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Human Destiny in XV Century Cards

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DoctorArcanus  DoctorArcanus is offline
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Human Destiny in XV Century Cards


I think some ancient decks provide evidence of an early connection between
playing cards and fortune/destiny. This seems quite natural, since card
games are partly based on chance. In particular I find relevant the Latin
sentences on some XV Century cards.

The first known round deck of cards was engraved in Germany at the end of the XV Century:
52plusjoker.org
If you don't know this deck, please browse the images on trionfi.com. It's a beautiful deck.
The author is identified as Master PW, from his initials.

The deck is similar to tarot, since it has five suits.
The five aces have Latin mottos on them:

Ace of Roses - banner: "Pepulit Vires Casus Animo Qui Tulit Aequo" meaning: He defeats the power of chance who endures with equanimity.
http://www.biblio-net.com/lett_cla/testi/hercules.htm
Seneca - Hercules, 231

Ace of Aquilegias (Pinks) - banner: "Par Ille Superis cui Pariter Dies Et Fortuna Fuit", meaning: He is equal to the celestials who equally received time and fortune.
http://www.unipa.it/dicem/html/pubbl...pan09-1998.pdf
Seneca - Hercules, 105

Ace of Carnations - banner: "Fortuna Opes Auferre Non Animum Potest", meaning: Fortune can take away wealth but not fortitude.
http://www.righthandpointing.com/latin/?p=283
Seneca - Medea, 176

Ace of Hares - banner: "Felix Media Quisquis Turbae Parte Quietus", meaning: He is happy who is quiet in the middle of turmoil.
http://www.biblio-net.com/lett_cla/testi/agamemnon.htm
Seneca - Agamemnon, 103

Ace of Parrots - banner: "Quicquid Facimus Venit Ex Alto", meaning: Whatever we do, it comes from aloft.
http://www.hkocher.info/minha_pagina/dicionario/q07.htm
Seneca - Oedipus, 983


On the Sola-Busca deck, which was produced in Northern Italy at the same time as Master PW, we have quite similar mottos:

"Trahor Fatis" - "I am drawn by destiny". This motto appears together with a star, on the Ace of Coins / Discs, XIII Catone, II Postumio. It seems to suggest "astrological" fate.
I think the motto and the star together produce a meaning similar to that of the Ace of Parrots by Master PW.

The other motto we find on the Ace of Coins / Discs of the Sola Busca deck is
"Servir. Chi persevera infin otiene." - "To serve. If you endure you win in the end". This motto is also somehow similar to the Aces of Aquilegias and Roses.

Also the Merlin Cocai / Folengo sonnets play on the analogy between drawing cards and human destiny (both can be called "sorti" - chance).
I think this concept might have been imporant in the early history of Tarot.

Marco
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Huck  Huck is offline
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Whow ... it's not that I will follow your interpretation, that the Master PW deck has something to do with divination, but it seems, that you've identified the 5 sentences as from "from Seneca".
I can't remember to have read this somewhere before ...

It's a deck from Cologne, made ca. 1500

Seneca was called to educate Nero, son of Agrippina. Agrippina was the founder of Cologne ("Colonia Agrippinensis")... so the reason for implanting Seneca's sentences in this deck looks obvious ... normal local patriotism. It's very nice, that you got this detail.

One theory tells, that the 3 different flowers are for the 3 European states Germany, France and Spain (one has to remember, it's the time of Maximilian), hares and parrots present Turkey and Africa.

Very nice detection, Marco ... possibly already known before, but me didn't know that. Thanks
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There are also the 'erudite classical latin verses of wisdom
and morality' taken from Ovid, Seneca, Horace and Plautus that
appeared on the later 16th century cards of Wechel:

"The Wechel deck printed it in 1544 of 52 cards, is divided into four
suits each devoted to one of four classical authors, Ovid, Seneca,
Horace and Plautus respectively, who are the Kings in the deck. The
Queens are four Muses, and the Jacks are four generic "students". The
pips consist of an image of the suit sign, and a "sentence" or short
verse of wisdom in erudite classical latin author of the suit."
[Description of deck courtesy of Ross].

Another 16th century cards of similar genre was published as pages in
a book and accompanied by moral sayings in German and Latin:

http://it.geocities.com/a_pollett/cards66.htm

Such I think, like emblemata, may well be used or suggest a bibliomantic type usage. The use of sententia was common in the teaching of Latin [as in the dystichs of Cato].

Kwaw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoctorArcanus
Ace of Roses - banner: "Pepulit Vires Casus Animo Qui Tulit Aequo" meaning: He defeats the power of chance who endures with equanimity.

Ace of Aquilegias (Pinks) - banner: "Par Ille Superis cui Pariter Dies Et Fortuna Fuit", meaning: He is equal to the celestials who equally received time and fortune.

Ace of Carnations - banner: "Fortuna Opes Auferre Non Animum Potest", meaning: Fortune can take away wealth but not fortitude.

Ace of Hares - banner: "Felix Media Quisquis Turbae Parte Quietus", meaning: He is happy who is quiet in the middle of turmoil.

Ace of Parrots - banner: "Quicquid Facimus Venit Ex Alto", meaning: Whatever we do, it comes from aloft.
I just wanted to say that these five quotes are amongst the most profound statements ever made (though I don't completely understand the second in the sequence). They are truly formidable thoughts, unlike the more mundane Sola-Busca ones:
Quote:
"Trahor Fatis" - "I am drawn by destiny".

"Servir. Chi persevera infin otiene." - "To serve. If you endure you win in the end".
The reason I point this out is that it somewhat confirms me in my hypothesis that the Sola-Busca 'tarot' was perhaps a pagan alternative to the (Christian) Gnostic Marseilles, the standard images (which I take to have been the original, based on their greater profundity than their Italian offshoots, for example in having Strength control the roar rather than just kill the lion, and on their following the pattern of a coherent system of symbolism, the bardic).
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Thank you, these cards are really great. I love that the Queen of Columbines is riding a donkey in all her finery. I wonder who this card depicted?
I love these 'fancy' cards and especially ones like the Amman deck, that I see has been reissued.(not a 5 x 14)
These 5 x 14 Decks are interesting. Also the comment in the site (Andy's Playing Cards)...
Had they ever imagined that most playing card players dislike innovations, probably their efforts would have been turned towards a different source of inspiration; in fact, none of the fancy editions known ever managed to oust the local traditional patterns.
I then wondered what was the traditional pattern of 5 X 14 Decks? ~Rosanne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosanne
I then wondered what was the traditional pattern of 5 X 14 Decks? ~Rosanne
We don't have enough information to speak of a traditional pattern. The deck of Master PW was twice re-editioned of modified, see

http://trionfi.com/0/p/25 ... see No. 11 and 12
http://trionfi.com/0/j/d/bussemacher/

.. but it appeared two times, so somehow this was a sort of tradition, being repeated 90 years after Master PW.
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DoctorArcanus  DoctorArcanus is offline
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Question images of the Wechel cards?


Thank you all for you remarks!
The job of attributing to Seneca the sentences from the PW deck has been done by Google
But Google could not find any image of the Wechel cards!!!

Do they exist on the internet? Does someone have them on a book and would be so kind as to scan some of them?

Marco
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoctorArcanus
But Google could not find any image of the Wechel cards!!!

Do they exist on the internet? Does someone have them on a book and would be so kind as to scan some of them?

Marco
Hi Marco,

I don't think any of the cards have been published anywhere. It would be a very nice job to do, but it would cost some money to photograph them or reprint them. Looking up the Latin quotations would be very easy now, however, with google!

Ross
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No cards - but a nice auction list from 1971 (The Journal of the Playing Card Society) - where the deck sold for 320gns

Quote:
Originally Posted by IPCS
http://www.mun.ca/alciato/index.html
285. An extremely interesting and, to me, previously unknown pack with fanciful suitmarks (Cupids, Goats, Harps and Millstones) made in 1544 by Christian Wechel of Paris, whose name is recorded in d'Allemagne as a maître cartier. The main body of the cards was filled with quotations in Latin from the works of Ovid, Seneca, Horace and Plautus. Not surprisingly this exceptional item fetched a high price (320 gns.)
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To

"... 285. An extremely interesting and, to me, previously unknown pack with fanciful suitmarks (Cupids, Goats, Harps and Millstones) made in 1544 by Christian Wechel of Paris, "

Cupids (or better: small funny men) were also in the fragmented deck of the Master of the Bandelore (second half of 15th century), which was (and still is, as it seems) constantly overlooked by standard Playing Card History.

http://trionfi.com/0/j/d/bandalore/index.html
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