Re: 15th century access to the "Theology of Arithmetic"

Very interesting stuff, Huck, and perhaps good clues to understanding the pictures on the Sola-Busca trumps, if the Boiardo poem and the SB are really connected. Not that I have any idea what the clues mean, in the context of the SB...

And thanks, Alain. Yes, all 78 cards of the "Marseille" pattern, and also the Rider-Waite (with some distortion), fit a Neopythagorean structure, or so I believe, too. I gave one approach to this thesis on the other thread "Deciphering the Sola-Busca pips." First I connected the texts of the "Theology of Arithmetic" to the SB pips and to "Etteilla" word-lists given by Papus, for each of the numbers 1-10, in 10 separate posts. I then connected these posts to the "Marseille" pips (viewtopic.php?f=12&t=530&start=20#p8446), and to its trumps, (viewtopic.php?f=12&t=530&start=20#p8518). I am still working on the courts.

I suspect that such ideas are more familiar in the French-speaking tarot world, judging from Jodorowsky's use of the structure (with some distortion) in his Way of Tarot and also the website "Le Tarot Authentique," which I assume was originally in French (I've only looked at it in English). In English, what we mainly have is a site that has been around a long time called "The Pythagorean Tarot," which (like the others) makes no attempt to cite the Neopythagorean texts; in its case, there is good reason not to cite sources--it is a distortion of them to fit current English-language fashion (as I think Kwaw/SteveM pointed out once on ATF in relation to the Fives). Melancholic on ATF (Hadley here, I think) had some posts connecting the text of the "Theology of Arithmetic" with the cards, but I haven't studied them enough to comment.

The "Theology of Arithmetic" is a compendium of quotations and paraphrases, most importantly from a lost "Theology of Arithmetic" by Nicomachus of Gerasa. Nicomachus's extant work, of which Bessarion had several copies, is the mathematical preliminary to that lost work. However we can make do with what we have, in the "Theology" that was part of Bessarion's library now in Venice. I suspect that Bessarion studied both works from an early date, as he is said, while still in Greece, to have studied mathematics and Platonic philosophy with his mentor Pletho (I can't remember where I read that).

I rewrote the last paragraph of my previous post, discussing the Hypnerotomachia, after looking at some examples in that book.

Re: 15th century access to the "Theology of Arithmetic"

mikeh wrote:Very interesting stuff, Huck, and perhaps good clues to understanding the pictures on the Sola-Busca trumps, if the Boiardo poem and the SB are really connected. Not that I have any idea what the clues mean, in the context of the SB...
... :-) I think, that a structural nearness of both objects (Boiardo Tarocchi poem and Sola Busca Tarocchi) suggests, that (likely) also other correlating factors exist ... for instance nearness in time, Boiardo Tarocchi 1487 as suggested, but naturally not 100 % proven, Sola Busca Tarocchi 1491 as more or less accepted) ... for instance also nearness o location (Boiardo Tarocchi very likely in Ferrara, and Sola Busca plausibly also in Ferrara).

It simply isn't a plausible theory, that the producers didn't know each other. I think, that this changes much.

Around c. 1490 is still a time, when the painting artists don't count as much as poets. Santi in Urbino, father of Raffael, writer and painter, so active in both fields, speaks with energy for more acceptance of the painting artists ... but this is a new feature, it wasn't manifested. Leonardo started to get a rather high income, but was the begin of a new area.
So we have to calculate for the production of the cards poets, which deliver the idea for the decks. Naturally ... Ferrarese poets. One poet we know: Boiardo, the most famous, in social rank positioned rather high, NOT a poor poet.
The second is hidden: ... but there is Tito Vespasiano Strozzi, with a long work called "Eroticon" ... "Among his works are the six books of the Eroticon ..." (Wiki), also a high official. His father had been a condottiero from Florence, who fought for Niccolo 'Este earlier. He's an uncle of Matteo Maria Boiardo, likely there is some logic in the assumption, that Boiardo's talent was partly developed by him.

"Eroticon" ... this should interest you.

... already Boiardo had worked to give the 4x10 suit numbers some character, possibly more than we could observe it elsewhere (... well, there's the Johannes-of-Rheinfelden deck and the Hofämterspiel .... both fill numbers with professions, and I think, that Ingold in his playing card descriptions attempts somethin similar with negative tendencies).
Tito had been responsible for Rovigo and the region around it (1473-1484), that's on the way from Ferrara to Venice, probably he organized Venetian diplomacy naturally, with possibilities to get texts from there. It was region, that got lost in the Ferrarese wars to Venice.
After the war there were negotiations about private Ferrarese property in the new Venetian territory, also property of the d'Este. The whole seems to have developed at least for some time, that both sides were content, as we definitely have sorts of friendly visits.

Studies of an old Iamblichus text in a Venetian library might have been possible, naturally. Tito would be a good man, who might have gotten it.

A fine illuminated manuscript of them, with gold initials and illuminated margins, was purchased by the humanist Celio Clcagnini from the extensive former library of the Aragonese kings of Naples, dispersed by Isabella del Balzo, the deposed queen.[5]
Note 5: Santiago López-Ríos, "A New Inventory of the Royal Aragonese Library of Naples" Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 65 (2002:201-243) pp 210f, 230f. The codex is now in the Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea, Ferrara (MS Cl. I.368).

It's not clear, if it also had pictures beside gold initials and illumunated margins.
Isabella of Balzo (died 1533) was the second wife and only Queen consort of Frederick IV of Naples. Frederick lost the throne and died 1504 ... Tito Vespasiano died 1505. I've no information, when the Eroticon was written (and possibly distributed in one or some fine manuscripts).
A printed edition appeared after death of the author in 1513 by Aldus Manutius in Venice, "who was well acquainted with the Strozzis".
Not impossible, that the Eroticon got in possession of Isabella del Balzo in the peaceful period 1487-93, when Beatrice d'Este had first been educated in Naples, then was married to Lodovico Sforza. Contacts between Ferrara-Naples should have been logical in this time (Naples had taken side of Ferrara in the war). Isabella del Balzo got the first child of her husband in 1488 (she was second wife of Frederick IV). On 28 November 1486, Isabella married Prince Frederick of Naples ... that's very near to Lucrezia's marriage.

However: After 1504 ... "Frederick died in Tours on 9 November 1504. Isabella found a refuge for herself and younger children in the Duchy of Ferrara under the protection of Frederick's nephew Alfonso d'Este, and lived there until her death, never remarrying."

This looks a little bit, as if the Eroticon might have been never part of the library in Naples, but was manufactured in Ferrara and always stayed in Ferrara ... at least one should take this with some care.

So it doesn't help to verify the production date ... at least for the moment.

Tito's late wife (married 1497, he himself 75 years old) became Ariost's late wife (married 1428 in secrecy, after he had already earlier a lot of relation to her): Alessandra Benucci

Hm ... :-) ...

Mostly Tito is dead in c. 1505. He took the oath of his son to publish his writings, which this couldn't fulfill, cause he was killed 1508. But sombody else did, so we have a book with texts of father and son in 1513.

"Am 12. März ist Ariost erneut in Rom, um an der Wahl von Papst Leo X. teilzunehmen / Am 24. Juni erklärt er in Florenz Alessandra Benucci seine Liebe, die sich ihm verspricht, obwohl sie noch mit Tito Strozzi verheiratet ist / er hat Schulden / Sie drängt zur Vollendung des "Orlando" "
Alessandra Benucci loves Ariost in 1513 (in Florence), but she cannot marry him, cause she is married to a "living" Tito.

"Tito Strozzi stirbt / Ariost und Alessandra beschließen, ihre Verbindung nicht öffentlich zu machen / ab August bereitet Ariost den Druck seines "Orlando furioso" ab Oktober vor"
According this Tito dies in 1515. But the lovers don't publish their connection, cause Ariost has income as a cleric.

In 1515 Tito Vespasiano Srozzi would have been proud 91 years old, that's rather rare.

The date "1515" is confirmed here with ... ... o/a45.html
... Ottobre 1515

Re: 15th century access to the "Theology of Arithmetic"

It seems plausible, that Tito Vespasiano Strozzi (possibly) went to Florence for his late years, leaving Ferrara, which had changed his ruler in 1505, behind and giving his job in Ferrara (a sort of president to the 12 judges) his son Ercole. The Strozzi had been exiled for long years from Florence ...
This would explain his far spread "death c. 1505", which distributes via wikipedia ... .-)

Baldassare d'Este (a possible illegitimate son of Niccolo III. d'Este) painted a portrait of Strozzi. I've seen it in the web, but don't find it in the moment. Baldassare, who appeared since 1469 in Ferrara, has not much "sure work", but is recorded for "being rather active".
He, himself also already an elder man with either 8 or 18 years less than Strozzi, "died with insecurities" similar to Tito Vespasiano Strozzi - around the same time (1504 - says the suspicion).

Well, some logic let us assume, that after Ercole d'Este died in January 1505, that "old men had no future" between all the younger dancers around Lucretia at the Ferrarese court. So they "die" ... but actually this isn't likely so clear. This Borso portrait is by him.


As I don't find anybody, who painted Tito or for Tito, this might be a "known" relation artist-commissioner in the current discussion.


The Sola-Busca version provides a lot of names of heroes ... if a contemporary Ferrarese poet had focused some of these figures in other writings, this might be an interesting man in the question of the "accompanying poet". Your theory about the "theology of arithmetic" also demands a man or circle with expanded humanistic knowledge, it can't be a "nobody", who left no trace.


Btw ... Tiraboschi had the death of Tito Vespasiano Strozzi with "end of August 1505" and "begin September 1505".

Anyway, whatever happened there (either "Strozzi left only his job in 1505" or "his wife had another man in 1513, who died 1515" or "there were two women with the same name" or "the love story of Ariost is invention of the author"), the change happened in the interesting year 1505, when the game Taroch appeared for the first time (to our knowledge).

Re: 15th century access to the "Theology of Arithmetic"

Strozzi and Eroticon

There's a pdf-file, which you get offered, if you type "domicilla Rangoni" in the Google search engine. According this it seems to suggested, that the Eroticon was ready around 1467, and he died 30th of August 1505 (the alternative "Oktober 1515" seems not mentioned).

Domicilla Rangoni is reported by Tiraboschi as first wife, likely daughter of a condottiero Guido Rangoni from the Venetian region, who had some activity around Modena (died 1457). The wedding might have taken place ca. 1470, in this case the Eroticon was written before. This first wife died 1487.

The pdf-file is of a newer date, ca. 2000-2004, as I get it.

Maybe the Eroticon must be judged as too old to have influenced the situation of 1491 very much.


I found the interesting note by Tiraboschi, that Strozzi as a young man seems to have been favored by Jacopo Antonio Marcello, a man, from which we definitely know, that he had something to do with early Trionfi cards.

Strozzi was at least since 1473 chosen "for the Venetian connection" (Rovigo region) and had a wife from near that Venetian region (the father of the bride Guido Rangoni is called Signore of Cordignano) ... ignano.htm , near where Marcello had worked at the last stations of his life, and Strozzi seems to be proven to have a close connection to Marcello.

Google Maps says: 23 km between Rovigo and Monselice (that's, where Marcello usually lived). That's not much.

Perhaps Strozzi had already before 1473 a Venetian orientation. In the Valerio text appears an Onofrio Strozzi, son of an exiled Strozzi (also Onofrio ?, presiely "Palla di Onofrio", banker, in 1432 exiled), which had a favor for book collecting, living in Padova. Marcello (also in literary cycles) had close contact to him.
The elder Onofrio Strozzi (* 1372) and Nanni Strozzi, the father of Tito (* 1376) had a similar age and might have been brothers, cousins or whatever (?) ... perhaps this explains Tito Strozzi's early Venice interest and Marcello's interest in him.
The Italian wiki confirms somehow a relationship.

Re: 15th century access to the "Theology of Arithmetic"

A second "strange death case" in about the same time of the assumed death of (September 1505) appears in the biography of Ercole Bentivoglio, son of Sante, who once ruled in Bologna (- 1464), and of Ginevra, later wife of Giovanni di Bentivoglio, new ruler in Bologna. Ginevra was daughter to Alessandro Sforza, Lord of Pesaro, and as we know, Alessandro Sforza had the first version of a "Tarocchi with some erotic" that we know of (Ursino cards). has Ercole Bentivoglio with much content dying in September 1505. ... ottiero%29
Ercole had been mainly a condottiero for Florence ... he hadn't later too much to do with Bologna. Sante was originally also from Florence. has Ercole writing a letter to Macchiavelli at "25 febbraio 1506". According this article he is dying in June 1507, cause his widow marries in September again ... whom? Nobody else than Ercole Strozzi, son of Tito Vespasiano Strozzi (who died according some versions August/September 1505 or 30 August 1505).

This is a little bit complicated.

Ercole had attempted to prostitute his wife ... so says the story.
Nell'estate del 1500 Barbara andrà ad abitare a Fermo, in un palazzo ottenuto dal marito, in quel momento al servizio dello Stato pontificio: qui avvenne il dramma che pose fine a un matrimonio che probabilmente non fu mai felice. Il Bentivoglio aveva scoperto i furti commessi da un suo servo il quale, sperando di ottenere clemenza, gli aveva confessato che la moglie cercava di avvelenarlo intanto che lo tradiva con un suo compagno d'arme: la confessione risultò però essere falsa e il servitore fu ucciso dal Bentivoglio, mentre Barbara, già incarcerata dal marito, fu liberata. Tuttavia un reciproco sospetto doveva gravare sui due coniugi - in Ercole, quello di essere tradito, e in Barbara, di poter essere uccisa da un giorno all'altro - così che la Torelli nel giugno del 1501 fuggì a Urbino, rifugiandosi presso la madre.

Fu Silvestro Calandra, castellano di Mantova e segretario dei Gonzaga, che si trovava da un anno a Urbino,[3] ad informare con una lettera del 20 luglio 1501 il marchese Francesco II Gonzaga della vicenda, aggiungendo che il Bentivoglio, in partenza per combattere i Fiorentini, essendosi scusato con la moglie e la madre Paola Secco, chiedeva che Barbara lo seguisse in Toscana: «ma non è parso a madonna Paula de dargela, se in prima non se consulta cum la excellentia vostra». Nella lettera il Calandra sosteneva altresì che più volte il Bentivoglio aveva tentato di far prostituire la moglie: «ne volse far contracto et venderla per mille ducati a uno vescovo, come più diffusamente intenderà la excellentia vostra da la prefata madonna Paula, quale ad questo effecto se parte per venire a Mantua».


Well, I see ... that this aspect "Strozzi etc." jumps a little bit too far out of this topic "theology of arithmetic" ... so I perhaps better search for another place.

Re: 15th century access to the "Theology of Arithmetic"

All interesting, Huck. About the Eroticon, Wikipedia says (, with a reliable-looking citation,
Among his works are the six books of the Eroticon, a series of elegies in refined Latin verse fusing Latin classical training with the spirit of Petrarch.
That's a little too elevated a tone for the Sola-Busca. As you observe, he's too early.

A writer whose writing is close in sensibility to that of the SB is Aretino, especially in the so-called "pornographic" dialogues, the ones set in a brothel; they have a nice sense of the grotesque. (One of the dialogues mentions the Popess, an apparent allusion to Pope Joan. I quoted it on the "Popess" thread. And there is also, apparently, his "Talking Cards," which I can't find.) He also wrote the verses for a series of 16 "pornographic" drawings done by Giulio Romano. A small group is said to have had quite a bit of artistic fun late at night. Aretino wasn't even born when the SB was produced. But it would be interesting to know who influenced him.

Well, Boiardo remains in the running, and his uncle certainly gives him a connection to Venice. But there might be other possibilities. Once again you send me scurrying to the library to read more about Renaissance history.

I also need to read more about the SB trumps, in terms of their meaning and sources. Unfortunately some of Tarotpedia's links don't work, e.g. the one to Michael Hurst. What are your suggestions?

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests