In my previous post, I said I would get to the dating of the Visconti Hours
later. I have done so in the first post of the thread "Visconti Marriage and Betrothal Commemorations," viewtopic.php?f=11&t=917#p13402
Here I want to turn to something else: the Fama/World card, mentioned in 17 posts so far in this thread, according to the search engine. None of them is by me, so I want to put in my two bits' worth.
It seems to me that the primary influence on the iconography of the card in its early appearances, be it Milan's CY, Florence's Charles VI, or Bologna's BAR, is Boccaccio's Amorosa Visione
. (Ross pointed out the connection in relation to the Charles VI at http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.ph ... ost1319869
: I thank M.J. Hurst for this reference.) In Canto VI has the narrator, in a dream, describing a painting, one of four:paintings of "Gloria del popol mondano", as the narrator reads the inscription (line 75)--"Glory of the worldly folk" is Hollander's translation. If this "Gloria" is similar to Petrarch's "Fama", then already we have "World" and "Fame" in one breath. If we also look at Boccaccio's description of the painting immediately preceding (lines 69-72), we can see the prototype of the circle with hills and castles of the Charles VI (http://expositions.bnf.fr/renais/images/3/049.jpg
) and the BAR (http://www.tarothistory.com/images/encyclopedia1.jpg
.), or semicircle with plain and castles (CY).
And among other things which I noticed there
around about this supreme
lady, in her magnanimous breast
the enemy of death, was a perfect circle
rotating lofty and round,
from beneath her feet and over her head.
I do not believe that there can be anything
in the whole world, town or country, domestic or foreign,
which would not appear within that circle.
The phrase "enemy of death" is the theme developed in Petrarch's "Triumph of Fame". Who influenced who is unknown to me, and I think irrelevant. What is relevant is the description of the circle, with the whole world in it, all its towns and countries. So in the tarot we have representations of towns and countries in a circle. The CY only has part of a circle, because when one depicts a plain, there is nothing in the bottom half of the circle. The Charles VI and BAR solve that problem by depicting castles on hills.
In all cases, the person associated with the circle, unlike in Boccaccio (line 53), is not in a chariot. In a tarot deck, that would have been confusing, since there already is a Chariot card. Also, she is not shown in the circle, but above it. This is dictated by the dimensions of the card, considerably taller than it is wide. In the CY, the person on top is the lady Fama, identifiable by her trumpets. This is not Boccaccio's depiction (he has her with a sword in one hand and an apple in the other), but it is a conventional one. In the BAR, it is Mars, identifiable by his helmet, which he wears in many depictions of the Triumph of Mars. My explanation for this is that the vast majority of the people associated with her in the poem, and in Petrarch's Viris Illustribus
, are military folk or people primarily concerned with matters of state. In the Carrara Palace in Padua, that is who decorated the walls there, all from Viris Illustribus
. So naturally Mars is their champion. (Petrarch's "Triumph of 'Fame" gets away from military and political figures in part III; but few would have read that, before the 1440s.)
The Charles VI has a lady on top, with an octagonal halo and holding a scepter in one hand and a small golden globe in the other; that is how Boccaccio's "apple" was interpreted here: perhaps the apple of discord thrown by Mars's twin sister Eris, the prize awarded by Paris to Venus, or (but there is not the usual tripartite division into the three continents) perhaps a small emblem of the world. The scepter is explainable as the emblem of statecraft. The prize is the world.
That is what is common to all three of our early World/Fama cards. But there are regional differences. In Milan, there is the doctrine of Decembrio's that SteveM told us about, of the "good state" (or something like that) as opposed to Plato's "best state". A good state has farmland and a port, as well as good defenses. All are represented on the card, which in that respect marks out Milan's claim to Genoa. At the same time, the red castle has some significance; it could be the capital, or, as red is the color of passion, Filippo's love nest. Or the Grail Castle. For purposes of gifts to military men, it might suggest a battle or two, but I cannot make heads or tails of that discussion.
Bologna, however, is a weak state. For it, Fama is nothing but trouble, as stronger powers compete for it as a minor prize. Only with a strong leader can they have any Fama, and when they get it in the Bentivoglio, that is what is what they see on the card: Mars on a world (the four elements) with a scepter and a small globe divided into continents ( http://www.tarothistory.com/images/encyclopedia1.jpg
Much digital ink has been spilled over the significance of the Charles VI's polygonal halo, since it otherwise appears in the deck, and elsewhere in art of that time and place, as an accoutrement of virtues. For clarification, I again turn to Boccaccio. In Canto IV. This is where he first enters the room with four paintings, so exquisite that he can only compare their art to that of Giotto (lines 13-18). The first painting he sees, is of a lady unnamed in the poem as far as I can find:
Her left hand held a little book,
the right a royal sceptre, and I
reckoned her clothing to be crimson.
At her feet sat many people'
upon a grassy and flowered meadow,
some more, some less distinguished.
But at her left side and her right
I saw seven ladies, each different
from the others in gesture and attire.
The translators' notes say that the seven ladies, four on one side and three on the other, are the seven liberal arts. That makes sense, because Boccaccio goes on to name famous philosophers, astronomers, and mathematicians on one side, and poets and historians on the other, who could be presumed to write musically, grammatically, rhetorically, and poetically.
Boccaccio does not name the lady herself, that I can find, but the translator's notes and introduction say she is Wisdom. That, too, makes sense. In 13th and 14th century codices discussing the seven liberal arts, the figure on top of the liberal arts is philosophy, love of wisdom (Dorez, La canzone della viru e dele scienze di Bartolomeo di Bartoli da Bologna
, Appendices, Tavola II). But philosophy is not a virtue, and it would include only some of Boccaccio's famous people.
So I suspect that if the Charles VI lady is a virtue, she is Wisdom or Sapientia, Greek Sophia, that which philosophers love. Boccaccio's figure has a scepter but no small globe. Instead, it's a book. So she's still Fama, offering the world as her prize. But Fama, in the eyes of the Florentines of 1460 or earlier, is best when accompanied with Wisdom. So they conflate the two figures. She is Fama possessed of Sapientia. That is what they see Florence as representing, and Cosimo de' Medici, too, as in the medallion that Phaeded posted. Sapientia not only masters the world, but also transcends it, in the sense that if fortune doesn't give one worldly glory, Sapientia's philosophy is one's consolation (and may give one worldly glory in the end); both interpretations are suggested by the lady's position on the card, above the world.
Probably the Charles VI is later than the BAR or the CY. In that case, people would have read Part III of Petrarch's "Triumph of Fame," which includes the philosophers and historians that Boccaccio had associated with Wisdom.
I should probably say something about Prudentia, who is sometimes propounded as a candidate here. In the Middle Ages, there was a tendency to conflate Prudentia and Sapientia as the same thing, and Minerva as the goddess of both or either. This is eloquently discussed by art historian Nicholas Webb in an article called "Momus with little flatteries: intellectual life at the Italian courts," in Mantegna and 15th century court culture
,on p. 68 (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-BzfjM-pYVEw/T ... nd69LG.jpg
). Cicero did the same, Webb says. But he adds (p. 68)
In Seneca's De Constantia Animae or Petrarch's De remediis utriuesque fortunae, it is the enduring sapiens rather than the active Prudens who resists fortune.
. And on p. 69 (the right side of the link above):
However, Cicero speaks of sapientia as the mater omnium bonarum rerum in De legebis. Two commonplaces of Renaissance moral philosophy were that prudence governs the other virtues and is itself subject to wisdom.
On the link, you can see a footnote giving particulars, or articles that do give them.
Incidentally, the first page of the Webb article speaks of Alberti's Momus
, of some time between 1443 and1450," in which the title god begets the goddess Fama
, who wreaks havoc on the world.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PZqv2JyU3s4/T ... nd57LG.jpg
. Hence the desirability of Sapientia.