Re: How do you play Marziano's game?

mikeh wrote:
03 Feb 2019, 11:27
So what could be the connection of Marziano to the later tarot of Florence 1440, the CY and so forth?

...It is true that virtus in Latin does not have the same moral connotation as virtù usually does in Italian: in Latin it means “strength” or “excellence” as well as “virtue” in the moral sense. Each god or demigod has his or her excellence, which does not always translate to moral excellence. But that is the problem. It is virtue in the moral and theological sense, action in accordance with divine will, that Marziano is promising to “arouse” in Filippo - he explicitly says, in a sentence I have omitted, that his concern is the virtue of "moral actions", "actibus moralis" - and it is that which is now mixed up with vice.

Yep, manly virtus is not the theme but rather the moral theme of virtù.

The source behind Marziano, as Ross has pointed out is Boccaccio, who in turn was often filtering Petrarch through his own lens (and all of this ultimately relies on the then-recent Ovide moralise tradition). Petrarch was obsessed with viewing his Laura (if she in fact existed) as Daphne. Daphne, humanity at its most vulnerable chased by the passion of a god (and besides Apollo you could have of course inserted any number of Jupiter's objects of desire, but the choice of Daphne clearly points to Petrarch), and she is at the bottom of the list with Cupid - as the lowest level where human-"celestial" interact - for a reason: human virtue struggles amidst the chaotic stirrings of the gods, some of whom are virtuous (e.g.,Minerva) some of whom are most definitely not (e.g. Bacchus).

The "self" thrown into this realm of virtues and vices was increasingly common since the 13th century. In BL Harley 3244 ff. 27v-28 (1238) below, it shows the seven vices represented as devils: Superbia (Pride), Invidia (Envy), Ira (Wrath), Accidia (Sloth), Avaricia (Covetousness), Gula (Gluttony), and Luxuria (Self-indulgence), each subdivided, and countered by doves representing the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, a knight on horseback (the 'Just Man') with the shield of faith and armed with virtues, and an angel. The armor of the knight and the trappings of the horse are labelled with the names of virtues.


This was also the main theme of Dante's teacher, Bruno Latini in his Tesoretto, (despite its popularity, the only extant illustrated manuscript of Brunetto Latini's Tesoretto is inFlorence, Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana, Strozzi 146, early Trecento). Like Dante's Comedia, Latini is a character in his own story, educated about the world by the allegory of Nature; he then takes his leave of Natura and comes to Philosophy's realm where he finds the Aristotelian virtues in a landscape filled with emperors, kings, lords. At this point Latino, standing to one side, sees and hears a young knight ('Chavaliero') being educated in the virtues necessary for the good citizen of the well-ordered city. I'll quote the most relevant episode from this excellent webpage on Latini:
Then Latino wanders from his path - as Natura had warned him not to do - and comes to the realm of Fortune and Love, as he travels down the lefthand road on the Kalends of May . There he finds a variable landscape that at one moment is deserted, the next has tents, then palaces, in which people are weeping or joyous, in which they are stationary or are chasing or being chased. He sees the god Amor with his bow and arrows upon a pillar, and is fearful. But he turns to the great Ovid, who teaches him by means of his verses both the delights and the errors of love. Ovid gives Latino mastery over himself, protecting him from the arrows of Love and allowing him to flee from that dangerous place (Strozz. 146, fol. 21v).
A Milanese variation of that theme: De Predis depiction of that planetary "children's" realm of Amor for Sforza in his c. 1450s De Sphaera (Ms. lat. 209 Biblioteca Estense, Modena).

Dante of course has Virgil guide him through the dangerous realms before being handed off to Beatrice to ascend through the seven canonical Virtues/planetary spheres before arriving at the top spheres for the heavenly visions of the divine. It these seven virtues I argue we find in the CY (with temperance and justice missing, but found in in the PMB and thus assumed as missing in the CY, with Prudence more controversially proposed as "World"; more on the latter below).

As for the chaotic realm of Love in a Florentine context, The c. 1460 Florentine cassone showing a joust in Santa Croce under the watchful eyes of the statue of the Guelph patron Saint Louis on one end (virtue), opposite has Venus as allegorical float amidst the joust, seemingly causing the riotous behavior of the knights below; and on the banner on the far right is a woman sitting in a meadow, playing music on a lute - virtue amongst the Kalends of May-like mayhem (I was able to inspect this cassone in person in the Yale Art Museum this past year - definitely a lute). Although this cassone does not depict the Kalends of May proper, for that pronounced theme in Florence see Charles Dempsey's The Portrayal of Love: Botticelli's Primavera and Humanist Culture at the Time of Lorenzo the Magnificent (1992). Right "Venus"/love detail of the cassone in question with virtuous woman-in-the-meadow banner (one presumes virtus does have a role in this context as the winner of the joust is worthy of the virtuous maiden, notably held by a page in the livery of triumphal wreaths; but it is Venus who enflames the men to knightly deeds):


As for Mike's question about the "connection of Marziano to the later tarot of Florence 1440, the CY" - in the CY "world" what is this knight and the kneeling maiden he is to cross the river for, but precisely the woman holding Chasity's shield on the "Chariot" and the virtuous "Chavaliero" from the Trecento sources (or any of the Arthurian legends so popular in Milan and Ferrara), both having successfully followed the path of he virtues (and their exemplary themes) found in the preceding cards, with the knight now able to claim his maiden (being received by virtuous monks upon a boat).
CY Love and World with Trecento knight w Virtues.JPG
CY Love and World with Trecento knight w Virtues.JPG (68.32 KiB) Viewed 416 times
The Quattrocento added the detail of the fama of a ruler's virtues, almost always with the additional line of "singing their praises to the stars" (astrology being an utmost concern, allusions to it are found everywhere, not to mention the stars are eternal, thus the ruler's fame). So in addition to the symbols of rulership of the allegorical bust protruding from the band of clouds (I would think it as an updated version of Siena's "good government" fresco or in the case of Visconti, rather the "the well ordered dominion, ruled with 'good right") we find the winged trumpet of fame...the fame of both virtuous Bianca and Francesco.

Virtuous love - a marriage (with the low matrimonial bed in the tent awaiting consummation of the marriage, otherwise not binding)


And the Florentine ur-tarot would not have shown a couple but rather the "Kalends of May" theme (and its social rituals that bound Florence, ergo the CVI love trump - and compare the front couple of the CVI to the couple underneath the springtime zodiacal sign of Taurus in the Venus Sphaera page above, with a lute player facing them, suggesting they are dancing).


The group versus couple Love motif has a Trecento provenance. In fact, Amor paired with a ruler-couple may be a Quattrocento innovation, as the Trencento - the age of the communes - seemed to have preferred a theme that suggested society at large.
Barbarino Eros.JPG
Barbarino Eros.JPG (41.22 KiB) Viewed 408 times


Re: How do you play Marziano's game?

This is the continuation of what I wrote at viewtopic.php?p=20726#p20726.

Thanks, Phaeded. The only thing I have problems with is inferring the make-up an "ur-tarot" card (Love) from a card that is at least around 1460, plus a selected set of images showing bunches of lovers. There are also lots of images of Petrarch and Laura as a couple, often with a Cupid thrown in, with an arrow through Petrarch's heart or aimed at it. I would guess that the early Florentine was the popular tarot, not a set of hand-painted cards, so it might well be close to the Rosenwald,, a man kneeling in front of a woman. ... amore.html, or what we see in the Budapest, for which see the same web-page.

And thanks for the illustration of Fortune and her Wheel, Ross. I assume that is an earlier version of you below her.

It occurs to me now that I don't have to wait until I have looked at the other regions to include other A orders besides that of Minchiate, because still the only positions available for the theologicals and Prudence in the A region are that of Minchiate. Otherwise, the only card that varies in position between the different A orders is the Chariot, sometimes before Fortune, sometimes after Fortune and sometimes after Love. See here Depaulis, "Early Italian lists of tarot trumps," The Playing Card 36:1 (2007), p. 43, at ... 7_p._39-50. Here again is my order A1, which didn't have a cardinal virtue in each row:

A1: Minchiate in 16 using the Old Man
1 Angel, 5 Prudence, 9 Fortune, 13 Temperance,
2. World, 6 Hope, 10 Chariot, 14 Love
3. Charity, 7 Death, 11 Justice, 15 Emperor
4. Faith, 8 Old Man, 12 Fortitude, 16 Empress

As you can see, if Chariot and Fortune exchanged places, there would still be no virtue in the second row. If Chariot went after Love, as in Bologna, the result would be:

A4: Bologna in 16 using the Old Man and Minchiate placements of theologicals & Prudence
Coins: 1 Angel, 5 Prudence, 9 Fortune, 13 Chariot
Swords: 2. World, 6 Hope, 10 Justice 14 Love
Batons: 3. Charity, 7 Death, 11 Fortitude 15 Emperor
Cups: 4. Faith, 8 Old Man, 12 Temperance 16 Empress

Now we do have a virtue in every row. I did not expect this result! I still don't know what Temperance has to do with Faith, or Fortitude with Charity, except in a general way, but the other assignments make a kind of sense.

I will continue.

Another order for the CY cards is provided by the Beinecke Library's captions ( ... t&type=tag, click on cards to see captions), in the order it presents them. It is quite mysterious where these captions came from. The curator of the collection has affirmed repeatedly to me in emails, most recently in 2018, that they came with the cards when Yale acquired them, but he has no further information. It is true that we don't know if this set of captions goes back to the date of origin of the Cary-Yale, or even as far back as any of the known orders. It is at least something, and after I have presented it I will give a few reasons, admittedly not decisive, for thinking that this order is indeed original.

In this case we have definite rows and definite suits for each row, but we don’t know what cards are missing (C because this is Lombardy, included in Dummett's C region):

C1: Cary-Yale, from Beinecke captions 11 cards
Swords: Empress, Emperor, Love.
Batons: Fortitude, Faith, Hope.
Cups: Charity, Chariot, Death,
Coins: two unnamed cards, but they are first the World and then the Angel,

From the above, I can see three reasons, maybe four, for thinking that the Beinecke captions were part of the original conception of the game. One is that nobody between Marziano and Moakley (1966) ever mentioned associating triumphs with suits. Durrieu in 1895 and 1911, mentioned the 16 cards in 4 categories, but no suits (Durrieu 1911 is online, p. 376 at ... _38_2_1596). A cataloger would have had to have been highly original to have made suit assignments, and they are not known for that attribute. Another reason is in the cards themselves. As Huck has pointed out (, revising and illustrating his 2003 "It's a 5x16 deck" at, certain details are analogous to the layout of the pieces on a chessboard. Queen and King form one pair in the center, and we see the Empress and Emperor in the first row above. On the ends are the rooks, which look like towers. Both the World card, with its female Fame, and the Judgment card, with Michael and Gabriel, in the bottom row, have towers. Next to the rooks are the knights, which look like horses. Both the Chariot, with its female rider, and the Death card, male-looking, have horses. What corresponds to the bishops is problematic. The Italian name for them translates as "standard bearer," which at least fits the suit-sign of Batons. But the correspondences work for 3 out of 4 rows.

A third reason has to do with the placement of the virtues. If we are seeing a 4x4 matrix with blanks that are not filled in, then at least there is room for a virtue in each row. Moreover, the association between Fortitude and Batons receives some confirmation from Ringhieri’s game and the Visconti funeral oration, if what is said there can be extended, as seems reasonable, from "columns" to Batons and Fortitude. In that case the assignments would be at least as old as the tradition, i.e. between 1402 and 1550.

Another odd thing is the order World-Angel. This is perfectly in accord with the Petrarchan order fame-eternity but still rather odd in a tarot with evident affinities to other Lombard decks, in which the order is always, except in Piscina, Angel-World. If original, it offers an easy explanation for Piscina's order. Also, given that the deck goes to some length to honor female equality, it may well be that the rule about the "papa" played last winning the trick may have existed in the Cary-Yale itself, with the two Imperials. I would also imagine that in the feminine suits (defined by Visconti insignia in the courts) the female knights and pages beat the male ones, and vice versa (in the suits with Sforza insignia)? These insignia are likely an embellishment for this one-off luxury deck; but that does not mean that the deck's composition was a one-off; he may have had them made, of varying quality, as gifts for condottiere and nobles, for example. I am not sure how strong an argument the unusual fact of the order World-Angel is, however, because some cataloger might have assumed that the Cary-Yale was really an early Minchiate of Lombard origin and not told anybody. But if so, why did the cataloger not include the names, from Minchiate or otherwise

In the Beinecke assignments, we already have Fortitude in Batons. Putting Justice in the Swords row fits the usual C order placement, after Love but before Fortitude and Chariot. Temperance, corresponding to Cups, would be in the third row, and in fact the usual C order places it precisely after Death. The remaining virtue, Prudence, will have to go in Coins, if there is to be one to each row. As for the remaining cards, Time and Fortune, one will go in the second row and one in the fourth. It seems to me more likely that Fortune would go in the second row than the fourth, since it is something that only affects souls before death. Also, no later order of triumphs puts it anywhere near the fourth row. If so, we get (Milan is in Dummett's C, p.401 of Game of Tarot):

C2: Cary-Yale in 16 based on Beinecke captions
Swords: 1 Empress, 2 Emperor, 3 Love. 4 Justice
Batons: 5 Fortitude, 6 Fortune, 7 Faith, 8 Hope.
Cups: 9 Charity, 10 Chariot, 11 Death, 12 Temperance
Coins: 13 Prudence, 14 Time, 15 World, 16 Judgment

These placements assume that Fortune is indeed one of the missing cards and that it goes in the second row. I cannot think of any other card, except the Old Man that could possibly go in the second row, or anything other than a celestial or maybe the Vecchio in the fourth row. I am also assuming that the row Faith-Hope-Charity is not interrupted somewhere by Prudence, as in Minchiate, and, although it doesn't make any difference, that Prudence is next to Temperance, paralleling Fortitude next to Justice..

In this case the hierarchical order is not by columns, as in Marziano's case and the Minchiate-derived A orders, but by rows. To have the internal hierarachy go by columns would produce an order foreign to any later order of triumphs. But it will still be possible to play the game of virtue, as long as the triumphs are included in "following suit." There is a certain logic to the rows. Prudence, i.e. looking to the past to guide the future in the present, naturally goes with Time, including thinking of the fate of one’s soul after death. Temperance in food and drink can stave off death and leave what would have been spent on pleasure for Charity. Both it and Chastity (Chariot) help one to look beyond this world and so defeat the power of Death. Fortitude is needed to withstand Fortune and keep Hope and Faith alive. Justice is the virtue of rulers, and also governs the marriage contract signified by the couple’s handshake on the Love card.


We cannot leave out the Ferrara region, the only one to put Justice high in the order. Here the earliest list is in the Sermones de Ludo order. How can it have one virtue in each of four rows. Strictly speaking, it will be impossible, because there is no Prudence card. But perhaps something else substituted for it. There are several rather vicious characters in the 22, such as the Hanged Man and the Devil, neither of whom should be allowed to triumph over anything in a game of virtue. Judging from Andrea's analysis of the Fool card, it, too is a vicious card, at least when placed low in the sequence, and the same for the Bagatto.

Another problem is that 21 or 22 doesn't divide evenly by 4. But that problem can be solved by excluding the Bagatto and the Fool from the four groups. So we get, using the same suit assignments to virtues as before (see Game of Tarot, p. 400):

B1 Sermones order, Ferrara region
Cups: 2 Empress, 3 Emperor, 4 Popess, 5 Pope, 6 Temperance
Batons: 7 Love, 8 Fortitude, 9 Chariot, 10 Fortune, 11 Old Man,
Coins: 12 Hanged Man, 13 Death, Devil, 14 Tower, 15 Star
Swords: 16 Moon, 17 Sun, 18 Angel, 19 Justice, 20 World

Here Coins is assigned by a process of elimination. There is no Prudence there, but we might imagine that the Hanged Man substitutes for her, if we recall that Imperiali used that word in the reply to Lollio's Invective, going in reverse order between Death and Old Man (cited in Andrea Vitali's essay "The Hanged Man" at, with English translation):

Vien poi la Morte, et mena un’altra danza,
Et la prudenza, e la malitia atterra,
Et pareggia ciascuno alla bilanza.

Then comes Death, and brings another dance,
Prudence, and malice down here,
And makes everybody equal on the scales.

I assume that the "dance" is the gallows, and Prudence is on the part of the sovereign, reserving a shameful and miserable end for traitors. If so we have a cardinal virtue in every row. However to get to the cards of the Cary-Yale some cards still have to be removed, those clearly not in the Cary-Yale, and the theologicals added. It is easy to remove cards, but where should the theologicals go? Based on the Minchiate and Beinecke orders, I would say either after Death (as in Minchiate) or somewhere between Fortune and Death (as in the Beinecke). Below they are in the Minchiate placement:

B2, Sermones with theologicals, suits, and Time low
Cups: 1 Empress, 2 Emperor, 3 Temperance, 4 Love
Batons: 5 Fortitude, 6 Chariot, 7 Fortune, 8 Old Man,
Coins: 9 Hanged Man, 10 Death, 11Hope, 12 Faith,
Swords: 13 Charity, 14 Angel, 15 Justice, 16 World

If the theologicals were before Death, it would make no difference to the placement of the virtues. In a Beinecke-inspired order, there is one other variable, namely the placement of Time. It works in the second row, but what about in the fourth?

B3: with theologicals and Time high
Cups: 1 Empress, 2 Emperor, 3 Temperance, 4 Love
Batons: 5 Fortitude, 6 Chariot, 7 Fortune, 8 Hope,
Coins: 9 Faith, 10 Charity, 11 Hanged Man, 12 Death,
Swords: 13 Time, 14 Angel, 15 Justice, 16 World

Allegorically, Time as the Sun, as a symbol for God, could be associated with Swords as His Justice. However, Time as Old Man as Fortitude, ie. Endurance, is less of a stretch.

It might be wondered whether the game could be played if the order went by columns instead of rows. It is not necessary to construct the matrix. The 4x4 matrix will be the same as the above, but with virtues governing columns instead of rows. The answer is that we clearly cannot. In B2 there is no cardinal virtue in the last column and two in the third. In B3 there are three virtues in the third row and none in the second and fourth.

Allegorically the B lists differ from the Beinecke’s in that Cups governs the first row and Swords the last. Allegorically Cups as Temperance suits all four of the cards, urging moderation and self-control among rulers and lovers alike. In Swords it is easy to see how Justice dominates the Last Judgment and also the World, provided the latter is seen as “God the Father,” as the Sermones tells us, rather than Fame.

An interesting feature of the B reconstruction (and even if the only reconstruction is of the Hanged Man) is that the suits are in the same order as they are for Marziano, if we grant Pratesi's subsitutions, i.e. the lowest is Cups = Pleasures, then Continences = Batons, then Coins = Riches, and most powerful Swords = Eagles (see again his "The earliest tarot pack known", online in Moreover it is the same order of virtues, once Prudence is removed, as we see in all the A orders, taking them as part of the hierarchy of triumphs as opposed to their order in the rows. It is that of Plato in the Republic, with Temperance governing the appetites and the people, Fortitude the "spirited" part and the warriors, and Justice the whole, as determined by the rational part and the guardians.

Where Prudence should go, whether at the top or in third rank, is unclear from Plato. On the one hand, he presents it (as Wisdom) third, with Justice following as pertaining to the whole; on the other hand, it is the highest part of the soul, and that which determines what is just, so could arguably be highest. Cicero and Aquinas both made it highest. In Ferrara, as in Marziano, Prudence is in third position, with Justice high. In Bologna (see top of this post), it is in the top row, and otherwise follows Marziano precisely.


I conclude that B2, of Ferrara, is the closest to Marziano by one standard, and A4, Bologna, by almost two standards. Minchiate in another reduction, A2, will also work, although it is not as strong as the first two, as will that derived from the Beinecke order, C2, even less close. Yet the cards for these imagined decks are deduced from C1, the same deck as the somewhat reconstructed C2. I will try to make sense of this.

First, this conclusion is not about where the tarot was invented. It is only about what is closest to Marziano. For all we know, the subjects for the intermediary game, which I like to call the ludus virtutis, were already in existence before the game of deified heroes, at least some of them, somewhere else, in a game or games whose order and rules are beyond speculation. Second, even if Ferrara and Bologna are the most promising, that does not mean that Ferrara or Bologna would have had that order before anyone else. It might have existed several places, including Milan, with Ferrara or Bologna as the only places that kept it. After all Marziano was in Milan and knew the preceding game best. Against this, there is the unsurveyed but known copy of his treatise to bear in mind.

For the Cary-Yale, Filippo then would have deliberately changed the order to suit his purposes. For example, he may have wanted to emphasize that rulers, including the ruling part of people's own souls, should associate themselves with Justice, and that Justice is what governs the marriage contract more than temperance: that is to say, what is important is that the two parties fulfill their obligations to each other and to God, at least to the best of their ability.

As for the Florentines, in that case they would have had the cards and the rules in an order such as A4, perhaps with a rule about the necessity of "following suit" with the associated triumphs. But they would have thought that it made more sense, and made for a more enjoyable game, to detach the hierarchy of triumphs from the suits altogether. They also decided that a game would be more popular if the theological virtues were removed and other cards added, including some vicious but fun ones like the Fool, the Bagatto, the Devil, and so on. This type of game, the ludus triumphorum rather than the ludis virtutis, would have proved vastly more popular and have quickly dominated the market. In the other centers, it would have been no problem to add cards, as most of the other cards were in much the same order everywhere. The only ones that weren't were the virtues.

The Florentines did not necessarily invent all these cards not in the Cary-Yale; five of them might have been invented in Ferrara or even Milan, which I will explain in a moment

If the Florentines were responsible for a major change in the game, they probably would have received the game from somewhere else (unless it was present already in a very small milieu, say one family), and that sometime late, because otherwise we would be hearing about the game long before 1440. There need not to have been a specific event triggering the change.

Dummett in 2004 (“Where do the virtues go?” The Playing Card 32:4 (2004), pp. 165-167, online at viewtopic.php?t=1073) proposed that the reason the virtues, unlike the rest of the cards, were in such different places in the three main orders, was that the deck at an early stage had no virtue cards at all, and that when they were added people knew what they were but not where they went. I say in reply that surely they could have found out easily enough. It seems more likely that they were in different positions by design, in an earlier stage, and not of 18 triumphs but of 16, in which B2 is changed to Filippo's C2 in Milan and one serving greater commercial potential in Florence.

This is not to say, however, that there were not decks that removed the virtues. With suit cards associated with cardinal virtues, the rows for each suit are already defined by the associated virtue. In that case the rows would reduce to 12, with a Magician and Fool making 14, for 70 cards in all. This could explain the 70 card triumph decks of 1457 Ferrara and the "14 figures" of Ferrara 1-1-41 (at; but see also Pratesi's 2012 suggestion of 4x13 + 22, at Moreover, if we take Huck's suggestion that the PMB card usually thought of as Justice was really considered Fame (because of the young knight on a horse on top, where the subject went), they, too, follow the Ferrara assignments (see again viewtopic.php?t=1073):

C3: Ferrara order without virtues = PMB "first artist" cards

Fool, Bagatella
Cups (Temperance): Empress, Emperor, Popess
Batons (Fortitude): Pope, Love, Chariot,
Coins (Prudence): Fortune, Old Man, Hanged Man,
Swords (Justice): Death, Fame, Angel

Such a game would not have lasted very long, given the new game out of Florence. But it does suggest that in order to have a 5x14 deck, whoever controlled the deck in Ferrara or Milan would have invented 5 new cards that persisted: Fool, Bagatella, Popess, Pope, and Hanged Man. There was also a new Fame (i.e. the modified Justice), but that did not persist. Then, when the virtues were put back in, they would have gone in their customary places, as in the Cary-Yale.

To sum up, I am hypothesizing that the game called ludus triumphorum developed in incremental stages. The idea of trumps comes from Karnoffel, but it uses the regular deck. That there is a permanent trump suit begins with "VIII Imperadori", but still very attached to the regular suits, an extra two cards per suit that also form a hierarchy among themselves. A more complex notion is that of Marziano, where the extra cards per suit are in the nature of divine beings, yet sharing some affinity symbolically with four species of birds. In what I call the ludus virtutis what changes is the subject-matter, now a game of virtue, but with the same rules as before. It is not a very popular game, but since it is played mostly in the courts, probably in a family context, or by just one or two families, nobody cares. Finally Florence develops the ludus triumphorum in all its glory and popularity, starting in the late 1430s, to which it may have added cards up to around 1450. The other game goes extinct, and today all that remains is the different placements of the virtues in the three regions, of which the Bolognese and Ferrarese orders are the examples closest to Marziano, neither of which is the original form, whose cards are those of the Cary-Yale.

Re: How do you play Marziano's game?

I was wondering what other works might have come down from Marziano to help illuminate his game...and came across his funeral oration by Barizza (Filelfo's teacher in Padua!)! And the translation is by none other than Ross. Have you shared that here before Ross? Shame on you if you haven't! ;-)

The on-line Latin side-by-side with Ross's English translation: Gasparino da Bergamo, detto Barzizza.Funebris oratio. In mortem cuiusdam Doctoris edita. ... da-Tortona

What strikes me as especially odd about Marziano's description of the gods is the epithet "celestials." Clearly there could be the Manilius link of at least 12 of the gods as tutelary deities over the zodiac, with perhaps the remaining four standing in as signs for the sublunar four elements (or just the sublunar past-time of love)?

What struck me in Ross's translation is the way the introductory merits of the deceased culminate in what can only be called "divination", metaphorical from wise historical studies or not:
We are sending away the father of city and the protector of our civic patrons. We are sending away a man most erudite in all the good arts and the most upstanding disciplines. Finally, we are sending away one in whom thrived the greatest humanity, in whom there was unique outstanding fairness, courage of spirit, admirable constance, the highest counsel and a certain divine wisdom in foreseeing great things.
But given the Visconti obsession with eclipses and astrology in general, how is that "divine wisdom" not precisely astrology? Ergo, the "celestial" aspect of his game has to do with some form of astrology, no?

Caveat: the Latin for "divine wisdom" is providendis sapientia, which might otherwise be translated as "prudent wisdom" (, Not that something like the "prudent counseling of the stars" (numerous examples of similar phrases abound in the 15th century) couldn't be called "prudent wisdom" but we are making a maximalist reading here. Indeed, "prudence" rears its head elsewhere in the text, where Marziano showed "incredible prudence in debating and wisdom in giving his opinion in the senate" (incredibilem in deliberando prudentiam in sententiis...).

And yet we are left to explain "celestial" in the deck's description and besides Marziano's general "sapientia" he is specifically been said to able to foresee the future.

I'll end these remarks with a relevant motto from a contemporary humanist-ruler: Vir Sapiens dominabitur astris - "The wise man shall have dominion over the stars"

Re: How do you play Marziano's game?

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
03 Feb 2019, 15:01
These were taken on a visit to Angera in 2008. The second one with me in front is to show the scale and aspect. The staircase was (probably?) not there when the room was frescoed in the 14th century.
I was there in 2011 and my pix of the Wheel came out blurred unfortunately (and what a beautiful castle/lake - for anyone visiting Lago Maggiore, an easy day trip via train from Milan, definitely hit the Borromean "Isola Bella" even though unrelated to tarot - might be the prettiest spot in Italy). Any chance there are b/w photos of the fresco, perhaps when in a better state?

But back to my recent thoughts above about astrology and Marziano, let's not forget that Wheel in the Angera castle was otherwise in a hall dedicated to the correspondence of the Visconti taking of Milan in conjunction, as it were, with the zodiacal signs of the relevant month and the traditional astrological gods assigned to those signs (and of course Manilius had not been rediscovered so his scheme would not be touched on here, in this very early privately [vs. commune] commissioned depiction of the planets). The Visconti were heavily invested into astrology from the beginning of their reign in Milan. Saturn and his zodiacal signs:

Re: How do you play Marziano's game?

Pietro Toesca, La pittura e la miniatura nella Lombardia, dai piu antichi monumenti alla meta del Quattrocento (1912), unfortunately does not show this fresco, although he describes it on pages 167-168 ... s/page/168

Judging from some of the photos - I haven't checked all of them - there has actually been restoration since 1912. Look at the window in Saturn; in Toesca (p. 158) there appears damage, nowadays it is fixed.

I got a little tourist book at the gift shop, Angera Fortress, Historical-artistic Guide (Amministrazione Borromeo, 2000), which provides basic information and bibliography.

I was mistaken about the date - it is actually 13th century, after 1277. The phrases still legible come from notes by Roberto Anglico on Sacrobosco's De Sphaera from shortly after 1271. The life of Ottone seems to faithfully follow the order of events and the themes of Stefanardo da Vimercate, Liber de gestis in civitate Mediolani. Many copies of this are online, but I can't seem to access any at the moment (it's alright, I saved a copy years ago). I don't think it has been translated, even into Italian.

Re: How do you play Marziano's game?

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
04 Feb 2019, 17:59
The life of Ottone seems to faithfully follow the order of events and the themes of Stefanardo da Vimercate, Liber de gestis in civitate Mediolani. Many copies of this are online, but I can't seem to access any at the moment (it's alright, I saved a copy years ago). I don't think it has been translated, even into Italian.
First of all thanks for the Toesca link - what a great resource. And yes looks like we'd need drawings from earlier centuries instead of photos to see any more details. Too bad.

This work has been broached here before, but there is a decent critical discussion of Vimercate/Angera frescoes in Anne Dunlop's Painted Palaces: The Rise of Secular Art in Early Renaissance Italy (2009: 166-178) ; chunks of Vimercate translated and Toesca is cited/discussed. Google only has a few scans of this section, but I've got a copy if there is anything you'd like me to look up.

After the recent polar vortex experience here in Chitown I'm pining away for a revisit to Angera. I happened to be there on a sunny, unseasonably warm day in early April (sometime around Easter) with wisteria blooming everywhere around the shore towns, the Alps in the distance across the lake...well, as you experienced, its a beautiful place. Really surprised there aren't more signs of continual habitation by elites in the Angera castle, but thank gawd those frescos weren't plastered over with the likes of Vasari-era crap (sorry, but for example, the Ferrara - minus Schifanoia [hardly anyone in there!] - and Mantua palaces really disappointed me because almost all of the Trecento and Quattrocento frescoes have been replaced by those of the 16-18th centuries; especially the Doge's palace....). Highly recommend the Trinci frescoes in Foligno if you ever get a chance (easy day trip from Assisi, and no one else will be in there); I consider those the next best, earliest surviving frescoes after Angera, and of special interest since associated with an upstart condottiero.


Re: How do you play Marziano's game?

To quote myself from earlier in the thread, especially in light of Barizza's 1425 funeral oration of Marziano where he is described as foreseeing the future:
Phaeded wrote:
04 Feb 2019, 16:14
What strikes me as especially odd about Marziano's description of the gods is the epithet "celestials." Clearly there could be the Manilius link of at least 12 of the gods as tutelary deities over the zodiac, with perhaps the remaining four standing in as signs for the sublunar four elements ...?
I've wrongly used Marcello's word to describe the trump-like figures, "celestial", although that might have been how they were received by any Italian in the 15th century. Marziano instead uses the non-deity word of "heroes" and thus engaged in euhemerism - where mythological accounts are presumed to have originated from real historical events or personages; e.g. . Jupiter was merely "King of Athens" per Marziano. Expanding on that perspective, let's presume that some of the "heroes" may also be allegorical symbols for natural processes...or to go back to my main thesis, the Four Elements from which the entire world is derived. On to Manilius first....

Let's assume Marziano had an early look at Manilius after Poggio's 1417 find, or at least an description of the novel arrangement of the zodiac and gods, and that both Marziano and the Ferrara Schifanoia hall of the months share the same source for the 12 Olympians of Marziano's heroes...why it is the one deviation Bacchus replacing Vulcan by Marziano? Especially if there were no intervening years in which for other humanists' interpretations to adhere to Manilius, why would Marziano immediately alter a Roman text?

I think the answer is simple: Vulcan was the consort of Venus. It doesn't matter which which alternate list of the Olympians that Vulcan was replaced (in this case with Bacchus), the fact is it was imperative that he was replaced because Vulcan (and the implied Vulcan/Venus pair) contradicts or at least confuses the stated genealogy of the Visconti, which was that Venus produced their line through the Italian-bound Trojan Anchises's son, Aeneas (and as Ross says earlier in this thread, this other work by Besozzo is of 'incalculable value'; agreed):
Visconti genealogy via Venus.JPG
Visconti genealogy via Venus.JPG (33.79 KiB) Viewed 349 times
...after many medallions/generations henceforth from Venus, in the end we find our tyrant hero, Filippo:
terminus of genealogy, Phillipus Maria Comes.JPG
terminus of genealogy, Phillipus Maria Comes.JPG (27.31 KiB) Viewed 349 times

Bacchus was a natural replacement because it was him who coaxed a brooding Vulcan back to Olympus after getting him drunk, a famous theme called "the return of Hephaestus/Vulcan" celebrated in plays and on Attic pottery imported into Etruria, etc.

Whence the zodiac in Marziano? There is no indication of the zodiac as such, but the one "hero" that is described with stars (apparently a catasterim after the King of Athens died), Jupiter, is described as if at least part of a constellation: "Four stars appearing above, attend him... On the lower right side appears a burning star like Mars." Manilius assigns Leo to Jupiter, and the head of Leo, that which is above, is formed of four stars: mu Leonis, kappa Leonis, lambda Leonis, and epsilon Leonis (see constellation diagram here: ... eo_IAU.svg. In respect to the overall lion outline, lowest and furthest to the right is the only magnitude one star in the constellation, Regulus, designated alpha leonis. As for the epithet "like Mars", note that Ovid sometimes referred to it as Violentus Leo, something befitting the God of War, hence the equivalence. That Marziano made this astral link with just the first hero was likely to take the lead god and indicate the linkage between his scheme and the zodiac; but too much astrological verbiage would be required to do this for each card's pictorial description.

Just the indication of the zodiac would still allow an association with the inherited medieval view of the zodiac as the seasonal circle depicted on carved church portals, pavements (especially baptistery floor mosaics) and especially Psalters or Books of Hours; the last are a demonstration of the role of the religious year in daily life, starting with a calendar, listing the feast days to be observed by their owner and usually two other types of illustrations featuring pictures of the signs of the Zodiac connected the religious year to the passage of astronomical time. The so-called Labors of the Month connected it to the seasonal activities, often painted in roundels like Besozzo's Visconti genealogy. Or if you were rich, like Piero de' Medici, you could even decorate the ceiling of your studietto (c.1450s, now in the V&A museum) in such a calendar/zodiac roundel style, rendered in the glazed terracotta of della Robbia's workshop:

The point of showing the post-Marziano example of a calendar zodiac is that it was enduring, and not simply a backwards look at an obsolete medieval tradition. The Wheel of Fortune was not usually linked to the zodiac, but in an age of increasing astrological obsession, the linkage could not be considered an oddity considering both the stars and the Wheel both connote fate.

At some level it seems that Marziano has updated the Angera fresco cycle in light of the most recent fruits of humanist rediscovery (i.e., Ovid through the texts of Petrarch and Boccaccio) . Marziano's abstracting the twelve zodiacal signs to the tutelary gods behind each allows one to contemplate the inherent virtues and vices one might continue in the round of the year - this is truly a "modern" humanist touch. Going back to our earlier discussion of the the zodiacal cycle in Angera (albeit the tutelary gods are planetary there and do not derive from Manilius), that planetary/zodiacal scheme is juxtaposed - or rather complemented - at the other end of the hall with the Wheel of Fortune. So beyond getting lost in the description of each hero there is the ultimate concern cyclical time embodied in the zodiac, with each sign of extrapolated instead in terms of whether a virtuous or venal god is behind it.

That leaves us with four left over subjects in Marziano, and not at all obvious as enjoying the "celestial" aspect that Marcello read into the overall heroes (perhaps I'd even use the word "primordial" for the Four Elements, but created by God and thus "celestial"). And my suggestion that they may represent the sublunar elements will no doubt be met with raised eyebrows, but even on the face of it, Aeolos would obviously be Air, while Cupid is often depicted in Petrarchan-derived depictions as basking in flames (from which his arrows enflame the hearts and minds of mankind) and thus Fire (here in a Lo Scheggia triumph showing Venus's son standing on a brazier of flames):


So we have two reasonable elemental candidates, Aeolos/Air and Cupid/Fire, but Daphne and Hercules (the latter who becomes an Olympian but lives his life wholly on earth), look like hopeless dead ends. But I'll continue to insist Ovid is at the heart of this assembly of heroes and that we look to him for the missing elements of Water and Earth, as nonsensical as it would seem for those two unrelated figures.

Taking Daphne first as she comes before Hercules in the Metamorphoses - she is turned into a tree, which would seem like earth is the likely element. Yet given the work she appears in, it is that element which transforms her that is key. And in the opening line about her she is called "the daughter of a River God (Peneus)" (Ov. Met. 1.452); to underscore her watery element, which applies to all nymphs, of which she is one, it is also said of her "the nuptial torch seemed criminal to her." At the penultimate moment when she can no longer flee Apollo, she calls on her river father to transform her (using Brooks More's 1922 translation: ... 99.02.0028 ).:
"Her strength spent, pale and faint, with pleading eyes
she gazed upon her father's waves and prayed,
“Help me my father, if thy flowing streams
have virtue!
Cover me, O mother Earth!
...Before her prayer was ended, torpor seized
on all her body, and a thin bark closed
around her gentle bosom..."

So that leaves the last element of Earth and Hercules. Given the large number of labors and vast number of myths surrounding the demigod it would seem any myth about him could be pressed into service to associate him with any of the elements. But again the theme here is transformation and as a demigod Hercules himself has that potential to transform; in fact his very last deed, as recounted in Ov. Met. 9.172f, is to transform someone - someone he wrongly blames for the poisonous fire engulfing his body - into earth:
There was no limit to his misery;
raising both hands up towards the stars of heaven... his frenzy, as he wandered there [Mount Aetna],
he chanced upon the trembling Lichas, crouched
in the close covert of a hollow rock.
Then in a savage fury he cried out,
“Was it you, Lichas, brought this fatal gift?
Shall you be called the author of my death?”
Lichas, in terror, groveled at his feet,
and begged for mercy—“Only let me live!”
But seizing on him, the crazed Hero whirled
him thrice and once again about his head,
and hurled him, shot as by a catapult,
into the waves of the Euboic Sea.

While he was hanging in the air, his form
was hardened; as, we know, rain drops may first
be frozen by the cold air, and then change
to snow, and as it falls through whirling winds
may press, so twisted, into round hailstones
even so has ancient lore declared that when
strong arms hurled Lichas through the mountain air
through fear, his blood was curdled in his veins.
No moisture left in him, he was transformed
into a flint-rock.
Even to this day,
a low crag rising from the waves is seen
out of the deep Euboean Sea, and holds
the certain outline of a human form,
so sure]y traced, the wary sailors fear
to tread upon it, thinking it has life,
and they have called it Lichas ever since.
Seems rather petty, but that's Hercules last act. He lies down on the pyre he built upon Aetna and allows he flames to consume him. Ovid ends the scene with a pithy speech by Hercules's father, Jupiter, who underscores his son's connection to earth before taking him up to Olympus, clearly delimited from the world below as celestial (thus the enduring attraction of rulers to Hercules - an apotheosis of the human element transformed into the divine):
And now on every side the spreading flames
were crackling fiercely, as they leaped from earth
upon the careless limbs of Hercules.
He scorned their power. The Gods felt fear
for earth's defender and their sympathy
gave pleasure to Saturnian Jove...
...Let not vain thoughts
alarm you, nor the rising flames of Etna;
for Hercules who conquered everything,
shall conquer equally the spreading fires
which now you see: and all that part of him,
celestial — inherited of me—
, cannot feel the power of death.
It is not subject to the poison-heat.
And therefore, since his earth-life is now lost,
him I'll translate, unshackled from all dross,
and purified, to our celestial shore.

I trust this action seems agreeable
to all the Deities surrounding me.
The pre-Socratic philosopher and mystic, Empedocles, famously followed in Hercules' steps to prove he was immortal by throwing himself into the cauldron-like caldera of Mount Etna, so literally dies "in" the earth, but becomes immortal (according to his cult).

If I didn't know any better, it would seem that Ovid himself has hinted all along at the Four Elements as central to his metamorphic theme. And he describes primordial life in elemental terms in the Pythian Games passage, primarily fire and water (but as we saw with Hercules treatment of Lichas, the other elements, such as air, also have the power to transform, its just that fire/water are primary among the four for Ovid). This passage occurs right before the Daphne episode, also in Book 1, implying Daphne is yet a human anecdote of these primordial forces:
And after this the Earth spontaneous
produced the world of animals, when all
remaining moistures of the mirey fens
fermented in the sun, and fruitful seeds
in soils nutritious grew to shapes ordained...
...the sun's ethereal rays impregn the slime,
that haply as the peasants turn the soil
they find strange animals unknown before:
some in the moment of their birth, and some
deprived of limbs, imperfect; often part
alive and part of slime inanimate
are fashioned in one body. Heat combined
with moisture so conceives and life results
from these two things. For though the flames may be
the foes of water, everything that lives
begins in humid vapour, and it seems
discordant concord is the means of life.
(Ov. Met. 1.416f)

So we have human prey of Cupid epitomized by Daphne, Aeolos wreaking havoc on mankind (most pertinent being Aeneas' fleet blown about to Italy and thereby allowing the Visconti line to take root), and Hercules as "earth's defender"...all acted out within the sublunar sphere beneath the 12 Olympians. And note that Hercules is called by Marziano as the "13th Olympian" thus excluding him from that Manilius zodiac group. It is to these heavenly heroes/gods the progenitors of mankind, Pyrrha and Deucalion, must pray:

“If righteous prayers appease the Gods,
and if the wrath of high celestial powers
may thus be turned
, declare, O Themis! whence
and what the art may raise humanity?
O gentle goddess help the dying world!”

No such dour histrionics from Marziano - he's merely invented a clever diversion...for a son of Venus, ready to be aroused to virtue.

Finally, a schematic encapsulating the above:
Marziano-Manilius-Ovid schematic.jpg
(76.24 KiB) Not downloaded yet

If none of the above, but you allow the possibility of Manilius, why an extra four heroes? Just to fill in a 14 card suit? But Marziano hasn't suggested 14 card suits - just a king over pips.


Re: How do you play Marziano's game?

Good morning Phaeded,

Just in case you are still here, please do send the relevant pages of Dunlop.

belmurru (at)

(added - looked it up to buy - starts at 80 euros! I'll have to wait for a windfall then)

Our trips to Milan were both in August, so we know the heat. Angera the town was virtually deserted, and only two or three other tourists were at the castle. Essentially we had the place to ourselves. The little-known "tarot tours" kind of visits, to places like Clusone and Brunate, and Sant'Alosio, are worth the effort. Even Pavia does not bring many tourists in August; it is hard to get something from a visit to the castle unless you are looking for something, because you've studied the history. I wish I had spent more time in Tortona, looking for Marziano's gravestone in the church in the center of town (not sure of the name). Even though all of them have been renovated, they often move the stones carefully to a visible place. It's not like some revolution, or Protestant destruction like in southern France, has vandalized them beyond recognition. I was astonished to find the gravestone of Marziano's nephew, Enrico Rampini, in San Clemente in Rome. I didn't know anything about him at the time, but I read it myself and recognized "Sancto de Allosio (sic)" in the inscription. I had to look it up to be sure - he was a Cardinal. It is good to have a thread to follow when a tourist.

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