Re: Bolognese sequence

#11
Right, so I'm finally going to try to address this post!

Ross, I think it's wonderful that you've started this thread to discuss the Bolognese sequence, I don't think it gets enough attention. It's almost as if the Tarot de Marseille sequence is just a "given" anymore. The Bolognese has both an interesting sequence and interesting designs on the cards. There are also interesting rules that need to be taken into account. Together, for me, they make the strongest argument for the Bolognese Tarot (BT from now on) to have been the oldest.
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:The "synoptic" view of the tarot recognizes Michael Dummett's discovery that all the various orders, around 20, can be reduced to three families, which largely observe a threefold division of structure. His deductive arrangement is confirmed empirically by the fact that each family is identified with different geographical regions. With these observations he was able to identify three specific cities for each of the three families, which he called A, B and C. A for Bologna and everywhere south; B for Ferrara and everywhere east; C for Milan and everywhere west (and the rest of the European continent). Tom Tadfor Little coined the more descriptive terms Southern, Eastern and Western respectively for the families.

My own term, "synoptic", comes from seeing the trumps as a narrative, and likening the three families to the three synoptic gospels - the same basic form (the three parts), using the same sources (22 subjects of the cards) is presented in different ways, with different details (designs and orders) but still observing the same three overall divisions of subject matter.

I characterize these three divisions in the most general terms as -1) present state of the world (hierarchical or disordered); 2) moral example (or generalized as morality of active life until death); 3) the world to come (eschatological/apocalyptic).

These three divisions are expressed with three Petrarchan triumphs - triumphs of Love, Death and Eternity.

Here is an interpretation of the Bolognese sequence.

(Bolognese cards have been double-headed since the late 18th century, so our contemporary images are less informative than earlier ones. The images here are the earliest printed images for the Bolognese cards I know of - the Beaux-Arts and Rothschild sheets (c. 1500), a 17th century pack in the Bibliotheque national in Paris, and for Fortitude, an 18th century pack (around 1750).

The so-called Charles VI pack is very similar to the earliest printed Bolognese images, and is clearly of the A or Southern family, but lately opinion is leaning towards the cards being painted in Florence. However, please look at them as well, as the earliest examples of the Southern cards, perhaps as early as the 1450s.
)


http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/taro ... ries01.jpg

Triumph of Love - the Current State of the World
Love (concupiscible appetite, desire) triumphs over the whole world below - Popes, Emperors, the players of the game (Bagattino), Kings, and everyone below (the whole pack). Note that the Popes and Emperors are not ordered in listing the sequence - their "order" is determined in each round of play, thus illustrating the game of power in the current state of the world.


http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/taro ... ries02.jpg

Triumph of Death - a Moral Example (in de casibus form)
Death triumphs over everyone too, even those with the greatest virtue - the example of Caesar is shown. Although possessing all virtue and highly favored by Fortune, he imprudently ignored the oracles and signs and at an appointed Time he was Betrayed.


http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/taro ... ries03.jpg

Triumph of Eternity - the World to Come
Eternity triumphs over death and hell (Apocalypse 20:14). An apocalyptic scenario is shown in the final cards (each specific to the three families - in the Bolognese it is the Last Emperor).

The game is called “triumph(s)” because of the specific triumphs in it: Love triumphs over the unstable world (unordered Papi); Caesar triumphed (Chariot), but Fortune, at an appointed Time (Ides of March) betrayed him (Traitor, triumph of Death); finally the last Emperor will really triumph (World), and usher in the millennial age, before the resurrection (the ultimate triumph, over death and hell).

The game is in three parts – the present, the past (a famous exemplum), and the future. (This resembles the symbolism of three dice that Isidore attributes to dice players - the three dice represent present, past and future (Etymologies 18, lxiv ("The figurative sense of dicing")).

Game is a moral game with a political message. The rulers of the world (Papi), along with all of us, are playing a silly game (Bagattino – trifle). This is the confused state of the present world, and everyone is in servitude to Love (concupiscence).

An example is shown – Caesar the triumphator. He had all virtues – temperate, just, and courageous, but “he trusted in Fortune rather than Prudence” (Appian, Civil Wars 2,58) – so Fortune appears where we expect Prudence to complete the Cardinal Virtues (this is why they are grouped together - to make us anticipate the "missing" one). A specific Time, is uniquely famous in connection with his downfall (Ides of March (March 15) was prophesied to him (Plutarch Julius Caesar 63; Suetonius, Julius Caesar, 81), but he imprudently ignored it and was betrayed. Death ends the example (this is a moral example, not just a history lesson, so we should read it as a warning about trusting in fickle Fortune).

Then the next world is shown, and the world that is coming. Satan eats the damned (including Cassius, Brutus and Judas, the exemplary traitors). Satan will have power, but will be destroyed (Apocalypse 20:7-10; Gog and Magog). A new Emperor is coming, shown by the Morning Star, and signs in the heavens (eclipse (Moon)). Everything under the Sun is appointed a time by destiny (the Spinner symbolizes Fate); this Emperor will establish peace over the World. After that will come the end of time, at the Resurrection to judgment.

Ross
Through our discussions offline, I'm somewhat familiar with what you are proposing here, although I'm still not sure how convinced I am of your proposal.

Let's look at a few things about the BT that make it particularly interesting.

1. Four Equal Papi.
We've discussed before whether the oldest BT decks show 2 male emperors and 2 male popes, and it's my impression that at this point we aren't certain, but that both you and I lean towards believing that that is the case. I think it's interesting to note that in the Mitelli in 1650 the Popes are absolutely men, and the Emperors are uncertain. Why would he have created a deck with two male popes at that time unless there had been some tradition of it occurring earlier in Bologna?

What makes this interesting is that the four are all of equal rank, and any of them can trump the others, it is sort of a mini game within the game.

I like that this is not a "ranks of man" theme at all, as I have always struggled with this idea that the first 6 cards show such a thing, I don't believe that is the case because I think if it had been the case much better cards could have been chosen to show the stations. What is the point of an Empress if an Emperor is already there? Why not a Duke or a Doge or other ranks? The Popess too has always bothered me, I can place her as "Faith", or "The Church" if I want to, but I just don't see the sense of including her in a Ranks of Man scheme. So for me, to think that originally we had two Popes and two Emperors, and that depending on how the cards were played meant that the hierarchy would change each time is rather fun. The hard part here is to explain how two popes and two emperors becomes popess, empress, emperor and pope so very quickly as to be clearly feminized by the time of the Visconti cards?

2. The grouping of the Virtues
For me, this was an immediate indication to pay attention to this order. Every time I read a theory on the meaning of the sequence for the Tarot de Marseille I'm never convinced by the manoeuvrings to explain why the Virtues are split up as they are. The BT seems so much more natural that it alone almost suggest the oldest sequence, to me at least.

3. The grouping of the Fool and Magician
It's my understanding (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that there is a special relationship between the Fool and the Magician in the BT. That they share a similar, but different, function in the game? Seeing them as a pair, especially when you look at some of the art like the Children of the Plants where they are somewhat paired up as well, makes sense to me. So we have at the start of the sequence a Pair of the Fool and the Magician, followed by a Set of the Papi, followed (after a slight interruption) by a Set of the Virtues.

4. The Angel Triumphant
This is another aspect of the BT that I like. I tend to see the Devil at the low end of the last group and the Angel as his counterpart on the upper end of the last group.
Devil>Tower(Hell)> Star-Moon-Sun <World(New Jerusalem)<Angel

I also like it because it reminds me of Petrarch's Triumphs, and I can imagine the Angel representing the Triumph of Eternity as the ultimate trump.

5. No Titles and afterthought Numbers
When I first saw these cards, I had just spent several months exploring the Tarot de Marseille iconography and had become increasingly convinced that the titles and numbers were added to the Tarot de Marseille at a later stage than their original design. What struck me about the BT was the lack of titles and that numbers seemed to have been added as an afterthought, like on the Vieville. I also liked the detail that was displayed on many of the cards, the whole group seemed "old" to me, that even though they were several centuries after the creation of tarot, they seemed to have maintained a lot of the earlier design.

There are other things as well, I'm sure, but it is late and I wanted to at least get this conversation going. I'll address your interpretation of the cards in another post, but I wanted to also bring these topics up and would enjoy hearing everyone's thoughts on them.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Bolognese sequence

#12
Hi Robert,
robert wrote: Through our discussions offline, I'm somewhat familiar with what you are proposing here, although I'm still not sure how convinced I am of your proposal.
No kidding! But I'm ready for patient argumentation.

Instead of one long post, I'll discuss your "interesting points" point-by-point. Establishing the importance of the BT is itself an uphill battle.
Let's look at a few things about the BT that make it particularly interesting.

1. Four Equal Papi.
We've discussed before whether the oldest BT decks show 2 male emperors and 2 male popes, and it's my impression that at this point we aren't certain, but that both you and I lean towards believing that that is the case. I think it's interesting to note that in the Mitelli in 1650 the Popes are absolutely men, and the Emperors are uncertain. Why would he have created a deck with two male popes at that time unless there had been some tradition of it occurring earlier in Bologna?
Right.

There is no proof that it was original (there is no proof of anything's originality - if there were we wouldn't have to argue!), but there is also no reason to think it wasn’t. I think there is reason to believe that it was, and it is my premise.

If one denies the premise, preferring it wasn’t, one must defend it.

Who has the stronger reason to presume?

For my side, the conservatism of the Bolognese game and designs is in my favor. The earliest rules, in the Pedini manuscript, the original of which is consensually dated from the middle to the end of the 16th century, has it. The game hardly changes between then and the earliest printed rules, in 1754. It has hardly changed since, in its form of Ottocento. But the basic rules are still present.

Also in my favor is the existence of the rule in Piedmont and Savoy. Piscina's Discorso, 1565, written and published in Mondovì (Piedmont), says "Two Papi" (and "Emperor and King"). It is implausible for such a rule to have been invented independently twice, especially as the Piedmontese also observed the high Angel over the World – all the while using Tarot de Marseille numbered packs. The game in Piedmont must therefore have been established early, broadly, and deeply for these features to have persisted at all. Since Piedmont was already importing French tarots in 1505, there is little reason to argue that the Bolognese game took over the whole area in the early 16th century. It is even less plausible that the Piedmontese form of the game took over Bologna in the early 16th century. Whichever way you look at it, the Bolognese version of the game must have been established already in the 15th century.

If you prefer the premise that the equal-papi rule was not original, you have to account for its unlikely appearance in two distant and, as far as we know, unrelated places. Savoy never dominated Bologna, nor Bologna Savoy. If you posit that a vast Bolognese-tarocchino invasion happened sometime in the 16th century, you have to account for the fact that the Piemontesi still played with the “Piedmont” design, which is closely related to the Tarot de Marseille, that the equal-papi rule was widespread up until the 18th century, and the Angel beating the World until today (despite the numbering on all the cards according with the Tarot de Marseille, with World at XXI and Angel at XX), and that they don’t use the reduced 62 card pack. The weight of the evidence points to the game being known in the 15th century, with the 78 card pack.

The best hypothesis I have is that in the earliest diffusion of the game was according to the Bolognese pattern and rules, and it reached as far as Savoy, where the game became deeply entrenched, if not further. When Bolognese cards ran out (as they quickly would), they began importing cards from their neighbours in France. But they continued to play by the then traditional rules. By this time, the French cardmakers had been changing the pattern and begun numbering the cards, but the rules the Savoyards/Piemontese were used to stuck with them, only gradually eroding."
What makes this interesting is that the four are all of equal rank, and any of them can trump the others, it is sort of a mini game within the game.
Part of my reasoning in preferring Bologna is based on the premise of the equal-papi rule being original. I think this rule shows a cynicism, or at least pragmatism, with regards to the papacy that I believe would not be commonly found in Florence. And if the game were invented any time between 1439 and 1441, the Pope and grand Council were actually there in Florence! In the times we are dealing with at least, the Florentines were always on very good terms with the papacy, whereas the Bolognese were cynical for plenty of reasons.

Firstly, in the 20s and 30s they had gone through several bad papal legates, who sometimes fomented bloody reprisals against the Bentivoglio faction. They wanted independence, on the Florentine model. To cap it off, a few months before Eugene IV arrived in Bologna in 1436, his legate invited Antonio Bentivoglio back from 15 years in exile, and promptly had him betrayed and executed.

Secondly, both of the chronicles and historians like Ghirardacci note the deep deception the Bolognese felt when Eugene IV left for Ferrara in January, 1438. He had come to Bologna from Florence (having been chased out of Rome in 1434) in April 1436, and promised to hold the proposed council with the Greeks in Bologna. To this end he raised a high tax in the city, for the purpose of helping the Greeks come. However he had been making secret negotiations with Niccolo d'Este to hold the council in Ferrara. Altogether, between 1436 and the beginning of 1438, he managed to take 30,000 ducats from the city. At midnight on January 23, 1438, he secretly left for Ferrara via the canal between the two cities.

Third - the hatred of Papal rule and this Pope in particular was so great that some citizens conspired to let Visconti take the city. Visconti was of course Eugene's arch-enemy (he had been instrumental in strengthening the Colonna party against Eugene in Rome, which had forced him to flee in 1434, for instance), and he was happy to take advantage of the opportunity, sending in Piccinino to declare the city for him in May, 1438. Eugene's fear of Visconti's power at this time was enough that when the council in Ferrara was transferred to Florence in early 1439, he couldn't go straight, past Bologna. He sent his goods and household one way, down the Po by the north to Taglio, then down the coast to the Lamone river, where they passed on land between Faenza and Forli. He took another way, riding secretly at midnight (again!) with some Cardinals, Leonello d'Este and the Greek Emperor down to Modena, through the region of Frignano, south down to Pistoia, and thence to Florence.

Fourth, Visconti posted the decrees of the Council of Basel in his territories (until 1441). This included the decree that deposed Eugene from the papacy and all ecclesiastical office in June, 1439. This is duly noted in the chronicles, just as they note the election of Amadeus VIII as (anti)Pope by the Council of Basel in November of 1439 (the Chronicle A ("Cronaca Rampona") of RIS XVIII, 1/4 (Corpus Chronicorum Bononiensium, vol. 4) p. 97, says of Eugene after this - "Del mese de novembre el concilio de Basilea si creò uno papa, lo quale papa si era ducha et signore de Savoglia in prima che fusse facto papa. Et in quello tempo era papa Eugenio quarto che steva in Fiorenza, ma havea pocho credito". The Chronicle B omits the final slight - "El concilio de Basilea creò uno papa del mese de novembre, el quale fuo chiamato papa Felice quarto. El qual papa era segnore e ducha de Savoglia in prima che fosse fato papa. Sì che in questo tempo erano dui papi, zoé papa Euzenio, che demorava in quel tempo in Fiorenza."

After the peace between Visconti and Venice in August 1441, both chronicles note that "et adì 14 del dicto (agosto) se levò le offexe a Bologna fra lo papa Eugenio et lo comum de Bologna" (ibid. p. 102)

So it appears that the schism was official policy in Bologna until August, 1441. In any case, the Bolognese did not like Eugene or his legates, and this "peace" was illusory; the commune successfully resisted attempts by the Pope to reassert his authority - this time in league with Visconti! - and the Bentivoglio established de facto dominance in 1446. A real accord was only reached with the papacy, now pope Nicholas V, in 1447. This would last for 60 years.

Thus, if the equal-papi rule is original, and reflects a certain realpolitik view of the world, I think a Bolognese is far more likely to have invented it (this presuming the tight dating and the plausibility of Bologna over Milan of course).

On the other hand, such a view may have been common anyway, with the past schism just two decades in the past, so my argument may be beside the point.

Ross
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Re: Bolognese sequence

#13
robert wrote: I like that this is not a "ranks of man" theme at all, as I have always struggled with this idea that the first 6 cards show such a thing, I don't believe that is the case because I think if it had been the case much better cards could have been chosen to show the stations. What is the point of an Empress if an Emperor is already there? Why not a Duke or a Doge or other ranks? The Popess too has always bothered me, I can place her as "Faith", or "The Church" if I want to, but I just don't see the sense of including her in a Ranks of Man scheme. So for me, to think that originally we had two Popes and two Emperors, and that depending on how the cards were played meant that the hierarchy would change each time is rather fun. The hard part here is to explain how two popes and two emperors becomes popess, empress, emperor and pope so very quickly as to be clearly feminized by the time of the Visconti cards?
The Popess issue is one reason I posted the "Popess in the Triumph of Love" images in the Exhibition Gallery. What is the Popess doing in the Triumph of Love?

The illustrations for Petrarch's "Trionfi" drew from many other sources than the poem itself. In the case of the Popess, the source appears to be Boccaccio's De claris mulieribus (Famous Women), who devotes a chapter to "Pope Joan the Englishwoman".
According to some, while a young girl she was beloved by a certain young student, whom she also loved; and so ardently, that disregarding the fact that she was a maid, putting aside all feminine timidity, she secretly left the home of her father and followed her lover all the way to England, having changed her clothing and her name; and there, in his company, she studied letters, being supposed by everyone to be a (male) student, while nevertheless at the same time being as given to the studies of Venus as much as to those of Minerva. Afterwards, the young man being dead, when she had come to know how much spirit she had, attracted by the pleasure of learning, and remaining in the same manner of dress, she wanted no more to be somebody's companion, nor to be known as a woman but instead she continued assiduously at her studies, and had profited so much by study of the liberal arts, and at the study of holy letters, that she was reputed to be more excellent than all the other students....

(after going to Rome and becoming Pope, she gives birth after three years...)

... by this means the fraud became clearly apparent, for how long she had deceived every other man, except for her lover.
Boccaccio connects her to Venus and to learning, which is why she appears with a book in the Triumph of Love.
(BTW, Pope Joan is not mentioned by Petrarch in any of writings, that I know of.) She doesn't appear with a baby here because the point isn't her downfall, but her character as a captive of Love.

The V-S Popess would have this quality, and be a captive of Love, except that she is made to look more like a nun than a Pope. If we follow Michael Dummett's latest musings on the V-S deck, it could be as late as the 1460s - at least 2 decades after the earliest evidence of Tarot.

Whatever the date of the V-S deck, we have to consider the Cary Yale, which is definitely 1440s. This has no Popess, but it does have an Empress, which makes me suspect it had a female equivalent of the Pope too.

My guess about the presence of so many women in the courtly decks is that it reflects the players, whom we know to have significantly included women. The Cary Yale is excessive in this regard, even adding female counterparts to the Knights and Valets. In other words, courtly sensibilities ("romantic") meant that more women were portrayed. Giving each male a female counterpart may explain changing a Pope to a Popess and an Emperor to an Empress. Their presence as captives of Love (as in the Tarot) is indicated by the fashion of including a host of characters not mentioned by Petrarch, including the Popess (and Empresses of course), in illustrations of the Trionfi.

Ross
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Re: Bolognese sequence

#14
robert wrote: 2. The grouping of the Virtues
For me, this was an immediate indication to pay attention to this order. Every time I read a theory on the meaning of the sequence for the Tarot de Marseille I'm never convinced by the manoeuvrings to explain why the Virtues are split up as they are. The BT seems so much more natural that it alone almost suggest the oldest sequence, to me at least.
The Virtues move around a lot in the B and C sequences, while they are always grouped (albeit in two different ways) in the A or Southern sequences. The major "mover" in A is the Chariot - in Bologna it is always right after Love, in Florence it appears either just before or just after the Wheel of Fortune.

I think the Virtues are grouped in order to raise the question of "where's Prudence?" The paper you sent me, Robert, about the Sala degli Stucchi in Ferrara, where Justice is deliberately missing, is a "proof" I wanted to have to demonstrate this iconographic technique. Something else fills the expected place of the missing virtue. In the Sala's case, it was probably Borso himself, personifying Justice (his signature virtue); in the Tarot's case, I argue, it is the Wheel of Fortune.

Here's something I wrote about the question of the grouping and the missing virtue.

Missing Prudence

Everybody who has tried to interpret the Tarot trumps notes that there are three Cardinal Virtues instead of the expected four, and at some point asks, “Where’s Prudence?”

A few answers have been suggested: she was once there in an earlier version of the series, and was changed into another character or dropped (Dummett, along with most others); she is not necessary because in scholastic philosophy the three virtues are themselves a class, the Moral (or Appetitive) Virtues (Hurst).

But maybe the first reaction is the correct one; we are supposed to ask that question. That was part of the designer’s intention. Those three virtues are present, but not the highest of them, their guide, Prudence.

(This narrative technique is the iconographical equivalent of the rhetorical anacoluthon – “without completion” – when the first part of a sentence raises (the syntactically and grammatically necessary) expectation for a certain conclusion – but then the subject is abruptly changed, and the sentence never resolved.)

This reading is only possible when the three virtues are grouped together; what follows then is the unexpected conclusion. In the Bolognese series, the unexpected conclusion is Fortune. Instead of Prudence, the highest of the Cardinal virtues, we get Fortune.

Now we remember Caesar’s lesson, and we know what is coming next.

The most relevant contemporary example of this kind of anacoluthon compositional technique is the Sala degli Stucchi (also sometimes known as the Sala delle virtù) in the Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara. This was decorated in 1467, in Duke Borso’s time (1451-1471). Three Cardinal and the three Theological Virtues are depicted – the missing one is Justice (there is no room for it, so it is deliberately missing). Every art historian who has talked about the room has asked “Where is Justice?”, and the unanimous answer is that Borso’s personal dedication to this virtue suggests that Justice was set apart somehow, most likely that Borso himself was intended to personify Justice when using the room. “Where’s Justice? Ah – it’s the Duke himself!” Whether a statue or a living personfication, the grouping of all of the virtues but one was intended to raise the question of that one’s absence.

(The most recent and influential study of the Sala degli Stucchi and the question of the missing Virtue is Charles M. Rosenberg, "The Iconography of the Sala degli Stucchi in the Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara", The Art Bulletin, vol. 61 (1979), pp. 377-384. Judging by the responses to "sala degli stucchi" + "ferrara" in various accounts, reviews etc. on the web, his conclusions have been widely accepted.)

I think that this tactic of rousing of expectation is also present at the end of the trumps, with the sequence Star-Moon-Sun. The sense is one of increasing brightness, and only something brighter than the Sun can come next. Different sequences present different answers as to what comes next.

For Hurst’s de remediis interpretation of the Virtues in the Tarot de Marseille, this problem is also raised – where’s Prudence? The argument that the collection of three out of four Cardinal Virtues was intelligible as the Moral or Appetitive Virtues, as distinguished from the Intellectual Virtue, Prudence, raises the question of why the Tarot designer deliberately wanted to exclude the intellectual virtue from the sequence.

Ross
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Re: Bolognese sequence

#15
robert wrote: 3. The grouping of the Fool and Magician
It's my understanding (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that there is a special relationship between the Fool and the Magician in the BT. That they share a similar, but different, function in the game? Seeing them as a pair, especially when you look at some of the art like the Children of the Plants where they are somewhat paired up as well, makes sense to me. So we have at the start of the sequence a Pair of the Fool and the Magician, followed by a Set of the Papi, followed (after a slight interruption) by a Set of the Virtues.
Yes, the Fool and Bagattinon are known as Contatori (counters - I'm not sure whether that refers to their role (like the English "count for something"), or the points they score).

They are both "wild cards", with certain restrictions. In the Bolognese game there are gathered sequences of cards which add to a lot of points, and if you want to make a sequence but lack a card, and have either Contatore, you can use it. The restrictions are that the contatori cannot fill in for the Angel or a King, nor, if you have both, can you use them as wild cards sequentially (e.g. you can't make a sequence like Angel-World-Bagattino-Matto-Stella).

Another feature of the Bolognese game is that the Bagattino has a position (the lowest trump) but is not numbered "1". This was a feature of the game before some of the trumps actually began to be numbered, which weakens the argument that they started with Love as 5 in order to keep Death at 13.

The Matto has an additional role - he is an "excuse" who is not able to be captured (the Bagattino can of course be captured by any higher trump); you play the Matto when you don't want to be forced to play a more valuable card - he excuses you from following the rules in that trick (this is an almost universal feature of Tarot games).

Iconographically the two contatori do seem to form a pair. But the Matto appears by himself elsewhere, such as in the allegory of 1510 that I posted, and in images of Triumphs, where he is the legendary character who whispers "Remember, you are but a man", or maybe rather a ribald who is allowed to insult the Triumphator (which fits in with Tarot's use of him - he can "insult" any card).

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Paolo Uccello (1450s), "Triumph of Caesar".

Unfortunately Caesar is missing in the surviving portion of Uccello's painting, but he has given us a Fool.

Ross
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Re: Bolognese sequence

#16
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:... I think this rule shows a cynicism, or at least pragmatism, with regards to the papacy that I believe would not be commonly found in Florence....
Pro or anti-pope the Italian noble families of all regions were actively involved in the promotion of familiy members, from paying for 14-15 year old nephews to positions of cardinals, and the manipulation of family members to position of pope. Anti- or Pro I doubt any noble family was unaware of the pragmatic political value of princely and powerful position of Pope... It may show a cynicims and pragmatism, but no more than may be expected of any noble family involved in the manipulation of its family members to powerful position in the vatican.

Plus, it is the creation of a person not some abstract stereotype;. The divine comedy is full of anti-papal sentiment, by your logic it cannot have been created by anyone from Florence; as if everyone from Florence were some Florentine pro-papal steretype.
On the other hand, such a view may have been common anyway, with the past schism just two decades in the past, so my argument may be beside the point.
Yep...

SteveM

... You shall leave everything you love most:
this is the arrow that the bow of exile
shoots first. You are to know the bitter taste
of others' bread, how salty it is, and know
how hard a path it is for one who goes
... ascending and descending others' stairs
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Bolognese sequence

#17
Why Caesar ?

I’ve been greeted by a big “WTF?” by Michael, Robert and Steve when I posed this interpretation, and silence from others (only my wife Aline goes along with it – and today I got a classicist friend to see it, somewhat bewilderedly, after a crash course in some of the symbols). So here are some of my reasons.

The first problem might be the iconographical identification itself. Steve noted the winged helmet and voiced the most common initial reaction – “It’s Mercury.”

In fact nothing indicates it is Mercury. Winged helmets are common in medieval and Renaissance art in a variety of contexts, usually on warriors and gods like Mars – and of course Mercury. Out of context, a winged helmet alone is not sufficient to identify any character, which meant that other features had to be included. In Mars’ case, if he is not sufficiently identified by the context (like a Children of the Planets image with his name on it), then he will often have a beard. He appears frequently with a beard in the Triumph of Love, with a winged helmet, in these cases. Caesar also sometimes appears bearded, which seems odd to us.

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(Florentine print of the Trionfi, Triumph of Love, 1460-1470 – probably Mars with Venus – see below for Caesar with Cleopatra)

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(Julius Caesar from a Chronica figurate, showing “uomini famosi”, Rome or Naples, late 15th century)

A more important consideration is that the winged helmet was a symbol for Rome itself, on many of the coins that antiquities collectors had been collecting since the time of Petrarch. Frequently on one side will be the head with the winged helmet, sometimes with the word “Roma”, and on the other side a chariot or another scene. Renaissance collectors had not developed numismatics into a science and did not know the precise dating of most of these coins, so the prevalence of the Roma figure must have helped develop this image as a symbol for Rome and used on famous Romans like Caesar.
From the coin below, it is also easy to see how Caesar could be conflated with Mars and a winged helmet.

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“Roma”




But in any case, Julius Caesar was always shown armoured. Outside of Italy, he was usually shown with a King’s crown or an Emperor’s crown, while in Italy he had an eagle helmet or just wings.

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(Scheggia, Triumph of Fame, Florentine cassone, c. 1460)

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(Apollonio da Giovanni, Triumph of Fame, c. 1450s)

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(Florence, from the Triumph of Love, c. 1460 – probably Caesar because with a woman)

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(same print, could also be Caesar (Petrarch mentions him as the first person he sees in the Triumph of Love – but it is more likely Mars (atypically unbearded))

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(Caesar in the Triumph of Love, Florence, c. 1450)

At other times pure fantasy helmets were used – always including a winged figure in Caesar’s case, like an Eagle or a winged head.

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(Florentine print of the Trionfi, Triumph of Fame, 1460-1470)

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(the same Florentine print, Triumph of Love)

I’ve been a little dismayed that there does not appear to have been a study of medieval and Renaissance iconography of Julius Caesar, which is very different from our mental picture of him in a toga with a laurel wreath. I assume there must be one, but I don’t know what language it might be in or where to find it. So I had to look for myself.

The game was somewhat subversive, criticizing the corruption of the current political system. I would also suggest that the Bagattino-Papi section, and that of Caesar’s bad turn of Fortune and betrayal, is a political allegory on Bologna’s condition when Tarot was invented – betrayed by the Pope and at the mercy of the Duke (vicar of the Emperor). Since Tarot flourished in Bologna under the Bentivoglio, I am assuming that the designer was pro-Bentivoglio, which means that the allegory might also refer to the betrayal and assassination of Antonio Bentivoglio (23 December, 1435; also a deed of the papacy). For these reasons, the designer presented the story allegorically and symbolically rather than didactically, so that those who could see, would, and those who weren’t paying too much attention would miss the point. Everywhere the game travelled outside of Bologna, this allegory would not be understood at all, which allows for why different places changed the order and designs according to their own tastes.
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Re: Bolognese sequence

#19
For Huck and anyone interested in this subject, here are some considerations I have gathered from posts of a few months ago, when the idea was fresh (I may wish to reword some things for clarity now, but this is "as-was") -

On the "Bologna-Florence" axis idea -

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Given the similarity of the Charles VI to the Bolognese, I could accept that Florence and Bologna shared a common pattern initially, before evolving in different directions. So even if invented in Florence, I believe Bologna has kept the primitive pattern in this case, although the lack of the Star card in the Charles VI and Catania makes speculation about the meaning of the final section, based on the iconography, more difficult. The Rosenwald sheet is no help in this regard, since the Star, Moon and Sun contain no vignettes below the main subjects at all. We might suggest that the Minchiate image, clearly showing a Magus following the Star of Bethlehem, is an evolution of the vignette shown in the Bolognese pattern, which could (I believe mistakenly) be taken as the Three Magi – thereby indirectly indicating that the primitive Florentine design was similar to the surviving Bolognese ones (similar evolution or outright substitution is observable in many Minchiate cards compared to the primitive Florentine cards).

If we posit this shared original pattern between Florence and Bologna, with Bologna staying, over time, faithful to the original, I would use the Charles VI iconography and order more confidently. The main differences would be the figure on the World card, the depiction of Time, and the position of the Chariot (recognizing that we don’t know when the numbers were added).

The figure on the World in both Charles VI and Catania, and later with wings and halo in the Rosenwald sheet, resembles the allegory of Fama (or Gloria) in illustrated copies of Petrarch’s Trionfi (or earlier in the De viris illustribus) and in objects such as Lorenzo de’ Medici’s birth tray. Used independently of Petrarch’s scheme in such a way, it represents eternal Fame, a real triumph of the soul, not the vain worldly glory that is trumped by Time in the Trionfi. As such the Florentine section may be a Triumph of the Soul (rather than the Bolognese “Future Emperor” in my interpretation). For me it is easier to imagine the highly specific Bolognese story becoming generalized and conformed to Petrarchan imagery and ideology in Florence (and Milan, as in the Modrone), than it is to imagine the interpretation going in the other direction, becoming overlaid with the concerns of the late 1430s and early 1440s (although it could be argued that the growing threat of the Turks and Frederick III’s yet-unknown promise in the 1440s continuously fuelled speculation and interest in the prophecies relating to the future emperor who was to be called “Frederick”).

I assume that the allegory of Time would have been recognized as such whichever image was used. We do, however, know that the winged allegory is attested earlier than the earliest surviving Tarots, and by the time of the Rosenwald sheet the wings and pillar have been removed, and he looks simply like a very old man – so we might surmise that the simpler (less grotesque?) image, starting from the secondary version of Time attested in the 1450s, influenced engraved cards over time too. As before, Bologna has preserved the lectio difficilior and the older image.

The problem for the Chariot’s position is, why, if in Florence the original position was as the numbering on the Charles VI and Catania (and Minchiate) indicate, he would be moved from above to below the wheel, and finally all the way down to just above Love (assuming Florence’s order was original and this change happened in Bologna). I guess it could be to delineate the bounds of the exemplum more clearly – “It starts here”. But I prefer the scenario of Florence changing the position of the Chariot to conform to a more Senecan view of self-mastery and virtue overcoming Fortune, as it developed over the century, culminating, and becoming inverted, in Machiavelli’s vivid counsel to seize Fortuna, to “beat, harm, and hurt her” etc. (Il Principe, XXV; Stacey (see below further for the reference) discusses this on pp. 291-2 and passim). The change from Chariot below to Chariot above Fortune can be documented in Florence from the difference between the list in the Strambotti and the Minchiate, although the numbering on the Charles VI and Catania Chariots might suggest that this position for the Chariot was known earlier than 1500 in Florence.

On the other hand, placing the Chariot immediately preceding Time reminds us of the Petrarchan scheme – Time defeats Fame. However, the rest of the scheme falls apart (Treason doesn’t defeat Time in Petrach, and Death hasn’t even happened yet, which is completely backwards to the Petrarchan series), thus if so, it demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the middle section in my view (We know anyway that the trump scheme is not illustrating Petrarch’s Trionfi, although sharing some imagery was clearly irresistible and probably unavoidable).

Given my position that the best explanation of the series is that the three grouped virtues are meant to raise expectations for the fourth, Prudence, instead to be faced with Fortune, I believe that the preferable order is the Bolognese, where the Chariot precedes the Virtues. A corroboration might be taken from the de casibus exempla themselves, where the character is introduced before the story is told (as is perfectly natural). The best answer to potential criticism of this view of the maker’s intention in the position and grouping of these virtues, might be “It works, doesn’t it? Everybody has wondered where Prudence is. That game designer was very clever indeed.” It is probably too smart by half to suggest that the scholastic Appetitive Virtues sub-grouping in the Cardinal Virtues is a good explanation. The simpler view is that Prudence is missing for a reason. I believe this reason is to say something about Caesar, that he trusted finally in Fortune (and scoffed at fate) rather than Prudence, which led to his downfall at the predicted time, by treason. The broader message is the imprudence of trusting in, or glorying in, Fortune.

The warning for would-be tyrants, from the example of Caesar, if from Florence, is logical. It is the advice the Florentine contingent gave through the mouth of Caesar to the triumphant Alfonso V in Naples on February 26, 1443:

“And Chance, who extends her locks to you,
do not trust in everything, for she is false,
who put me, once triumphant, in decline.”

(E la Ventura, che ti porge il crino,
non ti dar tutto a lei, ch’ell’è fallace,
che me, che trionfai, misse in dechino.)*

(Poet Piero de’ Ricci, author of Caesar’s speech, quoted in Benedetto Croce, I teatri di Napoli (Bari, 1916), p. 6; also quoted in Philine Helas, Lebende Bilder in der italienischen Festkultur des 15. Jahrhunderts (Berlin, Akademie Verlag, 1999) p. 210)

Antonio Beccadelli (Panormita) describes it in Latin -

“...but as for Fortune, who was seen a little before extending her golden locks in front of you, by no means trust her, she is changeable and fickle. Behold the changeable world***, that everything is uncertain but virtue.”

(sed fortunae, quae tibi paulo ante crinem aureum porrigere videbatur, nequaquam confidas fluxa et instabilis est. Ecce et mundus volubilis et praeter virtutem omnia incerta.)

I guess it would all be equally logical from Bologna, which also prized its liberty, to use Caesar as a double-edged warning to would-be tyrants, whether Pope or Duke (the Emperor’s representative). (The debate about Caesar’s meaning in 14th – 15th century Italian rhetoric and polemic is explored in various sections of Peter Stacey, Roman Monarchy and the Renaissance Prince (Cambridge UP, 2007)

(downloadable – this episode in Alfonso’s triumph is described on page 184))

A Ferrarese-born jurist, Malatesta Ariosti (sometimes also given as Malatesta Ariosto), was responsible for designing Borso d’Este’s triumphal entry into Reggio in 1453. According to Helas, Ariosti had a treatise on Alfonso’s triumph which he used for his own planning (op. cit. p. 99 and note 219).

Caesar makes an appearance here and gives a speech too, which is closely based on Piero de’ Ricci’s poem, but adapted for Borso (given in Helas, p. 225)**. The relevant verse in Ariosti’s case reads:

Et la fortuna che te porgie el creno
Non te fidare in ley, che la e falaze
Che mi che triumphai, messo in declino.


The relation to the trionfi game? The game was invented at least a few years before Alfonso’s triumph, but I think that the figure of Caesar in the two actual triumphal pageants probably reflects what he is doing in the tarot trumps. Denuded of context, the abstract of Caesar’s role in these Renaissance triumphs is as Stacey says. Caesar’s lesson about Fortune was known by all, as it still is today (thanks in English to Shakespeare).

*Piero de’ Ricci’s poem:

Eccelso Re, o Cesare novello,
Giustizia con Fortezza e Temperanza,
Prudentia, Fede, Carità e Speranza,
ti farà trionfar sopr’ogni bello.

Se queste donne terrai in tu’ostello,
quella sedia fia fatta per tua stanza;
ma, ricordasi a te, tu sarai sanza,
se di Giustizia torcessi ‘l suggello.

E la Ventura, che ti porge il crino,
no ti dar tutto a lei, ch’ell’è fallace,
che me, che trionfai, misse in dechino.

El mondo vedi che mutazion face!
Che sia voltabil, tienlo per destino:
e questo vuole Iddio perché li piace.

Alfonso, Re di pace,
Iddio t’esalti e dia properitate,
salvando al mio Firenze libertate.

** Malatesta Ariosti’s poem (differences emphasized):

Excelso principe, o duca nouello,
Justicia cum forteza, temperantia
Prudentia, fede, Carita et speranza
Te faranno triumphare supra ogne bello.

Se queste Donne tu tera in tuo stillo
Questa sedia hanno facta per tua stantia
Ricordati che farai senza
Se ala Justicia torgiesse el sugello.

Et la fortuna che te porgie el creno
Non te fidare in ley, che la e falaze
Che mi che triumphai, messo in declino.

Voltabile et tolo per destino
Tu vedi il mondo che mutazione faze.
Et questo vole Jdio perche le piazze.

Borso Ducha di paze
Christo te exalta in tua prosperitade
Questo tuo Regio tu mantegni in libertade.

*** The figure of Caesar was on a revolving globe, possibly the first of its kind. Philine Helas has also written an article about globes in 15th century Italy –“"Mundus in rotundo et pulcherrime depictus: nunquam sistens sed continuo volvens": Ephemere Globen in den Festinszenierungen de italienischen Quattrocento” , Der Globusfreund (vol. 45-46 (1997-1998) and has an interesting thesis about the globe in Alfonso’s triumph. The summary is here:

http://www.coronelli.org/publikationen/gf4546.html
(third summary down)

Quote:

“At the above-mentioned event in Naples, Florentine merchants presented a statue of the emperor Caesar standing on a sphere painted to represent the earth, which was constantly revolving. It is my hypothesis that this globe was a product of the "scientific revolution" which began in early 15th Century Florence and was further proliferated by the Union Council in 1439 where Greek and Latin scholars met. Written sources make no mention of the creator of the 1443 globe. We can, however, reconstruct a highly suggestive connection: Piero de' Ricci was the author of a poem recited by Caesar; de' Ricci was acquainted with Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, the great Florentine cartographer who, in turn, was a friend of Filippo Brunelleschi, the well-known architect, engineer and constructor of machines for the religious spectacles in Florence. Together this is a rare combination of humanistic, artistic and scientific knowledge which could have formed the basis for this invention.”
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On whether the premise of meaning in the sequence or no meaning is preferable.

"In answer to your question, I think the premise of meaning in the sequence is more sound than a premise of no meaning. We can argue for the soundness of the premise by suggesting external comparisons – invented Renaissance games like Marziano’s card game and Cusa’s Globe Game, both conceived with a symbolic plan in mind, as well as the observation that it is difficult to remember the unnumbered trumps without some organizing principle. An organizing principle for a non-numbered (or non-alphabetic or other external device, such as a conventional hierarchy) set of pictures, can only be a narrative; a narrative is a story, and a story by definition has a meaning.

The difficulty for commentators prior to Dummett was that the three groups weren’t recognized as such, which made it seem that if the trumps have a coherent sequential meaning, everything had to be part of the same story line (a second difficulty is that the three families weren’t recognized as such, and those commentators who tried to interpret the sequence, in French or English, relied on the Tarot de Marseille order, which made it even harder). With the three groups of subject matter, we can begin to see that they may be better interpreted as a three short stories linked by a common theme - “Triumph”, the name of the game. All three parts concern Emperors, which require no apology to be associated with triumphs (nor Popes, who also had triumphs). The first part is the Emperors of the present world – who will triumph this time in the struggle between Pope and Emperor, Church and Council (the equal papi rule)? One thing is sure, they are all subject to cupiditas (in this case desire for money and power). The second is a past example of a triumphator, with a lesson everyone could appreciate. The last is the final triumph, first of a Last Emperor, and finally God once and for all (at the End of Time).

The “why?” is something we’ve discussed before – it is a “completion” of the moralization of the ordinary playing card pack. The status mundi is described in the ordinary pack, but there are powers higher than kings playing this game, moral lessons, and ultimate things to consider as well.

My interpretation of the final section is based on a specific iconography, which may be wrong. But whether you buy my interpretation or not, first you have to accept that the three groups can be described with a coherent meaning at all.

Dummett characterized the three groups in his 1985 FMR article “Tarot Triumphant” as

1 – the Bagatto and the four papal and imperial cards;

2 – the conditions of human life;

3 – spiritual and celestial powers.

This is the “vague hierarchy” (Michael Hurst’s term) he outlined for the choice of subjects and their grouping. He was not the first to recognize these three parts nor to characterize them more or less in this way, but I am sure it was an independent discovery for him.

But Dummett’s attempt to characterize, summarize or describe the three parts was the second step he made only after he had done the purely formal work of discovering the fact of the three sections in all variations of the Tarot:

excluding for the moment the Virtues,

1 – no card below the Pope ever rises above him in any list of trumps (group 1);

2 – no card after the Pope and before the Devil ever goes below or above this section (group 2);

3 – no card after the Devil ever goes below him (group 3).

From the resulting arrangements of specific trumps within the three groups, and adding the Virtues back in, Dummett was able to reduce the dozen or so lists of trumps he knew to three families. With this discovery, he was able to link each family with a specific city or region. Thus, instead of the art history arguments that Klein for instance had to rely on to sort through some of the mass of evidence, Dummett had given a key for instant indentification if enough of the order of the trumps were known, irrespective of the style of the cards or whether we had the cards at all (only a list).

I have spoken only of Dummett, but I am sure that Sylvia Mann’s great talent for systematization influenced him immensely. Together they created the discipline of tarot history.

As I noted above, Dummett subsequently took a second step, based on the first one, of describing and characterizing the three sections of trumps. But as you know, he has gone no further with attempting to explain the specific choices of subjects or orderings within the sections. It is not something he has shown a great deal of interest in doing, for whatever reasons. The primary purpose of the trumps, whatever the reasons for their images being selected, is to play a game with a permanent set of trumps. From this perspective, the question of the meaning of the trump sequences is at best a historical curiosity.

But there is one justification beyond mere curiosity for trying to understand the meaning of the trumps’ selection and order. This is to undermine the esoteric historical fantasies which nearly everyone believes about the Tarot that have come to substitute for true historical understanding. Thus historical research into the origins of the Tarot game has a polemical motive – debunking -, and this was the spirit in which Dummett wrote several chapters of his magnum opus and continually reiterates to this day. It is also the spirit in which people like Michael Hurst and I write (he much more “polemical” than I).

Beyond the debunking motive, it is very curious, educational, and a lot of fun to try to understand how this particular selection of 21 (or 22) trump cards came about (if you like to study the late middle ages and specifically the Italian Quattrocento, of course).

But do the trumps as we have them, in any known order, tell a story?

This is a legitimate question, since as you noted hundreds of years have failed to produce a satisfactory explanation (I believe that it was effectively impossible before 1980, so only 30 years). In fact, of course, very few have genuinely tried in those hundreds of years, and only a handful in the last 30.

Dummett noted in 1980 that if they do tell a coherent story, we will have to know the original subjects and order first. This may seem an impossible condition, since the earliest surviving tarots are not complete, and we don’t know their exact order nor the iconography of the missing cards in the original early sets. To fulfill the condition, we have to argue, however well we can, for one of the established orders being the original, and allow for only inconsequential changes in iconography to have occurred between its invention and its earliest exemplar (my argument), or argue for a hypothetical original that may have no surviving descendants. If we believe that the original designs, number of trumps, and original sequence is irretrievably lost, we are obliged to give up unless or until plausible and useful evidence of it turns up (your position).

Michael Hurst believes that Dummett’s condition is unnecessary and impossible, and that it is possible to tell the story of a set of trumps without positing it as the Ur-Tarot. That is, a given series may be a reinvention with its own coherent meaning without reference to what a hypothetical Ur-Tarot might have been (as I state it, it is a banal observation, but he takes issue with the word “reinvention”, since there is an implied original lurking in the background). While of course true in principle, there is no need to insist on the exclusivity of either approach. The Ur-Tarot may exist, it can be interpreted. Derivatives may be authentic reinventions and open to interpretation. Some trumps orders and iconography may be incoherent. Animal Tarots and Tarot Nouveau genre-scenes probably do not have a coherent unifying narrative; the presence of numbers degrades the need for clear narrative, etc.

I also believe that trying to interpret a Tarot without having an idea of its place on the family tree, or having some idea about to what degree it is derivative, is a slippery slope to self-delusion. Using historical methodology, to establish sound reasons for choosing one type of tarot first, at least makes the slope much less slippery.

But the question of meaning is one of principle – is it a sound premise or not?

Dummett framed the issue this way: “The question is whether the sequence as a sequence has any symbolic meaning. I am inclined to think that it did not: to think, that is, that those who originally designed the Tarot pack were doing the equivalent, for their day, of those who later selected a sequence of animal pictures to adorn the trump cards of the new French-suited pack. They wanted to design a new kind of pack with an additional set of twenty-one picture cards that would play a special, indeed a quite new, role in the game; so they selected for those cards a number of subjects, most of them entirely familiar, that would naturally come to the mind of someone at a fifteenth-century Italian court. It is a rather random selection: we might have expected all seven principal virtues, rather than just the three we find – and, of course, we do find all seven in the Minchiate pack. With the Sun and Moon we might have expected the other five planets, instead of just a star; with the Pope and Emperor, we might have expected other ranks and degrees. But, of course, in a pack of cards what is essential is that each card may be instantly identified, so one does not want a large number of rather similar figures, especially before it occurred to anyone to put numerals on the trump cards for ease of identification.

“This is my opinion, but I do not want to insist on it. It may be that those who first devised the Tarot pack had a special purpose in mind in selecting those particular subjects and in arranging them in the order they did: perhaps they spelled out, to those capable of reading them, some satirical or symbolic message. If so, it is apparent that, at least by the sixteenth century, the capacity to read this message had been lost. (…)

“The search for a hidden meaning may be a unicorn hunt; but, if there is a hidden meaning to be found, only a correct basis of fact will lead us to it. The hidden meaning, if any, lies in the sequential arrangement of the trump cards; and therefore, if it is to be uncovered, we must know what, originally, that arrangement was.” (GT, pp. 387-388, emphasis added).

I bolded the first statement to highlight that I think the analogy is poor – animals and other scenes with no connecting narrative could only be substituted for the old trumps when large numbers were already printed on the card. Nobody was expected to remember “boar, pig, chicken, cow, bear, frog, camel, wolf…” etc. The last bolded sentence in the paragraph agrees with this sentiment, and suggests another train of thought. We know that the Bolognese players learned the order by heart, without numbers, until the late 18th century. It is therefore possible for people to learn the trump order more easily than a random selection of “rather similar figures”.

But Dummett proposes that it was, nonetheless, a random selection. The scenario he seems to suggest is that the inventor pre-decided a certain number of trumps (21), took a body of conventional images, let’s say 100, put them into a sack, shook it well, and drew 21 out.

Yet everywhere they went, people arranged these random figures, still presumably without numbers, into the same three groups – this was the very discovery which allowed Dummett to describe three families of orders. Thus everyone who saw these random subjects arranged them in a broadly similar way – this suggests they were meaningful groupings to those who so arranged them.

Within the groupings, they arranged them slightly differently, but with the exception of the placement of the virtues, there are few differences among the families. We could suggest that, like a Chinese Whisper, in the early diffusion of the game, the person who was transmitting it had learned the most basic parts (Bagattino lowest, Angel/World highest, Pope highest of the Popes and Emperors, Devil and Tower together, Star lower than Moon and Sun…) but lost was the the exact order of the Virtues or the placement of the Chariot or Time (or whatever in the middle section).

I think this is a confusing scenario, and a preferable one is that the orders are meaningful changes in reaction to a received order – whichever order was received in the location that decided to change it. They didn’t like, or perhaps understand, the order as given, and made their own story out of the sequence.

So I think a better view is that there was a basic descriptive content of the three sections, such as Dummett and we have worked out, and that everybody learned it – or already clearly recognized it - first – Bagattino is lowest (by definition), then four Papi, then human life/morality, finally God’s stuff. This is the basic description of the three parts that a handful of people over the past two centuries have recognized.

The other two bolded passages in the quote above show that Dummett himself was not quite satisfied by the “pulled out of a hat” scenario, but he had nothing better to propose. However, his discovery of the three groupings was advancement enough, and we will work from there.

A further question concerns the issue of whether we can find the original order or not. The answer to this depends upon historical argumentation, whether we can settle on a place and time of invention, and what our model of the development of the various trump sequences is.

We can posit an unknown phase of development, the longer the better, during which the original order and sequence was lost. If that is our position, we can still try to re-create a meaningful Ur-sequence that told a story with our presumed missing cards (usually Prudence, maybe the Theological Virtues).

My argument is conservative, and the dating is much tighter, giving less room for that scenario. I think that the number of cards and their subjects was original and has been preserved, in either the Bolognese order in particular, or at least the A family more generally.

In my support, I have those games that have attestation of their invention, Marziano’s and Cusa’s, and reinventions like Boiardo’s, which show that the invention sprang fully formed from the mind of the inventor. I think that Triumphs must have been the same, the obscurity of its origins lying somewhere in the destroyed records of Visconti Milan or Bentinvoglio Bologna (Cecelia Ady, “Materials for the History of the Bentivoglio Signoria in Bologna”, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, s. 4, vol. XVII (1934), p. 57), if a princely or quasi-princely invention, or in the yet more obscure bourgeois-invention scenario. Perhaps also the fact that it has a meaningful name, clearly related to the subject matter, and not an inscrutable nickname like ronfa, cricca etc., is a proof of its intentionality over the scenario of a slow development with many changes.

There are very few people who have offered sincere historical attempts to understand the narrative of the series (by “the series” I mean the 22 standard subjects, whichever order is chosen for exegesis). I am omitting the numerous esoteric moralities, beginning with Court de Gébelin, and of which the most influential now is the “Fool’s Journey” invented by Eden Gray and based in popular Jungianism, as non-historical.

Before 1980 only Moakley gave a competent interpretation in any sense of the word (I put the 16th century Discorsi in a different category of course). However, most people find it unconvincing.

After 1980, John Shephard (1985) and Timothy Betts (1998) are the only two who have offered historically based interpretations. Neither attempt has been widely accepted, and neither book was reprinted. Robert O’Neill’s attempts (from 1985 to this day), while informed by history, are occultist apologetics. Ronald Decker has promised one, but from what little I know of it, it will be implausible. All of these are in English, and I know of no attempts in French, Italian or German (except for Lothar). This is probably because the English speaking world only knows Tarot as an occult object, and Dummett’s work and its proponents have caused a major upheaval in English Tarotism. Although Dummett is well-represented in Italian, he is not in French or German. It is probably of no consequence – Italians are quite happy to imagine Tarot invented in their Renaissance anyway.

Michael Hurst has offered an interpretation of the Tarot de Marseille which most fully takes into account Dummett’s primary insights, but of course also tries to explain the exact sequence and choice of images. I will no doubt oversimplify if not caricature his interpretation, and he has posted widely on it, so I’ll let him speak for himself."

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On the evidence for the antiquity of the equal-papi rule.

"Equal papi rule

There is no proof that it was original, but there is also no reason to think it wasn’t. I think there is reason to believe that it was, and it is my premise.

If you deny the premise, you are preferring it wasn’t, and must defend it.

Who has the stronger reason to presume?

For my side, the conservatism of the Bolognese game and designs is in my favor. The earliest rules, in the Pedini manuscript, the original of which is consensually dated from the middle to the end of the 16th century, has it. The game hardly changes between then and the earliest printed rules, in 1754. It has hardly changed since, in its form of Ottocento. But the basic rules are still present.

Also in my favor is the existence of the rule in Piedmont and Savoy. It is implausible for such a rule to have been invented independently twice, especially as the Piedmontese also observed the high Angel over the World – all the while using Tarot de Marseille numbered packs. The game in Piedmont must therefore have been established early, broadly, and deeply for these features to have persisted at all. Since Piedmont was already importing French tarots in 1505, there is little reason to argue that the Bolognese game took over the whole area in the early 16th century. It is even less plausible that the Piedmontese form of the game took over Bologna in the early 16th century. Whichever way you look at it, the Bolognese version of the game must have been established already in the 15th century.

If you prefer the premise that the equal-papi rule was not original, you have to account for its unlikely appearance in two distant and, as far as we know, unrelated places. Savoy never dominated Bologna, nor Bologna Savoy. If you posit that a vast Bolognese-tarocchino invasion happened sometime in the 16th century, you have to account for the fact that the Piemontesi still played with the “Piedmont” design, which is closely related to the Tarot de Marseille, that the equal-papi rule was widespread up until the 18th century, and the Angel beating the World until today (despite the numbering on all the cards according with the Tarot de Marseille, with World at XXI and Angel at XX), and that they don’t use the reduced 62 card pack. The weight of the evidence points to the game being known in the 15th century, with the 78 card pack.

The best hypothesis I have is that in the earliest diffusion of the game was according to the Bolognese pattern and rules, and it reached as far as Savoy, where the game became deeply entrenched, if not further. When Bolognese cards ran out (as they quickly would), they began importing cards from their neighbours in France. But they continued to play by the then traditional rules. By this time, the French cardmakers had been changing the pattern and begun numbering the cards, but the rules the Savoyards/Piemontese were used to stuck with them, only gradually eroding."

Ross
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Caesar again

#20
Some time ago, Marco sent me this emblem of Julius Caesar, which he found in Paolo Giovio (1483-1552)Le sententiose imprese di monsignor Paulo Giovo, et del signor Gabriel Symeoni (Lyon, 1562).

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From the Warburg digital collections of emblem books, http://www.digitalbookindex.com/_search ... embksa.asp

A rough translation of the Tetrastich -

"Julius (that Caesar of whom the like and second
has never yet been born), who clearly demonstrates
that knowledge and arms will gain
immortal fame and the great scepter of the world"

I don't know if there is an earlier one, since Giovio died in 1552 (it may have been only published posthumously).

However, I found it slightly earlier in Gabriele Simeoni (without Giovio's name), Le sententiose imprese, et dialogo del Symeone (Lyon, 1560). I thought it was very much worthy of comparison with the World card of the Beaux-Arts sheet, c. 1500, which is attributed to Bologna.



In the earliest A traditions - Charles VI and Catania, it is clearly a female, not and armed or male figure on the world. Even in the Visconti di Modrone, which I take to be a cognate, it is female, and seems to represent Glory or Fame. In an alternate A tradition, Rosenwald, it is an angel holding the world - but we know that Fame could be shown with wings like this, so it may not be an "angel", but rather Fame again in Rosenwald (Eternal Fame here, in the highest part of the trump sequence, not worldly glory, like in the Chariot).

The Beaux-Arts sheet, the earliest example of the established Bolognese tradition, stands apart from these other examples of the A or southern tradition - even though it represents Fame, it also represents a certain kind of fame, not just a standard personification of it. This is "Imperial Fame", just like in the Giovio-Simeoni example.

Does the Beaux-Arts World reflect the original Bolognese tradition, or is it a change made to the design, and the original looked more like a female personification of Fame/Glory? My own belief is that it reflects the earliest Bolognese tradition, and this belief rests on the conservatism of the Bolognese tradition.
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