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 2075 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 2067 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:

A3: 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, however, 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.

Another way of having a cardinal virtue in every row would be to assume that Prudence originally went with the other cardinals, as opposed to with the theologicals. On this assumption, Prudence would have been placed with the theologicals after it had been dropped from the game of Triumphs, so as to keep it with the other cards also dropped from that game. We would have:

A5 (from A3): Minchiate in 16 using the Old Man and putting Prudence with the other cardinals
Cups: 1 Angel, 5 Hope, 9 Chariot, 13 Temperance,
Coins: 2. World, 6 Death, 10 Prudence, 14 Love
Swords: 3. Charity, 7 Old Man, 11 Justice, 15 Emperor
Batons: 4. Faith, 8 Fortune 12 Fortitude, 16 Empress

Moreover, if we changed A4 in the same way, we would even get all four cardinals in the same column:

A6 Bologna order, except that Prudence is with other cardinals:
Coins: 1 Angel, 5 Hope, 9 Prudence, 13 Chariot
Swords: 2. World, 6 Death, 10 Justice 14 Love
Batons: 3. Charity, 7 Old Man, 11 Fortitude, 15 Emperor
Cups: 4. Faith, 8 Fortune, 12 Temperance. 16 Empress

A variation of interest is if Prudence is made 10 and Justice 9. That changes the suit assignment of the first row to Swords and that of the second row to Coins. This puts the suits in the same order as in Marziano's game, if we grant Pratesi's 1999 equivalences of Virtues with Swords, Riches with Coins, Virginities with Batons, and Pleasures with Cups.

I will continue.

Note added May 4, 2019, modified May 5: Well, actually, I won't. The section that followed (now deleted) depended on the Beinecke Library's captions for the trumps: "Emperor of Swords", "Empress of Swords", "Love (Swords)", and so on, as tentatively worthy of being the basis for assigning suits to trumps. These captions have now been deleted from the Beinecke's website by the current curator Timothy Young. They seem to have been the result a confusion generated by the Beinecke itself. After assuring me for years that these captions did not originate at Yale, the Mr. Young now thinks, surely correctly, that they were generated there, by their scanning department, which assumed that since the 11 trumps were stored as additions, 2 or 3 to a box, to the 4 boxes containing the cards of each suit, that the trumps in each box were associated with that suit. In fact nobody around at that time remembers any associations of trumps with suits. It was just a way of storing the cards in 4 boxes instead of 5. He reached this conclusion after I went to some trouble tracking down people who worked with the cards in the 1970s, notably Martha Wolff, who wrote an M. A. thesis on them. and William Keller, who published a catalog of the Cary Collection in 1981. These people phoned Mr. Young after I had emailed them asking for their recollections, and he rethought the issue. (Possibly he had done so already, since the last time I contacted him in Nov. 2018; but it was only after I had contacted Ms. Wolff and she had phoned Mr. Young that he gave me his new opinion.) Even if there was an order to the cards before Mr. Cary purchased them, there is virtually no chance that the Carys would have preserved it.

It is true that the order of the trumps as presented in the Catalogue of 1981, which remains the order of presentation on the website, resembles that of Minchiate. However Mr. Keller assured me that he meant merely to be listing the cards, not recording a pre-existing order.

For the record, here is how the Beinecke associated cards with suits:

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,

However this cannot be the basis for a reconstruction of their original order. I am back to the drawing board, so to speak, from this point on. Since the reconstruction of the Cary-Yale is a bit removed from the topic of this thread, I am simply deleting what I wrote from here on. I need to rethink it.

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 2008 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 2008 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.

Re: How do you play Marziano's game?

I want to call people's attention to my deletion of most of post 72 above, at

As I explain there, I managed to contact two scholars (Martha Wolff and William Keller) who wrote about the Cary-Yale cards in the 1970s at Yale and testified to me that they had no recollection of any pre-existing correlations between suits and trumps in that deck. There was not even a definite pre-existing order in the set as bequeathed to them by the Carys. They phoned Timothy Young, the present curator, in response to my queries. Mr. Young, having assured me repeatedly for years (from 2010 through 2018) that the suit assignments given to the Cary-Yale trumps were not created at Yale, now thinks that they were in fact created there, the result of a misunderstanding by the scanning department: the 11 trumps had been placed 2 or 3 to a box in four boxes [modern boxes procured by Yale] that otherwise contained the suit cards of a particular suit, from which they assumed that each group of 2 or 3 trumps had been assigned to the suit in that box. The suit assignments no longer appear on the Beinecke website.

I also, in April, received from one of the scholars, Martha Wolff, a copy of her Master's thesis on the cards. There is nothing there that suggests suit assignments, pre-existing or otherwise.

As a result I have to rethink my position on the Cary-Yale. I still think there remains some evidence for suit assignments to trumps, namely the Marziano text, in particular the part that reads:
Subordinanturque his quatuor Avium genera, similitudinibus accomodata. Virtutum quidem ordini. Aquila. divitiarum. Foenix. Continentiae Turtur. Voluptatis Columba. Unaquaeque proprio parens regi.

And subordinated to these [orders of gods] are four kinds of birds, being suited by similarity. Thus to the order of virtues, the Eagle; of riches, the Phoenix; of continence, the Turtledove; of pleasure, the Dove. And each one obeys its own king.
It seems to me that the elliptical second sentence, making the implicit parts explicit, we get:
Thus to the order of virtues, the Eagle [is subordinated], [to the order] of riches, the Phoenix [is subordinated]; [to the order of] continence, the Turtledove [is subordinated]; to the order of] pleasure, the Dove [is subordinated].
I do not know what else "is subordinated to" could mean in a game of cards except "is lower in rank". This is reinforced by the third sentence, "And each one obeys its own king." That is, each of the four kinds of birds is subordinate to the king of that kind of bird, in other words lower in rank. It is to those lower in rank that the requirement of obedience to those higher is directed. The result, it seems to me, is that the orders of gods are extensions of the orders of birds.

The tricky part is what this means in practice. If it only meant that the gods take precedence over the birds in winning a trick, there would be no point in saying that each order of birds is subordinate to the corresponding order of gods, as opposed to birds in general being subordinate to gods in general and the four orders otherwise being related only by similarity. It is only if the god-cards are actually extensions of the bird-suits for purposes of following suit that there is any pairing of gods and birds in the playing of the game.

Admittedly Marziano does not make this point in so many words. He may have been writing in a context in which extensions of suits were already present in other games (i.e. perhaps "VIII Emperors" and even ones with what we would identify as tarot subjects) and so how to play with them was already understood. It is also possible that he means only the allegorical point about the similarity of the kinds of birds to the orders of gods.

There then is the question of whether and to what extent this property, however understood, and others of Marziano's game, can be extended to the cards and game of the Cary-Yale. Pratesi has suggested the Minchiate order of trumps as a basis (see my translation at ... ti-di.html; his essays of Jan. 11 and Feb 12, 2016, are also relevant.) I think that more can be said along those lines, but I need to work it out again and present it in another thread.

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