Dear Mike and Ross,
Thank you both for your kind replies and welcome.
Ross: You are correct. I came seeking information and feedback.
From my preliminary review, it appeared that the Mantegna Tarocchi demonstrates a high degree of organization. I thus hypothesized that it was the artist’s intent to establish correspondences across the decades.
The first decade (social stations of humanity) and fifth decade (heavenly spheres) unambiguously follow a conventional ascending order from 1-10. Likewise, the third decade (liberal arts) follows convention, in ascending order of 1-10, in terms of the Trivium, Quadrivium, and so-called Queenly Arts, except for the placement of astronomy above philosophy—presumably, so that astronomy appears in the ninth sphere of the Primum Mobile and zodiac.
In terms of the fourth decade (called “Virtues”), I had difficulty in assessing the first three figures as such—viz. Iliaco (word etymology?), Chronico, and Cosmico. I tentatively hypothesized that this decade might be better understood as “Philosophy”—viz. natural philosophy (figures 1-3, as previously mentioned), moral philosophy (figures 4-7, cardinal virtues), and metaphysics/theological ethics (figures 8-10, theological virtues)—or, alternatively, the three realms related, thereto.
That leaves the second decade of the nine muses, plus Apollo Mousagetes. The figure of Apollo in the 10th spot of this decade would, again, seem to indicate an ascending order. However, assuming my hypothesis holds any water, the artist did not go by the few models with which I am familiar—viz. Agrippa’s muse: planetary associations or other muse: musical chord associations. Further, I’ve had difficulties locating many reliable sources on the subject.
On the other hand, if one views the line items in the 10th position of each decade, for instance—Pope, Apollo, Theology, Faith (an attribute of St. Peter), and First Cause—the hypothesis seems to hold.
Mike: Keep in mind that I posted not to present a new theory, but to seek information. Thus, my research is not complete. That said, returning to my Wheel model posted the other day . . .
(4) Merchant: temperance, Muse Erato (desire), Geometry (Arithmetic?), Sun
(5) Squire: Prudence, Polyhymnia (heroic hymns), Arithmetic (?), Mars
(6) Knight – Fortitude, Thelia (Comedy), Music, Jupiter
(7) Duke: Justice, Melpomene (tragedy), Poetry, Saturn
Merchant et al., vs. Squire et al., on wheel’s horizontal axis
The virtue temperance was traditionally associated with moderation, proportion (thus, the link with geometry by some models), or the reasoned ability to measure. An interesting treatment of the subject is found in Peter Bruegel’s Temperance (1560). Here, Temperance is shown with a rein in her mouth for the concept of restraint, while a live snake is knotted around her waist as a belt, presumably, in reference to her mastery over the physical desires, including lust. Various groups around her are pictured with measuring instruments, including a merchant counting at foreground and geometers at background. The work has the notation: “We must see to it that we do not give ourselves over to a life of lust, extravagances, and waste, and that we do not, because of miserly greed, behave despicable or miserly.”
Illustration:http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=htt ... CEcQ9QEwBA
Further, by some Renaissance models, the muse Erato acquired a link with geometry. For instance, please find link for engraving by Crispijn de Passe the Elder (ca. 1590-1637) of Erato with geometry instruments at her feet:http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/c ... 3&partId=1
That said, it’s interesting to compare merchant (and cognates) and squire (and cognates) on the horizontal axis by this model—e.g., the association of the two with the mathematical arts. In fact, I’m more accustomed to seeing the compass linked with the virtue Prudence. For a personal favorite:http://ejmas.com/jwma/articles/2005/jwm ... t_0105.htm
Further, both temperance and prudence have an association with time—temperance as a pun on “tempus” and the proper measure or use, thereof; prudence as foresight or the human cognate of Providence. Thus, referring back to the Bruegel work, a clock is pictured on top of Temperance’ head. Then, again, we have Titian’s Allegory of Time Governed by Prudence (ca. 1565-70) with the inscription, “From the past, the present acts prudently, lest it spoil future action.” http://www.renaissance-in-art.org/Alleg ... 65-70.html
Duke et al., vs. Knight et al., on wheel’s vertical axis
The link between Melpomene as the muse of tragedy with Saturn, presumably, relates to the melancholic humor. In contrast, that of Thelia, the muse of comedy, seems appropriate to the sanguine humor of Jupiter.
Mike, you wrote:
Another puzzle, at least for me. What does the illustration Kate started with have to do with Boethius? Nobody seems to be falling, which was Boethius's main point.
Falling? You lost me there. Can you explain?
Thank you and regards,