View Single Post
Ross G Caldwell's Avatar
Ross G Caldwell  Ross G Caldwell is offline
Join Date: 07 Jul 2003
Location: Béziers, France
Posts: 2,649
Ross G Caldwell 

Ross G Caldwell's Avatar

Originally Posted by MikeH View Post
I checked Dempsey. On whether Filelfo had a copy of Horapollo. Dempsey says:

Filarete’s memory, at least on this one point, did not fail him, for a letter written by Filelfo in 1444 to Scalamonti, the biographer of Syciacus of Ancona, refers to Horapollo and specifically cites the eel as meaning envy (Dempsey p. 354).
As to how Horapollo’s statement about the eel got interpreted as envy, Dempsey says that the eel’s tendency to live in isolation from other fish shows that it is ‘omnibus inimicus,” in Trebatius’s 1515 translation. Inimicus = odio, i.e. hatred. And Plutarch had said in a well known essay, De odio et invidia, "translated early" Dempsey says, that many had considered the terms synonymous, though he distinguishes them. So odio becomes invidias (Dempsey p. 354).

I find this explanation somewhat weak as it stands. It might have been that Filfelfo had read the book in Florence and was citing it from memory in Milan, making small mistakes in Latin as he did so, confusing unfriendliness with hatred and hatred with envy. He might also have confused eels with snakes: for Horapollo, snakes are symbols of hatred for the mother.

But for our purposes, the point remains that Filelfo had read Horapollo and quoted him in Milan, to Filarete at least.
Filelfo's letter to Francesco Scalamonti, September 29 (28? - I'm never sure to count inclusive of the Kalends, Nonas or Idus or not) -

This is a combined image from the 1502 edition of the Epistolarum Familiarium libri XXXVII here -

Folio 34, recto and verso.

I've seen the date of Filelfo's commentary on Petrarch's sonnets given as 1444-1445, on what basis I don't know. But this letter to Scalamonti, along with that date (if right), suggests he was reading Horapollo in 1444.

BTW, as far as I am concerned, this has no relation to Tarot. The Tarot images are all conventional; you might see any of them, except for the Popess, in public places and churches. Horapollo's hieroglyphs, and other humanist inventions, like Alberti's, are erudite and obscure. If humanists like these guys invented Tarot, I would expect some pretty recondite stuff.

On the other hand, if Filelfo or Alberti had found the Tarot trumps worthy of writing about, I'm sure their dissertations would have been very interesting. Maybe the meaning of the images was so plain to them (Justice is, uh, justice), that they wouldn't even have considered them "hieroglyphs". Still, I wouldn't have minded if one of them had interpreted the sequence.