Hi Michael, and Huck (if you are still interested),
So this is a totally new interpretation, unrelated to the one we discussed many times since January 2007?
So, you've not only thrown out the actual meaning of the Bolognese Star card, (which any eight-year old in a Sunday school class could correctly identify as the Star of Bethlehem and the Three Wise Men), but you've thrown out your entire interpretation? And created a new one?
Let me try again.
No, the interpretation is not entirely
different from what I was thinking of when I began writing Antonio da Rho's invention of the game for Bianca Maria. In particular the Papi interpretation remains, the Bagato remains as the trifler at the table at which the powers of the world play, and the final section is a Triumph of somebody other than Christ (in the World card, and counting the Angel as "Eternity" or the Godhead/Trinity, in an allusive way). What is significantly different is the middle section - it is still a Triumph of Death, but the cards Chariot to Traitor are a single exemplum
In the earlier interpretation, which I still hold to be valid for the earliest Florentine cards, the final section is a Triumph of the soul.
I interpret the Star with a principle you have always insisted on elsewhere (sometimes to absurd results like interpreting the Charles VI World as Prudence (I know, from Shephard)), namely, "context determines meaning over isolated interpretation." So, you see a Star and three figures, and immediately recognize Magi. The fact that they do not bear gifts in the traditional way, but insignia of power, and the fact that only one is crowned as a King, and they are in a strange configuration, cannot override the primary reaction. So, it has to represent the Star of Bethlehem. Therefore, Christ must be coming, and must be represented later in the sequence.
In the Tarot de Marseille you find your Christ on the World card, justifying your Star interpretation, even if you have a different problem to interpret the vignette below, which looks like Aquarius. But in the Beaux-Arts and Rothschild sheets, and in all Bolognese decks, and in A in general, the figure that appears on the World card cannot in any sense be interpreted as Christ.
It seems like a good principle to suggest, for all coherent decks (those designed to tell a coherent story), that the Star should announce the advent of whoever appears on the World card.
So in the earliest Florentine decks and the Rosenwald, I interpret the advent as the coming apotheosis or deification of the triumphant soul, portrayed as Glory/Fame (from the proverbial "new star in the heavens" when someone renowned dies). In Bologna, I interpret it as a World Emperor. I think by the time of the Minchiate decks, it is clear that a Magus was intended, since he looks like one and carries a gift in the traditional cup-shaped vessel. But the figure on the World card again is not Christ - my interpretation is that the tradition lost the force of the meaning, or corrupted the (iconographical) narrative, since it either *should* be Christ, as in Tarot de Marseille, or it *should not* be a traditional-looking Magus. That is, unless a Magus and Star could indeed stand for the advent of any divinized soul, which, as I said, I take to be the original meaning of the earliest Florentine cards (Charles VI, Catania).
So the reason there are gifts of Imperial insignia rather than cups of incense and gold on the Bologna Star card, and the reason for the incongruities with traditional portrayals of the Magi, is because they are meant for the advent of the coming World Emperor shown on the World card.
Following your lead (as you have done everywhere but in this case), I have not taken the card in isolation, but interpreted it accordance with the iconography of the rest of the sequence.
If you think this is absurd you either have to force the World-figure to be Christ, a priori
and without any cognates, or you have to suggest that the Bolognese tradition thoroughly corrupted the World card (but not the Star card) at some point earlier than the Beaux-Arts sheet. Or, finally, you can suggest that the "principle" of the Star announcing the advent is nonsense and only works for the Tarot de Marseille, and that in Bologna the Star alone is sufficient to represent Christ.
Whatever your answer, I don't think mine is absurd, and I think that even the suggestion of Magi is deliberate, as are the incongruities with normal depictions - in order to make it clear that it is not Christ
whose advent is meant. But it is certainly a Christian ruler
If none of our discussions of the last three years are relevant, then that is a totally different matter. Since I didn't know this new interpretation even existed, I obviously could not have given you any feedback on it.
You knew, but you have ignored it. Most of what I'm saying has been up here on this thread since August, and I pointed you to it back in August.
Likewise, if your current views are unrelated to what you were proposing and we were discussing in 2007 and 2008, and if you now reject what was your central thesis, (i.e., a Mirror for Princes interpretation of Tarot's genre, in the context of "Third Advent" entry processions), then I have no basis on which to comment.
Mirror for Princes for me was always part of an invention scenario for a prince
. You can try to widen it into a general moral statement for a wider public and hold on to the speculum principis
genre, but I don't see the point of holding on to a genre identification if my preferred scenario is no longer for a prince in a court. I don't understand why you think "speculum principis" is any more inherently "likely" than political allegory or social commentary.
For the "Third Advent" of Kipling's model for interpreting royal entries, I noted to you long ago one of my main reservations - he himself in his preface explains why he *excludes* the Italian Triumphs from consideration in his book - basically, because they don't fit the scheme he is using! If the Italian triumphs of Alfonso or Borso or Pius II could fit in the Second or Third Advent scheme, he would have included them.
He didn't, which always made me hesitate to take it as my model for the tarot trumps. I had to learn more about the Italian triumphs to find out why they were "different", and didn't work for Kipling. Tarot is Italian, so if the triumphal entires were to give any insight into the tarot trumps, it is to the Italian triumphal entries I had to look.
We had already begun discussing it long before, with Alfonso's entry, but I have a much better view now.
In any case, while I find Kipling's angle fascinating, and wish I could afford his book, the Italian triumphs of Alfonso and Borso are more to the point.
For the record, I did mock some specific, seemingly crazy things you've said recently. For example, when you reject the obvious meaning of some image, like the Bolognese Star card, and impose an unlikely political allegory just because it feeds your desire for a tighter and earlier timeline for Bolognese Tarot, well hell. That might not be "insane" for most Tarot enthusiasts... in fact, it's typical. But it seems like lunacy coming from you, someone who knows better. If you aren't rejecting the obvious just to prove you can get away with it, to demonstrate that you can cheat just like all those other Tarot experts, then what explains such a wild leap from your usual good senses?
Just to be clear, if you're still reading, my interpretation is not dependent upon the specific political situation I am trying to tie it to in Bologna. This is a theory, as I have said repeatedly - it is always dangerous to try to "name names" in allegorical works, as Ann W. Astell points out in her wonderful (and affordable) Political Allegory in Late Medieval England
(Cornell UP, 1999). Read especially the conclusion (available on Google Books) and the introduction. For instance, Astell uses the thesis of political allegory, and clues from the poem, to date Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
to "between 1397 and 1400", whereas its date has been generally stated as "late 14th century" and hardly ever considered a political allegory of specific events in the reign of Richard II. She must have her critics, but I wonder how many of them would take it upon themselves to diagnose her with insanity?
That I am not dogmatic about it should be clear from the fact that I am ready to believe it came from Florence, where the conditions were different - but that, nevertheless, the Bolognese preserve the original form, which Florence deliberately changed and ultimately lost. The allegorical interpretation per se
that I propose is suitable for either place (but only Bologna or Florence, not Ferrara or Milan), but the precise political
allegory I have tried to see in it is only suitable for Bologna. If from Florence, for the moment I could only see the general, universal side of the allegory.
The interpretation stands by itself just fine, although obviously in a more general way. Seen in this way, the sequence as I interpret it would be pretty much at home any time between about 1240 and 1530; given the chronological limits of playing cards, any time between 1370 and 1530; given the limits of Tarot (maximalist view), between 1410 and 1441, and (minimalist view, mine) 1437-1441. But historical precision and consideration of current events is not necessary for the allegorical interpretation, since all the pieces of the allegory make sense no matter who they are (or might have been) applied to.
We're discussing a work of art here, not fighting a life-or-death battle. It's a work of art for which no definitive interpretation has ever been offered, and of which the interpretation is beset at the outset with many purely formal, methodological, problems, even before getting to the fun part. As long as we are both sincere, I'm sure we can get along.