Posted: 12 Nov 2009, 22:05
A thread to discuss the iconography of Strength
Over 500 years of history in 78 cards
Francesco Petrarca wrote:Poco dinanzi a lei vedi Sansone,
vie più forte che saggio, che per ciance
in grembo a la nemica il capo pone.
"Closely beyond her, Samson you may see,
Stronger than he is wise, who foolishly
Laid low his head upon a hostile lap."
Interesting picture of the Strength of Justice, where the woman with the sword represents the human supremacy over the animal ferocity.Pen wrote:http://emblem.libraries.psu.edu/Ripa/Im ... pa032b.htm
I couldn't find the boar...Fortezza:STRENGTH
A Woman in Armour; her Stature upright; big bon'd; plump Breasts; harsh Hair; sparkling Eyes; a Spear in her Hand; with an Oak Branch; a Shield on her Arm, with a Lion and a wild Boar.
All these denote Strength; The Oak Branch and Armour show Strength of Body and Mind. the Spear denotes Superiority secured by Strength; The Lion and Boar, The Strength of Mind and Body; the one acting with Moderation, the Boar runs headlong with Fury.
Here's the large image at wikimedia commons:Virtù Cardinali e Teologali
Dimensions ? cm × 660 cm
Location Vatican Museums, Vatican City
The Cardinal and Theological Virtues is a fresco by Raphael as part of his Stanza della Segnatura in the Palazzi Vaticani in Vatican City. It is 6.6m wide at the base. The cardinal virtues are personified as three women in a bucolic landscape, and the theological virtues by cupids:
* Fortitude, a woman holding an oak branch, with the branch shaken by the cupid Charity
* Prudence, with two faces, looking in a mirror, with a cupid Hope behind her holding a flaming torch
* Temperance, holding reins in her hand, guarding a cupid Faith, who points at the sky with his right hand
I'm wondering if the meaning 'fortress' is irrelevant. We know that La Fortezza, Strength, Fortitude (call her what you will) had as her various symbols a column, a lion or references to a lion/lions (ie. on her clothing, shield etc.), and sometimes carried a club or sword.According to Michael Dummett's The Game of Tarot : "In all early Italian sources, the card is called la fortezza, which (apart from the irrelevant meaning of 'the fortress') can only mean 'fortitude.'"
Is it really irrelevant that the word means fortress? What is he saying with "(it) can only mean 'fortitude'? Is he saying that since it can't possibly mean fortress, that it must mean fortitude? Because his phrasing makes it sound as if he's deducing this meaning, as though it were not obvious as in the cases of many of the other card names. With the use of puns being common, I'm not so sure we can just dismiss the word offhandedly, but I could be totally wrong.
At any rate, I found these images very interesting.
Earlier in the verse Petrach writes of other virtues, although there's no mention of Fortitude or Strength, unless one could count Perseverence as Fortitude:Triumph of Chastity
She wore, that day, a gown of white, and held
The shield that brought Medusa to her death.
To a fair jasper column that was there,
And with a chain once dipped in Lethe's stream
A chain of diamond and topaz, such
As women used to wear, but wear no more
I saw him bound, and saw him then chastised
Enough to wreak a thousand vengeances:
In The Orlando Furioso, by Lodovico Ariosto, Volume 3, LXV11, chastity and fortitude are mentioned in the same breath.With her, and armed, was the glorious host
Of all the radiant virtues that were hers,
Hands held in hands that clasped them, two by two.
Honor and Modesty were in the van,
A noble pair of virtues excellent,
That set her high above all other women;
Prudence and Moderation were near by,
Benignity and Gladness of the Heart
Glory and Perseverance in the rear;
Foresight and Graciousness were at the sides,
And Courtesy therewith, and Purity,
Desire for Honor, and the Fear of Shame.
A Thoughtfulness mature in spite of Youth,
And, in a concord rarely to be found,
Beauty supreme at one with Chastity.
It seems that chastity (not understood in the sense of 'virginity' until later) was especially highly regarded and linked with almost as many virtues as one could imagine.Of good Richarda first shall be my strain,
Mirror of chastity and fortitude,
Who, young, remains a widow, in distain
Of fortune: (that which oft awaits the good)...
although I couldn't find the quote they were referring to.Through Petraca's association of Chastity with the ferocity of lions...