Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Florentine Allegory of the Lord's Mercy

“Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8.) In the previous post I mentioned three striking examples of Roman Catholic allegory which included a female figure with papal attributes. Below is a fourth spectacular allegory, a fresco depicting the Lord's Mercy personified. It pre-dates Tarot by roughly a century. At more than 700 years old, Giotto's 1306 depiction of Faith (right) may be the oldest representation of an allegorical personification wearing the papal tiara, although that identification of her headwear has been questioned. (As an aside, a similar funnel-shaped crown is used in some depictions of the Coronation of the Virgin, including the c.1380 Agnolo Gaddi and the c.1440 Fra Angelico.) The conical tiara and the small key, along with the processional cross, are at least reminiscent of papal attributes. Moreover, Giotto's Fides is also a close cognate for the image in Tarot, a Roman Catholic allegory with processional cross and text in hand, sometimes with St. Peter's keys as well. The Florentine fresco of Mercy (below) is only 36 years younger than Giotto's putative popess, and there is little doubt about the nature and meaning of her hat, “the old-fashioned papal tiara that she wears”.

Allegory of the Lord’s Mercy
School of Bernardo Daddi (1342)

In general terms this appears to be an example of the well-known subject, the Madonna Misericordia. Common to that topos, the central figure is appealed to by a multitude of supplicants, and appears to be the protector of those below, including the city of Florence. Unlike those many related figures, the Allegory of Mercy is shown with hands folded in prayer, (a gesture symbolic of Hope), rather than with outstretched arms shielding her devotees. This is an allegory of Mercy rather than a particular aspect of the Virgin. As such, Mercy is shown as a female figure with papal attributes rather than as the Virgin per se. To make this identification perfectly clear, the figure's tiara is explicitly labeled Misericordia Dom[ini], identifying her as a personification of the Lord's Mercy. Nonetheless, given the pervasive popularity of the similar Madonna of Mercy paintings, and given the typological identification of the Virgin with the Church, the Florentine allegory of Mercy with the papal tiara is instantly recognizable as a direct cognate. Many art historians therefore mistakenly refer to this allegory as another example of Madonna Misericordia.

Mercy's papal tiara may appear odd, but when this allegory was painted in 1342 the beehive triple-tiara was a novelty. A single tiara, like that shown in Giotto's c.1297 depiction of Pope Innocent III (right), or his pupil Maso di Banco's c.1340 depiction of Pope Sylvester (left), was still typical at the time. The triple tiara or triregno may have been introduced as early as 1315, but artists continued to use the traditional form, even occasionally into the 15th century. An example from the late 15th Century is the Pope card in the so-called Charles VI Tarot deck. The artist may have used it to suggest a generic pope rather than the current one or, alternatively, perhaps to suggest Pope Innocent III who was such a forceful proponent of papal authority. A final late example is from Hans Memling, c.1485. It is the center panel of the two-sided Vanity/Redemption triptych.

The red "T" on Mercy's tiara is the letter Tau:

... another emblem for Christ's sacrifice, specifically as a type of cross. This symbol traces its origins to pagan Antiquity, appears in the Old Testament, and attracted the attention of early Christian exegetes commenting on how frequently members of their communities employed it. The "T" remained in use during the trecento, associated with the performance of works of mercy.

William R. Levin describes describes the figure and the scene before her:

Within a decorative border containing a number of significant details, each individually framed, the central portion of the Allegory of Mercy appears beneath an archway resting on spiral colonettes. Dominating the image is the fresco's main figure representing Misericordia, the virtue Mercy, rendered frontally and about life size. She hovers above the schematized topographical view of the city, identified as "Civitas Florentiae" on its crenelated front wall. Within the city are visible a number of recognizable landmarks of mid-trecento Florence seen from an aerial point of view.

In this detail one can read the legend and appreciate some of the landmarks of Florence.

Levin cannot identify the 36 subordinate figures with any certainty. They may "represent the broad-based membership of the Misericordia Company, or perhaps the diverse group of individuals who endowed the confraternity, or those who benefited from it, or possibly some combination of these interwoven constituencies." However, their function is parallel to that of the cityscape:

...these small figures flanking Misericordia do embody the Civitas Florentiae in all its diversity; for their varied facial features, dress, age, and sex, they are the city in human rather than architectural form. To Misericordia's right (the viewer's left), the side of honor, are six orderly registers of male figures, three in each row, while female counterparts are similarly arranged to her left.

The text above Mercy's shoulders is from Matthew 25:34: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” The roundel that appears to be held in Mercy's hands is from Psalms 32:5 (34:5): “the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord.” The roundels to the left and right are from Proverbs 3:3 and Matthew 5:7 (the 5th Beatitude): “Let not mercy and truth leave thee, put them about thy neck”, and “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” The four words on the left and three on the right refer to the seven Works of Mercy: VISITO, POTO, CIBO, REDIMO, TEGRO, COLLIGO, and CONDO. “Together, these words constitute a mnemonic formula written by the Franciscan Conrad of Saxony well over a half-century before the Allegory of Mercy was painted. Mantra-like, by 1342 it must have been a commonplace.”

The eight illustrated roundels show Works of Mercy. Border figures include the Lamb (Jesus) and the Dove (Holy Spirit), and also allegorical animals representing virtues, such as the stork fighting a snake (Justice) and pelican feeding its young (Charity) in the diamonds shown below. Personified virtues with polygonal halos and the emblems of the Evangelists are also included in the border. The quotes above (excepting biblical quotes) are from a 2004 book book about this work: The Allegory of Mercy at the Misericordia in Florence: Historiography, Context, Iconography, and the Documentation of Confraternal Charity in the Trecento, by William R. Levin.

In the previous post I identified three types of female figures with papal attributes: Catholic allegories, Pope Joan, and anti-Catholic allegories. While searching for allegories with papal tiara today, Ross and I came across a fourth category, aspects of the Virgin wearing the triple tiara. The two examples of the Coronation of the Virgin, mentioned at the top of this post, seem to be wearing the older form of the tiara, while at least two types of the Virgin wearing the triple tiara are depicted online: 1) the Virgin of the Rosary and 2) the Virgin of Loreto. Most depictions of these two subjects do not include the papal tiara, but it is nonetheless a recurrent variation. They are very similar and sometimes conflated. Here is an example from each sub-category.

I began the previous post by noting how negligent and biased many traditional writers have been regarding the Popess, and how useful the Internet can be in searching out period art works. In only a few hours of searching, not only can previously cited cognates be found online, most notably those linked in the previous post, but also additional examples in some abundance, and earlier examples. And although these may represent new findings (in terms of being introduced to the Tarot community), they suggest no new conclusions. Since the time of Moakley (1966) and Kaplan (1986), the two salient categories of cognate figures, (and the example of Sister Manfreda), have been known to everyone interested in Tarot iconography. What remained was to explain the specific allegory within the Tarot trump cycle, and no additional external cognates are going to change that.

June 18, 2009 Postscript:

Yesterday, Jean-Michel David posted a note to the Tarot History Forum. Apparently he has long mistaken the Popess in Tarot for the Virgin. (The idea that the Virgin would be one of the lowest trumps is an obvious absurdity. However, this is a traditional error among modern occultists who lack the faintest conception of the meaning of the trump cycle and therefore imagine any figure in any position. The mistake goes back at least to Robert V. O'Neill.) Jean-Michel discovered an illuminated document with yet another image of the Virgin wearing the triple tiara (surmounted by a cross). This attribute suggests that she is being depicted in her capacity as an allegory of the Church, in addition to her role as a patron saint of the College. The document is an illuminated Founder's Charter upon Act of Parliament for King's College, Cambridge, dated March 16, 1446. It shows the Lords and Commons petitioning Henry VI, who prays for his College, while the Virgin and St Nicholas, patron saints of the College, are shown above. Mary is attended by the Trinity overhead. Here is a detail from the image.

July 3, 2009 Postscript:

Ad hoc Catholic allegories, rather like the Lex Canonica personification in the previous post, were probably more prevalent than any Tarot writers have imagined. Jehan Cousin's 1883 The Book of Fortune, which is online at both Google Books and the Internet Archive, includes a number of interesting drawings from an unpublished 1568 manuscript, Emblemata Fortunae. Some are well known, others are perhaps unique. The following emblem is titled Fortunae Imperatrix Providentia. It illustrates an idea common from the time of Boethius, that Fortune is ultimately the (blind) agent of Divine Providence. (This idea has been suggested as being relevant to Tarot's World card, rather than the Popess. Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi is a more direct, but closely related reading.) In this unusual emblem, which apparently survives only in Cousin's drawing, Divine Providence wears the triple tiara. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect is that Providence appears Janus-faced, with a light face and a dark one, a convention common to Fortuna.

November 14, 2010 Postscript:

This appears to be the book cover and Popess cognate image which Ross referred to in his comments. Better late than never?

September 2, 2013 Postscript:

I should have posted this about a year ago, when I found it. However, since Marco just linked to this post, it seems again -- better late than never. There's a Flickr image of it online, and also another pic of the whole page.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pre-Tarot Images of Pope Joan

Tarot's Popess has been cited as proof positive of the Pagan (or mystical, heretical, alchemical, non-Christian, etc.) nature of the cards. Such claims are a sure indication of an ill-informed writer, negligent and biased. There are many period images of female figures with papal attributes. These may be usefully grouped into three categories: 1) Roman Catholic allegories, 2) the legendary Pope Joan, and 3) anti-Catholic (Protestant) allegories, commonly in the guise of the biblical Whore of Babylon. Given the dignified depiction of both the Pope and Popess in Tarot, her presence is obviously not as anti-Catholic satire. The body of cognate images from which to draw parallels is therefore entirely Roman Catholic, which is perfectly consistent with the overall design of the trump cycle and the milieu in which it originated. Perhaps the most spectacular examples of a popess as Catholic allegory are the Triumph of Lepanto (noted by Stuart Kaplan in The Encyclopedia of Tarot v.II), Triumph of the Papacy and the Triumph of the Church.

Triumph of Lepanto—Spain-Papacy-Venice
Georgio Vasari (1572)

Triumph of the Papacy—The Council of Trent
Pasquale Cati da Iesi (1588)

Triumph of Church—Triumph of the Eucharist
Pieter Pauwel Rubens (1628)

Ross and I have been collecting images of female figures with papal attributes for a number of years now, but the Internet provides some great advantages. Yesterday Ross mentioned that he would really like to discover a pre-Tarot Popess. Despite having found numerous examples from each of the three categories, none seemed to be earlier than the 1440s, when Tarot is first documented. I replied that there were probably such images of Pope Joan in early manuscripts of Boccaccio's De Casibus or De Mulieribus Claris, and before even finishing that email I found a reference to several such manuscripts and (via Google Books) a reference to BNF ms. fr. 12420, dated 1402 (or 1403). Ross subsequently looked up several of these via BNF's Mandragore search facility, and I obtained a photocopy of the 12420 Pope Joan from Craig M. Rustici's The Afterlife of Pope Joan, (2006).

BNF ms. fr. 12420, f.155v, (above), dated 1402, may be the earliest example we found. The manuscript is a copy of Laurent de Premierfait's translation of Boccaccio's De mulieribus claris.

BNF ms. fr. 598, f.151, (right) dated from the beginning of the 15th century, is very similar. The manuscript is a copy of an anonymous translation of Boccaccio's De mulieribus claris.

BNF ms. fr. 226, f.252, (left), dated from the 1st quarter of the 15th century, is also quite similar. The manuscript is a copy of Laurent de Premierfait's translation of Boccaccio's De casibus. Small versions of this image are online in several places, (e.g., Pope Joan and one of Ross' own pages), albeit with little indication of the source. In this case, we had a pre-Tarot example but didn't know it. Each of these three illustrations pre-dates the earliest known Tarot decks by decades. Each of these illustrations depicts a walking procession in which a woman with papal regalia produces an infant from her abdomen. This was clearly a convention for Pope Joan, at least in French manuscripts, and the large majority of subsequent illustrations of her also include rich papal regalia and a baby.

Ross has put many of the popess images he has collected online, (most of them since 2005), along with some related findings and conclusions.

Aeclectic Tarot Forum:
A question about la papessa satire

The name papessa or papesse in the 15th century

The Church as Papesse in 17th century printer's marks

Papesse engravings in 17th century ecclesiastical books

Pope Joan portrayed without her baby

An essay on the Tarot's Popess and Pope Joan

A close look at tiaras on the papal cards

The Church as Papesse correcting Synagogue (Broken link)

Sacerdotum versus Imperium

The Church as Papesse in art from the 15th to 19th centuries. (Broken link)

Canon Law from Icones Symbolicae
P. S. Christoforo Giarda (1628)

Pope Joan, First Among the Captives
Detail from Triumphus Amoris (1488)

February 8, 2010 Addendum

This post and the subsequent one detail the kinds of allegorical and legendary persons that were represented by female figures with papal attributes. It is noted above that the entire body of cognate images from which to draw parallels is Roman Catholic, which is in keeping with the overall design of the trump cycle and the milieu in which it originated. A sixteenth-century example of such a reading of the Popess has just been translated and put online.

Alberto Lollio's well-known Invettiva (c.1550) mocking Tarot instigated a relatively obscure Risposta by Vincenzo Imperiali. Both have been put online, and Marco posted a translation of key passages of Imperiali's rejoinder. The Risposta is, for the most part, an exercise in casual narrative gloss. It could just as easily have been posted on a Tarot forum, given the sloppy reading of the trumps and their sequence. Blah-blah-blah. However, in the last six lines he describes the six lowest cards quite meaningfully, in a way that is sufficiently explanatory that it can serve as an iconographic exegesis or ekphrasis of the lowest trumps. In particular, he explains the Empress and Popess as State and Church, consistent with the kinds of allegory discussed above.

Poi viene il Papa,con l’Imperatore,
Et ciascun d’essi hà la sua donn’ à canto,
Che senza donne star, lor non da il core.
Chiamato vien l’un Sacro, e l’altro Santo,
pur vogliono buffoni, et giocolari,
Et pazzi in tutto, con risibil manto.
Then the Pope(5) and the Emperor(3) come,
each with his woman at his side because
their hearts forbid to them to be without women.
One is called Sacred(2), the other one Saint(4),
but they want jokers and jugglers(1)
and complete fools(0), with funny dresses.

Imperiali's description, "each with his woman at his side", fits one of the two Ferrarese orderings, and the card references in the translation are numbered according to this sequence:

Matto/Bagatto / Empress/Emperor / Popess/Pope

The Emperor and Pope represent Imperium and Sacerdotum, the ruling powers of Imperio and Sacerdotio, the State and Church. The male figures are the rulers, the “heads” of State and Church, while the female figures are the ruled, the “body”. According to a different metaphorical relation, the State and Church are the wives of the Emperor and Pope in the same way that the Church is the Bride of Christ, whom the Pope represents. The “Sacred” one Imperiali refers to is the Sacro Romano Imperio, the Holy Roman Empire, while the “Saint” is the Sainted Virgin, Sancta Virgo and her typological alter ego, Sancta Mater Ecclesia.

Thus, the Empress and Popess are the Holy Roman Empire and Holy Mother Church. These are, after all, the basic allegorical meanings of the Empress and Popess in Tarot. That meaning has been apparent to anyone reading (and thinking critically) about Tarot since Kaplan explained it in detail, giving an illustrated example, a quarter century ago:

In medieval and Renaissance art, a female figure was often allegorical, whereas the male figure was used to represent a specific mythical or historical man. Thus, since Sampson evoked the quality of great strength, the Strength card in several decks portrays a female figure with the attribtes of Sampson, a pillar and a lion skin. The Popess may represent the papacy itself, without any reference to any particular pope or female leader. An example of a woman crowned with the papal tiara can be found in Giorgio Vasari's picture commemorating the defeat of the Turks at the battle of Lepanto. [Reproduced at the top of this post.] The alliance of Spain, Venice and the papacy is represented by three women embracing, with the "popess" wearing the triple tiara and holding the two keys traditionally belonging to the pope.

This makes the gist of the Imperiali passage obvious and mildly amusing. The Emperor and Pope are married to these holy brides, i.e., they have a fiduciary obligation to them, but they would rather be having real fun instead of allegorical marriages. This recognizes their responsibilities (taking care of the Empress and Popess) as well as their temptations (having fun and playing games with fools and other entertainers). Imperiali has laid out the primary significance of all six of the lower cards, and made sense of them and their ordering in a way that virtually no one in the Tarot community has done. It's not a meaning that is acceptable to today's rabidly anti-Christian Tarot community: it is respectful albeit waggish wordplay acknowledging the powers and obligations of papacy and monarchy. Just like Tarot.

February 10, 2010 Correction

Marco has pointed out to me that my understanding of the passage cannot be correct. (Being a semi-literate, English-only reader has its dangers. Great thanks to Marco for pointing it out to me.) He assures me that poetic license and the needs of versification cannot account for the problems with my reading. The six lines make no individual reference to the Empress and Popess at all. The terms Sacro and Santo, being masculine, MUST refer to the Emperor and Pope a second time rather than identifying the Empress and Popess.

Then the Pope(5) and the Emperor(3) come,
each with his woman at his side because
their hearts forbid to them to be without women(2,4).
One is called Sacred(3), the other one Saint(5),
but they want jokers and jugglers(1)
and complete fools(0), with funny dresses.

As Marco explained, the reference is to il Sacro Romano Imperatore (the Holy Roman Emperor) and il Santo Padre (the Holy Father). Mine was a lovely interpretation, but apparently an untenable blunder to literate readers. This means that the final six lines are as jejune and, iconographically, worthless as the rest of Imperiali's verses. While I'm happy to accept the grammar for what it entails, I'm sad that Imperiali missed the opportunity to write something more subtle, complex, and profoundly meaningful. A ruler's heart should belong to God and those he rules over, just as Christ's Sacred Heart is Divine Caritas for the Church, his bride, rather than just to nameless "women". As a ribald jab at the rulers it is still mildly amusing, albeit without any serious content and failing to substantiate Imperiali's thesis, "there is some mystery in this game, as many valid minds affirm." Perhaps by "mystery" he meant coarse humor.

I'm leaving this blunder online, with its correction from only two days later, as an example of a larger aspect of Tarot history and iconography. It exemplifies the skeptical approach to pre-Gébelin Tarot. In addition to presenting my own iconographic analyses of Tarot and other works of art and literature, almost every post on this blog includes an argument, if only implicit, against some bit conventional Tarot lore. Many of the posts explain and mock examples of the rampant nonsense that dominates Tarot-history forums. This is not contrarian gainsaying for its own sake, nor a mindless anti-occultist bias. My position is that of skeptically evaluating the evidence and reasoning, if any, of those pervasive claims about fortune-telling, heresy, alchemy, Pagan subject matter, Kabbalah, vacuous blather about numerology, and so on. Most of what passes for Tarot history is fantasy sprinkled with cherry-picked factoids.

Skepticism means keeping an open mind, not an empty one that draws no conclusions, nor an uncritical one that accepts all claims as equals. Some people think that a skeptic rejects all truth claims, draws and defends no conclusions. This is the extreme know-nothing position of Pyrrhonian skepticism. Modern skepticism, as the term is commonly used by self-described skeptics, means 1) drawing justifiable conclusions based on existing evidence, 2) defending those conclusions with that evidence and rational argument, but 3) defending them with the facts rather than against the facts. In other words, holding those conclusions provisionally. In my Addendum two days ago, I asserted a conclusion and defended it as best I could with the evidence and arguments I had. That exemplified points #1 and #2. Today, given new evidence, (i.e., a better understanding of the original evidence), I'm doing something that most Tarot enthusiasts never do. As soon as new and contradictory evidence was presented, I abandoned my previous position. That's called "learning", and it illustrates both the provisional nature of the conclusion and the insistence on arguing with the facts rather than against them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Guillaume de la Perrière's Morosophie

Among the more interesting early emblem books are two by Guillaume de la Perrière: the 1544 Theatre des Bons Engins and the 1553 Morosophie. A few of the more notable emblems from the latter book, those with revealing comparisons and contrasts to the moral allegory of the trump cycle, will be mentioned here.

The first seven emblems relate the seven Ages of Man with the seven planets. The unsteady toddler is paired with the Moon (wearing Fortune's sail); the studious child with Mercury; the horny adolescent youth with Venus; the strong young man with the Sun; the successful mature man with Mars; the wise old man with Jupiter; and the decrepit old man with Saturn. The 8th emblem shows Death, completing the life cycle. "Now I can rightly fear the attack of the threatening Parcae [Fates], and a swift hour finishes my uncertain days. What then? Fortune has no way to harm ashes once interred, and all envy departs from the grave." The image illustrates the accompanying French epigram, which says that all must die, because of a universal Law of Nature, and advises us to take comfort that Envy and Fortune will not trouble us after death.

The final two emblems are also intended to clearly suggest an overall cycle. Emblem #99 is a variation on the sceptre and the spade theme: "What is Libitina [Death] doing? What is she weighing in her double scales? Will a miserly hand make an honest measure? She equates poor men and kings, and sceptres with mattocks: those whom Chance parts, Death makes into comrades." Emblem #100 shows a humanist triumph of Talent over Death. "Talent, dear Reader, triumphs over death, whose car is pulled by the talented Bee. It crawls nowhere upon the ground, for it has life perennial; it does not allow its authors to die the death." Although Talent itself dies with its owner, Talent's immortal child is Fame, indicated by the crown of laurel leaves. This idea explains the design of the Florentine decks where Fama trades places with the World.

Between the Ages of Man beginning and Triumph of Death conclusion, there are a number of emblems that can be related to Tarot in one way or another. Perhaps the most obvious is emblem #31, depicting the Cynic Diogenes and alluding to the story of his search for a genuine Man. This connects directly with the series of posts regarding the Hermit/Time card, and the moral message that the lantern-bearing Hermit carries. "This Cynic philosopher sees many 'men' so-called, but he sees no man in his morals and mindset. Without a clever mind (however mighty his body) he will not be worthy of a true man’s name."

A nice warning about the folly of debunking Tarot pseudo-history is embodied in emblem #43: "He who tries to uproot an ancient oak is a silly fool: she perishes, and he harms himself with empty labour. He who tries to lead the people away from long-established error does so amid the greatest danger to himself."

As with most collections of aphorisms, some seem to be in conflict with others from the same work. An odd moral to emblem #61 appears to advocate vacillation and cowardice as practical: "As the crab turns in any direction with equal dexterity as fear forces it, so it will prove useful to turn even our habits upside down if the situation demands or allows it." Emblem #72, however, seems to advise the steadfast fortitude in the face of fearsome forces: "If a dense rain falls from wet Auster into the sea, it does not cause it to swell, nor does the water rise; thus: although Fortune should thunder against him with mighty tempests, this will have no effect on a brave and great-souled man."

Emblem #68 seems to combine the medieval De Casibus idea of the prince by virtue of Fortune with the Machiavellian prince by virtue of Virtue. "As the wide world is made of fire and water, without which the whole inert mass would perish, so, unless Fortune is joined by famous Virtue, human empire collapses utterly." The middle trumps show a triumph of Fortune, the prince's rise, reversal, and fall, and in the TdM sequence each of the three movements is itself triumphed over by an appropriate virtue.

Francis Bacon begins his essay "Of Fortune" with a comment reminiscent of the Chariot triumphing over Fortune in the Florentine orderings.

It cannot be denied, but outward accidents conduce much to fortune; favor, opportunity, death of others, occasion fitting virtue. But chiefly, the mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands. Faber quisque fortunæ suæ [Every one is the architect of his own fortune], saith the poet. And the most frequent of external causes is, that the folly of one man is the fortune of another. For no man prospers so suddenly as by others’ errors. Serpens nisi serpentem comederit non fit draco [A serpent must have eaten another serpent before he can become a dragon]. Overt and apparent virtues bring forth praise; but there be secret and hidden virtues that bring forth fortune; certain deliveries of a man’s self, which have no name.

"The poet" is apparently Appius Claudius Caecus, (the blind, c. 340 BC-273 BC), and the line was quoted by Sallust in his "Speech to Caesar on the State". Which brings us to emblem #78. "As a sculptor is able to make an image out of any piece of wood, for his trained hand works this way, so a man, if wise enough, can mould his own fortune, and twist all things to the benefit of his own life."

Although many writers have attempted to force the Tarot trumps to fit into a preconceived pattern derived from some other work, (cf. epic fail), if we first understand the trump cycle in its own right then we can find a great many related works of moral allegory in the Stoic-Christian tradition. As long as these parallels are not mistaken for the trump cycle itself, they may elaborate on the meaning of the trumps without doing violence to them. Emblem books provide a rich source of such literary and pictorial cognates.