Re: Strength

#31
Dear Marco,

Thank you for the link to the Temple of Wisdom string. This gives me much to investigate.

Just a few comments . . .

In referring to Goffen’s proposed arrangement of the panels [exclusive of her interpretations of each panel], Michael J. Hurst wrote:

“The idea that both vertical and horizontal pairing should be meaningful is key. This compositional arrangement provides additional information, beyond what is in the images individually.”

http://pre-gebelin.blogspot.com/2009/05 ... -of-3.html

This observation is most certainly true. However, I would submit that a diagonal X-wise pairing is also key to understanding the program as a whole; further, that the male face reflected in the “Prudence” panel has reference to the protagonist of the so-called “Lust” or “Perseverance” panel.

Additionally, you no doubt noted the fortress in the last, “shell” panel. But did you notice the fortress situated in the far distance of “Lust/Perseverance”? In contrast, the “Prudence” panel is noteworthy in placing us within an interior space or, conceivably, within the fortress itself.

Lastly, I find it peculiar that of the many art commentators whom Michael J. Hurst cited, none remarked on the possible symbolic significance of using these panels as a surround for a mirror.

Again, thank you for the references.

Regards,
Kate

Re: Strength

#32
I have recently been reviewing the translation of some of Andrea Vitali's iconological essays, and I came across a problem I hadn't been fully aware of before, namely, how the Italian "fortezza" and the Latin "fortitudo" is not really equivalent to the English "fortitude", and how, perhaps due to the greater inclusiveness of the former, moral virtue fortitude, as opposed to the terms "fortezza" and "fortitudo", is not really exemplified by someone either breaking a pillar or forcing open (or shut) a lion's mouth.

St. Thomas Aquinas had probably the most influential treatment of the virtue at the time of the early cards, in the Summa Theologica. He distinguishes between the moral virtue of fortitudo, "fortitude" in English, from physical strength, strength of body, by calling the former "fortitudo mentis" or "fortitudo animae", and the latter "fortitudo corporalis". The virtue of fortitudo pertains to the moral virtue: (http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3123.htm.
Now the human will is hindered ... through the will being disinclined to follow that which is in accordance with reason, on account of some difficulty that presents itself. On order to remove this obstacle fortitude of the mind [fortitudo mentis] is requisite, whereby to resist the aforesaid difficulty even as a man, by fortitude of body [fortitudinem corporalem], overcomes and removes bodily obstacles.
...
Now it belongs to fortitude of the mind [fortitudinem mentis] to bear bravely with infirmities of the flesh, and this belongs to the virtue of patience or fortitude...
...
The fortitude of the soul [fortitudo animae] which is reckoned a virtue, as explained in the Reply to the First Objection, is so called from its likeness to fortitude of the body [corporalis fortitudinis]

This perspective derives in part from Aristotle, for whom fortitude was a mean between cowardice and rashness. These extremes, cowardice and rashness, are unambiguously moral vices, not physical deficiencies.

It is the same for Plato, for whom the virtues of temperance, fortitude, wisdom, and justice were attributes of the soul and not the body.

If so, Samson's and Hercules' victories over their lions, while showing fortitude, also depend on their great physical strength. Their victories do not separate the virtue of the soul from that of the body and in fact, by depending on exceptional physical strength, emphasize the latter.

Likewise Samson's destruction of the temple columns is a matter of physical strength accompanied by the moral strength of overcoming his fear of death.

On the other hand, in the case of a figure holding a shield and a spear, as in Giotto's allegorical figure, no outstanding physical strength is indicated, just the commendable virtue of courage in battle.

When a lady is shown merely holding a column, broken or not, there is no question of her dying as a result. In that case, apart from referring to Samson, it is not appropriate to illustrate fortitude, almost as inappropriate, for example, as a fortress, which would illustrate another meaning of the Italian word "fortezza". Its only justification is that the illustration of one kind of "fortezza" might bring to mind another.

The problem is that the Latin word "fortitudo", along with its later derivatives in Latin-based languages, fortezza (Italian), forza (Italian), fuerza (Spanish), force (French), etc., cover both moral and physical virtue, or excellence (which the Latin "virtu" means), as can be verified by looking up these words in an online dictionary, e.g. WordRefrence or Wiktionary. Given that the other two virtue cards in the tarot are of moral virtues, temperance and justice, the third without doubt must also refer to a moral virtue. The cardinal virtues included three moral virtues and one intellectual virtue, but no virtues - excellences - of the body. In English, "fortitude" is clearly the moral virtue, whereas "strength" is not. But that is not true of the Latin "fortitudo", nor its Italian derivative, which indeed are better translated as "strength" than "fortitude".

The medieval designers of didactic images seem to have been aware of the problem of the over-inclusiveness of the term "fortitudo". That is why they used a woman with a lion to illustrate the virtue; it is not merely because the virtues were illustrated with women, because fortitude was often illustrated with a man, Samson or Hercules, even on some tarot cards. But women were considered physically weaker; they were not trained in body-building and martial arts at that time. However they were not considered uncourageous, as numerous Christian martyrs and a few Jewish heroines showed. It did not take exceptional physical strength to kill a sleeping man; but it did take courage, because there was the danger of his awakening and preventing his death; that is why Judith was an exemplar of the virtue (below, two representations of fortitudo side by side in the Song of the Virtues and Liberal Arts done in the 14th century for Luciano Visconti):

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UKG9oCix0kA/U ... _0463a.jpg

There was also the idea of walking into the lion's den (Daniel), or taking a thorn from a lion's paw (St. Mark), which a woman could do as well as a man. Putting one's fingers in the lion's mouth would also, for a woman, therefore be an act of courage rather than force. The lion refrains from biting off her fingers because it is intimidated by her courage or charmed by her purity and grace that conveys the opposite of harm. In the latter case, it is similar to the notion of the unicorn tamed by a virgin. Normally fierce and uncapturable, a unicorn can only be caught if a virgin is brave enough to let it come near her, in which case it puts its head in her lap.

There are numerous illustrations of the virtue that suggest the lion's compliance rather than being overpowered.

http://www.getty.edu/art/collections/im ... 033801.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/23 ... 937fd8.jpg

http://fourhares.com/images/XI-Chartres.jpg (from http://staffs.proboards.com/thread/1678, said to be at Chartres Cathedral, 12th-13th century)

including in tarot cards.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uVR_ZikFUQ8/T ... CShNob.jpg

Even its being pushed down by the woman's hand is not by force, but by the imposition of the lady's will. In this case, the lion might represent instinct, but not instinct in general but rather that of either fear for one's life or tehe heedless desire for victory, submitting instead to will guided by reason.

http://www.associazioneletarot.it/cgi-b ... to%204.jpg

And perhaps it is to illustrate the point that often the lion is shown next to the lady, as a creature she is not afraid to have near her, rather than suggesting that she is overpowering it by force.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/73 ... 20ce07.jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... orteza.jpg

So if the card indeed represents a moral virtue, then what is depicted is not a lady overcoming a lion by force, but rather one who vanquishes fear by an act of will. There might also be the suggestion that courage is rewarded by the lion's desire not to see her come to harm. The lion is a symbol of God as well as instinct. There may be the message that if one is justifiably (i.e. with justice, for the virtues do not exist in separation from one another) courageous in the face of danger and possible death, God, the "lion of Judah", will reward one, either in this life or the next.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-17R8pFMKSAI/V ... Giotto.jpg

Re: Strength

#33
mikeh wrote:I have recently been reviewing the translation of some of Andrea Vitali's iconological essays, and I came across a problem I hadn't been fully aware of before, namely, how the Italian "fortezza" and the Latin "fortitudo" is not really equivalent to the English "fortitude",
More accurately, in modern English it is no longer equivalent (in terms of its semantic range); although now archaic usage, fortitude was used to mean physical as well as moral (mental, emotional or as in the modern americanisms intestinal) strength. Examples of such usage you can find for example in Shakespeare (e.g., Othello, Act 1, scene 3).

It shouldn't really be a problem in translation, taking in context of the virtues then fortitude is appropriate. In terms of symbolism also it's quite reasonable I think to take take a representation of physical strength as a visual analogy for inner strength. As you point out in terms of the lady with lion it is not a representation of physical strength anyway, but of strength of will or reason over the spirited part of the soul (whose role is "to obey the directions of the logical or reasoning part of the sould while ferociously defending the whole from external invasion and internal disorder.."). I'm not inclined to follow your identification of the Lion as a symbol of the spirited soul to an identification of it with Christ (as the Lion of Judah). Symbols are multivalent, but nonetheless delimited by context; failure to take context into account when interpreting symbols will take you down an endless road of possible associations. Context delimits the interpretation of the Lion in the representation of Fortitude in a different manner to that of the Lion in the World card.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Strength

#34
What is the context of the Fortitude/Strength card, such that the Lion of Judah and Christ is excluded? This particular card is one of three virtue cards, moral virtues to be precise, defined by Aquinas, Plato, and Aristotle in terms of specifically moral strength, of whom in Christianity the supreme examples were Christ on the cross and the Christian martyrs. Christian courage was in part a gift from God.

Andrea in his essay has a nice paragraph on this:
La Fortezza del Cristo si riverbera su tutti i Cristiani che nella Prima Lettera di Giovanni vengono chiamati “ischyroi” (forti), perché in grado di resistere alle tentazioni del Maligno e al peccato per mezzo della parola di Dio che abita in loro. Sant’Agostino aggiungerà che la Fortezza consiste nella “fermezza d’animo” (firmitas animi), cioè nella capacità di sopportare i mali e le avversità della vita presente in vista del godimento dei beni supremi” (De Civitate Dei, XIX, c. 4).

(The Fortitude/Strength of Christ reverberates on all Christians, who are called, in the First Letter of John [2:14], to be “ischyroi” (strong), because they are able to hold out against the temptations of the Evil One and sin, thanks to the word of God that lives in them. Saint Augustine adds that Fortitude/Strength consists of “steadiness of mind” (firmitas animi), which is the ability to endure evils and the adversities of the present life in view of the enjoyment of the supreme good” (City of God, XIX, c. 4).)
It seems to me that the contest between the lady and the lion is a two-way street; the lion gives her strength as much as her strength opposes his. In the interaction the divine power symbolized by the lion enfuses and ennobles her. This is especially clear in the Cary-Yale.

You speak of the lady with the lion as representing the "strength of will or reason over the spirited part of the soul (whose role is "to obey the directions of the logical or reasoning part of the soul while ferociously defending the whole from external invasion and internal disorder..")." That is only part of the Christian concept of fortitude. It is not simply the power of reason to direct the soul. It is also the power of God within the soul, a concept that Christianity took over from Judaism. The lion symbolizes what the lady has within her.

I do not see how this opens up an "endless road of possible associations". It simply adds the specifically Christian component of the virtue of fortitude and identifies it with the lion. It stays within the context of the virtue.

Thanks for clarifying the history of the term "fortitude" in English. The translation problem is that Italian and the other Romance languages have not similarly narrowed the meaning (which in English originally came from Norman French), as you can see if you try to translate Andrea's essay using the word "fortitude". That may be because of the Germanic basis of English; I might be wrong, but I don't think that German behaves in quite the same way as Italian. German doesn't even have a term derived from the Latin "fortitudo", there's just (apart from the loan-word "courage"), "mut" , plus "kraft", power, which can be of the mind/soul/spirit (the same word "geist", or the "will" (wille, willenskraft) or the body. So can that lion. Hebrew, from what I can gather from the concordances and transliterations online, is similar.

On the other hand, when Aquinas speaks of "fortitudo", after first clarifying that he means moral strength, he then speaks of the virtue in precisely the way modern English uses the term "fortitude". So is the translation there properly "fortitude" or "strength"? Modern translations of Aquinas invariably have "fortitude". As a term for a moral virtue, "strength" by itself seems inaccurate. It is perhaps also the influence of such Christian sources that has contributed to narrowing the meaning of the English term "fortitude".

What is in the back of my mind is that after the Cary-Yale, what we see, both in the tarot and in art, until the Marseille tarot, are perversions of the idea of fortitude. Before, as in many of the images of the person with the lion shown earlier on this thread, are not contests of physical strength at all, as opposed to play of a kind that requires strength of soul. Then in the tarot we start seeing broken columns, reminders of Samson's great physical strength, and also Hercules with his lion, another strongman. And Durer's Samson gets into a real tussle with the lion. To be sure, great physical strength can be an image of great moral strength, but these images go overboard, focusing physical prowess and obscuring the moral dimension (what the OED calls with some exaggeration "the passive sense", http://0-www.oed.com.catalog.multcolib. ... titude#eid) exemplified by Christ at the crucifixion, the martyrs who followed, and the Christian soldier of ordinary physical strength usually portrayed as standing rather than attacking.

I looked in one book and two articles about how the virtue of fortitude was portrayed before the middle of the 15th century (Katzenellenbogen, Allegories of the Virtues and Vices; Tuve, Notes on the Virtues and Vices"). It is mostly either an armed person, sometimes with a shield, sometimes with a lion on the shield, or it is a person with his or her, usually her, fingers in a lion's mouth. Some illuminations have ladies holding miniature towers, i.e. defensive structures, but that is a play on another meaning of "fortezza" (fortress) to show a particular part of the virtue, steadfastness and preparation. But no broken pillars, no pictures of people exhibiting what is clearly unusual physical strength. The inclusiveness of the Italian "fortezza" and the Latin "fortitudo" (like the English "strength") makes the switch to pillars and pummeling easy. But what results is only indirectly a moral virtue.

What it leads to for me is an argument for how the fortitude card, as part of a deck with personified moral virtues, didn't start in a place that used the broken pillar, or another image of physical strength such as Hercules or Samson with their lions, as its image, as opposed to a place that had the moral virtue uppermost in mind, and then the place that took it over--Florence, specifically--debased it into a kind of Renaissance version of Superman. It is not a strong argument, just one among others.

Re: Strength

#35
mikeh wrote: What is in the back of my mind is that after the Cary-Yale, what we see, both in the tarot and in art, until the Marseille tarot, are perversions of the idea of fortitude. Before, as in many of the images of the person with the lion shown earlier on this thread, are not contests of physical strength at all, as opposed to play of a kind that requires strength of soul. Then in the tarot we start seeing broken columns, reminders of Samson's great physical strength, and also Hercules with his lion, another strongman.
Neither Samson nor Hercules are 'merely' exemplars of physical strength, but rather of divinely empowered strength.

28 Then he called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. 30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.


Ii don't see that signs of physical strength, as symbols of moral strength, are in any way perversions of the idea of fortitude; but rather emblems or hieroglyphs through both a literal and an analogical sense the idea of both physical and moral strength.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

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