SteveM wrote: ↑
28 Oct 2017, 13:56
"There lies the Fate of Carthage!"
Hannibal, upon seeing his brother's severed head, cried: "There lies the fate of Carthage" -- his prophetic words were fulfilled many years later, when Carthage was utterly destroyed, largely at the instigation of Cato the Elder, who according to Plutarch was said to end his speeches, regardless of their subject matter, with the words: "Carthage must be destroyed!"*
I'm not sure how that image suggests Carthage. We simply have a "Cato", the astral fatalism symbol and legend again, and a spear through a large head.
Given the theme of free will and astral fatalism in the context of classical and Renaissance morality, it seems much more likely that the Cato in question is the Younger, the paragon of a righteous person. The defeated could just as easily refer to the Catiline Conspiracy, especially since Cicero also figures into the Sola Busca:
In 63 BC, [Cato the Younger] was elected tribune of the plebs for the following year, and assisted the consul, Marcus Tullius Cicero, in dealing with the Catiline conspiracy. Lucius Sergius Catilina, a noble patrician, led a rebellion against the state, raising an army in Etruria. Upon discovery of an associated plot against the persons of the consuls and other magistrates within Rome, Cicero arrested the conspirators, proposing to execute them without trial, an unconstitutional act. In the Senate's discussion on the subject, Gaius Julius Caesar agreed that the conspirators were guilty, but argued for distributing them among Italian cities "for safekeeping." In contrast, Cato argued that capital punishment was necessary to deter treason and that it was folly to await the ultimate test of the conspirators' guilt—the overthrow of the state—because the very proof of their guilt would make it impossible to enforce the laws. Convinced by Cato's argument, the Senate approved Cicero's proposal, and after the conspirators had been executed, the greater portion of Catiline's army quit the field, much as Cato had predicted.
Moreover, Cato had a special currency in the late Medieval period and Renaissance due to Dante, who portrayed Cato the Younger as the guardian of the mount of purgatory in his Comedia
(where he basically reprises his role in keeping the seditious and damned from escaping the Inferno). A manuscript pictorial tradition of this is eerily similar to the "astral influences" shown with Cato and the legend Trahor Fatis
- in this case, MS. Holkham (late 14th c., North Italy, Genoa?); misc. 48, p. 57: Purgatorio, Canto I. Virgil presents Dante, who is kneeling, to Cato; stars above.
EDIT: A final question in regard to the CATONE card's relationship to the BOCHO card
, paired as the Sola Busca trumps are - in that regard I'm no longer preferring Catiline as referring to the severed head, but the relationship of Cato (the Younger) to Bocchus II. The relationship of the two cards should relate the meaning of both.
Cato's spearing of a head suggests the common theme of a conqueror over a prone person allegorically representing the defeated land. The sad face of Bocho/Bocchus looking up at Cato almost suggests that is also his head, in the same attitude of the severed head on the bottom of Cato card, but Cato the Younger did not defeat Bocchus II of Mauritania, who was in fact allied with Caesar against him during the Roman civil wars. But what did Cato the Younger conquer? The Roman historian, Appian, who wrote in Greek provides a possibility:
The Senate assembled in consternation and looked to Pompey, intending to make him dictator at once, for they considered this necessary as a remedy for the present evils; but at the suggestion of Cato they appointed him consul without a colleague, so that by ruling alone he might have the power of a dictator with the responsibility of a consul. He was the first of consuls who had two of the greatest provinces, and an army, and the public money, and autocratic power in the city, by virtue of being sole consul. In order that Cato
might not cause obstruction by his presence, he framed a decree that he should go to Cyprus and take the island away from King Ptolemy
— a law to that effect having been enacted by Clodius because once, when he was captured by pirates, the avaricious Ptolemy had contributed only two talents for his ransom. When Ptolemy heard of the decree he threw his money into the sea and killed himself, and Cato settled the government of Cyprus
. Appian, The Civil Wars, Book II.23 http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/e/r ... rs/2*.html
Appian was available in a new Latin translation since late 1454, via Decembrio (for details on this see E. B Fryde, Humanism and Renaissance Historiography, 1983: 104f).
More importantly, if the Sola Busca is in fact Venetian and conceived of from c. 1490, then Cato's taking of Cyprus (the speared man in the card would be King Ptolemy) would be of the utmost significance as a historical parallel since Venice took Cyprus in 1489 from its last Queen, Catherine Cornaro.
What then of Bocho's sorrowful face, upturned towards Cato? If taking Cyprus was a high point for Cato the Younger, his suicide in Utica, Africa was the low point, albeit lionized as a virtuous exemplar against the corrupted, power-mad Caesar. So Bocho/Bocchus II would represent the place of Cato's death in Africa, the Trahor Fatis
legend on his card proper foreshadowing a primary preoccupation of astrology: time/place of one's death. So while Cato spears another, he also studies the scrolled legend in his hands pertaining to his own death.
Lucan made Cato the hero of the later books of his epic, the Pharsalia, giving him the famous epigram, [/i]"Victrix causa deis placuit sed victa Catoni" ("The conquering cause pleased the gods, but the conquered cause pleased Cato," Lucan 1.128). But it should also be noted that in this work Cato could consult the Oracle of Ammon...but refuses to do so. That certainly puts the presence of Nectanabo and Amone in the deck in a problematic light as negative exempli, but note the high-minded words with which Cato dismisses this oracle:
Is there any seat of god besides / The Earth and sea and air an aether and virtue? / Why do we seek heavenly powers betond these / when everything you see and do is Jupiter? (Lucan, Phar. 9.592-95)
Surely a pagan's sentiments (i.e., all is Jupiter) that could be adapted to Christianity's monotheism (which Dante in fact did).