Re: The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man as Cupid

When matching cards with Petrarch's six Triumphs, I prefer to see the the Hanged Man as the Triumph of Chastity mainly because of some lines in the original poem. In art, Chastity is usually shown as a woman with Cupid bound at her feet:

An image posted by Michael J. Hurst in another post here may suggest that there was another representation of Chastity which also might explain an unusual feature of the Tarot de Marseille Hanged Man:


Some Tarot de Marseille cards have the Hanged Man shown with appendages hanging from the shoulders. In the more recent cards these are either missing or are shown as short stubby fingers, but on earlier cards, though they still have the layout of a hand, the size, shape and proportions are wrong:

I'd suggest that the Hanged Man originally showed Chastity, represented as Love bound and tortured, and that the shoulder objects were Cupid's wings. Against that, the very earliest cards don't indicate it and the Hanged Man is fully dressed in all depictions.
Al Craig

Re: The Hanged Man

While rereading The Golden Bough recently, it struck me that the Hanged Man may be a sacrificed vegetation king/god. Perhaps the wings or feathers are actually the greenery which decorated and identified the victim.
You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.
Tom Robbins

Re: The Hanged Man

Al Craig wrote
'd suggest that the Hanged Man originally showed Chastity, represented as Love bound and tortured, and that the shoulder objects were Cupid's wings. Against that, the very earliest cards don't indicate it and the Hanged Man is fully dressed in all depictions.
I don't know about "originally," but the Noblet, etc., certainly suggest Cupid's wings, as you say. However I don't think that the figure of Cupid can be identified with Chastity, just because he's on the cart. Chastity is the lady sitting above him. Cupid/Eros is still Love or Desire; he's just tied up when he's on Chastity's cart.

The god of love in Christianity is Jesus, who was bound and hung at the crucifixion. It seems to me that the association between the Hanged Man and Cupid is thus one that associates the Hanged Man and Jesus.

Nicole wrote
While rereading The Golden Bough recently, it struck me that the Hanged Man may be a sacrificed vegetation king/god. Perhaps the wings or feathers are actually the greenery which decorated and identified the victim.
Green was one of the colors used in making the cards, so if they wanted green, they could have painted green. But perhaps the resemblance is simply in the shapes. Are there any pictures from the 15th-17th century showing such vegetation gods hanging like that? I will keep my eyes open.

Jesus, of course, was also a vegetation god, as perhaps Frazier observes. The crucifixion was commemorated in the spring, when the seeds were put in the ground. We see that pretty clearly on the card: the hole in which he will be planted.

mmfilesi: Please explain why you think the "Judas" on the CY Hope card is relevant to the Hanged Man card. The only thing I can think of is that the Hanged Man is similar to Giotto's "Despair" fresco, and Judas represents the opposite of Hope. But the association is pretty roundabout. And "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" sounds despairing, too. And I could say, with equal tenuousness (and so I don't), that Jesus is the Star in the Hope card, so also the person in the Hanged Man, the one who defeats Despair.

Re: The Hanged Man

Hello friends.

I have not much time these days ... Sorry. Respond quickly.

An interesting question is why there is only one sin in the deck (il traditore)? ... however there are many virtues.

I think it's because the hopelessness was the only sin that could not afford an Italian prince.

I think its Judas on behalf of despair, in the sense given to St. Augustine (God city, . I, XVII). I only have in spanish, sorry:
«Concedamos con razón el hecho de Judas: la Verdad manifiesta que, al suspenderse de un lazo, más bien aumentó que expió la felonía de su traición. En efecto, desesperando de la divina misericordia con mortales remordimientos, cerró para sí todo camino de una penitencia salvadora. Pues bien, ¡cuánto más debe abstenerse del suicidio quien no tiene culpa alguna que castigar en tal suplicio! Porque Judas, al matarse, mató a un delincuente, y a pesar de todo acabó su propia vida no solamente reo de la muerte de Cristo, sino de la suya propia. Se suicidó por su propio crimen, pero, además, añadió un segundo crimen». (La Ciudad de Dios. I, XVII).
When a man has a theory // Can’t keep his mind on nothing else (By Ross)

Re: Osirian and Dionysian Hanged Man

Thanks for the timely clarification, mmfilesi. It's what I thought, but you also had more to say beyond the usual, about why a vice is shown.

While I am thinking about this card, I thought I might give its Osirian and Dionysian associations.

Osiris was a vegetation god. I know that's in Frazier. The tarot designers of course did not read Frazier. But in Plutarch, Osisis is described as cut down by Typhon with his sword, buried, and yet was reborn, twice, by the magic of Isis (Isis and Osiris XIII, XXXVII, at Osiris is also the water of the flood, which dies out and regenerates again, as opposed to Isis as the land. He was also identified, in Diodorus, with grain, as the one who brought agriculture to the peoples of the world, as far one way as India and the other as Oceanus (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History I.14-17 at: ... A*.html#21.).

Pico refers to the cutting down of Osiris in his Oration, 1487:
At one time we shall descend, dismembering with titanic force the 'unity' of the 'many,' like the members of Osiris; at another time, we shall ascend, recollecting those same members, by the power of Phoebus, into their original unity. Finally, in the bosom of the Father, who reigns above the ladder, we shall find perfection and peace in the felicity of theological knowledge. (
Notice that Pico mixes Greek and Egyptian myth in one sentence: Titanic force dismembers Osiris, and Apollo gathers him up. He is referring to the Titans who chopped up the child Dionysus Zagreus, boiled and roasted the pieces, and ate them, all but the heart. The Greeks, and the Renaissance, identified the dismemberment of Osiris with that of Zagreus; Osiris was the Egyptian Dionysus.

A pictorial example of the death-rebirth process in Osiris is in Meier's Atalanta Fugiens.


The alchemists saw Plutarch's account as emblematic of an alchemical process. As though to confirm their view, Plutarch (Isis and Osiris XII) described Osiris as black, Isis as white, and Typhon as red; these are the most basic colors of alchemy. Here Osiris would be the prima materia; Typhon the fiery transforming agent, and Isis the purifier.

Another text is Apuleius's Metamorphses, describing the rite by which his hero becomes a priest of Isis:
I approached the confines of death. I trod the threshold of Proserpine, and borne through the elements I returned. At midnight I saw the Sun shining in all his glory. I approached the gods below and the gods above, and I stood beside them, and I worshiped them. Behold, I have told my experience, and yet what you hear can mean nothing to you.
He entered the darkness, where he saw the sun shining, went below to the gods there, Proserpine and Pluto, and then rose up again. It is the Roman equivalent of the Christian mystery.

For the Dionysian interpretation, one text is Livy, cited by Daimonax (
...Men were said to have been carried off by the gods--because they had been attached to machines and whisked away out of sight to hidden caves; they were people who refused to enter the conspiracy or to join in the crimes, or to commit violations...(In Marvin Meyer, The ancient Mysteries: a Sourcebook[/i,] p. 86, in Google Books.
Daimonax asks us to imagine a machine that lowered people into underground caves. Livy's account says that it was the non-initiates who had this happen to them. However Livy is a negative reporter, and people in the 16th-17th centuries could see for themselves engravings of sarcophagi showing initiations on two levels (reproduced by Daimonax at


There was also the testimony of Pausanias, who described an oracle in which people lowered themselves into a cave and had unusual experiences there (induced by the drugs Pausanias said they took, as well as sensory deprivation, I would say). Then they got back up by use of a ladder:
They have made no way of descent to the bottom, but when a man comes to Trophonios, they bring him a narrow, light ladder. After going down he finds a hole between the floor and the structure. Its breadth appeared to be two spans, and its height one span. The descender lies with his back on the ground, holding barley-cakes kneaded with honey, thrusts his feet into the hold and himself follows, trying hard to get his knees into the hole. After his knees the rest of his body is at once swiftly drawn in, just as the largest and most rapid river will catch a man in its eddy and carry him under. After this those who have entered the shrine learns the future, not in one and the same way in all cases, but by sight sometimes and at other times by hearing. The return upwards is by the same mouth, the feet darting out first. (

On this re-interpretation of Livy, the Hanged Man's rope is attached to a pulley that lowers him into the cave; but we can't see the pulley--it would be just above the top of the Dodal image (below). I have been inclined to be skeptical of things we can't see. The myth about the Titans burying Dionysus's heart, the scenes on the sarcophagi, and the tale from Pausanias are convincing enough for me. But Al Craig's posting of Cupid upside down brought to mind for me another drawing, by Alberti in De Re Aedificatoria, 1452 (reproduced in Lefaivre, Leon Battista Alberti's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, p. 119). Alberti is a writer sometimes linked with the tarot, as discussed in the "Two Emperors in the Wheel" thread (see especially viewtopic.php?f=12&t=590&p=8558&hilit=alberti#p8558). All we have to do is turn Cupid upside down, and we get something like the "machine" described by Livy added to the "hanged Cupid" image given by Al from Hurst. This would not be part of the original Hanged Man, but since the "wings" that Al notices appear in the Cary Sheet fragment, perhaps as early as that.


At the same time, the way the rope is tied on the Noblet and Conver suggests the influence of the right-side up Cupid from Hurst.


Re: The Hanged Man

mikeh wrote:However I don't think that the figure of Cupid can be identified with Chastity, just because he's on the cart. Chastity is the lady sitting above him. Cupid/Eros is still Love or Desire; he's just tied up when he's on Chastity's cart.
Perhaps I should have spelled Chastity with a small c. What I meant was that an image of Love bound and tortured could have been seen as a symbol of chastity.

The argument is not very convincing when considering the card in isolation and I have assumed it to be the Triumph of Chastity by a process of elimination as part of a process of assigning all of the trump cards. It will be outlined in my other thread when it's finished.
Al Craig

Re: The Hanged Man

Hi friends, :) .

Sorry, but I disagree with chastity or Osiris meaning. If you want, we can see objective facts. Not interpretations.

1. The name of the triumph:
  • a) c. 1500. North Italian: Sermón Steele. - [12] Lo impichato

    b) 1522, Roma: Pietro Aretino. Pasquinate sopra il Conclave del 1521. > Traditore, Egidio

    c) 1534, Venezia: Troilo Pomeran. Triomphi de Pomeran da Cittadela composti sopra li terrocchi in laude delle famose gentil donne di Vinegia. 1534 > [12] Traditore

    d) 1538, Milano: Andrea Alciati. De ludis nostri temporis (Parergon Iuris). > [12] Croce (Crux)

    e) 1525 / 40, Pavia: Giambattista Susio (¿?). Motti alle signore di Pavia sotto il titolo de i Tarochi. Ms. published by Rodolfo Reinier (1894). > [12] il Traditore

    f) 1527, Venezia: Teofilo Folengo (Merlin Cocai). Chaos del Tri per uno, overo dialogo delle Tre etadi.> appiccato

    g) 1543, Venezia: Aretino, Pietro. Le carte parlanti. Dialogo di Partenio Etiro nel quale si trata del Gioco con moralità piacevole. > [12] il traditore

    h) c. 1530 / 1560, Ferrara: Anonymus. Trionphi de Tarocchi appropriati.> [12] il Traditore

    i). 1559, Roma: Paolo Giovio (¿?). Gioco di Tarocchi fatto in Conclavi. > [12] juda

    j) 14. 1561, Venezia: Alessandro Citolini. La tipocosmia. > [12] L’impiccato

    k) c. 1565?, Monte Regale: Francesco Piscina. Discorso sopra l’ordine delle figure dei Tarocchi. > [12] L’Impiccato

    l) c. 1560?: Anonymus. Discorso perchè fosse trovato il giuoco et particolarmente quello del Tarocco. > [12] Traditore

    ll) 1585, Venezia: Tommaso Garzoni. La Piazza universale di tutte le profesioni del mondo. [12] l'impiccato

    m) Family of Marsella: XII. Le Pendu
That is, this triumph could receive two names:

The hanged man (for imagery).

The traitor, Judas, the Cross (by concept).

I dont see Osiris in this documents ;)

2. The coins:

At least, in 3 decks (Medici, Rothschild, Rosenwald):
judas_monedas.jpg (38.72 KiB) Viewed 8534 times

3. Judas in CY (in relation to hopelessness.)

(Compare with Disperatio in Capella degli Scovregni)
judas_desesperacion.jpg (30.94 KiB) Viewed 8534 times
4. Traitors hanging down



Now, we can speculate ...

a) What doing everey day the Italian princes? Sin, sin, sin and sin every day. They killed, raped, betrayed, they were adulterers, homosexuals, practicing usury, attacked the Pope, were excommunicated ...

b) Who are the only sin they could not afford?

Hopelessness, as understood in the ars Moriendi, ie losing the hope their sins forgiven by God, thats mind, the second sin of Judas, as explained by St. Augustine..
When a man has a theory // Can’t keep his mind on nothing else (By Ross)

Re: The Hanged Man

Great summary of the "Judas" tradition of the card, mmfilesi. My thoughts have only to do with the Milanese-French tradition, starting with the green man of the PMB through the Cary Sheet to the "Marseille" designs. I am not referring to the title of the card. I am assuming that the card was intended as a hieroglyph, i.e. an image containing meanings that are intentionally concealed from the ignorant so as to be recognized only by the wise, as expounded by Alberti in the 1450s De Re Aedificatoria (part on hieroglyphs summarized in Curran, The Egyptian Renaissance: The Afterlife of Ancient Egypt in Early Modern Italy, 2007, pp. 69-76), and also--much influenced by Alberti--Filarete in Trattato di Architectura, early 1460s Milan (Curran pp. 84-87), as well as many other 15th-16th century writers. Explicit examples of hieroglyphs, although not tarot-like, are in the Hypnerotomachia, 1467. Some of its other illustrations are more tarot-like. If necessary there can be a thread on that topic, Milan-"Marseille" cards as hieroglyphs. I don't have such thoughts about cards elsewhere (or the CY), one way or the other. I think there is a thread on something like that topic, although not limited to Milanese-French, on Aeclectic, started by Ross; I haven't contributed. I will look at it and see if there is anything I can add.

Re: The Hanged Man

And while I have Curran handy, he has a summary of the availability of some of the literary sources of what he calls the "Egyptian Revival" (p. 89f):
Guarino's translation of Strabo was printed as early as 1469, and was followed by Poggio's translation of Diodorus's first five books in 1472 and Valla's Herodotus in 1474 (footnote 3). Other works continued to circulate in manuscript form and did not become available in printed editions until somewhat later. The Greek text of Horapollo's Heiroglyphica was published in 1505 by the celebrated Venetian press of Aldus Manitius, but printed Latin translations were released only in 1515-1517. (Footnote 4). Plutarch's Moralia, which included De Iside et Osiride, had circulated in Latin translations since the beginning of the fifteenth century, and the Greek text was published in 1509 by Aldus. (Footnote 5.) In 1544, a Latin version of De Iside et Osiride appeared in Celio Calcagnini's collected works under the title De rebus Aegyptiacus, but a complete Latin edition of the Moralia only became available in 1570 (footnote 6.)
I omit for now the scholarly footnotes. From Wikipedia's article on Sweynheim and Pannartz, I surmise that the Strabo was printed by them; they also printed Apuleius. It would be interesting to see the lists of the books they published, alluded to but not referenced either by Wikipedia or the Catholic Encyclopedia article that is their main source.

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