear Acciaiuoli, to believe that all else vanishes. Virtue alone is the good, and virtue teaches us to revere God in heaven most highly, for God alone is virtue.
By "the truth of existence" is meant "what truly is" or "being", I think, judging from his account of being in 1473.

So the poem ends. Robin notices allusions to the Phaedrus.
The image of the mind sailing through all eternity like the moon in its nightly course (23-27) points to Filelfo's familiarity with at least two particularly graphic passages from Plato, both of which depict mind (nous) orbiting in space like a heavenly body: Phaedrus 247c-d, but still more specifically Laws 898a-b.
She then quotes the latter. Then:
Having disposed of fortune as a source of human happiness and hope, we return in lines 31-34 to Filelfo's earlier exhortation to the young follower of Plato to follow the Muses (13-16), without whom a man cannot control his self-destructive sexual urges (Laws 783a) and pure souls cannot receive divine inspiration (Phaedrus 245a). Filelfo's allusion to the Phaedrus in the previous lines leads next to a pithy condensation of Phaedrus 247d.
She then quotes Phaedrus 247d, which she has said Filelfo condenses:
The intelligence of God and of every soul is nourished by both mind and pure knowledge, insofar as intelligence is able to take for itself what is properly its own; and when it has looked with joy on reality and has gazed on the truth after a period of time, it is nourished and rejoices.
I would point out that this passage in the Phaedrus, 247d, in the sentence immediately before that just quoted, Plato describes the object of the soul's gaze, namely the gods such as Justice, Temperance, Knowledge, etc., in their chariots drawn by winged horses both of which are noble; I have quoted this whole passage elsewhere, as what the PMB Chariot depicts:
And while she is borne around she discerns justice, its very self, and likewise temperance and knowledge, not the knowledge that is neighbor to becoming and varies with the various objects to which we commonly ascribe being, but the veritable knowledge of being that veritably is.
The reference to Laws 783, concerning "self-destructive sexual urges" might just as well have been to the charioteer and his ignoble horse. Also, one image that Robin does not comment on is that of the soul that "longs to seize it [virtue] for its own". This is the image of the ignoble horse, Desire, which wanted to rape the image of beauty, now transmuted to celestial Desire longing to unite with God.

The poem stands as an eloquent commentary on the middle section of the PMB tarot. Filelfo, in his letter to Ciriaco, characterizes the first six books of the Aeneid as pertaining to the contemplative life and the last six to the active life (Kallendorf p. 35:"The basic principle that Landino would develop in detail several decades, that the first six books of the Aeneid examine the contemplative life and the second half exalts the active life, appears here [Filelfo's letter to Ciriaco] as well"). Landino in 1480 actually said just the reverse (Kallendorf p. 32: "he saw Aeneas passing from the active to the contemplative one through a gradation of virtues", confirmed on p. 109 and Murrin Cambridge Companion to Allegory p. 166). I have no opinion regarding the Aeneid. But in the tarot, it seems to me that after childhood, a period of contemplation through study, comes the active life, after which the contemplative will follow again.

Re: Francesco Filelfo: the "Odes" (early 1450s)

In his "Odes" Filelfo uses a 5x10 structure.
This associates something like the Mantegna Tarocchi structure, and not a system form like 5x14 or a system form 4x14+22.

The Odes are parted in 5 major chapters, and they are given the names (1) Apoll, (2) Clio, (3) Euterpe, (4) Thalia, (5) Melpomene. The Mantegna Tarocchi and the Lazzarelli manuscript used a similar row, which goes back to a text of Fulgentius. Mantegna Tarocchi has (20) Apoll, (19) Clio, (18) Euterpe, (16) Thalia, (17) Melpomene (here the row runs in descending order with Thalia and Melpomene exchanged.
This again reminds me on the Mantegna Tarocchi.

Filelfo was fond of the Muses, somehow parallel to Leonello's Ferrara, where Leonello (influenced by Guarino) ordered Muses paintings for his Studiolo.
This again reminds me on the Mantegna Tarocchi.

1452 is close to the Jubilee year 1450, according to the then existing rule, that the Jubilee year should take place all 50 years (changed in 1467 to 25 years, the earliest idea had been to have it all 100 years, at begin and end of counted centuries).
This again is connected to the suspicion, that something "similar to the Mantegna Tarocchi" might have been in the discussion in preparation of the Jubilee year 1450.

It seems possible, that the short phase 1440-1442 with some attention to Trionfi decks might have found a prolongation of the Trionfi deck production in the expectation of the Jubilee year.
It seems logical, that the peace of 1449/1450 had been to a good part arranged by the interest to close war activities for the Jubilee year (similar to the earlier Olympic Games, when also war activities stopped for some time).
Italy waited for some tourism during the Jubilee year and had the expectation, that the pilgrim tourists would bring a lot of money to Italy.

"Ending the war" was already prepared in the 2nd half of 1449, but Sforza rebelled against this peace short after Christmas 1449 and had success with it. A triumphal celebration of the peace had at least happened in Milan before Christmas 1449:
1449 12 ottobre
Grande spettacolo in piazza dell'Arengo per celebrare la pace con Venezia. Due personaggi che rappresentano san Marco e sant'Ambrogio si abbracciano e così fanno tutti gli altri membri delle due repubbliche.
(would be interesting to know, if comparable festivities happened elsewhere ... what for instance happened in Florence then ?)

In Franco Pratesi lists of the silk dealers we have for the productions of Giovanni di Domenico ...


... the 9th of December 1449 as the first date of a long enduring series of later Trionfi card deals.


For the origin of the Mantegna Tarocchi I see 2 relevant theories, one our own with Lazzarelli/Zane/Sweynheim and for c. 1475 (the next Jubilee year) and Arthur Hind's suggestion with c. 1465. Both theories don't exclude, that "something" happened before. The situation is so, that there is not enough evidence for this earlier "something", but nonetheless it's plausible.


It might be assumed, that - after Sforza took Milan - naturally also a discussion of Sforz impresa and other public signs took place, not naturally immediately after begin (which in >Sforza's case was rather stormy), but just in the first years. Naturally Milanese playing card design (also) played a role.

Well, but this was a discussion, and we don't have a guarantee, that Filelfo's opinion did win. If Filelfo loved Muses ... we don't have Muses in the PMB.

Cremona as a place of special interest in 1451 and begin of 1452 might also refer to an expected visit by the emperor. As we know it, the emperor avoided to visit Milanese territory, but did Sforza know this end of 1451? Definitely he was interested to get a legal state, accepted by the emperor.
Cremona, at the most Eastern place of Milanese territory, had been most close to the expected emperor journey.

We have the report, that young Galeazzo (8 years) was send to visit the emperor in Ferrara...
1452 gennaio

Federico d'Asburgo, nella sua discesa in Italia, rinuncia a passare per Milano e sosta invece a Ferrara dove lo raggiunge una delegazione dello Sforza comprendente il piccolo Galeazzo Maria. L'imperatore, favorevole a Venezia e al re di Napoli, rifiuta l'investitura a Francesco Sforza.

... and, according own research, there are some strange structural similarities between the 14 Bembo trumps and the Hofämterspiel (12-years-old Ladislaus posthumus, who later got the Hofämterspiel, accompanied the emperor).

I don't know about the details of this meeting.


Re: Francesco Filelfo: the "Odes" (early 1450s)

Entitling the books of a work with the names of the Muses might have been a way in which Filelfo cold compare himself to Herodotus, who did that with the books of his Histories ( Herodotus had also been an exile, twice. First (
Herodotus reveals affection for the island of Samos (III,39–60) and this is an indication that he might have lived there in his youth. So it is possible that his family was involved in an uprising against Lygdamis, leading to a period of exile on Samos and followed by some personal hand in the tyrant's eventual fall.
And second:
For some reason, probably associated with local politics, he subsequently found himself unpopular in Halicarnassus and, sometime around 447 BC, he migrated to Periclean Athens...

Filelfo also projected his Florentine Discussions on Exile Dedicated to Vitaliano Borromeo (Ad Vitalianum Borrhomaeum Commentionum Florentinarum de Exilio) to be ten books. This is a book started in about 1440 and abandoned after three books in around 1450. The English translation's editor Jeroen de Keyser writes (Francesco Filelfo, On Exile, W. Scott Blanchard, trans., 2013, p. x):
The work as a whole is organized topically according to the titles of the three books--"On the Disadvantages of Exile," "On Infamy," and "On Poverty" - and we know from the marginal annotations in one manuscript that Filelfo intended the work to grow to ten books.
But Filelfo clearly wrote the dialogue after 1440, when all hope of a rapprochement between the party in exile and Cosimo's regime had failed.
After speaking of Pope Eugenius's shifting of support from Rinaldo degli Albizzi (a character who dominates Filelfo's Book Two) to Cosimo, de Keyser adds (p. xv-xvi):
The historical reality that complicates this depiction of the political situation in 1434 was that by mid-1440, just before Filelfo began composing the Commentationes, the aristocratic exiles had in fact joined together with the Visconti in an attempt to seize control of Florence, but their hopes were dashed by the major Florentine victory at Anghiari.
Filelfo, writing while serving Filippo Maria, has his Ridolfo denying any support by Visconti. De Keyser concludes (p. xxiii):
The dialogue closes with the anticipation of a fourth day of conversations, but Filelfo apparently never resumed working on the Commentationes - doubtless because he saw more rewarding opportunities with his new patrons in Milan, where he spent most of the remaining years of his long and productive life.
De Keyser's whole introduction, which relates the political situation of the 1430s and 1440s to Filelfo's book (which is over 200 modern pages long), is probably worth studying by those more familiar with the political ins and outs than I.

Re: Francesco Filelfo: the "Odes" (early 1450s)

Although this gets away from the early 1450s, it is worth considering Filelfo in relation to the six cards of the PMB second artist. In particular, the imagery on the Sun card is suggested in one source that would have been noticed by very few humanists at that time, the only other one being Ficino in Florence, from around 1463 on (so I am not against Huck's theory about these cards, at least on this point).

The source is Proclus, In rem publicam (I, 111, 1-12), which Hankins (Plato in the Italian Renaissance p. 94, footnote) says was in Filelfo's library. I am quoting from Ruth Majercik, The Chaldean Oracles, p. 105:
And even the mystical doctrine handed down by the gods imparts these things:
after this invocation, (it says) you will either see a fire, similar to a child, extended by bounds over the billows of air, or you will see a formless fire, from which a voice is sent forth, or you will see a sumptuous light, rushing like a spiral around the field...
The reason I know this quote is that the image that Proclus describes has been identified as one of the Chaldean Oracles (of 2 centuries earlier) and as such in Ruth Majercik's translation of them. It seems to me that the card ( corresponds to the first simile in this passage, that of a child "extended by bounds over the billows of air"; the artist has rendered "billows of air" as the cloud that the child stands on. The fire itself, of which the child is a simile, is an emanation of the "transmundane sun" (Majercik p. 12; or possibly the sun of the cosmos, in Oracle 60), which in turn is an emanation of the One.

That Filelfo would have studied this work and others by Proclus is indicated by his own conception of God in his 1473-1475 work De Morali disciplina
In the De morali disciplina, God is conceptualized not as a personal being but as an abstraction. God is pure mind, light, and fire. This being is the light that illumines truth, the fire that kindles th love of virtue ("Deus omnipotens, qui et ignis et lux esse dicitur..., intelligentiam ad veritatis ad virtutis amorem virtutem accendit.") [footnote: bk. 2, p. 28]. Like the sun, which cannot be seen except by the light it produces, so the deity cannot be seen except by the light of truth itself. [footnote: Ibid.] The source of all being in the world, moreover, is to be found in eternal, nonmaterial forms that exist solely in the mind of the deity ('"ideam esse substantiam a materia separatam quae per sese in ipsius Dei intelligentia imaginationeque existeret"). [footnote: bk. 1, p. 11.] Nor does Filelfo bring into his discourse the figure of Christ, the trinity, divine foreknowledge, divine love, or the relationship between God and humans in his ethics.
That Filelfo would have paid particular attention to the Chaldean Oracles imbedded in Proclus is indicated by his friendship and correspondence with Plethon, who had edited a 60 line version of the Oracles with a "brief explanation" that had come into the possession of Ficino, another of Filelfo's correspondents. Filelfo would surely have heard of this edition, and if he didn't have it himself (it is not listed in his library at his death, but that is not conclusive evidence), he would have looked in the Neoplatonist works at his disposal. This particular Oracle is not in Plethon's edition.

Ficino (and therefore Pico, his student) is another humanist who would have paid close attention to this passage (others are Pico, later, and Bessarion, contemporary with Filelfo). In his Commentary on the Philibus Ficino writes:
Plato adds that these gifts were handed down with the brightest fire, for individual things have been revealed by the ray of the divine truth. The ray of a fire has two powers: one burns, the other illuminates. So it is with the sun’s ray too, so too with God’s ray: it purges intelligence and souls with heat, separating them from lower things; it illuminates them with light. With the fervour of heat it inflames and excites the appetite of everything towards itself. With the splendour of light it reveals to all those who desire it the clarity of truth. Therefore the ancient theologians Zoroaster, Hermes Trismegistus, Orpheus, Agalophemus, Pythagoras, since they brought themselves as near as possible to God’s ray by releasing their souls, and since they examined by the light of that ray all things by uniting and dividing through the one and the many, they too were made to participate in the truth. (standard pagination, 16c; Allen translation, p. 246)
It is perhaps worth quoting Moshe Idel on this passage (“Prisca Theologia in Marsilio Ficino and in Some Jewish Treatments,” pp. 137-158 of Marsilio Ficino: His Theology, His Philosophy, His Legacy :
After enumerating the names of the sages mentioned Ficino maintains that:
they brought themselves as near as possible to God’s ray by releasing their souls, (38) and since they examined by the light of that ray (39) all things by uniting and dividing through the one and the many, they too were made to participate in the truth.(40)
This assessment is of paramount importance for the proper understanding of the nature of the ancient theology as envisioned by both Ficino and Pico. By a purifying way, or a mystical technique, the ancient pagan theologians brought themselves into contact with the divine light. It is quite possible that the passage betrays the influence of the Chaldean Oracles, which were attributed in the Renaissance to Zoroaster; using theurgic methods, the ancient figures were able to release their souls in order to attain communion with the divine ray. Participation in the truth is not the result of a revelation but of the ascent of the theurgist’s soul to the source of the Truth. Importantly, Ficino traces the earliest expression of the prisca theologia to Zoroaster. The last in this line is none other than Plato. It is this attribution of the ultimate origin of philosophy to Zoroaster that is characteristic of many of the Christian Renaissance syntheses, by contrast with contemporary Jewish insistence on the ancient Mosaic origin of Greek and pagan thought.

(38) On the separation of the soul from the body as part of the teaching of the Chaldeans see Hans Lewy, Chaldean Oracles and Theurgy, rev. edn Paris, 1978, pp. 186-188.

(39) On the centrality of the ray and light in the Chaldean Oracles see Lewy, ibid, pp. 60-61, 149-55, 185-200. See also Ficino’s Theologia Platonica X.8, which corresponds to the Chaldean Oracles, verses 13-14; cf. Ilana Klutstein-Roitman, Les Traductions latines des Oracles chaldaiques et des Hymnes Orphiques, Ph.D. Thesis, Hebrew Unviersity, Jerusalem, 1981, pp. 22-23.

(40) Ficino, The ‘Philibus’ Commentary p. 246. On Truth as a cosmic entity in the Chaldean Oracles, see Lewy, Chaldean Oracles, pp. 144-48.
According to Allen (p. 56), Ficino wrote the Philibus commentary in 1469. However he had translated the Philibus before Cosimo's death in 1463 and in fact read it to him. He had also lectured on the Philibus in the 1460s, at the Camaldolese's Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Angeli.

That there may have been a tradition associating the Sun card with this passage in Proclus is suggested by the Vieville version of the card ( ... sole/7.jpg), which corresponds well to the continuation of the same Oracle as quoted by Proclus in the same place:
...But you may even see a horse, more dazzling than light, or even a child mounted on the nimble back of a horse, (a child) of fire or covered with gold or, again, a naked (child), or even (a child) shooting a bow and standing on the back (of the horse).
The Marseille version is different, showing the Dioscuri, but even this might be related to the Oracle, in that the "child mounted on the nimble back of a horse" might have been identified as one of them, as there was a tradition that the Dioscuri, as good spirits, sometimes aided people on earth in worthy struggles, often on horseback. Wikipedia writes (
The Dioscuri were regarded as helpers of mankind and held to be patrons of travellers and of sailors in particular, who invoked them to seek favourable winds.[9] Their role as horsemen and boxers also led to them being regarded as the patrons of athletes and athletic contests.[10] They characteristically intervened at the moment of crisis, aiding those who honoured or trusted them. [11]

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