[While reading about Tarot cards and Plantard as discussed by myself in the article I wrote HERE I became immersed in early Renaissance Thought. This was because while looking into the origins of the Tarot cards I came upon assertions that the Tarot de Marseille deck, the one of interest to Plantard and Cherisey, may have been designed by Ficino. Ficino was a famous Renaissance scholar and his world was a very different thought world, and one has to adjust today's mind set to enter it. But once there and following the logic, you can see where we are today in the Tarot symbolism.
Although not directly to do with Plantard and Cherisey .... I found this interesting new research and it's reflections presented by its author vh0610 [pseudonym of the author used on the Tarot cards, on the forum Tarothistory.com]. I thought readers here may be interested to read the article ...... ]
After a long time of reading and reflecting I open this new thread since I understand this very forum as a testing ground for hypotheses – in view of the fact that there is so much scholarship and knowledge, furthermore, the respective knowledge is so immense that it is impossible to be overseen by a newcomer to the field (as I am). Hence, these hypotheses are evidently only my perspective, they might even be not new, might be outright wrong, might be too dared – the hope is that as a newcomer I see some minor details in a fresh way which might help the community to elaborate some real novelty by testing these hypotheses, by discarding them, by carrying them forward into a different light, by requesting more details or explanations in case of obscurity. Perhaps there are even some hypotheses which are counter-intuitive at first glance, then please give them a second chance on second glance. [All errors and misunderstandings in the following have to be attributed to my sole responsibility].
The material I want to propose is inspired by the thread I opened some months ago on the etymology of tarocchi (Thanks for participating Huck, MikeH, Nathanael and Ross Caldwell and others!) and on recent very motivating background discussions with Huck, for which I am very grateful (Thanks, Huck!).
The material I collected is unfortunately not displayable in a single post – and I learned in this very forum that my arcs of arguments are too long. Hence, all I can do today, is giving an –admittedly not short-- overview of my perspective in a very coarse granularity which then needs to be detailed in the next days [and weeks, very probably, in view of my spare time. I refrain from overloading the overview with too many references and I will provide all missing references in the details in the next days]. My perspective is based on a search for simplicity and on the belief in evolutionary processes: no thing comes from nothing (“ex nihilo nihil fit”, Melissos). Hence I want to discuss with you the possible evolutionary process from the naibis, over the Imperatori VIII, over the 5x14-structure advocated on trionfi.com, over the 21+1 tarocch’ trumps, to the Minchiate deck. Thereby I take a constructive approach, as simple as possible (for my eyes). Some parts will stay hypothetical (but might be supported or discarded by your knowledge), others we can support by documents or the cards themselves. [This constructive approach is a little bit dry in the sense that it will discard some of the “magic” of the tarots – for those of you who want to stop reading here out of that reason: I promise that esoterics come back in this very thread in one of the most noble forms Europe can historically provide.]
My perspective is based on the following assumptions: That the tarocch’-tree stump is burning in the respective tarocch'-entry of the already cited Lombard dictionary is significant – also in view of the respective Budapest Card showing strong graphical similarity between the burning tower and the two trees in the background [consider furthermore that the base of a tower is called “stump” up to date in architect’s language]. The burning tree stump can be read as a strong spiritual symbol as the burning thornbush in the biblical Ex 3,1 ff. In my eyes, there is a possible historical trace of this significance in the current German version of the card game “Thirty one” See the combination of the three Aces there, which is called “Feuer” or “Blitz” (“fire” or “lightning” – both names of saetta/sagitta-card appearing in the tarots) and beats all other card combinations. This “Feuer” or “Blitz” stems very probably from the tarot cards, where two of the Aces depict the same sparkling flames as in the lightning card and the following respective aria cards. [Note that the “Blitz” carried over into the current English version of “Thirty-One” That the tarocch’-game can be played in the style “taroch’-, see again the cited Lombard dictionary is significant (“ombra” is quite puzzling, at least for me).
The several questioning of the role of the Fool for the name of the game by MikeH (Thanks MikeH!) is significant. Following trionfi.com, the name of the game “trionfi” has to do something with Petrarca’s “trionfi” in view of the popularity of that book in the respective time. Following Ortalli (1996) and trionfi.com, the evolution of the cards happens at the courts in North Italy (Ferrara, Milan, etc.) or in the highest society in the republican cities (Florence, Venice). It is “a noble thing for noble men” – and, very renaissance-like: women. It depicts highest values of the evolution of Renaissance ideas and philosophy. Evolution in cards also goes from simplicity to complexity, one step after the other.
After these preliminaries, we follow the assumptions A1 to A3:
Following A1 --the tarocch’-burning tree trunc: It is a highly spiritual symbol. Remembering that the transition 14 - 21 (+1) takes place somewhere between 1450 and 1500, and that this is the time of Master Ficino, who is mentioned in the respective sermon in the beautiful and impressive book “Con gli occhi et con l’intelletto” by Ross Caldwell et al. (2018), I propose to see some significance in the neoplatonic turn Ficino advocates [Marsilio Ficino is furthermore the first modern Hermetic having translated the Tabula Smaragdina, and his best friend, Pico della Mirandola is the first modern Kabbalist].
Hence I read Plato – I propose to give Plato’s allegories (cave allegory, chariot allegory, sun analogy, line analogy) and especially the description of the enlightenment for seeing the ideas/forms within his philosophy (in Timaios) some significance: the enlightenment is described by Plato in his Seventh Letter as like being struck by - lightning. To be precise: when enlighted, the real philosopher is inflamed like fire (340 b2-3), the act of enlightenment is born in the individual soul like “a sudden by-an-over-leaping-fire-ignited light, which is nurtured by itself” (341 c4-d2).
Following A2 - the game tarocch’ can be played “tarocch’-ombra”: I propose that in order to understand the tarots, you have to go through hell, through painful darkest hell. To be precise: you have to go through Dante’s inferno (in the following called DInf). Furthermore, you also have to go through his purgatory (DPurg) and his paradise (DPar). The notion “ombra” is the main notion invented by Dante for his commedia. [I read the commedia integrally being driven by this question of “ombra” and the tarocch’. For those of you who read German: I propose to read the translation by the wonderful Kurt Flasch aside of the Italian text – then reading will still be hard, the other translations are unreadable in my eyes.] Aside of Petrarca’s canzoniere and trionfi (in the following called CanzPetr and TrPetr), Dante’s commedia was still the most famous book of the 15th century. Note that TrPetr are anti-dantesque: this tension bears some significance for the tarots (in my eyes – I will come later to it). [Petrarca had a depiction of Dante on his table: as an inversely hanged traditore as we know it from the tarot-card]. Hence I propose to read the trionfi also integrally in order to see some significant details. Important is that Petrarca had his trionfi idea from Dante (as Boccaccio had using it in his “L’amorosa visione”; Dante himself had it also from Giotto whom he mentions in the commedia (Inf XI); newest research shows that Giotto painted the Scrovegni-Chapel in Padua as one large triumph arc following the ancient Roman model).
Petrarca had the trionfi idea from Dante, since there is one large well-known triumphal procession (called in the following TrPr1) in the earthly paradise in the last canti of the purgatorio (Purg. XXVIIII ff).
Fortunately for us, there are two more triumphal processions in the commedia [which are so easily to be overread, that the first one of these I only found after reading three times, and the second one of these I only found by inverse thinking]: There is one further triumphal procession (called in the following TrPr3) in the non-earthly paradise just before the empyreum (Par. XXIII), the extracted-from-time city/world/rose/house of god (“maison de dieu”). The TrPr3 is composed of the Moon (named “Trivia” there), the Star (which is Maria) and the Sun (which is the Christ) - and Dante is struck by lightning in a passive-receptive mode when seeing these celestial entities “to be in wisdom and power” (Par. XXIII). [See again the discussion on enlightenment in Plato’s Seventh Letter above.]
There is another triumphal procession (called in the following TrPr2) --which is really hard to find-- just before TrPr3 in the celestial sphere of the fixed stars (Par. XXII) on the way to the aforementioned empyreum, which is composed of many stars being led be the zodiacs – and ending with the zodiac sign of Dante himself, in which he finds himself with Beatrice looking at it and his destiny. This zodiac sign is -- Ge(r)mini. These three triumphal processions are clearly trionfi in best sense of the notion. Hence I propose the following three very coarsely defined formulae for them [which have to be detailed and explained in the next days and weeks]: Trionfi I = trumps of 5 * 14 = Imperatori VIII + TrPetr + DInf + TrPr1 <br> Trionfi I will be simply called Trionfi in the following. Note that in DInf one finds --aside of many emperors, empresses and popes-- a popess as the aluded wife/mistress of the pope, furthermore the wheel of fortune, the traditore Judas close to the Devil, etc.
I propose furthermore to understand the evolutionary step from Imperatori VIII [which can –following the evolutionary assumption A6-- be hypothetically deduced by interpolation as a 2*4-structure from the Kaisern/Karnöffel-game, I will elaborate on this in the next days] to Trionfi as an evolution from a ludus morale to a ludus sapiente – Dante not only refers at the end of Purg XXVII Vergil giving him “a crown and a mitra” over himself [i.e. being a king/emperor and a pope on his own], but also in Par. XIII that “kings have to be wise to be good kings”. Wisdom (sapientia) is closely connected to the number 7 (see Bible Proverbs 9,1 “Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars”, 7 cardinal virtues, 7 artes liberales, 7 sages, etc. ). The 14 trumps are 2 * 7, building 7 pillars by stacking on the Augustinean civitas terrena the way to the civitas Dei, which can be attained after Judgement as in DPar.
Considering now that “those who seek of wisdom” are in old greek the “philosophers”, I propose that it is not only a ludus sapiente but a ludus philosophorum, a game of and for philosophers. For this, I propose the following: The second seven cards are located beyond the material world, somewhere in the realm of the being, hence metaphysical. In this light, let us read Aristotle, the main philosopher of that time and the one preferred by Dante over Plato in the commedia. Aristotle's metaphysics start with the famous sentence “All men by nature desire to know.” However, this classical translation [which was a problem in medieval times, since the catholic church was against it: thou shalt believe not know] is not exact, since “Πάντες ἄνθρωποι τοῦ εἰδέναι ὀρέγονται φύσε” is hard to translate, for our context it is better to translate “It belongs to the nature of all men, to strive for getting the being/essence into sight” [my translation following the one of Bröse] – what is depicted on the cards is the being, also in a metaphysical sense. Aristotle, also in the metaphysics, continues: wisdom is „knowlegde of certain principles and reasons.“ (I 1, 982 a 2 – 3), and highest knowledge/science deals with the utmost knowledgeable, and this is god, “since god is for all the reason and the principle, and this science wants to know solely […] God”. (I 2, 983, 12 – 17). The game of triumphs is for noble men, for philosophers seeking god, it is a ludus philosophorum.
Having put an emphasis an the Aristotelian perspective: I propose furthermore to understand the 14 trumps of the 5*14 structure as the Aristotelian fifth element, the quinta essentia, the timeless quintessence, in addition to the four elements (fire, water, earth and air) of the four classical card colours (batoni, cups, denari, swords). By adding the fifth element, all elements forming the world are present in the deck.
Next evolutionary step: Trionfi II or tarocch’(i) = 21 trumps (plus 1, “nisi velint”) = Trionfi + TrPr1 + TrPr3 Trionfi II will be called Tarocchi in the following. This is the neoplatonic turn, prepared by Petrarca in TrPetr placing Plato in front of Aristoteles in the respective triumphal procession, and fulfilled by the Neoplatonism of Ficino, respecting some insights of the Tabula Smaragdina (Pico della Mirandola is then the source for all Kabbalistic elements in Tarot de Marseille). Note that the order Star – Moon – Sun does not follow the Platonic Spheres seen from earth, but the evolution of enlightenment and of capability of seeing light in Plato’s Cave Allegory. Plato’s Chariot Allegory is used in the Chariot card and all the way through the cards (for this way through the cards see the Line analogy) –the TrPetr are depicted commonly all on chariots-- when balancing out the respective task, meeting there with the “Middle way” of Aristotelian Nichomachian Ethics. Plato’s Sun analogy yields also the four Platonic (non-Christian) cardinal virtues being part of TrPr1 for the cards – with wisdom not appearing since it is no stage to be taken but the whole way in itself [I will discuss it in the next days.]. This neoplatonic turn still makes the game a ludus philosophorum – remember that for Plato the best form of the state was a state reigned by philosopher-kings – and here we have a game which is developed and played at the Renaissance courts or highest societal ranks of the republic of North Italy, where newest philosophy was intensively discussed. Note that Ficino’s main new element in neoplatonism is –- by emphasising the individual souls participating in the so-called “Soul of the World”— the spiritual countermovement of “mundus parvus” (cf. the Steele Sermon) [or mundus minor or microcosmos] to “mundus maior” [or macrocosmos; this can be also seen as hermetic heritage from the Tabula Smaragdina]. This countermovement is depicted on the aria cards of Tarocchi.
Note furthermore that by this the individual soul takes part in the timelessness/immortality of the divine “Soul of the world”. The catholic church took as long as until 1513 to declare the immortality of the individual soul – Ficino and the cards were much faster after the long medieval time of Aristoteles-based Averroeism denying immortality of the individual soul.
Note that the Petrarca – Dante difference shows in the different depictions of the world card – the ones following Dante show the city of god, the ones following Petrarca show Laura (which he sees at the end of TrPetr, refraining from placing himself in heaven), which then can be understood as the “Soul of the World” in a Neoplatonian sense.
Note moreover that the possible different neoplatonist’s understanding of the position of the “Soul of the World” to the “World/God”and their respective depictability has the potential to explain the different Dummett orders (A, B, C) – I propose to consider the other active platonists of this time --as Bessarion, Aurispa, da Cherso etc.-- and their respective geographical locations and philosophical different views [details will be discussed in the next days].
Furthermore I propose to see the Florentine octagonal halos on the respective cards of the Charles VI deck as a Ferrara-reference to the inclusion of the Florentine Dante – the deck itself can still be from Ferrara in this perspective. [This issue was brought to my attention by Huck in the recent wonderful discussion – thanks Huck!]
Next evolutionary step: Trionfi III or Minchiate or [in its early form:] Ge(r)mini = Trionfi II + Rest of the cardinal virtues of TrPr1 + the four elements of Purg. XXXIII + TrPr2. <br> Trionfi III will be called Minchiate in the following. Note that Minchiate contains the TrPr1, TrPr2 and TrPr3 in the right order of the commedia. Note that the tower [of Babel, see below the mentioning in DPar] of the lightning card is reinterpreted after the Devil card as the “House of the Devil” (Casa del Dio), since the rest of the cardinal virtues follow in Earthly Paradise of DPurg, then elements etc., hence the card does not lead directly to the “House of God”. It simply marks the escape from hell to a “clear world” as in the commedia (“a ritornar nel chiaro mondo”, End of Inf. XXXIIII)
Note furthermore that the four final zodiac cards of Minchiate form the tetramorph (the four figures of Ezechiel or the four figures for the evangelists) with Dante being the human figure in the Gemini-sign. Note that the tetramorph is leading the TrPr1 in DPurg, reason for being depicted on the world card of Tarocchi (see also Babylonian mythology below). Furthermore, the order of the tetramorph in Minchiate follows the order of the four elements of Purg. XXXIII in Minchiate (zodiacs have associated elements). Thereby the old-Babylonian mythology is respected, in which the tetramorph stood for the four male planet gods: Bull = Marduk; god of Babel; Lion = Nergal, god of underworld; Eagle = Ninurta, god of wind; Human = Nabu, god of: wisdom [wisdom again!]. This is connected to old-oriental ideas of the guardians of the four corners of the world/cosmos [remember the tetramorph is placed in the corners of the world card] and of the carriers of the dome of sky/heaven in the old-Babylonian zodiac circle, carried by Taurus in the first sign, Leo in the forth sign, Scorpio-man in the seventh sign and Aquarius –to which one finds closely the Aquila (eagle)- sign in the starry sky – in the tenth sign.
I propose that the Tarot de Marseille knows of all this, as well by the names of the cards, as well by depiction: See e.g. the Tarot de Marseille-Devil and compare to the description of Dante within DInf as the emperor of the hell (“Lo ’mperador del doloroso regno”, Inf. XXXIIII), see on the amore-card the first modern poet laureate Petrarca and his encounter with Laura (compare with the first 6 sonetti of his CanzPetr), see the lightning card and consider the critique of language in DPar in the discussion of Dante with Adam (Par. XXVI): Thereby Nimrod and the Tower of Babel is mentioned – Nimrod is in hell (Inf. XXXI) [We will discuss this in detail].
Following A3 – the fool: [Together with Huck the following hypotheses were also very fruitfully discussed in the background -- Many thanks again, Huck!] As a short overview for clarifying a modern misconception: As latest research and already Jacob Burckhardt show, there are two types of fools in medieval and renaissance times: so-called natural fools and so-called artificial fools (in German: “Stocknarr” und “Schalknarr”) – even “fool” is not the right word for the latter: a fool is not a jester, and a jester is not fool. The jester type furthermore differentiates into the highly intelligent “uomo piacevole” and the earthy –even bawdy- “buffone”. We have three types: “matto” (fool), “buffone” (earthy jester) and “uomo piacevole” (intelligent jester). All three types are at courts to be laughed at and laughed with, the jester types also having the role of jugglers/impostors/musicians. We modern people stumble over these different notions since we can hardly imagine the following horror: the fool-type ones ("matti") at courts were primarily there to be laughed at. The fools were mostly heavily mentally disturbed people, also disfigured/deformed people, held as “monsters” to be laughed at – for instance in the courtyard in a small hut like a dog. They were very poor and in misery (see the “Misero” of the Mantegna deck). They were treated more or less as animals, physical aggression was to be expected from them at any time (this is why they had to wear bells) – and they were to be aggressed at any time: see the Fool card in the early Charles VI deck, and also the one in the early Ercole d’Este deck.
Fools were mainly considered to be “matto” --even in English: the adjective “matt”-- dispersing intellectual light and hence being dumb (lat. stultus), without any intelligence, far away from the light of god –stultitia and sapientia are opposites-- and thus linked to the devil. [This main conception only changes a little bit from 1497 onwards when “The ship of fools” from Sebastian Brant was translated in other languages, taking the Christian conception of the notion better into account – but for the latter, stultitia is only positive as long as it stays within the love of god, not when it becomes aggressive.].
Based on this background I propose the following hypotheses: First of all, in Trionfi, the fool is not a fool. It is stultitia as the opposite of sapientia, which becomes clear when considering that there is the change to a ludus sapiente, evolving from Imperatori VIII [stultitia is originally card XI in Trionfi; details will be discussed]. This can be seen –as already known in this very scientific community—that the “fool” –better: stultitia-- of the early Sforza-Visconti deck is depicted in the same style as stultitia in Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel (opposed there to sapientia). Depicted in the Visconti-Sforza deck is not a fool as in the mentioned early Ferrara decks (Charles VI, Ercole d’Este), but a bird catcher [we are in Italy, where singing birds are/were eaten a lot]. This can be seen by the feathered crown and his equipment: the flat club with which he beats the birds under the web, caught at the soil, and his gaiters/cuffs, in order to guard his legs from the beaks of the birds on the ground. A bird catcher is a perfect symbol for a “stultus”- he beats and even kills heavenly objects, birds as ideas. [Note that this symbol has survived, slightly transformed, in the figure of Papageno in Mozart’s magic flute].
Furthermore I want to propose that in the neoplatonian transition Trionfi to Tarocchi, stultitia is either sorted out as in the Rosenwald deck –since in the new perspective of Tarocchi stultitia is not to be mastered --, or since one already has a beautiful card and does not want to discard it, it is kept aside of the rest of the 21 cards as the outsider, contrasting the (Neo-)Platonian way to eternity. This is supported by the Steele sermon: if you look on the Sermon’s facsimile of the list of trumps – the “0, El matto sie nulla (nisi velint)” mentioned in Steele’s article (1900) is not at the bottom of the list on the facsimile of page 1 of the original Steele sermon! [Does anyone have page 2 in order to verify in which context the “0, El matto sie nulla (nisi velint).” appears? Did anyone translate the lines below the original list on page 1?]
Furthermore I want to propose that the Fool depicted in the Tarot de Marseille is the main adversary of the form-oriented Plato: it is the anarchy-oriented Diogenes. This can be seen by the fact that he is chased away from the seven-pillared house of wisdom by the cat, jumping at his genitals from behind. Diogenes is known to have (at least) one big weakness (from the point of view of Platon): how he sees women, how he deals with women, and how he treats his own sexuality. So he is chased away by a cat -- note that in French, “la chatte” is also a word for the female genitals.
In other words: I propose that the fool does not have to travel the way all cards in the form-oriented seven-pillared house of wisdom up to eternity, this is the task of the reader of the cards, he should not identify with the anarchy of the fool. The fool is to be chased away as a contrasting figure. Moreover, on the background of the mentioned difference between fool and jester/juggler/imposter, I propose to consider the bagatella-card (notion of the Steele Sermon) as the depiction of the bagatella – that is, of the depiction of that what bagatella originally meant: an imposter’s game mainly played with balls, a thimblerig / shell game. A game situation is depicted, not a person. The person is a jester/impostor, see the noble clothing on the Visconti-Sforza and Ercole d’Este cards, both cards depicting a thimblerig [and see also the Rosenwald card: balls are on the table, not more; details will be discussed]. The bagatella-game situation is deceiving the eyes, the individual perspective – and all on the way to eternity the reader is asked to master the respective situation by realizing his immersion in the situation. Hence my proposition is to see all 21 trumps as situations, persons are creating situations to be mastered.
Before coming to an end with the overview, I do believe that I should shortly note some remarks about the role of Florence to present the full overview picture forming my perspective: The role of Florence: As you have certainly realized, in what is presented above Florence plays a central role with Giotto, Dante, Petrarca, Ficino and Mirandola being all Florence-related. And now you might rightfully remark, that we do not have early cards of Florence supporting the presented material until Tarocchi [the issue was brought to my attention by Huck – thanks again Huck!].
In this light, I do want to raise the hypothesis that the lacking fourth Rosenwald sheet –sought for as described on trionfi.com—is found: it is directly on the table. However, it is not part of a Minchiate-deck, it is the Tarocchi deck. In other words: the now called third Rosenwald sheet is the fourth one – the originally third one is together with the first two sheets a full 5*14 deck, leaving two blank cards open – the form in which you still get card decks [all Tarot de Marseille decks I bought had two blank cards in the deck]. Hence we are looking for the fifth Rosenwald sheet for the transition to the Minchiate-deck as described on trionfi.com.
The emphasis of “it is the Tarocchi-deck” lies on the “the”: I propose to see the respective Rosenwald-sheet containing the trumps as the model deck for the transition Trionfi to Tarocchi. For this, there are so many signs on this sheet that I do believe this hypothesis can hold: first, evidently it is traced (inverse images), then see, e.g., the single lines separating the cards in difference to the other two sheets with double lines [how do you want to cut the cards properly for selling if you only have one line?], compare the Trionfi deck with Tarocchi-Rosenwald: lacking is exactly stultitia as number XI – and see e.g. the introducing three queens, representing the receptive inner mode and queen of batoni (associated to the element fire) missing which tell you: look out for the card where you have to receive the fire – the taroch’-card of the lightning, the decisive card of the Trionfi to Tarocchi-transition. Furthermore, on the star and moon card the above mentioned Ficino’s countermovement is nicely depicted and the world card follows the Florentine Dante-way depicting the promised City of God (but only after Judgement Day). Moreover, the bagatella of the deck is really a bagatella with simply having the balls on the table (remember assumption A6, evolution from simplicity to complexity) – moreover it is the only bagatella card to my knowledge which makes the sticks in the hand plausible: he has a pair of drumsticks in his hands, calling for his audience. In other words: the sticks –mostly a single stick-- in all other decks, TdMs included, are originally no magic wands, but are derived from the Rosenwald drumstick model.[Note that the early handpainted decks don’t have drumsticks on the card].
Furthermore: Seeing the third Rosenwald sheet as the Tarocchi-model allows for reconsideration of the history of the deck w.r.t. its dating: you don’t discard a model easily, if , e.g., you have put it on your wall. This allows to rethink the c. 1500-dating argument for the Leinfelden version on naibi.net: it must not be a then-recent discarded version, if it was the model [note furthermore the state of paper in comparison with the respective two book sheets: by eyesight, it seems to be far more used and far more old].
The good thing about this hypothesis is that it can be tested scientifically: we only have to do a scientific dating of the sheet in Leinfelden (using for instance the C14-method). Leinfelden is 10 km away from the place of were I was raised – I will get in contact with the Spielkartenmuseum and I’ll see what we can do.
Combining the dating of Rosenwalds trump sheet and the Leinfelden sheet approximately to the same time gives rise to two following hypothesis: around 1500 the transition to the Florentine Minchiate deck takes place. This transition makes the ones following the transition to discard the model, the ones not wanting to follow this transition (it leaves the ludus sapiente structure, for instance, and gets too Dante-centered) need to preserve the Tarocchi-structure – by tracing it on a model in the right order as Rosenwald does (this could explain the problem with the Perugian origin for the cards: In 1486, the city forbade the manufacture of dice and cards and confiscated everything needed for their manufacture, including wood blocks for card printing). So this would date the Tarocchi-Rosenwald deck before 1486, perhaps around 1465, since Michael J. Hurst found a nearly identical image of the bagatella dating from 1465. Note that this dating would be perfect with the neoplatonic novelty of Ficino.
Finally, the transition to Minchiate and the role of the Florentine Rosenwald: “minchiate” is a plural word in Tuscan, meaning something like the plural of the male genitals. The only card I know of containing two phallic objects is the bagatella of the Rosenwald sheet: see the phallic drumsticks again (and that the drumsticks can be seen as phalloi: see the respective card from the Tarot de Marseille of Jean Noblet).
Furthermore: the Tarocchi-to-Minchiate transition takes place in Florence, emphasizing Dante. Note that Florence has had a big Dante problem all the time: they chased him away and then he became the founding poet of Renaissance. In this light I propose to understand the transition to Minchiate as a strive from Florence to make it really right with Dante: they read the commedia closely again and change Tarocchi accordingly. For instance, the popess is only alluded to as the wife/mistress of the pope he should take, she does not really appear in the commedia. I propose to see this as the reason why she is discarded. Moreover, they take back the Fool in the game: they follow more the Dante-way, and the habit of the card decks of the other cities playing with the fool spilled over (when considering the Chariot Allegory one could also say that there is the need to represent the danger of becoming a Fool at the lowest end of the scale – this would be Platonian again.)
[While writing:] This leads to a proposition where the Plural of Gallerini and Ganellini [other names of the MInchiate deck] could stem from: by reintroducing the Fool you have newly two types of fools represented in the deck: the fool and the jester/impostor, see remarks above.
[Oh, also while writing:] This could furthermore solve one of the Millenial questions by Dummett: he asks –if my mind works correctly-- why in Minchiate-related decks of Sicily (or was it Sardegna?) the fool is called “povertà” (poverty) – combining the information on the fool above with the theory that the cards represent situations to be mastered, “povertà” fits well.
I am now at the end of a quite long overview, sorry for the length. In view of the possible significance of the hypotheses I decided to dare to post them anyhow and put them to the test of your impressive scholarship. For this, I propose to go in the following days one step after the other, from naibis to Imperatori VIII, again to Trionfi, to Tarocchi, to Minchiate giving necessary details and references. I will do it as my spare time permits.
Before closing, I remember that I promised to bring finest European esoterics history can provide back in this thread – and I do want to keep my promise: Neoplatonism emphasizes that the individual soul takes part in the “Soul of the World”, hence having direct access to the archetypal principal ideas/forms and the timeless/eternal God [This is the reason for the Mystic Master Eckhard creating the notion of the bottom of the soul which can only be attained by formless inspection]. This is true not only for Nobles, but for every individual soul. I propose to see Tarocchi –Tarot de Marseille and especially the Rosenwald version—as popularizations of the highest philosophical Renaissance ideas – if every individual soul takes equally part in the Sould of the World, you have to give access to this idea to everyone (following Ficino), since all are equal before and in God. Moreover, the very last steps of enlightenment following Plato are rather experienced in dialogue, are rather displayable in myths, are not teachable by down-written words: the sudden non-verbal enlightenment like being struck by lightning is not even describable by language (Seventh Letter of Plato, 341 c5). Note that the decisive taroch’-card is displaying this critique on language, which was already described above in the dialogue of Dante with Adam in DPar: the tower of Babel is destroyed by the enlightenment of the lightning. This by-downwritten-words-unteachable wisdom of Plato is depicted on the aria-cards, to be communicated by the inner cercle of the few initiated – and this wisdom is thus often called “The esoterics of Plato” (the etymology of esoteric is: "belonging to an inner circle" (Lucian)).
Hence –last hypothesis--, the cards are a democratization version of this esoterical philosophy, carried in the republic of Florence onto the tables of the inns to be played with. This is the reason why the Rosenwald deck is depicted in the then well-known graphical style of the moral book “fior di virtu” and in the graphical style of the well-known book moralizing on chess by de Cessolis. This democratization inscribes the tarot cards in the large arc of European individualization [also as a movement away from the catholic authorities], starting with Augustinus, going over Abeleard, the Provencal troubadours, then Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Ficino, Pico, etc. finally leading to Protestantism north of the Alps. The trumps of the tarots are there in this light for every individual, that is “for all”. I propose –very last hypothesis-- to read the French “Atouts” for trumps in this sense: the trumps are there for the individualization and the enlightenment of all, “a touts” – and if you wish: for us all. [Thanks for reading. Discussions highly welcome.]
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