Vitali has given an explanation of why the Emperor's legs are crossed (http://www.associazioneletarot.it/The-E ... 6_eng.aspx).:
In the card in the Mantegna Tarots deck (figure 5) and in the one in which Emperor Theodosius is represented together with Pope Paul II (Constitutions of the Bolognese study, cod. ms. 40, Bologna, Public Archives), borrowed from the same card, the figure of the Imperator has crossed feet. It doesn’t deal with a particularly usual attitude, but appears as an external mark of safety and of correct evaluation, adopted by judges as they are passing sentence, as we find in the Sachsenspiegel in Dresden (figure 6), which Van Rijnberk amply examined (Tarot. Histoire, Iconography, Esoterism, 1947, pp.108-113).
His figure 6 is actually of the Bolognese illumination, 1467, which some of us discussed on the "Mantegna" thread. The relevant detail is below.
It is odd to me that Vitali identifies the Emperor as Theodosius, presumably referring to the last emperor of both East and West (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodosius_I), died 395 c.e. I am unclear why Vitali makes this identification. I see no resemblance between his picture on Wikipedia and the emperor in the illumination, or for that matter, the "Mantegna" Emperor, who is again just the typical bearded emperor, probably modeled on Sigismund.
Paul II was Pope in 1467; the Pope in the illumination does resemble him.
As for the crossed legs, Panofsky gives a similar explanation to Vitali's:
This attitude, denoting a calm and superior state of mind, was actually prescribed to judges in ancient German law-books
(Life and Art of Albrecht Durer, p. 78). His comment is in reference to an engraving Durer did (below) of Christ as the "sun of righteousness" holding the sword and scales of Justice; his lower legs are crossed n a manner similar to that of the Cary-Visconti Emperor (Panofsky's figure 101d).
Similarly the PMB Kings of Coins and Swords have their legs crossed. There is also this illumination of Galeazzo Maria Sforza. The book is dated 1464, but the illumination is more likely from after he became Duke in 1468.
Having one's leggings of different colors was apparently common. I am not ready to attach specific symbolism to the colors of the Marseille Emperor's leggings.
In an ATF thread on the Greek gods (http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... ostcount=4), Beanu posted an image of Jupiter that, in an earlier version, I too am inclined to think is one source for the Marseille-style Emperor, perhaps even the Cary Sheet's. The source is Pausanias (Description of Greece 5.11, at http://www.theoi.com/Text/Pausanias5A.html). The earliest pictorial version of this Jupiter that I have found is an engraving of 1572 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Zeus_at_Olympia).
As in the card, he has his legs crossed and has an eagle below--not, of course, the stylized one--while holding a vertical shaft with the other (a lightning rod, in the illustration). The people below the statue give perspective; they are also symbolic "children of Zeus," That the Emperor is in a rural setting on the card corresponds to the rural setting of Olympia, seat of the Olympic Games.
The significance of Jupiter in the tarot sequence, besides as the ruler of Olympus and the cosmos, is that he is the father of Dionysus. He was also his surrogate-mother, in that when the original mother, Semele, burned to a crisp, Hermes took the foetal Dionysus and inserted him in Zeus's thigh. Zeus kept the embryo of Dionysus in his thigh until birth.
One of Dionysus's epithets, Enorches, might refer to this birth. "Orches" means "testicle." So Enorches, as some translate it, means "betesticled." If so, that is not a very distinctive epithet; all men, save eunuchs, are betesticled. But one ancient commentator, referring to a temple named for its builder, a man called Enorches, says that it was "so-called because he was born of an egg” (William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Mythology 1876, p. 20; in Google Books). Perhaps it is like the Spanish word "huevos," which applies to both eggs and testicles. Or perhaps "thigh" is a euphemism for "testicle," and "Enorches" means, "be-testicled" in the sense of being inserted in the testicle. Or perhaps Dionysus was called Enorches because he, in his first incarnation as Phanes, was born of an egg, in the mythology of the famous Orphic Hymns (Orphic Hymn to Protogonos, http://www.theoi.com/Text/OrphicHymns1.html#5). Or all of these.
This egg also hints of another mystery, the notorious egg that Daimonax, echoing Camoin and Jodorowsky (their card is left middle below), claims to find on the emperor's shield. Well, it might be there. The Conver versions show what might be part of an outline of an egg. But I cannot say definitely.
If so, we have another reference to Dionysus, there in the egg, reinforcing the other reference, as the eagle on the shield, which, as I have argued in connection with the Empress, stands for the Emperor's heir. Camoin and Jodorowsky also found an egg in the Conver Popess card. Conceivably it could relate to Dodal's "Pances" title, as "womb," and thus to the embryonic savior (Jesus, Horus, Zeus) ; but I cannot see even the slightest trace of that egg.
Daimonax (http://www.bacchos.org/tarothtm/3et4emp3.html) holds that the Emperor is Dionysus himself. The gondolier's hat suggests to him the flowing hair of Dionysus; the shield, the panther at Dionysus's feet; and the scepter, Dionysus's thyrsis.
To me the analogy is stretched. And Daimonax doesn't say when that relief was discovered. However, the head and thyrsis do fit the Cary Sheet a little better.
It is also possible that the Marseille-style Emperor is Osiris, because of the water flowing by him. That could be the Nile--or the Aegean Sea, if the card-makers weren't too picky about the geography at Olympia. The Greeks identified Osiris with Dionysus. But if so, Dionysus couldn't be the eagle on the shield. Conveniently, the Greeks also identified Osiris's son Horus with Dionysus's son Priapus, as Cartari, Imagini delli Dei de gl’Antichi (Images of the gods of the ancients), among others, relates (http://www.bibliotecaitaliana.it/xtf/vi ... 000718.xml). Priapus, however, is a minor character in Greek myth, even a ridiculous one; true, he symbolizes fertility (his imposing image was used on Roman scarecrows); but so does Dionysus. The card tells a more interesting Greco-Roman story if the Emperor is Jupiter rather than Dionysus.
In the Neopythagorean Theology of Arithmetic, 4 is the number of the three-dimensional material cosmos, the whole, but not including any of the various levels of soul (viewtopic.php?f=12&t=530&start=10#p7981). That corresponds to the Emperor's temporal authority. The most he can do is provide the material conditions for the growth of soul, similar to setting the boundaries that define the space out of which, from the center, a plant grows in some of the Marseille Fours. The tending of the soul itself goes to those higher than him.
In the Christian Kabbalah of the 16th century, the 4th sefira, Chesed, was called by Reuchlin (1518) Loving-Kindness" (clementiae) or "Goodness" (bonitatati); also kindness (gra), mercy (misericordia), right arm (brachium dextura, innocent (inocens) , the third day (dies tercium), bright fire (ignis candid), the face of a lion (faces leonis) , the first foot (pes prima), and the old man Abraham (Abraham senex), among other things.
Most of this applies easily to the Emperor. Abraham was the patriarch who had great love for his son but was willing to kill him anyway, if God willed it. Such is the benevolent ruler who will do what is necessary, including massacring his subjects, to serve God and his faith. Moses, at the Golden Calf, did not flinch. So likewise was Imperial and French policy several times between the Diet of Worms, 1521, and the time of the Noblet, 1650. Then Louis XIV instituted another pogrom against his Huguenot subjects, killing some and driving the rest out of France. That, of course, was nothing compared to the de facto emperors, mostly atheists, of the 20th century.