I Germini sopra quaranta meretrice : new critical edition

Danilo Romei has recently published online a new critical edition of the poem I Germini sopra quaranta meretrice della città di Fiorenza. It can be downloaded here: http://www.nuovorinascimento.org/n-rina ... ni_nr.pdf
And also here:
https://www.academia.edu/43623023/I_Ger ... ilo_Romei

It contains a carefully edited version of the text (derived from four of the five extant 16th century copies), extensive explanatory footnotes, and editorial notes. There is also a introductory essay, drawn mainly from an earlier article by Romei.

Major benefits of this new edition:

- It is much easier to read and understand than the edition previously available, the one from 1888 (reprinted in 1967). I had found that one to be the hardest to understand of all the early literary tarot texts. Romei makes nearly everything clear. It is a huge improvement.

- The introduction describes a fascinating list of Florentine prostitutes from 1569, which contains enough similarities with the women described in the poem to constitute reliable evidence that the women were real, just as much as the more socially elevated ladies in the other tarocchi appropriati poems from the period.

- There is an Appendix (Appendice) containing a second poem, added in two of the later 16th century editions as a kind of sequel: IL GIUOCO DELLE CARTE in vanto delle cortigiane fiorentine le quale non furono messe ne' Germini. This little poem takes the names of a few more Florentine prostitutes "who were not put in the Germini" and associates them with regular suit cards (the courts and the aces). Intriguingly, these cards do not seem to be suit cards of the Germini deck, but simply cards from a regular Italian-suited deck: there are no queens, and there is no hint that any of the jacks were female, or that any of the knights were centaur creatures (one line specifically describes the prostitute in question as being "mounted on a horse").
This poem therefore appears to constitute evidence that Florentine players were using an Italian-suited regular deck into the second half of the 16th century. This is contrary to what is stated on p. 322 of Dummett and McLeod's A History of Games Played With the Tarot Pack, that Florence had "gone over to the use of the French suit-system for the regular pack" by the middle of the 16th century. It would seem that the Italian suits survived there for at least several years after 1550, and possibly into the 1560s. However, it nevertheless provides even stronger confirmation for Dummett and McLeod's subsequent conclusion (pp. 322-3) that Florence was an exception to the usual practice of using the same suit cards for both the regular deck and the tarot deck. This little poem suggests that the Germini/Minchiate deck had different suit cards from the regular deck even before Florence adopted the French suit system.
This is very interesting, as it suggests that the Germini deck and/or the Florentine tarot pattern that immediately preceded it were quite possibly adopted from some other city, most likely to somewhere to the south, perhaps Siena or Viterbo. This conclusion is also suggested by the substantial differences between the Germini/Minchiate pattern and the early Florentine hand-painted cards from the mid-15th century, differences clearly evident in both the trumps and in the suit cards.

The new edition is not without its problems, however. There are two definite errors (I have written to Prof. Romei about these and he has acknowledged them, and says he will correct them in any future edition):

- The last line of the stanza for trump 35 in Romei's edition is "Son la Cechina e 'l pazzo ho sotto 'l piede." The previous edition had passo in the place of pazzo here, and that seems to have been correct. Romei took the erroneous pazzo from what is probably the latest of the four printed editions he was using; the other three all had passo. Passo here meant the sequence of numbered trumps in the Germini deck; it is used in the same sense in Niccolò Martelli's Capitulo de’ trionfi del passo col Matto e l’Amore facti in Prato l’anno MDXXXIIII, and in Benedetto Varchi's L’Ercolano (see Andrea Vitali's "Tarot in Literature" essays: in English and in Italian).

- Romei suggests that the Popess was the figure originally depicted on trump 4 of the Germini deck. This does not affect the text of the poem in any way, but could be misleading to some readers. As we know from various evidence including the strambotto of ca. 1500, the Popess could not have been in the Germini deck; trump 4 must have depicted the Pope originally, before being changed to the second emperor later.

It would be good to have a new translation into English of this poem, based on this new edition. At present, we can only access Marco's translation of the previous version via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, as the Tarotpedia site where it was published is now defunct: https://web.archive.org/web/20110910065 ... _Beginning

Unfortunately, however, the Internet Archive did not save the last half of Marco's translation: parts 3 and 4 are lost. If anyone has a copy of those parts saved somewhere, it would be great if you could make them available—not only because they are still the only version of the poem in English, but also because Marco's interpretation of the meanings of some lines differs from Romei's interpretation (as given in his footnotes), and there are a few lines where Marco's interpretation seems to be just as likely to be correct as Romei's, if not more so (such as lines 5-6 of trump 33). So it is very useful to be able to read and compare the two of them.

Re: I Germini sopra quaranta meretrice : new critical edition

Thanks for your review of Romei, Nathaniel. I have noticed it, looked for a few remarks, but have not otherwise studied it. Your comments are very good.

Send me your' email privately and I'll mail your a PDF of Marco's translation (Italian-English). I'd post it, but I don't have time to format it correctly now, it will look messy. I'll send you the text version too, so you can double column it if you like.

It dates from 2008.

Re: I Germini sopra quaranta meretrice : new critical edition

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
08 Sep 2020, 08:01

Are you going to make a complete critical version for us, noting differences between the 1888 printing, our text and translation, and Romei's synthetic text?
Not something I was planning to do, no...

As far as the 1888 version goes, Romei has already covered a lot of that ground, of course; the 1888 version was based on two of the four 16th century editions he used, and Romei records all the differences between all four editions at the end of his text. So it's not hard to see what choices were made in 1888 and compare them with Romei's choices.

As for comparing Marco's translation and Romei's interpretations: I would ideally like to produce a new annotated translation, which would compare Marco's and Romei's interpretations and also examine the few debatable editorial decisions made by Romei. But my priorities are elsewhere at the moment, so that will have to wait a while—and I would be more than happy if someone else beat me to it!

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