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Cardinal virtue of Wisdom/Prudence

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Although I am still thinking that we should discern prudence from wisdom/Sophia and that we are more likely to find wisdom than prudence (in the world-card), it is really exiting that we have that problem at all: namely the missing of one of the virtues.

With all the interrelating work of identifying prudence blended with a number of possible Tarot trumps, what makes the trump order exiting and enigmatic is the fact that we have to interpret it, because we obviously realize the missing virtue, or in general: we realize multiple layers of fractured symmetry…

This really opens up the space for our interest and research. The question, thereby, might be: Why is the trump order such a multilayered vibration of broken symmetries (as is obviously, at least for modern cosmology, the structured cosmos)? This puzzle of missing completion seems to be of the “essence” of the mystery of the trumps… The question is only: by chance (history) or by principle…

Yatima
Top   #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yatima
Although I am still thinking that we should discern prudence from wisdom/Sophia and that we are more likely to find wisdom than prudence (in the world-card), it is really exiting that we have that problem at all: namely the missing of one of the virtues.

This puzzle of missing completion seems to be of the “essence” of the mystery of the trumps… The question is only: by chance (history) or by principle…
I would guess it to be principle. Although the four cardinal or pagan Virtues are frequently grouped as such in art, philosophy and theology, there are other ways to see them. The most frequent is to consider Prudence as independent, the sum of the other virtues. Prudence controls the intellect, has foresight and memory, and ultimately leads to the highest spiritual achievements. The other three control the appetites and the passions.

So, since tarot was not, I think, meant to be a theological or cosmological treatise, having these three virtues, and where they are placed, shows something about the intent of the designer. This answer is where we will all no doubt begin to disagree.

For my part, I consider that the designer was constrained by a 3x7 (=21) arrangement, and that the proper placement of the natural virtues is all before the wheel, and that they balance exactly the three "natural" misfortunes on the other side of the wheel (so the middle series of 7 cards).

The Virtues assist one to climb to the top of the wheel - as virtue is supposed to do. But Fortune, chance, or fate is inevitable, and even with the best of virtue one cannot avoid Time, Misfortune (or *reversal* of Fortune), and Death. This is graphicall depicted by the one climbing the wheel on the left side, and falling down the wheel on the right side.

I think in tarot Prudence is missing, additionally, because the "message" is that it is *imprudent* to play the game of fortune, or at least, that all human glory is vain (the Emperors and Popes are the ones who play this game and "rule" for a time atop the wheel, but in the end death comes to even the highest among us); this is all fated, and fate is only ruled by God.
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Okay, I have been struggling with a way to answer in this thread that isn't strictly due to my name being "prudence"...but I have not found one yet, other than the fact that I am fully enthralled by what you all are saying....and it is so helpful to those of us who have not yet heard of the Cardinal Virtues.

So, all I can say is, please keep talking, we are reading, and enjoying all that you have to share.

Thank You All.
Top   #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
. . . I think in tarot Prudence is missing, additionally, because the "message" is that it is *imprudent* to play the game of fortune, or at least, that all human glory is vain (the Emperors and Popes are the ones who play this game and "rule" for a time atop the wheel, but in the end death comes to even the highest among us); this is all fated, and fate is only ruled by God.
I think you are as unnervingly close to it as anyone is going to get in words. I've considered the times (Savonarola in Florence and Erasmerus' In Praise of Folly", etc.) wherein the minchiate sprang from (which has prudence) and the idea that the name "minchiate" does refer to the "fools game" and that, in many minchiate, the wheel of fortune has a ruling figure on top, with scepter and orb, wearing the head of an ass. Only an ass would consider themselves to have reached the penultimate of existence. I suppose true prudence comes in the knowing that knowledge and fame is vainity and "grasping at the wind", thus by reflecting upon this symbol of the fool, one might grasp this insight yet lack the satisfaction of having any prize.

Indeed, perhaps the lack of "prudence" is a very telling sign.
Top   #64
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For some reason, I was looking at the description of the Cardinal virtues in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and was reminded not only of this thread, but even of comments that have been made hereon that may have far more significance that may at first appear.

I suspect that a number of us have considered mediaeval considerations of Prudence as Chariot, and too easily dismiss it as major influence.

There are two quotes in this thread that are directly pertinent (with apologies if I missed others in my quick review), the first by Ross Caldwell in reference to St. Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologia, and the second by kwaw in reference to the virtue as the platonic auriga virtutum.

Let's first begin by a quote from the Catechism, ¶1806 (available online in a few places, but here's one):
Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; "the prudent man looks where he is going" [Prov 14:15]. "Keep sane and sober for your prayers" [1 Pet 4:7]. Prudence is "right reason in action," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle [St Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 47, 2]. It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); it guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.
What really came to the fore (for me at least) is that this was, indeed, an important reference at a time of Tarot's emergence - irrespective of the fact that this Catechism was written in 1994 (it draws predominantly on, in any case, the Church Fathers).

I briefly discussed this consideration also with le pendu - and found possibly the most relevant quote, from a section of St Thomas's Summa not far distant from the ones quoted earlier by Ross Caldwell.

In replying to objections to the header question 'Whether a man is bound to have contrition for his future sins?, St Thomas replies thus:
I answer that, In every series of things moving and moved ordained to one another, we find that the inferior mover has its proper movement, and besides this, it follows, in some respect, the movement of the superior mover: this is seen in the movement of the planets, which, in addition to their proper movements, follow the movement of the first heaven. Now, in all the moral virtues, the first mover is prudence, which is called the charioteer of the virtues. Consequently each moral virtue, in addition to its proper movement, has something of the movement of prudence [my italic]
So, perhaps, and irrespective as to whether this breaks a fair structural model of having the virtues as thrice removed one from another, the Chariot card needs to be more importantly considered as a likely intended (rather than simply exegeted) candidate for a possibly intended depiction of the virtue of Prudence/Wisdom.
Top   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenji
Hi Frank,
Thanks for the compliment

Concerning this topic, there's an interesting picture by Andrea Mantegna.
It's named "Minerva Chases the Vices from the Garden of Virtue" (c.1502)
http://www.mcah.columbia.edu/dbcours...va1_082703.jpg

In the cloud you can see the three virtues "JUSTICE", "TEMPERANCE" and
"FORTITUDE".

Here also, as in the tarot, only "PRUDENCE/WISDOM" is absent.
Apparently Prudence is present, but is concealed, having been walled up by vice:

Quote:
Pallas Expelling the Vices was the second mythological
garden painting Mantegna created for Isabella d’Este (Paris,
Louvre, 1500-02, Figure 3). Isabella described the idea for it
as “a battle of Chastity and Lasciviousness, that is Pallas and
Diana combating vigorously against Venus and Cupid.” The
goddess, Diana, however, is not pictured in the painting.
Here we have two virgins, Athena and Daphne, driving out
Lust and the Vices from the garden. Three of the Cardinal
Virtues, Temperance, Justice, and Fortitude, having been
driven out previously by the depravities which had been occupying
the place, return to the garden in an oval cloud formation.

The fourth Virtue, Prudence, is walled up inside the
stone structure on the far right of the painting, and only a
white fluttering banner reflects her cry for help."
End Quote from "Gardens and Grottoes in Later Works by Mantegna" by Carola Naumer

Kwaw
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Strewth, does this mean that Prudence's card could be the Tower? There's one out of left field. I kind of like it :-)
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Strange this thread has just come back up - I looked it up on Monday.

I'm working on the idea that the Chariot really represents Prudence, the Charioteer of the Virtues (Aurgia Virtutum), and that the tarot order which best expresses it is the Southern or A type, where the Virtues and the Chariot are all together.

The "Charioteer of the Virtues" is a term which was first used by Saint Bernard in about 1150 (in his sermons on the Song of Songs). It is important that Bernard says "moderatrix et auriga virtutum", because it shows he conceived of the Charioteer as female (although the term "auriga" is masculine). The Visconti cards show a female charioteer, as does an early Ferrarese card, and the gender of the other early ones is debatable (Charles VI for instance - although armored, the figure is unbearded).

It became popular with theologians in the 13th century, both Franciscan and Dominican, and is one of the sources for Dante's vision of the Chariot and Beatrice on the Chariot (in my opinion) in Purgatory XXIX-XXXII, carried over into Petrarch's "Trionfi".

Thus the combination chariot/prudence/woman/virtues/triumph can be seen as developing over time and being well-placed to make a contribution to the tarot triumphs. This in reality as well as in literature. Further, the Chariot in the earliest southern sequences is in graphic relationship to the three other virtues, and suggests that the designer of this sequence thought of the Chariot as the "conductor" (auriga) of the following virtues.

Just an overview.
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Ross's comment that "the combination chariot/prudence/woman/virtues/triumph can be seen as developing over time and being well-placed to make a contribution to the tarot" is basically what I was attempting to present as of significance in my previous post.

However, "being well-placed to make a contribution" - something with which I entirely agree and look forward to reading more about - is also distinct to a view that sees the developed Marseille imagery as having retained that intent in its perceived imagery even by the time of Payen, Dodal or Conver... or even Noblet. Perhaps, by then, the more platonic three-parts-of-the-Soul, or the charioteer as 'victory and triumph' aspect had become of greater symbolic significance.

What is quite astounding is the lack or paucity (at least to my knowledge) of depiction of Prudence as Chariot by the time of tarot's standardisation into the Marseille-pattern.

This does not preclude, of course, and as I too have suggested above, that the card image of the chariot may indeed have 'originally' been intended as a representation of Prudence/Wisdom.

With regards to the suggestion by dminoz of Prudence as the Tower (based on the suggested imprisonment of Prudence in the Tower on Mantegna's Minerva (and again, thanks Kenji and kwaw for the image and the explanatory note by Carola Naumer), it seems to me counterintuitive - though a highly useful way of making use of this insight in a specific reading that calls to mind this rendition.

This is not an instance of Prudence being depicted, but rather an instance of Prudence being hidden from active participation. Should there be a liberation by thunderbolt, I would personally not see its (her?) liberation as two individuals falling out - or if they did, would have an iconographic representation of Prudence to show its connection (for example, a mirror or a serpent held or falling with one of the persons).

Having said this, I am personally willing to entertain the idea and see where it leads... with hopefully a little help from further text(s) or imagery contemporary to the times to help a little.
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Hi Jean-Michel and others interested in the discussion -

The chief difficulty I can see with the identification is that I don't know of any cognate images. It is a literary concept only. The allegorical representation of the cardinal virtues in actual triumphal processions is a renaissance phenomenon, and their depiction (such as in Piero della Francesca's triumphs of Battista Sforza and Federico de Montefeltro) on or around chariots always includes Prudence as one of the cardinal virtues, with her mirror etc.

But the early images of female charioteers brings to mind immediately Dante's Beatrice or Petrarch's Laura, both explicitly triumphal chariot images, and both representations of chastity and complete virtuousness. Following Love, it makes sense to think of her as "Virtue" personified, and Chastity as defeating carnal love, but she never has the palm branch of normal representations of Chastity, so this is again a risky interpretation, perhaps misguided or overinterpreted.

The only basis for the identification of the Chariot with Prudence is the theological and (perhaps) popular preaching theme "Prudence is not a virtue, she is the Charioteer of the Virtues" (i.e. she directs them, by discretion, right reason, in making choices), and the position of the Chariot in the sequence, usually before all the others (not in B-Ferrara however).

For sequences not agreeing with this, we have to assume that other symbolism was seen in the chariot - as you have noted for the TdM Jean-Michel.

First, the charioteer becomes a male warrior. A real triumphator. Perhaps this came out of identifying the female figure as Pallas-Minerva (as in Mantegna's painting), driving out the implicit vice of the Love card with the action of virtue. Thus the meaning is still, in a sense, the same. Virtue's perfection is however futile against the changes of Fortune.

This is what I call the "pessimistic" moral vision of tarot. Man is always at the mercy of forces beyond his control.

But in Florence (and Charles VI and Catania) the Chariot comes after Fortune, so instead of virtue being vain against Fate, this might suggest some saw it in the sense of Alain de Lille's "Anticlaudianus", where Prudence as "Reason" - in Chariot - is the wisdom to withstand Fortune's unpredictable changes.

This is the "optimistic" moral vision of tarot. One can withstand bad Fortune by moral effort.

Nevertheless, even the best men are defeated by Time, Treachery and Death.

So the power of virtue might be seen differently in different orders, but the end result is the same.

Whatever the changes might have meant, and what they imply about how people understood the image, my guess as to the original order is that it should be before Fortune (i.e. I think tarot's attitude to human effort and morality was originally "pessimistic"). Whether it was originally right before Fortune or just after Love, I can't decide. But it seems it should be related to the Virtues, and this means that it should represent the Auriga Virtutum - Charioteer of the Virtues.

(note - I should say that I think it could be that despite the fact that the virtues and chariot are lower than Fortune in value, and hence implying that they are spiritually weaker than Fortune, it could be that the Virtues together on one side of the Wheel are allegorically paired to the bad things on the other side, and so the moral vision is not pessimistic allegorically, i.e. instead of seeing it as "Fortune defeats our best efforts" because of the ranking of the cards, the Wheel should be seen in the middle of a circle allegorically, and Virtue and Fortune's bad things balance out this way. How it works out depends on the play, but you don't always lose a trump to a higher trump - if you play them right, you can keep all the virtues while someone else loses all their higher trumps (except for the highest of course). They're not worth anything, but the symbolism can be seen there.)
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