A 1588 board game: Filosofia Cortesana

#1
Here is a 1588 “Game of the Goose” that was mentioned by mmfilesi a few years ago. I provide a translation of the description (including all the texts on the board) from www.giochidelloca.it:
A game with 63 numbered cells, counter clockwise, centripetal. The “goose” cells are replaced by “travaglio” (work) cells, that do not respect the classical placement of the game of the goose and are at number 4, 12, 17, 23, 30, 34, 41, 48 and 57. It is the oldest dated racing game (1588). Very likely, it is the same game given as a gift to the Spanish court by the Medici court, whose relationship was kept by a “joker”.

At the top. “Courtly philosophy by Alonso de Barros”; to the left: dolphin and anchor with writing “Make haste slowly”; to the right: a woman with half shaved hair with writing “Do not miss me” [occasion].
At the bottom: to the left, before cell 1, “Think of the end”; from the swan's trumpet: “Know thyself”; to the right: a hand points to a clock with writing “Until the last [hour]”. Below: “Made with permission of our Lord the King. With exclusive right by his majesty for ten years in the kingdom of Naples”. “Engraved by Marius Cartarius, Naples, 1588”.
At the centre: at the bottom on the right a fisherman holds a fish while he is losing a shoe with writing: “You will never reach anything great, if you think of the price [to pay]”. Top centre a banner: “The sea of suffering; whoever is ambitious must suffer, as whoever is born must die”.
Rules: they are not on the board (see the book “Filosofia cortesana”, chapter: “Explanation of the game and rules to play it”).
Cells: some have a label (the “goose” cells are replaced by the 9 work cells).

1 - “Reason looks at the feet. Opinion at the wheel”.
4 – Work: “You feel your work when your gain is small or nothing”.
7 – The Profligate. “the profligate has his friends with him whenever he eats in company”.
10 – Adulation. “Adulation and deception, they look good but are made of worthless tissue”.
12 - Work: “The results of righteous work are honour, profit and pleasure”.
15 - “Go to private n.26. Pay” “Pass of Hope”. “No good hope ever depends on other people”.
17 – Work: “Poverty comes from idleness; richness from work”
20 – Diligence: “All the effort dedicated to the world is rubbish”.
23 – Work: “Don't call it work if you can exit it whenever you want”
26 – Pay. The Private. “Do not look for other hands, if yours are not full”.
28 - “Chance”. “If fortune is mean to you, all chance becomes an hazard”.
30 - Work. “Fortune must surrender in the end, if it has to face work”.
32 - “By the rope. Stop on 1 and 2”. “Pit of oblivion”. “The ungrateful forget all that they receive”.
34 – Work: “The fruit of hope is earned by work”.
36 – Go to Chance n.28. Pay. “What they will say”. “If you think of what they will say, you [only] take what they want to give you”.
39 – To the Profligate n.7. “Untrue friendship”. “When wise men negotiate, they thank for the insults they receive”.
41 – Work. “It's hard work not to have anything to eat or drink”.
43 – To adulation n.10. Pay. “New ministers”. “Whoever limits his hopes will suffer the stroke of change”.
46 - “Restart from the beginning”. Pay. “Death of the helper”. “A man trusting in other men, remains as a blind man without a guide”.
48 – Work: “Even if fortune changes easily, it always is favourable to work”.
51 - “Play twice”. “House of Fortune”. “Everything can be obtained, with fortune and permission”.
53 - “Chance”. “Every chance has bad results, wherever there is poverty”.
55 – Go to diligence n.20. Pay. “Think that”. “Think that fortune runs away, and the fortune you have now will last but shortly”.
57 – Work: “Work will bring you prizes and makes you soul shine”
60 - “Begging, go to chance 53”. “House of Poverty”. “Poverty dries all humour at the roots of good luck”.
63 – Victory. “Whenever you have good luck, remember that it is as mutable as the Moon”.
“Not little, nor much”.
PS: updated the linked and the attached image with the much better image in mjurst's post.
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Re: A 1588 board game: Filosofia Cortesana

#2
Hi, Marco,
marco wrote:Here is a 1588 “Game of the Goose” that was mentioned by mmfilesi a few years ago. I provide a translation of the description (including all the texts on the board) from www.giochidelloca.it:
Thanks very much for the full translation. I can see now why you appreciated it so much. In addition to being a fascinating board game in its own right, the sensibilities are very much like those of Tarot. Fortune and Death, the folly of ambition and the vanity of all worldly pursuits, expressed in both the essential, more general terms and the incidental specifics -- like a few other examples, it is a morality play brought to life as a board game.

Thanks very much for that translation.

Best regards,
Michael

P.S. The contrast between striving, grasping Occasion by the forelock and seeking success on the one hand, versus accepting the ultimate vanity of whatever success is achieved, is the key conflict in Petrarch's world view. Whether in the debate with himself in The Secretum or the conflict between Fame triumphing over Death but being itself defeated by Time, Petrarch showed in many ways the desire for worldly renown and the acceptance of a Christian contemptu mundi.
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: A 1588 board game: Filosofia Cortesana

#3
Hello Michael,
I am happy you appreciate the translation :)
www.giochidelloca.it also includes the complete text of the booklet that was published together with the board (“Filosofia cortesana moralizada”). I translate here the two sonnets that appear at the beginning of the book.
Liñán de Riaza wrote:
Reducir a placer la pesadumbre
de pretensiones que consumen vidas;
aprender a ganar y a ver perdidas
las esperanzas con incierta lumbre;
Mirar como arrojadas de la cumbre,
cuanto más levantadas más caídas
están nuestras venturas, reducidas
al fallo de ambiciosa servidumbre:
Esta filosofía, no hallada
en el discurso de la edad primera
que tuvo sus deseos limitados,
estaba a vuestra pluma reservada,
como de Platón regida fuera,
para norte de gusto y de cuidados.
Making pleasant the grief
of the pretensions that consume our lives;
learning to win and to see the loss
of all hope under an uncertain light;
seeing that our higher fortunes
fall more than the others,
thrown down from the top, reduced
by the failure of an ambitious servitude:
This philosophy is not found
in the speech of the first age,
which had but limited desires;
it was reserved to your pen,
and was described by Plato
as the goal of all taste and carefulness.


Miguel de Cervantes wrote:
Cual vemos del rosado y rico Oriente
la blanca y dura piedra señalarse,
y en todo, aunque pequeña, aventajarse
a la mayor del Cáucaso eminente,
tal este humilde al parecer presente
puede y debe mirarse y admirarse,
no por la cantidad, mas por mostrarse
ser en su calidad tan excelente.
El que navega por golfo insano
del mar de pretensiones verá al punto
del cortesano laberinto el hilo:
felice ingenio y venturosa mano
que el deleite y provecho puso junto
en juego alegre, en dulce y claro estilo.
We see that the white and hard stone
that comes from the pink, rich East,
even if it is small, is more precious
than the largest that we find in the West.
In the same way, this humble present
can and should be admired
not for its quantity, but for being
so excellent in its quality.
Whoever sails the unhealthy gulf
of pretension will have to find [?]
the thread of the courtly labyrinth:
a bright mind and a clever hand
have joined together delight and wisdom
in a cheerful game, with a sweet and clear style.

mjhurst wrote: The contrast between striving, grasping Occasion by the forelock and seeking success on the one hand, versus accepting the ultimate vanity of whatever success is achieved, is the key conflict in Petrarch's world view. Whether in the debate with himself in The Secretum or the conflict between Fame triumphing over Death but being itself defeated by Time, Petrarch showed in many ways the desire for worldly renown and the acceptance of a Christian contemptu mundi.
Thank you for this comment, Michael. The two opposite themes of “vanitas” and fortune are certainly well represented in the game. The skull at the beginning of the game, with the “know thyself” and “Think of the end” mottos is quite striking.
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This article in Spanish (“La biblioteca de Alonso de Barros”, by J. Dadson) gives the complete list of the books in the library of De Barros. An interesting library, full of historical and philosophical works. There are three works by Petrarch:

[18] Triunfos de petrarca (Spanish translation of the Triumphs)
[48] triunphos de petrarca 2 r[eale]s (a second copy of the Triumphs)
[131] Petrarca en dos R[eale]s (Dadson thinks it could be the Remedies or Il Canzoniere)
[151] Tratado de la Vida solitaria vn R[ea]l (De Vita Solitaria)


I translate the passage from the article that comments the game:

“La Filosofia Cortesana Moralizada” describes a board game created by Barros. Its theme and purpose is to show how to advance a claim in court, how to survive and have success among the pitfalls of life in the royal palace. It represents the progress of an ambitious man in the court; the ups and downs of a courtly career are reflected in the names of some of the squares of the game (or houses, as the author calls them): the Prodigal House, Hope Pass, the Private House, the House of Changing Ministers, etc., ending, for the winner, with the Palm of Success. It is an entertaining, well-designed game with its board. In it, Barros plastically expresses his deep knowledge of courtly life and of the deceptions and disappointments that it usually provides to its followers and supporters. In the game of court, as in his own, there is only one winner, who takes all. Alonso de Barros knew by his own experience that life at court was a jungle of interests, in which the most cynical, cunning and strong was going to win.

Re: A 1588 board game: Filosofia Cortesana

#4
.....a bright mind and a clever hand
have joined together delight and wisdom
in a cheerful game, with a sweet and clear style.

Thank you Marco for posting this, and the further comments of mjhurst are appreciated.
The connections with Tarot are indeed striking as is the philosophy- one can see why a hand of play in Tarot might be used for Divination, even though a game, as in this as a race to win with it's attending morality.
I loved the Sonnets :x
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: A 1588 board game: Filosofia Cortesana

#5
Hello Lorredan,
I am glad you appreciate the translations.
The analogies and differences between this game and Tarot would be an interesting subject. For instance, an analogy is that in both games the allegory of Fortune is a prominent element; a difference is that Filosofia Cortesana lacks the eschatological contents that we find in the higher trumps.

Here is a rough translation of a few passages from Alonso de Barros' moralization of the game:

To the reader

The subject of ambition is such that, when all writers of good understanding which have been and are today in the world want to show their ability, however much they are learned in writing, fall short. This happens according to the ups and downs of prosperous and adverse fortune, the happiness and [6v] ​​complaints of grievances that are in it. And if I fail, I will be excused because my intent was but a playful mockery, showing the deeds and misadventures that follow a great ambition, and reduce to order what happens to those who have no ambition. Whoever wishes to look more deeply in the subject, should show his capacity to do something [7r] better, without putting too much effort into finding the faults of this work, because human eyes find faults in whatever they examine. One must believe that all those who, like me, have tried to correct themselves have not escaped this danger. This consideration excuses my presumption, because, if the work is not [7r] as good as I wanted it to be, its brevity assures that it will not be boring, which is not the worst possible defect. [8R]
 
...
 
Begins the Courtly Philosophy by Alonso de Barros, servant of the King our lord.

The end of a work is its beginning, because before he puts the first stone of the foundation of a house, one has the goal to live in it. This principle is such that, if many [10s] men took it into their business and were more keen to know themselves, they would not desire things that, when obtained, would embarrass them.
And others also would collect the sails of hope, avoiding to travel the sea in such a small ship, which, because of its weakness, any storm will suffice to drown [11v]. And when they get lost in it, they put all the blame on fortune calling it unfair, instead of their own reckless inconsideration. For their disillusion, I represent here a discourse about ambitious men, with the most common means, which are Liberality, Adulation, Diligence, Work with which, going through hope, you reach the house of the private, and has the risks of oblivion and “what will they say” , false friendship, changing ministers, death of the helper and misused fortune, “think of” and poverty. Going through some of those, you sometimes get to the palm-tree of you desire, but not without a price, as the nearby man shows .
And [12r], finally, it is a vivid portrait of the deaths that one must suffer, so, if it were possible, everyone learns from somebody else, everyone contented with their lot, always with the necessity of some work, as explained by the proverb:
The son of Adam can not
eat bread without work. [12v]

He who follows an ambition enters the door of opinion, cheated by his thoughts, with his self-esteem and the satisfaction of his supporters; he goes very proud, boasting of his merit, which makes the wheel as a peacock until time tells him to look at the feet of his demerits and [13r] desist. And to show that often the difficulties of the end are born from the choices of the beginning, above the door is a Swan with one foot raised on a skull as the end of all things, and a trumpet shouting that everyone should know himself and look at the end of what he claims, so that later [13v] he will not complain of his fortune if it were adverse, if by chance it will be hostile to him. And so the label says:
Reason looks to the feet
and opinion to the wheel.
He then throws the fate of his desire [i.e. the dice], and advances according to the points of fortune he scores. He signs with his marker the house [14r] where he falls, unless a competitor takes him out of it: in this case he has to go to the place from which the competitor started, because such is the use of competition.
You do not stop in the houses of Work, because ambitions have no resting place, or they break the string or their fruits. This [14v] is represented by two oxen ploughing, with fruits on a string, which are the fruits of a righteous work, linked to each other. Oxen are animals that work much without feeling it, if they are generously rewarded. As does man, who does not seem to feel the fatigue of his work, but when he is denied the wages that [15r] were promised, as explained by the label:
You do not feel your work
but when the prize is low.
All that you can desire is achieved (of sheer necessity) through work, through which a peaceful life, the perpetuity of the name, and the conquest of [15v] heaven are achieved. He who flees work does not deserve the fruit of his desire, because he avoids both his particular duties and the general ones with which we were all born and we are bound to by inheritance from our first parents. So the lucky player who reaches a work house does not stop but he cheerfully proceeds [16r] as many houses forward as the points by which he got there.

….

The sorrows of ambition are many, and a better remedy would be necessary for their cure, than what is offered by the game which has been described here. And for a better comprehension the game should go along with the book. But in order to consent the easiness of playing, it is presented as a large sheet of paper painted with 63 houses or divisions, which are the years of life which are spent following an ambition or that an ambition consumes.
On the door of the first house there is a peacock, that when considered as carrying the chariot of goddess Juno, means greatness, and when gallantly making the wheel, means opinion. And as illustration of what, when making the wheel, some receive, above the peacock there is a swan, who announces his own end, and here it announces the end of others, with the so celebrated words that the ancients thought were fallen from heaven: "Know thyself", telling us what we need the most.
In the last house there is a palm-tree, award of all work put into it, and nearby there is a man who has lost a shoe to catch a fish, showing that there is no glory without difficulty [43r].
In the other houses there are certain figures and correspondences, that can teach, to those who look carefully, what they are risking and which means must be employed. And when they have done all that has been necessary on their side, still the results are dubious, so they must behave in such a way that they will not suffer a damage from judging as their own what depends on someone else.
Considering this, they will more easily come to the remedy for what is real and distinguish what is just a game.

Re: A 1588 board game: Filosofia Cortesana

#6
Thanks to Google Books, I have found the original mention of a Game of the Goose, in Il Gioco degli Scacchi diviso in 8 libri by Pietro Carrera, 1617 (p.25):

It is clear that clever men, after the first invention of one thing, adding or changing on the same basic idea, find out other inventions. We know this happened for the Game of the Goose, at the time of our fathers: that game was invented in Florence and, since it was very much appreciated, Francesco de Medici, Granduke of Tuscany, decided to send it to his Majesty Philip II of Spain. When it was published there, it gave the opportunity to some smart minds to invent other games little different from the first one, among which there is the game known as the Courtly Philosophy invented by Alonso de Barros from Spain.
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Re: A 1588 board game: Filosofia Cortesana

#7
That is interesting Marco.
Within 29 years the game is been written about, it's history etc. Would it be we were so lucky with Tarot.
What is it about the psychology of Italian states, they seemed to concentrate on Fortune....Men of Fortune, Games of Fortune, Wheels of Fortune etc....was it they saw Soldiers about all the time? The Plague? Opposition to The Church? Were their lives so controlled Lady Fortune was the only diversion? Maybe the middle and upper classes were just more educated. There is truth in that- The Catholic Church gives you an education. Maybe Italians saw more people from other places because of their Merchant wise attitude?
Oh and 29 years is not long enough to make it a "Game of our Fathers" is it?
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: A 1588 board game: Filosofia Cortesana

#8
Hello Lorredan,
I am glad you find the subject interesting.
Lorredan wrote: Within 29 years the game is been written about, it's history etc. Would it be we were so lucky with Tarot.
The development of the Game of Goose occurred about 150 years later than tarot. It is slightly more documented because it is more recent and the practice of printing was already widespread at the time, so we have more sources, I guess.
Lorredan wrote: What is it about the psychology of Italian states, they seemed to concentrate on Fortune....Men of Fortune, Games of Fortune, Wheels of Fortune etc....was it they saw Soldiers about all the time? The Plague? Opposition to The Church? Were their lives so controlled Lady Fortune was the only diversion? Maybe the middle and upper classes were just more educated. There is truth in that- The Catholic Church gives you an education. Maybe Italians saw more people from other places because of their Merchant wise attitude?
Fortune is another huge subject, like Virtue :)
Too large for me, I am afraid.
Anyway, this game is properly Spanish, not Italian.
Lorredan wrote: Oh and 29 years is not long enough to make it a "Game of our Fathers" is it?
Carrera is referring to the invention of the first Game of the Goose (not De Barros' variant he mentions later). According to wikipedia, the Game of the Goose "was originally a gift from Francesco I de' Medici of Florence to King Philip II of Spain sometime between 1574 and 1587". I have also seen the date 1580 associated to this gift. Possibly, the game was invented a few years before. Since Carrera was born in 1573, I think it makes sense for him to attribute the invention of the game to the previous generation.

Re: A 1588 board game: Filosofia Cortesana

#10
marco, a year ago, wrote:
Carrera is referring to the invention of the first Game of the Goose (not De Barros' variant he mentions later). According to wikipedia, the Game of the Goose "was originally a gift from Francesco I de' Medici of Florence to King Philip II of Spain sometime between 1574 and 1587". I have also seen the date 1580 associated to this gift. Possibly, the game was invented a few years before. Since Carrera was born in 1573, I think it makes sense for him to attribute the invention of the game to the previous generation.
We had discussed (possible) earlier Oca (Game of Goose) documents here ...
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=754&p=10880&hilit=oca#p10880
(second post at the page)
Huck
http://trionfi.com

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