I am starting this thread to discuss Andrea' Vitali's provocative essay "Tharochus Bacchus est", now available in English (http://www.letarot.it/page.aspx?id=287&lng=ENG). He advances a new hypothesis for the origin of the word "tarocchi": that it comes from a classical source available in 15th century Italy about Bacchus; specifically, that it refers to a person who Diodorus Siculus called "Tharopes" or possibly even "Tharocus", the one to whom Bacchus first gave his rites. In this post I do not intend to repeat what Andrea says; I want to defend his hypothesis with additional data, sticking very closely to 15th-16th century Italy.
1. "Tharopes" in Diodorus Siculus
To start with, here is a modern translation of the passage in Diodorus, from vol. 3, p. 65 of his Library of History (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/R ... s/3E*.html, also in Italian). I put the name in bold:
In modern Greek editions, the word "Charops" is spelled "Charopos": chi alpha rho omicron pi omicron sigma; also "Charopi" in a different case. But in an edition accessible to me, Vogel 1888, reprinted 1964, p. 374. Vogel gives a variant: the same, but with a theta at the beginning, hence "Tharopos." The source for this variant is given as "II". No doubt he identifies this "II" in his Introduction, but this Introduction is in Latin, and my Latin is insufficient to say what "II" is. It is online at http://books.google.com/books?id=-mARAA ... &q&f=false....Among those who were punished by him, the most renowned, they say, were Pentheus among the Greeks, Myrrhanus the king of the Indians, and Lycurgus among the Thracians. For the myth relates that when Dionysus was on the point of leading his force over from Asia into Europe, he concluded a treaty of friendship with Lycurgus, who was king of that part of Thrace which lies upon the Hellespont. Now when he had led the first of the Bacchantes over into a friendly land, as he thought, Lycurgus issued orders to his soldiers to fall upon them by night and to slay both Dionysus and all the Maenads, and Dionysus, learning of the plot from a man of the country who was called Charops, was struck with dismay, because his army was on the other side of the Hellespont and only a mere handful of his friends had crossed over with him. 5 Consequently he sailed across secretly to his army, and then Lycurgus, they say, falling upon the Maenads in the city known as Nysium, slew them all, but Dionysus, bringing his forces over, conquered the Thracians in a battle, and taking Lycurgus alive put out his eyes and inflicted upon him every kind of outrage, and then crucified him. Thereupon, out of gratitude to Charops for the aid the man had rendered him, Dionysus made over to him the kingdom of the Thracians and instructed him in the secret rites connected with the initiations; and Oeagrus, p301 the son of Charops, then took over both the kingdom and the initiatory rites which were handed down in the mysteries, the rites which afterwards Orpheus, the son of Oeagrus, who was the superior of all men in natural gifts and education, learned from his father; Orpheus also made many changes in the practices and for that reason the rites which had been established by Dionysus were also called "Orphic."
Toward the end of the 1400s, what was most widely available was Poggio's 1449 translation into Latin, which circulated widely in manuscript before being printed. According to Vogel's introduction, the first printing was 1472. He says Venice and Paris; WorldCat and the Loeb editor say Bologna. If Bologna, that is aleady auspicious, as that city was already probably a major producer of the deck with the special cards, and Diodorus must have been one of the first books printed in that city. I have not myself seen a copy of the relevant page of Poggio's translation, although I hope to remedy that situation soon.
What I do have is a 1476-1478 English translation, by a certain John Skelton, based on a manuscript copy of Poggio (The Bibliotheca historica of Diodorus Siculus translated by John Skelton, edited by F. M. Salter and H. L. R. Edwards, vol. I text, London 1956; and vol. 2, Introduction, Notes, and Glossary, London 1957). Here I will skip over the beginning of the passage I have quoted (although I will return to it later, in connection with one of the early decks), and start by quoting the sentence that first mentions the person in question (p. 317):
We then have, at somewhat greater length than in the original, the story of the betrayal by "Kyng Ligurge" and Dionysus's successful counter-attack. I resume the narrative, which also is longer than the original, this time putting in bold the part that says Dionysus instructed him as to the proper rites, and also the reference to Orpheus.Albe-it, this conspiracye, by aduenture, as it fortuned, was disclosed by an estaungiere that dwelled in the contrey, whos name was Tharopes, in-so-moche that of enward abashment for thise tydinges Dionisius, sore affrayed by encheson that his hoste of people were not as yet commen over the watre vnto hym, by meanes of such frendes as he had there, prively he was conveyed and so brought over vnto the strenghe of his owne men of warre.
This "Tharopes"--surely something similar in Poggio's Latin--is not quite "tarocco". Andrea bridges the gap by citing the 18th century German scholar Ernesti, who, in a footnote to his edition of Cicero's De Natura Deorum, spells the name "Tharocus", which Andrea assumes comes from an old manuscript of Diodorus.Callyng vnto his pryncely remembraunce the grete kyndenes and benefight of his frynde Tharopes, which vnto hym had discovered this treason falsely contrived, by occasion whereof he advoided the daungeour and ieopardie of his owne life, determyned with hym-self by good aduertisement his feithfull and trew mynde nobly to rewarde, intrononysed hym with kyngly honour, crownyng hym with the roiall diademe of all / the londe of Trace, as prynce and gouernour that roialme to haue vndre his domynyon at his commaundement and pleasure, levyng vnto hym a president how he shuld behave hym-self in solennely observyng the festfull seremonyes of Bachus the god of wyne. Whom succeded by enheritaunce of roiall descente his owne sonne Sagrus, and toke vppon the crowne and sceptre to rule and guyde the lande with all such obseraunces of divyne religion as his fadre tofore hadde accustumed to envre and solennyse; which, as in olde auctorities by writyng I fynde, were thensignementes of Orpheus that passyngly farre passed all other of pregnant reason in this behalve. How-be-it, Dionysius sumwhat annexed and added vnto the same solennyties, wherfor it is senesterly reported that thise ceremonyall mysteries which of Orpheus for a trouthe toke theire formere origynall, shuld procede and take her prymordiall first grounde of Dionisius.
2. From "Tharopes to "Tarocco"
Modern standard Italian doesn't have a "th" sound. Since it is derived from Tuscan, it seems to me that "Tharocus" would easily reduce to "Tarocus" for Poggio and his readers. In Skelton I notice that the spelling of one name does alternate between "Th" and "T": one "Tamyris" is on p. 321 of Skelton, but "Thamyris" on p. 322. Since English does have a "th". Perhaps he is copying Poggio. As we will see later, this other name "Thamyris" in fact does appear in one early 16th century Italian tarot deck.
However there is so far no evidence that such a spelling as "Tharocus" was extant in 15th century Italy. As I say, this is not a variant listed in modern critical editions. So rather than bridging the gap that way, I would prefer to do it another. Andrea, in his essay "The Etymology of Tarot", footnote 12, cites, for "Taroccare" (I highlight the most important part(:
We know that Greek was certainly in fashion during the second half of the 15th century. And people going to Greece then, to get out manuscripts or relatives or to study, had also to contend with Turkish. We also know of this period in history, when vernacular languages were supplanting Latin among the literati, that a great many new words either were invented or at least appeared for the first time. This John Skelton, for example, was as of 1957 credited by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) with at least 640 words (or particular senses of words, that had never appeared before in writing (vol 2 p. xxxii). In addition, the editors say that there are 816 more that the OED missed (p. xxxiii). The total, even allowing for inaccuracies, is impressive. We know that literati didn't just use words that already existed but invented them. That is what authors charged about "tarocco" etc., that it was a barbarian word given a "vulgar Latin"--i.e. Tuscan--ending (see Andrea's essay "Taroch:Vulgar Latin"). Shakespeare invented constantly; my favorite is "superflux" in King Lear, which is simply "overflow" in Latin. New words most commonly came from Latin, because that's what the literati knew, but Greek was also used. In late 15th century Italy Greek was fashionable. Even if one didn't know it, knowing some obscure Greek words would have made one seem erudite....the Vocabolario Universale Italiano, compilato a cura della Società Tipografica Tramater e C., Napoli, 1840: "(in modo basso) gridare, adirarsi [inquietarsi gridando forte, schiamazzare]. Lat. ira, excandescere. Dal greco Tarachos tumulto. In turco Taraka, tumulto, strepito, rumore. In persiano Tyrak vale per il medesimo".
(the Vocabolario Universale Italiano, compiled by Tramater & C. Typographical Company, Naples, 1840: “(in low manner) shout, become angry, [Troubled or angry loud shouting, clamour]. Latin: anger, excandescere. From Greek Tarochos, tumult. Taraka in Turkish, tumult, clamour, din. Tyrak in Persian, with the same signification".)
So we have this word for "tumult". That is clearly how the Bacchantes would have appeared to someone who was unsympathetic to them. So our literati, being piously misogynist Christian monks, take the Greek word and use it based on their view of the so-called "rites" of Bacchus and Orpheus, with their flesh-eating women, It now gets the same meaning as "mania": not only tumult but craziness, mass delusions, etc. In Euripides' The Bacchae, Dionysus creates illusions: to Pentheus, he creates the illusion that his palace burns and falls from lightning and earthquake (as in the "Fire" card; for the text, find "totter" at http://classics.mit.edu/Euripides/bacchan.html); and later Pentheus's mother thinks she is eating a wild animal when in fact she is eating her son's flesh (find "thy own son" at same site and read on through Agive's own version of the event); and so on.
Now let us turn to the first known instances of "tarocchi"-type words. One is the in the sentence that Ross translated, from the Maccheronea (dedicated to Gaspare Visconti, d. 1499), by the poet Bassano Mantovano. The other is in the Frotula de le dòne (Frottola of women) by Giovann Giorgio Alione, published in 1521 but, according to Alione's 1865 editor, composed much earlier, toward the year 1494, since it refers to the descent into Italy of Charles VIII ( http://www.associazioneletarot.it/page.aspx?id=264).
Here is the first, with Ross's translation:
And the relevant stanza of the Frotula:Erat mecum mea socrus unde putana
Quod foret una sibi pensebat ille tarochus
Et cito ni solvam mihi menazare comenzat.
(My mother-in-law was with me, and this idiot thought he could get some money out of her, so he started threatening me).
No one knows what this thing means. But here is Andrea's commentary (http://www.associazioneletarot.it/page. ... 264&lng=EN):Marì ne san dè au recioch
Secundum el Melchisedech
Lour fan hic. Preve hic et hec
Ma i frà, hic et hec et hoc
Ancôr gli è – d'i taroch
Chi dan zù da Ferragù
Ross translates "tarochus" as "idiot", and Andrea translates "taroch" as "foolish". "Idiot" and "fool" mean pretty much the same thing in conversational English. But other English words, with a different meaning, would fit both, notably "deluded".o understand the word taroch in this work we have made use of the translation that Enzo Bottazzo made of many words of the Frotula in the work edited by him, Giovan Giorgio Alione, L'Opera Piacevole (Giovanni Giorgio Alione, The Pleasant Work) (9), where for taroch he gave "sciocchi" (foolish) (10). So the verse with the word taroch, "Ancôr gli è - d'i taroch", must be translated as "there are still some fools" (probably in reference to betrayed husbands).
There are also the definitions in English for "da tarocco" given by Florio in 1611 : "gullish, wayward, peevish" (http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/florio/search/153r.html). A gull is a dupe; that is close to the modern English "fool" (for which another term in the US from the late 19th century on, is the term "patsy", which may derive from "pazzi"). "Wayward"wil is to say willful, perverse, unpredictable. Peevish means ill-tempered, contrary.The last two wouldn't fit the Frotula, but would fit Ross's. Later uses of "tarocco" fit "ill-tempered" and even "angry". For example there is Garzoni's Hospital of Incurable Madmen, where the "tarocco" madmen are not only irritable but angry, and not just deluded but crazy, i.e. "pazzi" and "matto". I quote from Vitali's essay, Italian and English versions, leaving the "tarocco" words untranslated:
The published English translation of this book (by Daniela Pastina and John W. Crayton, Tempe Arizona 2009, p. 105) has "enraged" for "toraccando" and "Full of Wrath" for "da tarocco". It is not clear to me that any actual reference to tarot cards is asserted here, although of course by then the word "tarocchi", as applying to the game, was well known. - Alcuni hanno nel cervello inserto un spirito sí fatto che, quando qualche volta avviene che si tengano offesi o ingiuriati da qualcuno, con una pazza volontà cominciano a un tratto a contender con quello; e secondo che dalla banda (1) dell'offensore vanno multiplicando I'ingiurie e l'offese, cosí dalla banda sua crescono insieme con l'odio i dispetti continui; onde la cosa si riduce a tale, che taroccando (2) col cervello bestialmente seco, acquista il nome di pazzo dispettoso e da tarocco.
(Some people have such a spirit inserted in their brain that when they think they are offended by someone, they start to contend with him with a mad willfulness; and if the offender multiplies the offenses, so on his part grow hatred and continual spiteful acts; whence the thing reduces him to such that, getting his brain taroccando in a bestial manner, he gets the name of Spiteful & da tarocco Madman.)
In the writings about Bacchus there is also the word "furore", fury or frenzy, which seems to me easily interpretable as "anger."
It is possible that the word "tarocco" already existed in the Milanese and Piedmontese dialects. The title of the Alione collection suggests as much: Commedia e Farse Carnovalesche nei dialetti Astigiano, Milanese e Francese misti con Latino Barbaro composte sul fine del sec. XV da Gio. Giorgio Alione (Comedy and Carnival Farces in Asti, Milanese and French dialects mixed with Barbaric Latin written at the end of the XV century by Gio. Giorgio Alione). But the word didn't come from Latin. It appears to be of Greek origin. Sometimes Greek gets into a dialect, too. Or, as I imagine, its an invention,combining a Greek word with a context from Diodorus Sicilus. Or, in Andrea's hypothesis, there was a Diodorus text that actually had "Tharocus".
3. "Tarocco" madness and the cards.
So how does this word get applied to the game, and deck, of cards? Well, of course there is the Church, wishing to deride it. But they derided every gambling game: why give the label to this one in particular, especially one which was often exempted from the Church's prohibitions? Also, in the places where the word first appears, 1505 Ferrara and Avignon, the people most involved, ie. the d'Este and the French cardmakers, like the game. They aren't particularly interested in deriding it. But there were two types of madness and foolishness, the worldly and the divine. To an extent, this is already on the authority of St. Paul in I Corinthians 1:18 (http://www.latinvulgate.com/verse.aspx?t=1&b=7):
Here the word is "stultitia," which means the stupid sort of foolishness, not the angry and manic type.verbum enim crucis pereuntibus quidem stultitia est his autem qui salvi fiunt id est nobis virtus Dei est
(For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness: but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God.)
But divine madness as such was already a theme in medieval literature. There is the poem by the 13th century Umbrian friar Jacopone da Todi; Marco translated it at viewtopic.php?f=12&t=764&start=0. Well, I need to translate it a little differently, because "foolishness" in English is the stupid, simple kind, not the same as "follia" in Italian, which I imagine includes craziness. Here are the stanzas I want to pick out. It starts out:
Then we have:Udite nuova pazzia / Che mi viene in fantasia.
(Listen to the new craziness [not only Marco's "foolishness"] / that came to me in fantasy.)
This poem beautifully combines, in the divine madness, the simplicity of the "natural fool" with the frenzy of the maniac, which is yet different from the tumult of the ordinary person. On the bottom of p. 193 of the Italian text I see that the editor has put the words "Parnasso It. T. VI". I don't know what that signifies, but Parnassus was the mountain sacred to Dionysus."Se io 'no nomo il vo mostrare; / Vo me stesso rinagare / E la croce vo portare / Per far un gran pazzia.
(I want to prove that I'm a man / I want to renegade myself / I want to carry the cross / So as to make a great craziness [not only foolishness].
"La pazzia e cosi fatta / Metteromme a gran sbaratta / Tra gente grossalana e matta / Matta di santa soltizia.
(This craziness [not only foolishness] is such / That I put myself in great confusion [not "risk": see http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/florio/search/481c.html] / among gross and crazy people / Crazy [not only foolish] with a holy foolishness.)
"Or odi, che m'ho pensato,/ D'essere matto riputato, / Ignorante e smemoranto / E uom pen di bizzarria.
(Now listen to what I have thought / I want to be considered crazy [not only a fool], Ignorant and without memory, / A very strange man.)
"Semplice e puro intelletto / Se ne va su tutto schietto; / Sale al divinal cospetto / Sensor lo filosofia."
(A simple and pure intellect / Goes up all clean; / He rises to the presence of God / Without their philosophy.)
"Io ho un mia capitale / Che mi son uso de male: / Intelleto he ben reale, / Chi intenda mia frenesia.
(I have capital / That I have used badly / Whoever understands my raving [or frenzy] / Has a keen intellect.)
"Mettemi alla tua pedeta / Pur cosi alla scapistrata / La mia mente furiata / Altro che disia.":
(Let me be at your feet, / even in a reckless way; / my frenzied [or crazy] mind / desires only you.)
Another aspect of the divine frenzy--not to be sure, in the poet just cited--is the access to prophecy in that state. This is of relevance to the cards' possible use in sortilege, simple divination. Cicero's De Divinatione gave examples, for example in 1.18, of "persons who prophesy while in a frenzy"--even without aids like cards--and "unaided by reason or deduction or by signs which have been observed and recorded, forecast the future while under the influence of mental excitement, or of some free and unrestrained emotion" (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/R ... one/1*.htm). Agrippa in 1533 (Three Books on Occult Philosophy 3, 47) quotes one of Cicero's examples, the Erythrean Sibyl, as an example of "Dionysian frenzy", probably reflecting a common view that this type of frenzy was Dionysian in character. The Sibyls, in that they were considered to have prophecied the coming of Christianity, were taken quite seriously for the validity of their trance-states.
So the d'Este, or whoever it was, are hypothesized as taking advantage of the double meaning, the higher and lower craziness/foolishness. They needed a word to distinguish the game and the deck from the one that used regular cards, which had appropriated the name "Ludus Triumphorum". So they call it tarocchi, not only the game of the fool, but the path of the fool, from his mad gambler state to divine ecstasy.
4. Ficino, Bessarion, and Pico
The fact is that among the Florentine-oriented humanists, as opposed to the monks in Piedmont, the Dionysian/Orphic rites had a good name, chiefly because of the efforts of Plethon, Bessarion, and then Ficino. On Cosimo's deathbed, Ficino was saud to have sung Orphic hymns while accompnying himself on the lyre. These hymns, embedded in the Neoplatonists' writings, had probably been pointed out earlier by Gemistos Plethon, who had also called attention to the Chaldean Oracles, another system of ecstatic ascent. For Plethon and those after him, these were all manifestations of one "ancient theology".
Here is one passage from Ficino, quoted in Wind's Pagan Mysteries of the Renaissance, p. 62:
By "our Dionysius", with "-ius", Ficino means "Dionysius the Areopogyte", the Greek Christian mystic who had used Proclus's Neoplatonic "henads" in a Christian context. The "dithyramb" is a verse-form particularly associated with the god Dionysus in Greek writings.The spirit of the god Dionysus was believed by the ancient theologians and Platonists to be the ecstasy and abandon of disencumbered minds, when partly by innate love, partly at the instigation of the god, they transgress the natural limits of intelligence and are miraculously transformed into the beloved god himself: where, inebriated by a certain new draft of nectar and by an immeasurable joy, they range, as it were, in a bacchic frenzy. In the drunkenness of this Dionysiac wine our Dionysius expresses his exultation. He pours forth enigmas, he sings in dithyrambs... To penetrate the profundity of his meanings....to imitate his quasi-Orphic manner of speech, we too require the divine fury...
Then there is Bessarion, chiefly known for his learned defense of Plato over Aristotle. In a letter to the sons of Gemistos on the occasion of their father's death, he writes:
People would have known "Iacco" as a name of Dionysus from various sources. For one, he is called that in Aristophanes' Frogs, by the Chorus in line 316 (Loeb edition p. 70). Plethon's date of death is given on Wikipedia as 1452-1454. Bessarion served as papal legate in Bologna 1450-1455.l cardinale Bessarione saluta Demetrio e Andronico, figli del sapiente Gemisto. Ho appreso che il nostro comune padre e maestro ha deposto ogni spoglia terrena e se n'è andato in cielo, al sito di ogni purità, per unirsi al coro della mistica danza di Jacco [id est il Dioniso dei Misteri di Eleusi - ndr] con gli dèi olimpici. (http://www.ritosimbolico.net/studi2/studi2_22.html)
(Cardinal Bessarion greets Andronicus and Demetrius, children of learned Gemistus. I learned that our common father and teacher has deposited everything earthly and gone to heaven, the site of every purity, to join the choir of the mystical dance of Iacco [i.e. the Dionysus of the Mysteries of Eleusis] with the Olympian gods.)
Pico's 900 Theses, 1486, besides Kabbalah, included a section on Orpheus. Likewise, his Oration of 1487 says (http://history.hanover.edu/courses/exce ... 0pico.html):
In another part of his Oration he invokes Osiris and Apollo:...These initiates, after being purified by the arts which we might call expiatory, moral philosophy and dialectic, were granted admission to the mysteries. What could such admission mean but the interpretation of occult nature by means of philosophy? ... then, smitten by the frenzy of the Muses, we shall hear the heavenly harmony with the inward ears of the spirit. Then the leader of the Muses, Bacchus, revealing to us in our moments of philosophy, through his mysteries, that is, the visible signs of nature, the invisible things of God, will make us drunk with the richness of the house of God...
By "the ladder" he means Jacob's ladder, as is clear in sentences just before this quote; he is invoking the same ladder as in the "Holy Mountain" and other devotional texts, the series of steps that Andrea has called the "mystic staircase".When we shall have been so prepared by the art of discourse or of reason, then, inspired by the spirit of the Cherubim, exercising philosophy through all the rungs of the ladder --- that is, of nature --- we shall penetrate being from its center to its surface and from its surface to its center. At one time we shall descend, dismembering with titanic force the "unity'' of the "many,'' like the members of Osiris; at another time, we shall ascend, recollecting those same members, by the power of Phoebus, into their original unity. Finally, in the bosom of the Father, who reigns above the ladder, we shall find perfection and peace in the felicity of theological knowledge.
The reference to "dismembering with titanic force" is to an aspect of two myths, that of Osiris and of Dionysus; the body of each is chopped into pieces by the Titans. Here is Diodorus on the dismemberment of Osiris (IV:6):
And similarly of Dionysus:...in ancient times the Titans formed a conspiracy against Osiris and slew him, and then, taking his body and dividing it into equal parts among themselves, they slipped them secretly out of the house,..
I will discuss the further implications of this dismemberment in more detail when I come to the Fool card...and Orpheus has handed down the tradition in the initiatory rites that he was torn in pieces by the Titans.
5. Dionysus and Osiris
By the Greeks and Romans, Osiris was considered just another manifestation of Dionysus, and the Renaissance followed suit. We see that in the text by Cicero quoted by Andrea that Ernesti later edited. It is a text that may not have been seen by the humanists, except for fragments, until Poggio acquired a copy from Leyden; a copy did exist at Monte Casino, but it was not cataloged until 1532 (Pease, introduction to De Nature Deorum, 1955, p. 65). As part of Cicero's collected works, it was printed by Sweinheim and Podderantz in 1471. An edition in Venice followed the same year and again in 1494. A "handsomely printed" edition appeared on Dec. 10 of that same year in Bologna (Pease p. 90); Milan followed in 1498. It was often included with Cicero's De divinatione, from which I have already quoted.
In this work, De Natura Deorum, Cicero says expicitly that the two dieties are one and the same, Book III p. 58 (http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/cicero/nd3.shtml, translated at http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/DionysosGod.html):
The one "of the Nile" is the Egyptian Osiris. Cicero would have learned about him from Herodotus, Book II of his Histories. There Herodotus says (http://classics.mit.edu/Herodotus/history.2.ii.html).Dionysos multos habemus: primum Iove et Proserpina natum; secundum Nilo, qui Nysam dicitur interemisse; tertium Cabiro patre, eumque regem Asiae praefuisse dicunt, cui Sabazia sunt instituta; quartum Iove et Luna, cui sacra Orphica putantur confici; quintum Nyso natum et Thyone, a quo trieterides constitutae putantur.
(We have a number of Dionysi. The first is the son of Jupiter and Proserpine; the second of Nile--he is the fabled slayer of Nysa. The father of the third is Cabirus; it is stated that he was king over Asia, and the Sabazia were instituted in his honour. The fourth is the son of Jupiter and Luna; the Orphic rites are believed to be celebrated in his honour. The fifth is the son of Nisus and Thyone, and is believed to have established the Trieterid festival.)
Herodotus also describes their rites in a way that shows us something about the Greek ones.Such Egyptians as possess a temple of the Theban Jove, or live in the Thebaic canton, offer no sheep in sacrifice, but only goats; for the Egyptians do not all worship the same gods, excepting Isis and Osiris, the latter of whom they say is the Grecian Bacchus.
.To Bacchus, on the eve of his feast, every Egyptian sacrifices a hog before the door of his house, which is then given back to the swineherd by whom it was furnished, and by him carried away. In other respects the festival is celebrated almost exactly as Bacchic festivals are in Greece, excepting that the Egyptians have no choral dances. They also use instead of phalli another invention, consisting of images a cubit high, pulled by strings, which the women carry round to the villages. A piper goes in front, and the women follow, singing hymns in honour of Bacchus
Herodotus was translated into Latin as part of the great translation project initiated by Pope Nicholas V. The Latin translation of Herodotus's Histories was printed in 1474, first by Pannartz in Rome and again in the same year in Venice, according to WorldCat.
Also Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 35 (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/R ... is*/B.html):
Clea is the priestess at Delphi to whom Plutarch is addressing the work. He then compares the two: in the procession to bury the Apis bull, observing:That Osiris is identical with Dionysus who could more fittingly know than yourself, Clea?
I haven't been able to determine whether Plutarch's essay was available in Latin in the 15th century. It was part of the Moralia, which existed in many manuscripts; then it was first printed, in Greek, in 1509 Venice, according to Babbit, editor of the Loeb edition (p. xxiii). But before that many essays had been printed in Latin translation, Babbit says (p. xxviii). I see on WorldCat that Latin translations of some of his philosophical works were printed in 1477, but I don't know which ones. But the manuscripts were readily available to people with the right credentials in the centers of learning. The 1509 edition was based primarily on the manuscripts of Bessarion, which he had willed to the city of Venice at his death in 1469 *p. xxiv). These manuscripts were quite easy for noble citizens of the city to get on loan, requiring only a signature (Lotte Lobowsky, Bessarion's Library and the Biblioteca Marciana: Six Early Inventories, Rome 1979, which I quote extensively in this regard at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=613&p=8936&hilit=bessarion#p8936)... the priests...indulge in shoutings and movements exactly as do those who are under the spell of the Dionysiac ecstasies....For the same reason many of the Greeks make statues of Dionysus in the form of a bull...Furthermore, the tales regarding the Titans and the rites celebrated by night agree with the accounts of the dismemberment of Osiris and his revivification and regenesis.
And here is a poem by the ancient Latin poet Tibillus that merges the two, Dionysus and Osiris (http://infomotions.com/etexts/gutenberg ... ltib10.htm), in an elegy touching on the miracle of the rising of the Nile, and to what the Egyptians attribute it:
Of course in Diodorus it is Dionysus who is credited with the invention of the plow. I found this poem quoted by Cartari, 1650 edition; this work on mythology was first published in 1551. If Cartari knew it, certainly humanists before him did as well...On thee they call! Or in sepulchral shade,
The life-reviving, sky-descended powers
Of bright _Osiris_ hail,--
While, wildly chanting, the barbaric choir,
With timbrels and strange fire,
Their Memphian bull bewail.
Osiris did the plough bestow,
And first with iron urged the yielding ground.
He taught mankind good seed to throw
In furrows all untried;
He plucked fair fruits the nameless trees did hide:
He first the young vine to its trellis bound,
And with his sounding sickle keen
Shore off the tendrils green.
For him the bursting clusters sweet
Were in the wine-press trod;
Song followed soon, a prompting of the god,
And rhythmic dance of lightly leaping feet.
Of Bacchus the o'er-wearied swain receives
Deliverance from all his pains;
Bacchus gives comfort when a mortal grieves,
And mirth to men in chains.
Not to Osiris toils and tears belong,
But revels and delightful song;
Lightly beckoning loves are thine!
Garlands deck thee, god of wine!
We hear thee coming, with the flute's refrain,
With fruit of ivy on thy forehead bound,
Thy saffron vesture streaming to the ground.
And thou hast garments, too, of Tyrian stain,
When thine ecstatic train
Bear forth thy magic ark to mysteries divine."
Osiris, too, was in the ascent by the late 1490s. The Pope not only traced his ancestry back to Osiris, but had his apartments decorated with frescoes illustrating the myth of Isis and Osiris as presented by Diodorus, featuring prominently the Borgia Bull, now the Apis bull, incarnation of Osiris
Not to be outdone, the Emperor had his geneology done, too, showing him with the same ancestor, and had Durer draw him surrounded by hieroglyphs:
A very popular account of Roman Osiris rituals in Latin was in Apuleius's Golden Ass. It was first printed in 1469, one of the first books published in Italy by Sweynheym and Pannartz. Other editions followed, in 1488 Vicenza, 1493 Venice, and 1500 Bologna. For Dionysus in Latin, there was the short but graphic depiction of suppressed rites in Rome in Livy's History of Rome, finished about 17 c.e.
On Dionysus, Plutarch made incidental comments about Dionysus and his followers in his Parallel Lives, a highly popular book, first published in Latin translation in 1470 Rome, then 1478 Venice and often thereafter. The main lives of relevance are Theseus, in which we learn much about his wife Ariadne, and also Mark Antony and Alexander the Great.
Also originally in Greek, there were also the dramatists, notably Euripides' Bacchae and Aristophanes' Frogs; in both, Dionysus is a major character. Euripides' play was known in manuscript since the 14th century in Italy (Loeb edition, p. liv) and was printed in Greek and Latin in 1503 Venice. Aristophanes' Frogs ("Batrichoi", a pun: the Bacchantes croaked like frogs) in Greek and Latin was printed in 1498 Venice. There was also the Church Father Clement of Alexandria, whom I shall quote later. There were many references to the "mysteries", mainly Orphic, in Plato's works, as translated by Ficino and others. In Greek only during this period, there were the references in Neoplatonist works, the accounts of local cults in Pausanias's Description of Greece, and the very long Dionysiaca by Nonnus, printed in 1569 with a Latin translation.
Many of these texts--Apuleius, Herodotus, Diodorus, Plutarch, Clement--also talked about the "hieroglyphs", ancient pictures that meant common ordinary things like birds and oxen to the vulgar but divine things to the wise (see my posts at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=603). They were not tied to Egypt: it was believed that the Romans also used them, and they existed alongside ordinary phonetic writing, for the most sacred things. Many Italian writers discoursed on hieroglyphs in this way, including Filelfo in Milan but most famously Alberti in his The art of building in ten books, in manuscript from about 1450, augmented until his death in 1472 and printed in 1485. Of the Egyptians' sacred writing he said, "the method of writing they used could be understood easily by expert men all over the world, to whom alone noble matters should be communicated" (p. 256 of Rykwert et al trans.). He quickly added that the Romans used this method as well. As such, the humanists could make up hieroglyphs themselves; the most famous early example was Alberti's "winged eye", c. 1438 (Wind, Pagan Mysteries of the Renaissance). And in 1499 Venice came the Hypnerotomachia (Strife of love in a dream). a fantasy novel that pictured and sometimes deciphered many such constructions. Likewise the tarocchi cards themselves could become hieroglyphs, meaning a way of writing in pictures that would hide from the vulgar and disclose to the wise. This word "hieroglyph" was in fact applied to the 22 special cards, although without much understanding, in the "Anonymous Discourse" from c. 1570, Northeastern Italy, and also in other works, 1603 and 1676, as quoted by Ross at http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=94755.
6. The D'Este Fool Card.
An example of a "hieroglyph" in this sense is the Fool card itself. Andrea mentions the d'Este card, famous for its exposed phallus toward which a child reaches (at left below
On the one hand, such exposure was considered subhuman, as those of low intelligence or mad were viewed more like animals than humans and not expected to conform to the dictates of morality.
At least in Florence, they also were not welcome in the city. The more "decently" composed Charles VI card (at right above) shows children throwing stones at him. This is what children were expected to do. Michel Pleasance (Florence in the Time of the Medici p. 181) summarizes a story by Grazzini in which a man is persuaded to pretend he is dead, so he can watch his own funeral. But he forgets he is dead, and "people begin to think that he has gone mad. Children start throwing stones and clods of earth at him, shouting 'mad, mad' and try to catch him." If caught, he would probably be killed. Pleasance says of another such victim, that his pursuers are "children and clerks--who, as Grazzini says, would have killed him had they caught him" (p. 184).
But the children of the d'Este card are hardly throwing stones. It was known then, among humanists, that the cult of Dionysus involved the male sex organ as such a sacred cult object. Roman sarcophagi showed their likenesses on a trays being carried in Dionysian rites and processions. I do not know for sure that these exact sarcophagi were known then, but many were; Mantegna did drawings taken from them, and one of Giulio Romano's so-called "obscene" drawings seems to one art historian to have been derived from a sarcophagus now in the "secret cabinet" of the Naples Museum of Archeology (Richard Asti, p. 47 of "Giulio Romano as Designer of Erotica," in Janet Cox Rearick, ed., Giulio Romano Master Designer). For a web-page with good illustrations of these sarcophagi, see http://bacchos.org/tarothtm/0et9mathermite2.html.
But it did not take such sarcophagi. We again have the testimony of Diodorus. First is a general statement, Book IV, p. 6.(http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/R ... /home.html).
Then he goes on, in a passage I have already quoted in part:Some, however, relate that the generative member, since it is the cause of the reproduction of human beings and of their continued existence through all time, became the object of immortal honour.
Then, for Dionysus, Diodorus said something similar, at least as regards dismemberment, in Book V p. 74: (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/R ... s/5D*.html). Here is a fuller citation than I gave earlier, although with no new information about dismemberment:...in ancient times the Titans formed a conspiracy against Osiris and slew him, and then, taking his body and dividing it into equal parts among themselves, they slipped them secretly out of the house, but this organ alone they threw into the river, since no one of them was willing to take it with him. But Isis tracked down the murder of her husband, and after slaying the Titans and fashioning the several pieces of his body into the shape of a human figure, she gave them to the priests with orders that they pay Osiris the honours of a god, but since the only member she was unable to recover was the organ of sex she commanded them to pay to it the honours of a god and to set it up in their temples in an erect position.
Since in the account of Osiris he described the phallus set up by Isis as an object of worship, it is easy to imagine that a similar thing would be true of the Dionysian cult, which Herodotus said was smply the Egyptian cult imported into Greece. In fact Herodotus alluded to Dionysian phallus worship when he said of the Egyptians, contrasting them to the Greeks, in a passage I have already quoted:As for Dionysus, the myths state that he discovered the vine and its cultivation, and also how to make wine and to store away many of the autumn fruits and thus to provide mankind with the use of them as food over a long time. This god was born in Crete, men say, of Zeus and Persephonê, and Orpheus has handed down the tradition in the initiatory rites that he was torn in pieces by the Titans.
Clement of Alexandria also spoke of Dionysian phallus-worship in his effort to ridicule the cult of Dionysus. According to WorldCat, Clement's work, including the text relevant here (Exhortation to the Greeks), was published in Latin in 1502. I do not know how many manuscripts were in circulation in 1473, the approximate time of the d'Este, but here is what Clement says (http://www.theoi.com/Text/ClementExhortation1.html):...They [the Egyptians] also use instead of phalli another invention, consisting of images a cubit high, pulled by strings, which the women carry round to the villages...
Whether or not this text was known in Ferrara by 1473, there was enough already, in other writers, to draw the same conclusion.The Corybantes ...got possession of the chest in which the virilia of Dionysus were deposited, and brought it to Tyrrhenia [Lemnos], traders in glorious wares! There they sojourned, being exiles, and communicated their precious teaching of piety, the virilia and the chest, to Tyrrhenians for purposes of worship. For this reason not unnaturally some wish to call Dionysus Attis, because he was mutilated.
In looking at the d'Este Matto card, I think we should not forget about the other part of the male genitalia, the testicles, even though they are not pictured. Where you have a phallus, the testicles are not far behind! Their sacredness is attested in the emasculation of Uranos by Cronos, from which beautiful Aphrodite Uranos, of Botticelli's famous painting, was born. There was also the emasculation of Cronos by Zeus, depicted in the "genologies of the gods", with childen shown playing with it from a c. 1420 Fulgentius Metaphoralis , Vat. Apos. Cod. Pal. lat. 1066, p. 226, as reproduced in de Rola's Alchemy the Secret Art). i give the whole illumination at left and the relevant details at right.
Testicles, of course, bear a likeness to grapes on the vine. These are not shown on the d'Este card; we have to wait until Noblet of c. 1650 Paris for that:
The Noblet card, in which a strange animal reaches for the genitalia of the Fool, especially suggests Virgil's 2nd Georgic (http://classics.mit.edu/Virgil/georgics.2.ii.html), In winter the goats and other animals eat the tender bark of the vines, and
So a young goat is sacrificed to atone for the crime of his siblings, of eating the bark of the vines when they could and so dmaging the crop. My knowledge of this Georgic comes again from Cartari, 1551. If Cartari knew it, others did before him. The Getty Museum has a Roman-era statue from Sicily done in archaic style that depicts just this crime, with Dionysus impersonating the grape vine (center and right, below)...For no offence but this to Bacchus bleeds
The goat at every altar...
Therefore to Bacchus duly will we sing
Meet honour with ancestral hymns, and cakes
And dishes bear him; and the doomed goat
Led by the horn shall at the altar stand,
Whose entrails rich on hazel-spits we'll roast.
Whether such statues were seen in the Renaissance, I don't know. On the left above is another showing Dionysus with horns;in the myths, he himself had taken the form of a young goat, etc. Another example is a Roman mosaic that Daimonax, on http://www.bachos.org,, says is from the area around Narbonne, France:
To 15th century Christians, this goat-sacrifice would have been an "anticipation", as it was called, of Christ's own sacrifice, for the sake of atoning for humanity's eating of forbidden fruit. It is the sacrifice of the earthly part for the sake of the heavenly.
In this connection it is good to remember that the title of the card was "matto" in most 15th and early 16th century accounts, not "folle". I can't speak for the etymology of the Italian "matto", but I can for the English equivalent, "mad". My 1967 Webster's New World Dictionary for "mad" takes us back to what it says is the Indo-European root:
I cannot help but think that there is a relationship here to the "mate" in "checkmate", which my dictionary says comes from the Persian shah plus mat, literally, "the king is dead." There is also the word "matador", the one who kills the bull, which my dictionary says comes from matar, to kill, with similar derivation as for the "mate" in "checkmate". I do not know whether the 15th century made these associations, but along these lines see the Sola-Busca Matto, with its crow, a symbol of death, and dead tree in the backgroundmatt-, to cut down < mai, to hew, cut off; prob. sense development; castrated, crippled--mentally deficient.
Animal sacrifice was clearly mentioned by almost all ancient authorities in relation to the cult of Dionysus, both as his animal and as he himself. Diodorus names the ram as Dionysus at 73:1, the bull at 68:2, and horned animals generally at 64:2 and 73:2, Fools of course had mock-horns on their heads. So the Fool, the Matto, would be the one to be sacrificed; thus later we see the Hanged Man and perhaps other cards after that, such as Death, Devil, and Tower.
Moreover, if castration is part of the root meaning, we are again in the territory of Dionysus/Osiris, as the one whose phallus is missing. In relation to this same dictionary description "castrated, crippled, mentally deficient," I cannot help but also think of Buckert's derivation, as quoted by Andrea, of "mania" from "menos", another word for deficiency.
7. Other early "Fool" - or "Matto" - cards, and some suit cards.
For a variation, this time using the sense of "tarocco" meaning anger, there is the so-called "Leber" Fool (Rome? Venice?) c. 1500-1520, with an angry expression on his face. Marcos called attention to his angry character at viewtopic.php?f=12&t=609. He calls this figure "a choleric fool", like we see in the Mundus alter et idem of Joseph Hall. This comparison is itself of interest from a Dionysian perspective, because in Hall's satire these individuals are in a country called "Orgilia", where, as Andrea paraphrases Hall in his essay on him: (http://www.associazioneletarot.it/page.aspx?id=152),
Hall's allusion to the cult of Dionysus couldn't be plainer. But for him the "furore" is not divine ecstasy but just senseless anger; the place is full of "irrascible people, hot tempered and full of fury", in Andrea's words, Hall, writing in 1605, calls the capital city "Tarocchium"; as Andrea observes, he is following in the footsteps of Garzoni, 1574, and his "da tarocco" --i.e. angry - madmen. To me this associationof the cult of Dionysus with the odd foreign word, one that would mostly in England have suggested "tarot" rather than anger, suggests to me that the game and the cult were perhaps associated in a positive way by some people at this time, and Hall wanted to satirize that association.the citizens always feed on raw flesh, usually human, which they reckon among the most splendid of feasts, and they intoxicate themselves with the drained-off blood, preferably of their fellow humans,
So now let's look at the Leber Fool.
As Ross and M. J. Hurst have explained, he has all kinds of weapons with him, but nothing for combating the insects buzzing around him (see http://pre-gebelin.blogspot.com/2009/04 ... rrior.html). The motto, Ross says, is "I wish that a net would be given to me". He is a clear example of the angry but ridiculous madman. And not only are his genitals exposed, but he is urinating uncontrollably, as Hurst points out.
In this same Leber deck, the Ace of Batons is also of interest, showing putti wearing ivy wreaths, dancing around a tree that seems to have snakes, both traditional for Dionysus. This one and the next two are below:
Also the Ace of Cups (if we assume that the lost deck copied by Cicognara is of the same sort) has satyrs, associated with Dionysus by Diodorus. And the Two of Batons, with a fox reaching for grapes, is the Song of Songs' equivalent of Virgil's goat eating the bark.The King of Coins is Mydas, whom Dionysus granted the power to turn whatever he touched to gold. (This and the next two are below
The King of Batons is Ninus. This might be the biblical king of Nineveh, but considering the other Dionysian cards, it is more likely the King of India in Poggio's translation of Diodorus. Where modern editions have "Myrrhanus", the Skelton translation, based on Poggio, has "Ninus Kyng of Ynde" (p. 316), like Lycurgus and "Penthea" slain by Dionysus. The turban makes India explicit, I think. The King of Swords is Alexander, another son of Zeus, who consciously followed Dionysus in conquering India, and in other ways according to Plutarch. Finally, this is where "Thamyris" appears (p. 322 of Skelton), except that on the card it is spelled "Thamiris". In Diodorus (3:67, in the vicinity of the "Tharopes" quote) it is the name of a male musician; in the Leber, it is the Queen of Swords. However he is spoken of in the context of the Muses; our card-designer may perhaps be excused for misreading of the gender. Or he might have just been fishing for obscure names. (These images and titles are all at http://trionfi.com/0/j/d/leber/. However for the 2 of Batons I used the better reproduction in Dummett's Game of Tarot, plate 17).
Another Matto card which shows signs of being influenced, perhaps, by the "tarocco" idea, is the the PMB Matto. He stands there with his leggings down and a sad look on his face, at left below
With his seven feathers, Moakley (The Tarot Cards Painted by Bonifacio Bembo, p. 115) compared him to the Lenten Fool, succeeding the Carnival Fool whom she identifies with the Bateleur. The feathers represent the weeks in Lent: Giotto's "stultia", the Vulgate's word for "folly", also has these feathers (on the right in the image). The round belly indicates pregnancy, Moakley says. It could also be the hypocrisy of the well-fed who affect poverty at Lent. Or perhaps the naive joy of someone fed well at Carnival, not realizing that he will be starved for seven weeks and then sacrificed (The "Fish-Eaters" website, http://www.fisheaters.com/customslent2.html, says
The PMB Matto is wiser than that, at least in knowing his condition. He is more like the "Misero" of the Tarot of Mantegna (middle in image). He could also be seen as a gambler who has lost everything, the depressed phase following the mania of playing and winning, or the inflated hero, like Oedipus quick to anger, after his downfall. His spiritual life is about to begin.In many places in Italy, Lent is personified by the effigy of an old woman that is displayed during Lent, and then burned at the stake (sometimes after a "trial") at the end of the season.
On the other hand, it seems to me that the Cary Sheet Matto, on the right below, from c. 1500 or a little earlier, gives us a stronger hint of the Wise Fool:
Even though his leggings are still around his feet, his gait seems purposeful, like that of a pilgrim, and on his back he has a three-tiered hat or pack. Its threeness might suggest a kinship with the Pope, who usually has a three-tired tiara, but also the legendary Hermes Trismegistus, the Thrice-great. The Cary Sheet Bagatino has something similar on his back.
In any case, the path is set out for us, the "the path of the fool/madman," I would call it, from deficiency into fullness, whether in Christianity or in the so-called "mystery cults" of antiquity as identified with Dionysus and Orpheus.
8. The other cards, and an objection.
I have so far only talked about the Matto card. For there to be a "path of the Matto" there must also be Dionysian interpretations for the other Triumphs, leading in the direction of the Holy Fool. It seems to me that in 1505 this would have been a project rather than a complete interpretation. People would have played with the idea. The tarot was not originally designed for such interpretation. The early cards, with the exception of the Fool cards I have mentioned and maybe a few more, do not reflect such an interpretation, which would have to be made without regard to pictorial details. With the Cary Sheet triumph cards, anticipating the later "Marseille" pattern, more details emerge consistent with the theme; and there is also the shift to what has been called the "C" order of the cards to consider. I do think it can be shown that a Dionysian interpretation of the sequence was possible, and one that influenced the design of some cards and also their order, terminating in the design known as the "Marseille II". But that is a subject for another time.
However before ending here, I need to discuss one objection to what I have been saying. If there was a Dionysian interpretation of the cards, so much so that the name itself may have derived from his myth, then, one might wonder, why did no one writing about the cards, until 1781, ever mention the slightest connection to Dionysus or Osiris, or anything else, when anything was written, but good Christian meanings? My answer is that it took that long before the power of the Church, both Protestant and Catholic, was broken enough for it to be safely in one's interest to say anything else.
On this subject my information, unless otherwise stated, comes from Wikipedia. Plethon was accused of having a pagan mystery school in Greece; the only copy of his major work, the Laws, was burned by the Patriarch of Constantinople, so that all that survives is quotes in the polemics written against him. His follower Sigismondo Malatesta, for building a temple in his spirit designed by Alberti (in which Plethon was buried, his body exhumed from Greece), was excommunicated in 1460. In the 1460s, a group of humanists led by Julius Laetus took Latin names as part of a secret society called the Roman Academy; soon they were accused by the Pope of paganism, imprisoned, tortured, and then, belatedly, released. Pico's work, the 900 Theses, was condemned by the Pope, who ordered all copies burned and its author brought up on charges of heresy (see Farmer's Syncretism in the West for details). In the ensuing Interrogation, only 13 of the 900 had to be retracted. In 1493 that Pope died and copies from the original printing could safely surface. In 1494 Pico and Poliziano died suddenly, after the same dinner, in 1494; a recent exhumation tends to support the verdict of poison. Although nothing traces their deaths to the Church, the fear would have remained. Reuchlin, who had ruled against burning all Jewish books. in 1513 was put on trial by the Roman Inquisition for heresy; it took him years of trouble and expense before the Inquisition dropped his cas. Cornelius Agrippa was hounded all his life for being a "Judaizing heretic" and a black magician. Just before 1600 Giordano Bruno thought Venice would be safe, but was taken to Rome and burned at the stake. Even in 1750s Paris, a few women who tried to tell fortunes were vilified and imprisoned, according to an account approved by Etteilla. (Wicked Pack of Cards pp. 96-97, quotes from some version of this 1791 source without, that I can see, mentioning the prison terms, which I get from its reprint in the booklet that accompanies France Cartes' Petit Etteilla deck.) Without some very high-up assurances, such as de Gebelin probably had, one had to act cautiously and never say or picture anything that could not be adequately defended as orthodox. One would be mad to do otherwise. Yet we know that the Renaissance delighted in double meanings. Dummett, Depaulis, and Decker spell out the issue (Wicked Pack of Cards pp. 33-34):
The reason they give for the symbolism not being too plausible is that otherwise we would know of it, from people ridiculing the cards. (Another reason, it seems to me, for restraint might be that silence was deemed better than publicity. And if people on their deathbeds finally wrote the truth, no doubt anxious heirs burned the essay, for fear of besmirching the family name.) The problem is that interpretations not spoken of get forgotten. And so, like fools, we are left with hypotheses--and cards, like some of the Leber, that look more and more as though being bent in a certain direction. In this situation, all we can do is put ourselves back into those times and think about the associations that, it seems to me, people of a certain type, reading literature that was publicly available, could hardly have avoided making.People of the Renaissance reveled in hidden symbolism, and the occult sciences enjoyed greater prestige in the Christian world than at any other time before or since. Any theory to this effect must pass a severe test, however. It must depend, not on any direct evidence that can be cited, but on the intrinsic plausibility that of the particular interpretation proposed, which must draw on nothing that was not available at that time and place. But it ought not to be too plausible; it cannot be anything which, if present, would leap to the eye of a man of the Renaissance looking at the cards.