mikeh wrote:...I still do not see a viper or even a snake on the flag, of any color. It's not a sinuous line, it's a rectangle with sinuous lines coming from the corners.
I'm not sure where your rectangle is (the pennant is pointed), but a sinuous blue line on a white pennant held by a knight in a Visconti-produced artifact has to be the biscione
. It even has the knot-like circular coil of the serpent on its left upper bend:
The Visconti white pennant battle standard as depicted at Anghiari on a Florentine cassone
(the Florentine artist crucially missed the upper coil of the serpent - something a Milanese court artist would not have missed - but got the basics of the blue serpent on white pennant correct)
mikeh wrote:But I don't see 3 books in the CY World card. Nor do I see 3 books (or 3 faces) with a viper anywhere. How does the Visconti viper represent prudence?
Prudence’s attributes include the compass, 3 faces, mirror, “world” (as in Ferrara), snake or books. Any of these could indicate that virtue, given a compelling context (in the case of Sforza’s medal, it is books). The CY World context for the Visconti viper on a banner is a bust of Fama (who is NOT prudence and has no attribute of prudence) atop a ducal crown and holding yet another crown, presumably for the single knight below the large crown, deserving of the crown and fame. The larger crown is a domain – Cremona as part of the Duchy of Milan – and the smaller crown is for the knight-as-ruler who will exercise dominion, for Visconti, as a viceroy. But what universally allows Fama in the humanistic quattrocento? Virtue.
What better gift can be given to you princes than the glory that publicly proclaims your virtue? For he never dies whom sweet Fame memorializes for all time and all the world. (Filelfo, Ode V.9.70-75.
And the highest virtue in the humanistic quattrocento is Prudence. Given the context of a knight beneath fame, he must be deserving of it due to his virtue, but the only attribute we can associate with the knight is the biscione
. The snake in this context
would speak to the knight’s virtuous qualification as a ruler, his prudence.
To quote at length from the foremost scholar of Leonardo Bruni, the most renowned humanist of his day, who elevated Prudence back to the highest virtue:
needed in their turn to accept the guidance of the wise and the good. The passions of the many needed to be guided by reason. So the Popolo
should heed the wise and the good, but they should also seek to educate themselves (as far as possible) in history, thus learning civil prudence, and moral philosophy, thus learning moderation. The ancient classics of Greco-Roman antiquity would provide the material for this civic education… Bruni’s implied target in all this is the competing value-system generated by French chivalry. The chivalric ethos was dangerous in cities because it taught powerful men that their private honor was more important than the common good. Their feudal rivalries tore the city apart, as Bruni demonstrated over and over in the Florentine History
. Chivalry also made a fetish of romantic love, a disordered passion which led to the weakening of families—the building blocks of the state—and other civic discords. (Hankins, James. “Humanism in the vernacular: the case of Leonardo Bruni.” In Humanism and Creativity in the Renaissance: Essays in Honor of Ronald G. Witt, ed. Christopher S. Celenza and Kenneth Gouwens, 11-29, 18. https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/hand ... sequence=1
This of course has a republican Florentine context, but even in chivalric Milan, in the CY world trump we see the knight approaching a female (Bianca) holding the torch/pail imprese, which means controllare l’ardore del proprio temperament
– “control the passions of one’s own temperament” http://www.storiadimilano.it/arte/imprese/Imprese04.htm
. Of course Filelfo was in Milan, after a prolonged stay in Florence, where he was friends with Bruni and saw eye to eye to him on the subject of Prudence-Virtue/Fama. In a letter to Ciriaco d’Ancona of 1927:
In civic life, then, prudence alone is the master over all the rest of the moral virtues. Prudence alone moderates and rules these. But prudence is but a broken and weak thing – a quality without strength – unless it abides by and is obedient to wisdom alone, as though to a prince or a queen.” (translated in Diana Robin, Filelfo in Milan: Writings 1451-1477, 1991: 54)
This rather precisely mirrors what is happening in the CY World – where the condottiero knight is prudent because he is approaching and beholden to a virtuous and tempering future duchess.
Even on the CY Chariot trump where the same maiden offers her shield of chastity (also embossed with a Visconti imprese), on the “good” horse her page holds up the ruler’s orb, so that her offer of the shield comes with the rulership implied by the orb; the “bad”/rearing horse has no rider (clearly referring to Plato’s Phaedrus myth).
Seguing to the horse on Sforza’s medal again – note that it’s ears are oddly pinned back like a cowering dog. Again, the sword is pointed away from the books, so in both cases the martial symbols – horse and sword – appear cowed/controlled before the books: prudence.
In another Pisanello medal from a few years later, a book appears embossed on another martial symbol – a helmet – on which is written "wise man" (vir sapiens
) and the inscription below further explains “pacificus”, exactly what the woman in the CY and the books of Prudence on the Sforza medal are doing (nevermind that F. Visconti wanted Sforza to beat the Venetians into submission – it’s all P.R. in these courtly productions).
mikeh wrote:I have no objection to the CY card being described as "the fama of _______". It may well be meant here as Sforza. … We have to look at what is there to represent a card in the game apart from a particular person on this particular special instance of the deck.
The CY is clearly a peculiar deck for a specific occasion and several of it’s trumps differ from a generic tarot deck; mass production for a game hardly seems to have been goal of this deck, although I do agree the ur-tarot had to have been conceived for mass-production, as well as the PMB (and the last has the evidence of several surviving cards of multiple decks). Again, I argue that the CY is a ducal gift to Sforza to celebrate the recent condotte
Prudence was subsequently conflated with Fama, or more likely, Fama conflated with the idea of a prudently ruled dominion (“famous Florence”, etc.), as in the popular genre of a laude
of a city (e.g., Bruni’s own Laudatio Florentinae Urbis
. Yet virtue/prudence must have been implicit as again Fame was only given to a ruler or city who possessed virtue/prudence (and Bruni never tires of reminding the reader that Florentines are nothing else if not prudent). Yet the problem of identification of subsequent World trumps is compounded when the attribute of Fama disappears – we just have a vignette of a domain (as in the CVI and Catania) and even that reverts back to the universal (as a sort of gloria mundi
- why I chose to share the armillary spheres of Prudence, as Prudence, Fama and Gloria all had that universal/world attribute, allowing permutations of shared meaning between them).