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Hi Frank,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Hall
It strikes me as a significant interpretation of the whole picture and binary unity of the 22 "hieroglyphic figures," of historic and symbolic value. Is this the first dividing of the 22 into two sub-groups, each opposites in an Aristotelian/Platonic "active" and "contemplative" vein?
It isn't necessarily the first to divide into two, but it might be. The anonymous author's contemporary, Francesco Piscina, also divided them into two. The first category is "things subject to death", and the second is "things not subject to death."

But Anonymous is the first (and only) to use the classical vita activa - vita contemplativa dichotomy for interpreting the meaning of the sequence.

Both of these discourses have now been published, with the original text and a translation on the facing page, with introduction and notes (if you didn't already know!) -
http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.p...64&postcount=1
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Cards As "Hieroglyphic"


Yes, I certainly will get at those two essays which look really interesting. The just mentioned quotation from the anonymous author of 1570 is important in that his reasoning took a synoptic look at all 22 majors, considering them as organized by 15 "active" life "Hieroglyphs," then 7 "contemplative" life "Hieroglyphs," in other words, from without to within, or from matter to spirit. Incidentally, maybe all too obviously, this parallels the Italian sonnet tradition, with the octave (first 8 lines) as outward and descriptive in theme, and the sestet (closing 6 lines) as inward and meditative in theme. The anonymous writer probably knew that parallel. Again, thanks for the significant quotation and all your excellent historic/symbolic investigations.
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Pre-1460 Italian conceptions, documented, Part 1


Ross wrote, about Horapollo’s Hieroglyphica, which arrived in Florence in 1422
Quote:
I don't know where to find a survey of possible indications of the extent of the influence of the original manuscript; i.e. how many copies were made before the end of the century, allusions to it in 15th century authors, that sort of thing. My impression is that it had little impact until the end of the century, and even then remained in Greek the whole time (very popular books would have been translated at least into Latin, if not the vernacular). Another important thing to keep in mind is that the first *illustrated* version is not a manuscript, but a printed edition - the first French translation, in 1543.

Wikipedia's page is a very good overview of the topic, and a sampling of the list of editions -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hieroglyphica

Important dates - first Latin translation - 1515
First French translation - 1543
First Italian translation - 1547

Then there is the more detailed and authoritative Studiolum page -
http://www.studiolum.com/en/cd08-horapollo.htm

The popularity can be guaged by the fact that it had 30 editions in the 16th century, and of course alongside Alciato's Emblemata and the genre he began, it was a veritable avalanche of "hieroglyphs" in that century.

This is how our various commentator's use of the term has to be understood - in the context of the emblem-hieroglyph genre. My Italian dictionary dates the vernacular appearance of the term "geroglifico" to "before 1555" (thus that is the earliest date they have); the French "hieroglyphique" is first attested (according to the Robert) in 1529.

The last few paragraphs of that latter page are well worth studying and absorbing, as they describe the outlines of the "new sensibility" which prepared for the explosion of the emblem genre.

So, when Iversen says that the Hieroglyphica had "a great impact on Renaissance thought", we have to keep in mind that this is not the 15th century Italian Renaissance (since there were no editions of it in that century and no illustrated copies), but the wider European Renaissance of the 16th century.

I really would like to know how many copies of the manuscript were ever made; I would think it unlikely to be many, since the Italian humanists would more like to have translated it (as a commission from or dedicated to some potentate) than to keep copying it in Greek for 80 years.

So the Studiolum's comment that "In spite of its being confined originally to a tight circle of Florentine Humanists in the fifteenth century, its content would become enormously popular at the end of the century, with the dissemination of the new sensibility represented by Francesco Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphilii (written around 1467 and published in Venice by Aldo Manuzio, in 1499)" makes a lot of sense.
Ross wrote, in response to Rosanne’s comment, “Sorry to be dense- but I thought when Pizarro went to Brazil? in the first contact with the Incas- he wrote about the jeroglifico of the tribe- the word pictures- same with the Portuguese in Japan.”
Quote:
I don't know about Japan, but characterizing Mayan writing as hieroglyphic goes back pretty far, and is still used today.

I see Pizarro lived to 1541, so it would be interesting to find out when he wrote that. It would be an interesting and early reference - do you have it?

I think "hieroglyphic" has to mean "picture writing" (that's why I'd be puzzled to see Japanese (or Chinese) described that way (although of course Chinese characters developed from real pictures, like Cuneiform and Demotic did, although in all these cases the final form is usually very hard to relate to its original picture); but I'm sure that it could also just mean "engimatic writing" of any kind.
Ross, I will attempt to provide some of the documentation you are asking for. We are fortunate to have Curran’s book The Egyptian Renaissance, although a lot of his information was already available in Wind, Wittkower, etc. Their main source, in turn, was Karl Giehlow, “Die Hieroglyphenkunde des Humanismus in der Allegorie der Renaisance,” Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorisches Sammlungen des Allerhochsten Kaiserhauses 32 (1915), 1-229, a work not only in German but hard to find. In 2004 it was translated into Italian as Hieroglyphica: La conoscenza umanista dei geroglifici nell’ allegoria del Rinascimento, Una ipotesi. I will stick with Curran, Wind, and other English-language sources. For the sake of brevity (if my 4500 words can be called “brief”), I will cover just the period from 1417 to around 1460.

First, I want to expand on Rosanne’s comment about Clement and other sources available by the 1430s. Your Studiolo link says
Quote:
It should not surprise us, then, that so many Renaissance Humanists – for whom this was all quite familiar through Lucan, Apuleius, Plutarch, Clement of Alexandria and, especially, Ennead V by Plotinus – should see in the Hieroglyphica a genuine connection with the highest sphere of wisdom.
The Studiola’s list, besides not saying how early this material was available, is quite incomplete. Here is Charles Dempsey’s admirable 1988 summary of the Greek sources available to scholars in the first half of the 15th century.
Quote:
One might be pedantic and arue that Poggio’s discovery of Ammianus Marcellinus at Saint Gall in January at Saint Gall in January 1417 (more than two years before the finding of Horapollo) marks the true beginnings of hieroglyphic studies, but this, too, would be misleading. Rather, when Poggio returned to Florence with the manuscript of Ammianus (where it was transcribed by Niccolo), and when Buondelmonti sent Horapollo’s Hieroglyphica to Niccolo (where it was read by Poggio and Ambrogio), both were adding new texts to the store of what was already known. Pliny, Lucan, Apuleius, and Macrobius were among these (leaving aside the reports of Isidore of Seville), and the emergence of hieroglyphic studies was then spurred by the convergence in Florence from the 1420s on of many manuscripts—Ammianus and Horapollo among them—containing a great deal of information and lore about hieroglyphs. Niccolo’s famous manuscripts of the Histories and Annals of Tacitus must be mentioned, but especially important are the Greek manuscripts sent by Aurispa, Filelfo, and others—Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, Plutarch’s Moralia, Plato, Plotinus, Proclus, and Iamblichus—all combine with other sources to give the true stimulus to hieroglyphic research. Especially important, too, is the part played by the Church fathers and early Church historians, in particular Eusebius of Caesarea and Clement of Alexandria, the unique surviving manuscript of whose Stromata was read by Politian and Ficino, and remains to this day in the Biblioteca Laurenziana. (“Renaissance Hieroglyphic studies and Bellini’s Saint Mark,” p. 343.)
To introduce the story, I will quote from a few of these, ones that were avilable by the 1420s, to give an idea of what else there was, besides Horapollo.

Here is Herodotus (several centuries before Clement):
Quote:
When they write or calculate, instead of going, like the Greeks, from left to right, they move their hand from right to left; and they insist, notwithstanding, that it is they who go to the right, and the Greeks who go to the left.They have two quite different kinds of writing, one of which is called sacred, the other common. (http://classics.mit.edu/Herodotus/history.2.ii.html)
. In Greek the sacred is "heiratic," the common is "demotic."

And Ammianus (XVII.4.6-12), in a manuscript brought to Florence in 1417:
Quote:
In this city, amidst mighty shrines and colossal works of various kinds, which depict the likeness of the Egyptian deities, we have seen many obelisks, and others prostrate and broken, which kings of long ago, when they had subdued foreign nations in war or were proud of the prosperous condition of their realms, hewed out of the veins of the mountains which they sought for even among the remotest dwellers on the globe, set up, and in their religious devotion dedicated to the gods of heaven. Now an obelisk is a very hard stone, rising gradually somewhat in the form of a turning-post9 to a lofty height; little by little it grows slenderer, to imitate a sunbeam;a it is four-sided, tapers to a narrow point, and is polished by the workman's hand. Now the infinite carvings of characters called hieroglyphics, which we see cut into it on every side, have been made known by an ancient authority of primeval wisdom. For by engraving many kinds of birds and beasts, even of another world, in order that the memory of their achievements might the more widely reach generations of a subsequent age, they registered the vows of kings, either promised or performed. For not as nowadays, when a fixed and easy series of letters expresses whatever the mind of man may conceive, did the ancient Egyptian also write; but individual characters stood for individual nouns and verbs; and sometimes they meant whole phrases. The principle of this thing for the time it will suffice to illustrate with these two examples: by a vulture they represented the word "nature", because, as natural history records, no males can be found among these birds; and under the figure of the bee making honey they designate "a king", showing by this imagery that in a ruler sweetness should be combined with a sting as well; and there are many similar instances. (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...mmian/17*.html)
And Diodorus(1.81.1, 3.4
Quote:
In the education of their sons the priests teach them two kinds of writing, that which is called "sacred" and that which is used in the more general instruction...(http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...culus/1D*.html

We must now speak about the Ethiopian writing which is called hieroglyphic among the Egyptians, in order that we may omit nothing in our discussion of their antiquities. Now it is found that the forms of their letters take the shape of animals of every kind, and of the members of the human body, and of implements and especially carpenters' tools; for their writing does not express the intended concept by means of syllables joined one to another, but by means of the significance of the objects which have been copied and by its figurative meaning which has been impressed upon the memory by practice. For instance, they draw the picture of a hawk, a crocodile, a snake, and of the members of the human body — an eye, a hand, a face, and the like. Now the hawk signifies to them everything which happens swiftly, since this animal is practically the swiftest of winged creatures. And the concept portrayed is then transferred, by the appropriate metaphorical transfer, to all swift things and to everything to which swiftness is appropriate, very much as if they had been named. 3 And the crocodile is a symbol of all that is evil, and the eye is the warder of justice and the guardian of the entire body. And as for the members of the body, the right hand with fingers extended signifies a procuring of livelihood, and the left with the fingers closed, a keeping and guarding of property. The same way of reasoning applies also to the remaining characters, which represent parts of the body and implements and all other things; for by paying close attention to the significance was is inherent in each object and by training their minds through drill and exercise of the memory over a long period, they read from habit everything which has been written. (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...culus/3A*.html)
And Plutarch(Isis and Osiris IX-X, LVI)
Quote:
....so great, then, was the circumspection of the Egyptians in their wisdom touching all that had to do with the gods. Witness to this also are the wisest of the Greeks: eSolon, Thales, Plato, Eudoxus, Pythagoras, who came to Egypt and consorted with the priests; and in this number some would include Lycurgus also. Eudoxus, they say, received instruction from Chonuphis of Memphis, Solon from Sonchis of Saïs, and Pythagoras from Oenuphis of Heliopolis. Pythagoras, it seems, fwas greatly admired, and he also greatly admired the Egyptian priests, and, copying their symbolism and occult teachings, incorporated his doctrines in enigmas. As a matter of fact most of the Pythagorean precepts do not at all fall short of the writings that are called hieroglyphs; such, for example, as these: "Do not eat upon a stool"; "Do not sit upon a peck measure"; "Do not lop off the shoots of a palm-tree";"Do not poke a fire with a sword within the house."

For my part, I think also that their naming unity Apollo, duality Artemis, the hebdomad Athena, and the first cube Poseidon, bears a resemblance to the statues and even to the sculptures and paintings with which their shrines are embellished. For their King and Lord Osiris they portray by means of an eye and a sceptre; there are even some who explain the meaning of the name as "many-eyed" on the theory that os in the Egyptian language means "many" and iri "eye"; and the heavens, since they are ageless because of their eternity, they portray by a heart with a censer beneath. In Thebes there were set up statues of judges without hands, and the statue of the chief justice had its eyes closed, to indicate that justice is not influenced by gifts or by intercession.

The military class had their seals engraved with the form of a beetle; for there is no such thing as a female beetle, but all beetles are male. They eject their sperm into a round mass which they construct, since they are no less occupied in arranging for a supply of food53 than in preparing a place to rear their young.(http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...Osiris*/A.html)

Five makes a square of itself, as many as the letters of the Egyptian alphabet, and as many as the years of the life of the Apis. (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...Osiris*/D.html)
There is also an obscure mention in Porphyry, in his “Life of Pythagoras” (http://www.logoi.com/notes/egyptian_script.html).

Among the Latins, here is Tacitus, in his Annals, book 14:
Quote:
It was the Egyptians who first symbolized ideas, and that by the figures of animals. These records, the most ancient of all human history, are still seen engraved on stone. The Egyptians also claim to have invented the alphabet, which the Phoenicians, they say, by means of their superior seamanship, introduced into Greece...(http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/annals.7.xi.html).
Macrobius says (perhaps from Plutarch) that "the eye is Osiris" (Curran p. 74). Pliny the Elder writes about the sculptured “Egyptian letters” (http://www.logoi.com/notes/egyptian_script.html. Martianus Capella, Marriage of Mercury and Philology, speaks of books “written with a sacred ink, whose letters were thought to be representations of living creatures”; in his allegory, a priestess-like woman named Immortality “ordered them to be inscribed on certain imposing rocks and placed inside a cave within the sanctuaries of the Egyptians, and she called these stones stelae and ordained that they should contain the genealogies of the gods.” (II, 136).

Apuleius says (Metamorphoses 11:22)
Quote:
Then the very kindly old man, putting his right hand in mine, took me straight to the very doors of the spacious shrine. There, after the service of the opening of the temple had been celebrated with exalted ceremony and the morning sacrifice performed, he brought out from the hidden quarters of the shrine certain books in which the writing was in indecipherable letters. Some of them conveyed, through forms of all kinds of animals, abridged expressions of traditional sayings; others barred the possibility of being read from the curiosity of the profane, in that their expression was knotted and curved like wheels or closely intertwined like vine-tendrills. From these writings he indicated to me the preparations necessary for the rite of initiation. (The Isis Book, p. 97, in Google Books.)
Among early Christians writing in Latin, Isador of Seville, 5th century, talks about Egyptian letters in Etymologies Book I section iii, “the common letters of the alphabet.” He says in section 5
Quote:
Queen Isis devised the Egyptian letters when she came over from Greece. The priests used some letters and the common people used others. The priestly letters are known as eiros (sacred) and the common letters, pandemos (common) (trans. Barney, p. 39, in Google books).
These are the principal sources that the humanists had available to them in addition to Horapollo, by the 1420s.

Clement of Alexandria is often cited as an important early source about hieroglyphics. The 1526 inventory of the Visconti Library, indeed, lists his Stromata\eis, where the account of hieroglyphics is to be found. That copy is now lost; but Curran reports that Ficino and Politiano were reading him in the 1460s. Perhaps it was a copy of the one in Pavia, copied and sent by Filelfo after he moved there in 1440. The curious thing about Clement is that there is no direct evidence of his section on hieroglyphics being used in the 15th century. Curran says that even in 1520 his writings on hieroglyphics were “obscure.” And Valeriano, Hieroglyphica, 1556, attempts to translate an inscription described by Plutarch Isis and Osiris 63 (376e-f), unaware of Clement of Alexandria’s translation in his Stromateis 5.7. (Curran p. 368).

Eusebius, too, is not quoted until at least mid-15th century.He speaks (Preparatorioix, 17) of the Egyptian god Temu whose symbol was the sacred hill or island that rises above the waters, (according to http://www.fbrt.org.uk/pages/essays/essay-enoch.html, ignoring its interpretation of the island). The inference would be that the some of the hieroglyphs were symbols of the gods. I don’t know what else he said.

Then there is the question of translations available then, from Greek into Latin. I could find little information, except about translations to Latin of Plutarch. Curran (p. 89) says that recent studies have shown that translations of the Moralia, of which Of Isis and Osiris is a part, circulated in manuscript from the beginning of the 15th century, citing two studies in Italian, 1987 and 1988:
Quote:
..Mario Manfredini, “Sulla tradizione manoscitta del ‘Moralia’ di Plutarcho,” in Sulla tradizione manoscitta dei “Moralia” di Plutarcho, Atti del convegno Salernitano del 4-5 dicembre, 1986, ed. Italo Gallo, 124ff, Quaderni del Dipartimento di scienze dell’antichita/Universita degli studi di Salerno 2 (Salerno: P. Laveglia, 1988); and M. Manfredini, “Codici plutarchei di umanisti italani,” Annali della Scuaolo Normale Superiore di Pisa, 3rd ser., 17 (1987): 1001-43 (Curran p. 321.)
But the Moralia is quite long, 15 volumes in the Loeb Classical Library dual language (English and Greek) edition. I find it hard to believe that all of this was translated by 1400.

In relation to part of the Moralia the translator’s footnotes to Alberti’s essay “Veiled Sayings” are relevant.
Quote:
The next nine sayings derive from Plutarch, “On the Education of Children,” Moralia 17 E-F, translated by Guarino of Verona about 1411. (Marsh's translation of Dinner Pieces p. 253).
I do not know whether this translation was in addition to other translations or not.

On later Latin translation of Greek works, here again Dempsey gives an admirable summary:
Quote:
The next important event in the transmission and development of hieroglhphic information and theory is the humanist translation of those texts. The relevant streams here descend from various sources, but mention should be made of Traversari’s translations of the Greek fathers, especially Dionysius the Areopagite, whose mystical symbolism is fundamental to Renaissance concepts of hieroglyphic symbolism; the very important translations commissioned by Nicholas V in Rome, notably of Diodorus by Poggio, Herodotus by Valla, and Eusebius by George of Trebizond; and the translations commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici from Ficino of various Platonic, Neoplatonic, and Hermetic texts. When Cyriacus went to Egypt in 1435 he took with him an abridged translation of Horapollo to aid him in his epigraphic researches, and this was disseminated in manuscript copies made by Michele Ferrarini. Giorgio Valla also made translations from Horapollo, as did Fillippo Beroaldo the Elder of Bologna, who even compiled a short list of hieroglyphic signs taken from various authors that was printed in a vocabularium for use of grammar school students. Early in the sixteenth century Celio Calcagini translated the whole of the Hieroglyphica for his nephew, to which he added more hieroglyphs taken from other sources; in Germany Joannes Stobaeus made use of a translation sent to konrad Peutinger by Trebatius for the composition of the famous hieroglyphic inscription on Durer’s Arch of Maximilian. Pirkheimer also made a translation of Horapollo, which was illustrated by Durer and presented to the emperor in 1515. (Dempsey p. 344)
Dempsey’s statement that Cyriacus took an abridged translation of Horapollo with him to Egypt in 1435 should perhaps be qualified by the word “possibly,” given Curran’s discussion of the relevant literature. Beroaldo might have used Ferrarini’s copy for the list he distributed to students, since Ferrarini was in Bologna during the years in question. And while Pogio took Clement V’s commission so as to finish his translation of Diodorus, part of it was in circulation by the 1430’s, according to Curran.

Relevant to "hieroglyphs" (in the Renaissance conception) as including such “veiled sayings,” the idea for which Pythagoras is said to have gotten from his visit to Egypt, is the source for eleven other sayings cited by Alberti, the acount of Pythagoras in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the philosophers 8.17-18. Marsh (p. 253)says that Alberti’s text borrows from the translation by Ambrogio Traversari completed in 1433 .

Alberti’s “Veiled Sayings” itself was not published until 1543. But it was copied by Pandolfo Collenuccio (1444-1504). Apparently the publication was without attribution, for as late as the nineteenth century, Marsh says (p. 253), classical philologists (Orellius 1819 and Mullach 1881-3) mistook Alberti’s essay for the translation of an ancient source.

I want to emphasize again that none of these translations were available until the 1430s at the earliest. Of the Greeks, I find only Plutarch translated into Latin before then.

(to be continued in next post; apparently one cannot do longish posts here.)
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Pre-1460 Italian conceptions, documented, Part 2


Now let me give a summary of Curran’s exposition of how the Italian humanists in Florence investigated hieroglyphics in roughly the first half of the 1400s.

We first need to understand who this small band of “Florentines” was that first read the Horapollo manuscript. Speaking of the new generation of humanists who tackled the mystery of the obelisks in Rome, Curran says:
Quote:
These included the Florentines Niccolo Niccoli (1364-1437) and Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459); the traveling merchant, antiquarian, and epigrapher Cyriacus (Ciriaco) of Ancona (circa 1390-1455); the historian Flavio Biondo of Forli (1392-1463); and the author and architect Leon Battista Alberti (1404-72). All of these men were dedicated students of antiquity and tireless proponents of its renovatio...One by-product of this moment was the emergence of a kind of Egyptology, which was directed in its initial phases to the problem of the hieroglyphs.(p. 35)
Only the first two, strictly speaking, are Florentines. Curran continues
Quote:
Niccoli was a collector of manuscripts. He had Tacitus’s Histories and the second half of his Annals, bound together with Apuleius’s Metamorphoses. Niccoli also owned incomplete manuscirpts of Pliny’s Natural History.. His friend Pogio, visiting the monastery of Fulda in 1417, discovered the manuscript of Ammianus Marcellinus’s Rerum Gestarum Libri... (p. 36)
Niccoli immediately started reading. I have already given the relevant quote in my preceding post, about how "individual characters stood for individual nouns and verbs; and sometimes they meant whole phrases," and his examples, "by a vulture they represent the word “nature,” because, as natural history records, no males can be found among these birds, and under the figure of a bee making honey they designate “a king,” showing by this imagery that in a ruler sweetness should be combined with a sting as well". (Curran p. 57)

Just as Niccoli was finishing his study of Ammianus, Pogio handed him the Horapollo. So when Pogio and he were in Rome, 1422-24, they recognized the strange inscriptions on the obelisks as Egyptian hieroglyphs. Poggio talks in a letter of the inscriptions “with various figures of animals and birds that the ancient Egyptians used in the place of letters” (p. 58).

Next, Cyriacus. He actually went to Giza and copied down the hieroglyphs he saw there, in 1435, no doubt inspired by their explanation in Herodotus, who said they pertained to the amount spent on “radishes, onions, and garlic for the workmen,” among other things (Curran p. 61). He or a contemporary may have made in the 1430s the “Latin abridgement of 36 signs from Horapollo’s book I that was copied years later in a sylloge now preserved in Naples.” This hypothesis was first advanced by Giovanni Batttista Rossi and still “has considerable merit,” Curran says (p. 104). Upon his return Cyriacus probably made the rounds of the various cities and courts; there was also his travel journal, with the copies of hieroglyphs. We know he went to Belfiore to talk with Leonello in 1449, because of his famous description of the Belfiore Muses there. I would not be surprised if he had an earlier visit closer in time to his return from Egypt.

Then there is Francesco Filelfo, who was in Florence 1427-1433. What is most interesting about him is that he joined the Milanese court in 1440 and stayed until around 1474 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_Filelfo).His friend and fellow Florentine Filarete came to Milan as well, sent by Cosimo to Francesco, where he wrote his treatise on architecture, only the second since Vitruvius, mentioning the decipherment of one hieroglyph unique to Horapollo, the depiction of an eel. Here is the essential quote:
Quote:
They are all picture letters; some have one animal, some another, some have a bird, some a snake, some an owl, some are like a saw and some like an eye, and some with some kinds of figures, some with one thing and then another, so that there are few that can translate them. It is true that the poet Francisco Filelfo told me that some of these animals meant one thing and some another. Each one had its own meaning. The eel means envy. Thus each one has its own meaning...(Curran p. 85)
Filarete says he learned these meanings from Filelfo. Filelfo could have gotten a copy of Horapollo when in Florence 1429-1431. As for Filarete’s possible connection to the tarot, one has only to compare the drawing of his utopian city of Sforzinda with the city on the PMB World card.

Spencer, in his 1965 translation of Filarete (from Italian, i.e. Tuscan), mistranslated the word for “eel” as “obelisk,” and decided that Filarete’s source might have been Diodorus, read in Pogio’s Latin translation (Spencer p. 152). But Filarete’s word for “obelisk” was “guglia,” Curran points out (p. 85). The word “anguilla” means “eel,” he says (p. 320), citing Dempsey, “Renaissance Hieroglyphic Studies,” in Hermeticism and the Renaissance: Intellectual History and the Occult in Early Modern Europe p. 354. Here is the relevant sentence in Filarete’s Italian, minus accent marks:
Quote:
Vero e che ‘l poeta Francesco Filelfo mi diesse che quegli animali significavano chi una cosa e chi un’altra, ciascheduno ognuno per se, l’anguilla significa la ‘nvidia, e cosi ognuna ha sua significazione, se gia loro ancora on avessino fatto ch’elle fussino pure come sono l’altre e potessinsi compitare. (p. 320).
“Eel” is indeed in Harapollo’s Hieroglyphics 2: 103. My only problem is that when I look there, I don’t see it meaning “envy.”
Quote:
When they wish to indicate a man hostile to everyone and living in isolation, they draw an eel. For the eel is never found in the company of other fishes. (Boas translation, p. 94, in Google Books.)
So one of them, Filelfo or Filarete, is misquoting Horapollo--or misquoting someone about something other then eels, for instance vipers, which Horapollo says mean “children who hate their mother” (Boas p. 84). Curran cites Giehlow, pp. 19-21, for the assertion that Filelfo owned a copy of Horapollo.

I checked Dempsey. On whether Filelfo had a copy of Horapollo. Dempsey says:
Quote:
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. Nor would the information have stopped with Filarete. When Filarete makes this remark, it is in the context of a dialogue between him and the prince, a thinly disguised Francesco Sforza. So the remark is either one already made to Francesco, or one he could be expected to read in Filarete’s manuscript.

After this digression on eels, let me return to introducing the Florentine humanists. The next one is Flavio Biondo. He wrote a complete archeological topography of Rome for Pope Eugenius IV. That is about when the popes became interested in incorporating obelisks into their renovation of Rome. He describes the obelisks in much more detail than Pogio, which, Curran says (p. 62),
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can be explained by the fact that almost all of it is copied word for word from Ammianus, with a concluding paraphrase of Tacitus’s observation that “the Egyptians, in their animal-picture, were the first people to represent thought by symbols,’ and that “these, the earliest documents of human history, are visible today, impressed upon stone.”
I have one more "Florentine humanist" to go, the youngest and most complex, Leon Battista Alberti. To be continued next post.
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hieroglyphs part 2


(continued from preceding post).

Finally, there is Alberti. His writing about hieroglyphs probably had the most impact in mid-century Italy. Here is what he says, in De re aedificatario (On the Art of Building), the first treatise on architecture since Vitruvius. He is discussing inscriptions, which “should either be written—these are called epigraphs—or composed of reliefs and images, imagines” (Curran p. 72). Here the Egyptians are his model.
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The Egyptians employed the following sign language: a god was represented by an eye, nature by a vulture, a king by a bee, time by a circle, peace by an ox, and so on. They maintained that each nation knew only its own alphabet, and that eventually all knowledge of it would be lost—as has happened with our own Etruscan: we have sepulchers uncovered in city ruins and cemeteries throughout Etruria inscribed with an alphabet universally acknowledged to be Etruscan, their letters look not unlike Greek, or even Latin, yet no one understands what they mean. The same, the Egyptians claimed, should happen to all other alphabets, whereas the method of writing they used could be understood easily by expert men all over the world, to whom alone noble matters should be communicated... Our own Latin ancestors chose to express the deeds of their most famous men through sculpted histories. This gave rise to columns, triumphal arches, and porticoes, covered with histories in paiting, or sculpture.(Curran p. 72f; also On the art of building in ten books, trans. Rykwert, Leach, and Tavernor, p. 256.)
There are several issues here. I will take the easiest first, Alberti's remark about the Romans Did he think that they used hieroglyphics? Here is what Iversen says(p. 66f):[
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In the Roman church called San Lorenzo in Campo Verano, or fuori le mura, the curious observer had from time immemorial been able to admire the remnants of an anceint temple-frieze representing a variety of cult-objects and ritual symbols. It was undoubtedly considered a valuable and important relic, because not only was it removed for greater safety from San Lorenzo to the Capitol sometime during the sixteenth century, but it is found copied and reproduced again and again in the various sketchbooks of almost all important artists of the period, and there can be no doubt that it was considered one of the important tourist attractions of the city.
Iversen adds that another set of such inscriptions “adorned the Temple of Vespasianus.” They were considered “Egyptian,” according to Iversen. But Alberti’s remark suggests that he considered them Roman, in a manner learned from the Egyptians.

Iversen also observes that Mantegna in 1486 put the signs on the temple frieze in his famous picture of Caesar’s triumph, adorning the front of the arch itself. Moreover,
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The whole picture abounds in hieroglyphical emblems taken from Horapollo and other hieroglyphical classics. The signs were also used as emblematic ornaments on the paintings in S. Augustino degli Eremitani in Padua from about 1459, but nothing demonstrates the tenacity of the tradition better than the fact that their hieroglyphic origin and nature were still uncontested and taken for absolutely granted as late as the end of the sixteenth century. (p. 68f).
So, yes, Alberti and everyone else thought that the Romans used hieroglyphics themselves, in imitation of the Egyptian practice.

Now let me turn to what Alberti says about the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Curran says (p. 75),
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Alberti argues that the hieroglyphs had the ability to veil or encode the most secret doctrines of the Egyptian elite, so that only the most enlightened and noble viewers could hope to understand their true significance. The paradoxical juxtaposition of universality and exclusivity had a rich appeal to the humanists of Alberti’s generation, who fancied themselves as just the sort of “Expert men” that the Egyptians had in mind when they devised this extraordinary code.
Curran says that Alberti likely did not get this idea in isolation: his fellow humanists would have had a hand in shaping it.

We don’t know for sure that the passage just quoted was actually in the version that was circulating in 1452, when he presented it to Eugenius IV (at which point it would be deposited in the newly created Vatican Library for other scholars to peruse and even copy). Alberti’s biographer Grafton says
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Alberti told his dedicatee, Meliaduse d’Este, that he had written on architecture “at the request of your illustrious brother, my lord messer Leonello.” Meliaduse died in 1452, Leonello in 1450; accordingly this passage seems to tie the book’s composition to the 1440s.
But the numerous references to classical sources, many not in Latin until the 1450s, suggest to Grafton that these passages at least mostly come from “after 1452” (p. 279). It was printed in 1486, “Florentiae accuratissime impressum opera Nicolai Laurentii Alemani”—by Nicolas Lawrence the German, about whom Huck speculates; he also did maps.

It seems to me that what is decisive for the particular passage in question is Alberti’s own device, the “winged eye,” below which were the words “Quid tum?”, i.e. “What then?”. It appeared in two Albertian manuscripts of circa 1436-1438, as well as an oval Self-Portrait plaquette of 1435-38. Here is one of the 1438 manuscript images (from http://www.thewingedeye.eu/, documented as such in Tavernor, Alberti and the Art of Building, p. 33).



There is much literature on this “eye.” According to Grafton (Leon Battista Alberti p. 104, in Google Books), Alberti's idea behind such devices is first found in an early dinner-piece entitled “Veiled Sayings”; the picture just adds to the mystery. For both Curran and Wind, a work of the 1430s, the Anuli, ”Rings,” is instructive. Wind notices that although he says more about the winged eye here than anywhere else, he doesn’t say much, especially about the wings:
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I prefer to be very short (brevissimus): for to give an exhaustive account of such a compact matter would be prolix; particularly as you yourself, in the measure of your wisdom, will be able, if you apply your mind to it, to perceive the meaning plane et aparte. (Wind, Pagan Mysteries of the Renaissance p. 234).
Also important for our purpose is what Alberti’s sources for his picture were. Giehlow said it was a passage from Diodorus, saying that the eye is associated with justice, and the wings of the falcon with speed; hence the meaning was that at any moment we may be called before the judgment-seat of God (Wind, p. 234). Wind himself, however, thought that Alberti’s device came from a combination of a passage in Plutarch about the falcon--“the bird is distinguished by the sharpness of its vision and the speed of its wings”—plus I Cor. 15:52, in which the day of judgment is said to come “in the twinkling of an eye” (Wind p. 231f). He also cites a passage, and illustration, in a 1551 Latin translation of Horapollo about the eye being God’s. I do not find such a passage in Boas’s English version; there, God is represented as a star, not an eye. God as an eye is in Plutarch and Macrobius. I wonder about these translations. In any case, it is clear that these texts--Diodorus and Plutarch, at least--were accessible in the 1430’s, even to someone like Alberti who preferred to read his Greeks in Latin.

Another point that suggests that already before 1452 Alberti was thinking what he expressed in his book published in 1486, is that the explanations, truncated though they may be, are examples of exactly why they are not secret to the expert or wise. He describes in detail the particular qualities or essence of each object in the image, makes conjectures as to their meaning, and put them together in a way that forms a noble thought. Here is Diodorus again (Bibl. III.4, using Boas's translation, in the Appendix to his translation of Horapollo, p. 101f)
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...For their writing is not built up from syllables to express the underlying meaning, but from the appearance of the thing drawn and by their metaphorical meaning, learned by heart...The hawk means to them all things that occur swiftly, because this bird is by far the swiftest of all winged things. And the meaning is carried over by metaphor to all swift things and to things associated with swiftness, as if they had been spoken of...For by concentrating on the inner meaning of each, exercising their souls with great care, and memorizing them, they recognize by habit each of the letters.
Compare what Diodorus has said to Alberti's account, which I give in full:
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On the first ring is engraved a crown, the center of which is occupied by an eye adorned with an eagle's wing. Do you undersand?...
The crown is an emblem of gladness and glory. There is nothing more powerful, swift, or worthy than the eye. In short, it is the foremost of the body's members, a sort of king or god. Didn't the ancients regard God as similar to the eye, since he surveys all things an dreckons them singly? On the one hand, we are enjoined to give glory for all things to God, to rejoice in him, to embrace him with all our mind and vigorous virtue, and to consider him as an ever-present witness to all our thoughts and deeds. On the other hand, we are enjoined to be as vigilant and circumspect as we can, seeking everything which leads to the glory of virtue, and rejoicing whenever by our labor and industry we achieve something noble or divine. Have you understood this? In dscribing this first ring, I have chosen to be brief, for it would take too long to discuss all the aspecs of a matter so rich in lessons. Besides, since you are wise, you will be able to appreciate their value clearly and plainly if you reflect on them. (Dinner PiecesMarsh translation, p. 213f).
Alberti has looked at the image of the eye from all angles, drawing from it several metaphors, not only the all-seeingness of God but the divinity of the human eye, as a kind of representative of the human soul. In that sense the wings might be the wings of the soul, bearing it everywhere in imagination (the mind's eye) or upwards to God. And he adminishes his readers to put their mind to it, to keep thinking of more things. For there is not just one thought that an image can express, but many, so that one cannot even say when one has understood it fully.

Curran notices that
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...in the same text, Alberti describes a host of these allegorical devices, which he calls “mysteries” (mysteria, that had a special appeal to the imaginations of learned men. These include an elephant’s ear covered by a net, an open forecourt with a burning lamp and candelabrum, an unbroken circle flanked by a hook and a flame, a helmet an mask surrounded by a swarm of flies, and so on, suggesting an effort on the author’s part to compose his own image-symbols in imitation of the hieroglyphs. (p. 75)
But they not only have a "speicial appeal"; since the wise but not the ignorant will always be able to understand them, as his De Re passage states, new ones can be introduced with all the "mystery" of the old. In the passage on the eye, the eye as God is just a spring board to Alberti's own imagination.

In the remark in De Re, as well as those in “Veiled Sayings” and “Rings,” Alberti is also expressing the idea that the most sacred thoughts have to be kept hidden, and the Egyptian way was by means of enigmatic images. Again this comes from his reading from his reading before 1430. It is as in Apuleius, whom I quoted in my first post: Lucius is
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initiated into the Isiac mysteries by Egyptian priests who conduct their rites with the aid of books inscribed with “unknown characters,” some of which “used the shapes of all sorts of animals to represent abridged expressions of liturgical language,” while others are "knotted and curve like wheels or interwoven like vine-tendrils to protect their meaning from the curiosity of the uninitiated.” (Curran p. 22).
Likewise Plutarch. Curran says:
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In contrast with the euhemeristic historicism of Diodorus, Plutarch explains the religion of the Egyptians as a “hieroglyphic” system whose strange gods and enigmatic symbols encoded their most secret doctrines in veils of enigma. He claims that this method of poetic concealment was subsequently adopted by Greek philosophers like Plato and Pythagoras, who “copied [the Egyptians] symbolism and occult teachings” and passed them on to the Greeks."
He is quoting from Isis and Osiris, which I gave in the preceding post.

Then there is the image of the sphinx, about which Plutarch writes (Isis and Osiris IX):
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For the kings used to be elected out of either the sacerdotal or the military class, the latter enjoying dignity and honor on account of valor, the former on account of wisdom; but he that was elected out of the military class immediately became one of the priests, and was initiated into their wisdom, which was for the most part shrouded in fables and stories giving obscure indications and glimpses of the truth, as indeed they themselves half acknowledge by kindly setting up the Sphinxes in front of their temples, as though their religious teaching contained wisdom hidden in enigmas.
Curran observes that Clement of Alexandria repeats this explanation in Stromateis 5.5.31.

Such a purpose of hieroglyphs, to express sacred enigmas, is not inconsistent with Christianity. There is the Biblical injunction not to throw pearls before swine, which Clement endorsed in language similar to that in which he characterized the Egyptians’ sacred letters. Pseudo-Dionysus, whom Alberti read in a Latin translation by his Florentine colleague Ambrogio Traversari, had likewise emphasized that “it is most agreeable ...to keep the holy and secret truth respecting the celestial minds inaccessible to the multitude.” (p. 76).

It was this religious tradition, Curran thinks, Alberti had in mind with his “winged eye” and later the celebrated passage in De Re. So what was Alberti’s influence? Curran says,
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The impact of Alberti’s explication of the hieroglyphs has been acknowledged by generations of scholars, from Giehlow and Wittkower to the present. (Footnote: Giehlow, pp. 29-37, Wittkower, “Hieroglyphics in the Early Renaissance,” reprinted in Allegory and the Migration of Symbols. pp. 117f, 120.) Most important, perhaps, is the insight the passage provides for the circumstances surrounding the emergence, at this same period, of a taste for the invention of “modern hieroglyphs”—a form whose precise character is difficult to fix, but is intimately related to the host of other forms that proliferated during this period: imprese, emblems, epigrams, heraldry, and so on. The taste for symbols had deep roots in the chivalric traditions of the northern Italian courts at Ferrara, Mantua, and elsewhere, a milieu that Alberti knew well. Indeed, Alberti’s personal contribution to this taste would appear to be a significant one. (p. 75).
Among Curran’s citations here are, in English, Daniel Russell, Emblems and Hieroglyphics: Some Observations on the Beginnings and Nature of Emblematic Forms,” Emblematica 1 (1986), pp. 227-239, and John Manning, The Emblem (2002).
Curran adds later:
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Indeed, Alberti’s “hieroglyph” would seem to be most directly related to the allegories and devices—inspired by the imagery of ancient coin reverses—that began to appear on the reverses of commemorative medals designed by Pisanello and Matteo de’ Pasti for their noble patrons in the northern Italian courts and elsewhere at midcentury.(p. 76.)
Pisanello was doing such reverses before midcentury, by around 1440. However this is just after the time that Alberti was first using the device publicly in Ferrara, 1438.

I will conclude by tying this Renaissance conception of hieroglyphs more fully to the 15th century tarot. This conception—hieroglyphs, by whatever name (e.g. “mysteries”) as pictures hard for the masses to interpret properly, but easy for the wise, or initiated--was taken to all the courts and signori associated with the tarot: Florence, Milan, Ferrara, even Bologna (where Alberti briefly was in the late 1430s). These patrons would have liked to think of their playing cards, as well as their medallions, as modern hieroglyphs. All they had to do was ask the humanists, who already were demonstrating their skill in single-item images such as the medallion. In return for patronage, these new humanists were happy to oblige.

I especially see the shift to “hieroglyphs” in this sense in Milan. In the Cary-Yale, it is mostly clear what the cards are about, except maybe the kings at the bottom of the theological virtues and the strange scene on the World/Fama; on the whole, the symbolism is that which the masses also know, from pictures in churches, triumph parades, etc. The main hidden aspect of most cards pertains to the heraldic devices, and perhaps in whom historically the people on the cards are. But in the PMB, look at the Chariot: straightforward in the CY, it now has the winged horses of the Phaedrus, known only to the wise. And what about that sad, middle-aged man at the table, and the Popess, and the Hanged Man? And later the Moon, the Sun, and the World? We still discuss what those PMB cards might mean.

Then in the Cary Sheet, we see a conscious effort to suggest Egypt as well as hieroglyphs, as I have suggested on the “Cary Sheet” thread on THF. We have there also the “Arrow” card, as the Steele Sermon had it, further mystified later by the French as “Maison-Dieu.” This intentional obscurity, by late century prized in high art as well (e.g. Leonardo), migrates to France (along with the Mona Lisa), where the card-makers, meeting demand, continue the tradition. And the interpreters of the tarot, as Ross’s quotations at the beginning of this thread show (as well as the writer whom Kwaw quotes, for other games), continue applying this word “hieroglyph,” even perhaps not fully understanding what the word meant to the humanists and courtiers of 15th century Italy.
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Now I will go on and try to finish my survey of how hieroglyphs were understood in the Italian Renaissance.

ITALIAN HIEROGLYPHS 1460-1556

No less a figure than Cardinal Bessarion, just after mid-century, defended the idea of keeping the most sacred things secret from the common people, in the context of defending Plato (Calumniator Platonus 2.8 (1457-69), quoted in Hankins Plato in the Italian Renaissance, 256:
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Plato therefore wrote nothing down relating to primary and supreme realities—or very little, and that in a very obscure way—because he felt it impermissible to share such high matters with the multitude, and he thought it far holier to worship and venerate such realities with his whole mind...
It is in this sense that I think we are to understand a 1452 letter that Bessarion reputedly sent to the sons of a deceased teacher:
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Il cardinale Bessarione saluta Demetrio e Andronico, figli del sapiente Gemisto. Ho appreso che il nostro comune padre e maestro ha deposto ogni spoglia terrena e se n'è andato in cielo, al sito di ogni purità, per unirsi al coro della mistica danza di Jacco [id est il Dioniso dei Misteri di Eleusi - ndr] con gli dèi olimpici. (http://www.ritosimbolico.net/studi2/studi2_22.html)
(Cardinal Bessarion greets Andronicus and Demetrius, children of learned Gemistus. I learned that our common father and teacher has deposited everything earthly and gone to heaven, the site of every purity, to join the choir of the mystical dance of Jacco [id est the Dionysus of the Mysteries of Eleusis - ed] with the Olympian gods.)

Such language, in Plato as well as in the accounts of the Mysteries, helped to express the sense of mystery and ecstasy that Bessarion associated with the Christian hereafter. Thus also, I am suggesting, are the Greco-Roman and Greco-Egyptian “mysteries” to be found by the wise in the tarot, themselves expressions of hidden Christian mysteries.

In the 1460s Ficino started studying Plotinus. He published his translation, with commentary, in 1492. Since Bessarion was Greek and had his own manuscript collection, this Plotinus passage might have been what stimulated him to say, in his polemical work defending Plato published in 1468, that he preferred to “venerate such mysteries with his whole mind,” as opposed to the discursive, piece by piece analysis of non-symbolic prose. Here is Plotinus:
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The Egyptian sages...drew pictures and carved one picture for each thing in their temples, thus making manifest the description of that thing. Thus each picture was a kind of understanding and wisdom and substance and given all at once, and not discursive reasoning and deliberation” (in Wittkower, "Hieroglyphics in the Early Renaissance,” p. 116 of his Allegory and the Migration of Symbols. Wittkower's footnote: Gombrich: "Icones Symbolicae: the Visual image in Neoplatonic Thought," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes XI 1948, p. 172.)
And Ficino's commentary:
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The Egyptian priests, when they wished to signify divine signs, did not use minute characters or letters, but rather whole figures of plants, trees, animals: for God doubtless has a knowledge of such things which is not complex discursive thought about its subject, but is, as it were, the simple and permanent form of things.... (Curran p. 97).
Such is the new allure of hieroglyphics: it is the language of God.

Ficino's colleague Politiano was studying this same material: besides Plotinus, there were Iamblichus and Proclus. Politiano’s interest is not known directly. But Valeriano, 1556, cited him as “among the most distinguished early students of hieroglphyics” (Charles Dempsey, “Renaissance Hierglyphic Studies and Gentile Bellini’s Saint Mark Preaching in Alexandria,” p. 347, in Hermeticism and the Renaissance: Intellectual History and the Occult in Early Modern Europe).

From 1465-1485, Giorgio Valla, educated in Milan, was at Pavia, part of the time tutoring the sons of Francesco Sforza, also translating much Greek sources into Latin, per Italian Wikipedia (http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Valla). According to Dempsey (p. 344), his translations included Horapollo and Herodotus. His translation of Horapollo is now in the Biblioteca Trivulziana, Milan, ms. 2154, according to Roberto Weiss (The Renaissance Discovery of Classical Antiquity, p. 155).

On a famous tile in the pavement of Siena Cathedral, Hermes Trismegistus was shown holding a book of heiroglyphics, 1476.

Alberti’s book on architecture, containing the passage on hieroglyphics, was published in 1485.

In the 1480s, Weiss reports, there was a great demand for ancient Roman coins. Matteo Boiardo, for example, takes pains to ensure that his master Ercole d'Este knows about a recent discovery around that time.

In 1486 Pico della Mirandola wrote in his Oration about sayings that needed to be kept secret from the many but with enough clues to be understood by the few.
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Openly to reveal to the people the hidden mysteries and the secret intentions of the highest divinity, which lay concealed under the hard shell of the law and the rough vesture of language, what else could this be but to throw holy things to dogs and to strew gems among swine? The decision, consequently, to keep such things hidden from the vulgar and to communicate them only to the initiate, among whom alone, as Paul says, wisdom speaks, was not a counsel of human prudence but a divine command. And the philosophers of antiquity scrupulously observed this caution. Pythagoras wrote nothing but a few trifles which he confided to his daughter Dama, on his deathbed. The Sphinxes, which are carved on the temples of the Egyptians, warned that the mystic doctrines must be kept inviolate from the profane multitude by means of riddles. Plato, writing certain things to Dionysius concerning the highest substances, explained that he had to write in riddles ``lest the letter fall into other hands and others come to know the things I have intended for you.'' Aristotle used to say that the books of the Metaphysics in which he treats of divine matters were both published and unpublished. Is there any need for further instances? (http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/Mirandola/ )
The Oration was meant as an introduction to his 900 Theses, justifying it as a hard-won revelation of hidden mysteries. However his Theses themselves are short, enigmatic sentences, whose meaning is certainly hidden from the ignorant! In any case the Pope, satisfied that he was not among those, ordered all copies of the Theses to be burned and did not allow the Oration to be published at all. Alexander VI reversed his predecessor’s decisions in 1494. (See Wikipedia article on Pico della Mirandola.)

In the 1480s-90s, Filippo Beroaldo Sr. lectured in Bologna, distributing an abridged version of Horapollo to students. This perhaps came from Michele Ferrarini, who composed a manuscript showing copies of hieroglyphs from obelisks, late 1480’s (photo from manuscript, Curran p. 102). Weiss (p. 155) and others surmised that these came from Cyriaco, who had also brought with him an abridged Horapollo (Curran p. 104). Beroaldo’s lectures probably included Apuleius on hieroglyphics, judging from his book on Apuleius published in 1500, which quotes from Apuleius’ account in his Metamorphoses (Curran p. 180f).

One influential account of hieroglyphs was by the learned Dominican monk Annius of Viterbo; his analysis of the “Herculean tablet” (Curran p. 124f, citing Weiss, “An Unknown Epigraph, ” Italian Studies presented to E. R. Vincent 1962, pp. 101-120, also his Renaissance discovery of classical antiquity. 1988.). This tablet was not, as Annius claimed, an Etruscan memorial to Osiris, but in fact his own assemblage of a 12th-13th century relief inserted into a 15th century frame, which was then put into an Etruscan tomb to be “discovered” at the time of the Pope’s visit to Viterbo in the fall of 1493. According to Annius, the tree in the center was Osiris’s scepter, the branches signifying his rule over every part of the world, and the faces at the top were Osiris and his female cousin, “Sais Xantho, Muse of Egypt.” The Viterbo town government accepted his account enthusiastically, and Vasari later as well. Its pictorial remoteness from the hieroglyphs on obelisks testifies to the broad understanding of the concept during the Renaissance.



The explanation in Latin was put there in the 1580’s on the occasion of its placement in Viterbo’s Palazzo Comunale. It reads, according to Curran
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The Senate and People of Viterbo have erected here this very ancient marble, inscribed with hieroglyphs about the victory of Osiris against the Giants, in this temple, at one time dedicated to Hercules and now dedicated to Saint Lawrence, in order to preserve the monuments and glory of our very ancient fatherland.
In 1493-95, Annius’s forged documentation of Pope Alexander VI’s descent from Osiris stimulated Pinturiccio’s “Osiris” murals in the Vatican.

Most Renaissance emulation of Egyptian hieroglyphs made no attempt to look Egyptian. They used pictures of ordinary objects, of the type mentioned by Horapollo, to create an enigmatic scene. I think that some examples of high art were stimulated by the interest in and demand for hieroglyphs. An example is Giorgione’s Tempest of 1506-1508 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tempest_(Giorgione)), which represents a woman suckling a baby (a personification of Nature?) surrounded by the four elements, a soldier, ruins, a stork, etc. Leonardo da Vinci also painted hieroglyphs, for example the ermine in the famous Krakow portrait of Ludovico Sforza’s mistress. Some said the ermine was a symbol of purity; Leonardo wrote in his diary that the ermine symbolized self-control; it could also be a play on the lady’s name (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_with_an_Ermine). The image is one whose meaning is concealed from the many, thus qualifying as a hieroglyph. The enigmatic features of many of Leonardo’s paintings provide occasion for speculation even today (and not just in the Da Vinci Code). There is also the enigmatic face of the Mona Lisa, and the enigma of Gabriel’s pointing at John rather than Jesus in his first version of “Madonna of the Rocks.” Why was a second version painted, the one accepted by the confraternity that sponsored it, that removed this feature?

In 1499 the Hypnerotomachia, Strife of Love in a Dream, was published anonymously. Who wrote it is currently a matter of debate. Its examples of hieroglyphics did emulate the letters on obelisks and were accepted as genuine Egyptian throughout the 16th century (Dempsey p. 348). The was not very popular at first, owing to its obscure language, a mixture of Latin, Tuscan, and Venetian; the French translation many years later is what made it famous (Dempsey p. 348). But even in the early years it was probably used as a source-book by artists, both in its published version and earlier in manuscript. The action in the book finishes in 1467. Tamara Griggs (“Promoting the Past: the Hynerotomachia polifili as antiquarian enterprise,” Word and Image 14:1-2 (1998), pp. 17-39) argues that its genre is that of a learned travelogue, such as Cyriaco’s after 1435, or a commentary on archeological remains, such as Pogio’s in 1431-1438, or a sylloge of such reflections, such as the Quaedam antiqutatum fragmenta by Giovanni Marcanova of Padua, circulating in manuscript from 1465. These examples are all before 1467, which some people think is when the first version of the Hypnerotomachia manuscript was completed.

In 1499 Polydore’s On Discovery has a section on hieroglyphs (Curran p. 178). In 1504 Pietro Crinito published De honesta disciplina, with a short chapter on hieroglyphics (Curran p. 179).

Erasmus spoke of “hieroglyphics” in his Adages of 1508 (Curran 156).
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Hieroglyphics is the name given to those enigmatic designs to much used in the early centuries, especially among the priest-prophets and theologians in Egypt, who thought it quite wrong to express the mysteries of wisdom in ordinary writing and thus expose them, as it were, to the uninitiated public. What they thought worth knowing they would record by drawing the shapes of various animals and inanimate things in such a way that it was not easy for the casual reader to unravel them forthwith. It was necessary first to learn the properties of individual things and the special force and nature of each separate creature; and the man who had really penetrated these could alone interpret the symbols and put them together, and thus solve the riddle of their meaning. For example, when the Egyptians wish to denote their god Osiris, whom they identify as the sun, they represent a scepter and draw on it the outline of an eye, to indicate of course that Osiris is a god, enjoys a king’s exalted power, and can see everything, because the ancients used to call the sun the eye of Jove. Something like this is recorded by Macrobius in the first book of the Saturnalia.
Erasmus decided that it was by knowing everything about the particular animals or objects represented that one can correctly interpret the image. Here he is following Diodorus, as discussed in my preceding post, and also the practice of Alberti, who appealed to a knowledge of the eye and then seeing the eye metaphorically.

This technique might work for some hieroglyphs. But no amount of understanding of the animals concerned could get one to some of the meanings given in Horapollo: for example, the vulture as signifying mothers because all vultures are female. At some point we have to go back to the beliefs of the people who used the hieroglyph in the first place. And even Alberti appealed to authority in interpreting the eye as God.

A way out might be the way of his adages, which were also hieroglyphs of a sort, like Pythagorean “symbola.” Erasmus interpreted them by citing the historical contexts in which they appeared. A similar technique could be applied to hieroglyphs. One might cite Macrobius, for example, as Erasmus in fact did. This is how one normally would investigate, for example, the ancient meaning of a word, by looking at the contexts in which it was used; and if it was in old dictionaries, so much the beter. Horapollo offered such a dictionary; and so did, on a more limited basis, other ancient texts on hieroglyphics.

In fact there are two views of language operating in these Renaissance discussions of how to interpret hieroglyphs. D. L. Drysdall, in “Fasanini’s Explanation of Sacred Writing,” (Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 13 (1983):1, p. 128f) says
Quote:
Whilst generally accepting the Aristotelian notion of the conventional nature of all language, the humanists were keenly interested in the opposite notion, derived from Plato’s Cratylus, of a divine language, or signs which in some way contain their own meaning inherently and are universally valid. The classical Neoplatonists had quoted the Egyptian hieroglyphs as examples of such signs: Plotinus in the well-known verses commented by Ficino, Iamblichus in the passage quoted below (note 25). The idea of a natural language, in some way exempt from the arbitrary and the conventional into which language fell after the tower of Babel, looms large in linguistic thinking in the early Renaissance and explains the fascination with Egyptian symbols as possibly equal in some way to the Hebrew names imposed on creation by Adam, with other traditions which seem to transmit such symbols (mythology, fables, proverbs), and with langauge which seems to escape the conventional (enigmas, puns, ambiguities).
The Platonic idea, expressed already in the Middle Ages, is that God spoke in the “book of nature,” and his letters were the natural kinds, discernible at first by observation, then purified of sensory contamination by reasoning, and finally apprehended by intuition or anamnesis.

Filippo Fasanini, about whom Drysdall is mainly concerned, was a professor of rhetoric and poetry at the Unviersity of Bologna starting in 1511. In 1517 Fasanini published the first complete Latin translation of Horapollo, with an appendix of his own reflections and material drawn from other ancient writers, perhaps drawn from the handout that Beroaldo, his predecessor at Bologna, had given his students. Here is a brief excerpt from this account of hieroglyphics:
Quote:
Hieroglyphic characters, called “hieroglypha grammata” by the Greeks, were the sacred writing of the Egyptians, so called because they expressed the mysteries in religion. They were enigmatic and symbolic engravings, which were much used in ancient times and preceding centuries, especially among Egyptian prophets and teachers of religion, who considered it unlawful to expose the mysteries of wisdom in ordinary writing to lay people, as we do. But if anyone had learned and studied thoroughly from Aristotle and others the properties of each thing, the particular nature and essence of each animal, he would at length, by putting together his conjectures about these symbols, grasp the enigma of the meaning and, because of this knowledge, is honoured above the uninitiated crowd. (Drysdall, “Fasanini’s Explanation of sacred writing,” p. 135f.
(Drysdall also gives the Latin, which I omit.) They picture objects in nature, and if someone knows the particular essences of these objects, they can “grasp the enigma of the meaning”—aenigma sententiae deprehenderet—by putting together their individual conjectures. This part is like Erasmus, or Alberti, or Diodorus.

Of relevance to the possible cartomantic use of tarot cards is a quote of Fasanini’s from Suida about Chaeremon, whose book on hieroglyphics has been lost:
Quote:
There were among the Egyptians also men called Hierogrammates, who indeed made prophecies about the future, and he recalls that one of them foretold marvelously to the king many great things about Moses who was yet to be born (Drysdall p. 137.)
When one taps into the divine speech of God, apparently, one partakes somewhat of His foreknowledge.

Fasanini goes on to quote not only from Ammianus, Herodotus, Plutarch, Diodorus, Macrobius, Apuleius, and Tacitus, in texts I quoted in part 1 of these posts. He also gives a passage from Lucan, familiar early on, as well as three he must have gotten from Ficino: St. Rufinus on the "cross" at Alexandria, Iamblichus, and Proclus.
I have already cited the St. Rufinus passage. The Lucan, from the Pharsalia;, is simply,
Quote:
Before Egypt had learned to weave the river reeds, only birds and beasts and animals carved on stones preserved the utterances of the priests. (Drysdall p. 147).
The Iamblichus is from a letter to Porphyry, comparing the activity of the mind to the lotus, as Drysdall translates him, because everything in the lotus is round, the most perfect shape; and God is above this activity, like a god sitting on the lotus (Drysdall p. 141). Actually, I think that Drysdall's translation is wrong: it is not the "activity of the mind" that Iamblichus is talking about, but the activity of Mind, Nous in Greek, the Neoplatonic world-spirit. Fasanini's word is "mentis." Above Nous for Iamblichus is the Absolute. In any case, the god sitting on a lotus is a beautiful example of a hieroglyphic, illustrating perfectly the point that images can express the inexpressible better than mere concepts. The Proclus discusses the same image: the lotus is dedicated to the majesty of Apollo. As the sun rises, it unfolds its leaves gradually, "whereby it shows especial veneration to its deity."

In 1518 Bernardo Trebatius published his translation of Horapollo, the one most widely distributed, Curran says. In 1522 appeared a summary translation by Beroaldo, published posthumously (Curran p. 181). “Early in the sixteenth century,” Celio Calcagnini also translated Horapollo, according to Dempsey (p. 344). This information perhaps comes from Giehlow, who is cited as saying Calcagnini translated Plutarch’s On Isis and Osiris at this time, 1509-1517 (http://www.jstor.org/pss/866823). Manning, The Emblem p. 64f, apparently agrees
Quote:
Although not published until 1556, Valeriano’s Hieroglyphica, like Alciato’s manuscript emblems, belongs to the first decades of the century. At this time the enthusiasm for hieroglyphs was great. Celio Calcagnini was translating Plutarch’s De Iside et Osiride, one of the most difficult Greek texts, and attracted the praise of Erasmus for doing so.
This translation was published posthumously in 1544.

An image of Isis was carried in the Carnival procession of 1520, modeled on a statue in Pope Leo X’s collection (Curran p. 190f, citing Pastor, History of the Popes 8:174f, descriptions by Sanuto and Michiel).

(To be concluded next post, where I will talk about how hieroglyphs spread from Italy to the rest of Western Europe, under the name of "emblems.")
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hieroglyphs part 4


Now for the end of my discussion of Renaissance hieroglyphs (I hope). Originally I had this part in my third post of this series; but when I added to it the quotes from Drysdall, which I didn't have originally, the post was too long. So here is part 4.

In 1531 Alciato, a student of Fasanini, published his Liber Emblematicum. Originally from Milan, Alciato studied law at Pavia and Bologna, and then alternated between France and Ialy. His book propagated the word emblema throughout sixteenth-century Europe. His account of his subject has been quoted by Kwaw, but it is worth citing again: In 1532
Quote:
Words indicate; things are indicated. But things can also indicate, for example, in the ‘Hieroglyphics of Horapollo’ (hieroglyphica apud Horum. Working from their arguments, we have also written a book in verse with the title Emblemata.
In 1531 he was in France teaching, either in Avignon or Bourges, when his book was published in Augsburg, dedicated to an Augsburg jurist (this information and following comes from Moffit's introduction to his English translation, p. 11ff). Since Alciato was a jurist, my guess is that the other was a friend helping him get his manuscript published. The manuscript did not come with illustrations, so the publisher had a local engraver make some. Since in some cases the engraver misinterpreted Alciato’s verse, it was evidently done without Alciato’s participation. However in 1934 an edition in Paris followed, this one with corrected images and nine more emblems; a French translation followd, 1436, and many other languages and editions, some of the earlier ones following the Augsburg oriignal, others the Paris. In 1546 Aldus in Venice published a second volume, adding 86 more emblems to the canon.

Alciato's word was “emblema” or “emblamata,” a use of the words pioneered by the Hypnerotomachia, which had referred to the arrangements of hieroglyphs there as “emblematura,” meaning “mosaic work”—from “emblema,” originally, in Cicero and other authors, referring to tiles stuck on plates for decorative purposes (Manning p. 69). From him the word spread throughout Europe. Thus Moffit says (p. 7)
Quote:
As was explained in French by Gilles Corrozet in 1540, an “embleme” is that which “on peut nommer lettre hiroglyphique” (one could call hieroglyphic writing).
Moffitt says that "by the end of the eighteenth century, there were more than 1,300 emblematic authors, and it has been estimated that they ahd collectively published at least 5,300 titles" (p. 10). Of these, one in particular stands out. Curran calls Valeriano’s Hieroglyphica “the most significant and influential treatment of the subject to be produced in the sixteenth century” (p. 227f). He published it in 1565 but had been working on it for decades, probably since moving to Rome in 1509, Curran says (p. 228). Manning, in a passage I quoted earlier in connection with Calcagnini, concurs. Just as Egyptian hieroglyphics were thought to contain the sum-total of wisdom known to the Egyptians, so Valeriano’s work similarly is a summation of 16th century knowledge. Galis says
Quote:
In the preparation of the Hieroglyphica Valeriano drew upon 225 authorities, ranging from Egyptian priests to Erasmus of Rotterdam, and including practically all known texts, sacred and secular, ancient and modern, that could be thought to contain “sacred wisdom.” (Diana Gallis, “Concealed Wisdom: Renaissance Hieroglyphic and Lorenzo Lotto’s Bergamo Intarsie,” (Art Bulletin 62:2 (1980), pp. 363-375) p. 364)
It was written “during a frenzy of popularity surrounding the rediscovered Hieroglyphica of Horapollo,” Wikipedia says (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piero_Valeriano_Bolzani). It is nearly a thousand pages and very few pictures, as inspection of it in Google Books will reveal.

Galis is one of the few scholars to cite Valeriano extensively, as it has yet to be translated into English or even published in a modern edition in any language.

Again let me refer to an author’s introduction. Gallis footnotes his Latin text (p. 365), which I reproduce as a scan, so that I can be sure of not introducing typing errors. Afterwards I will quote her summary. Here I include the Latin, even though I can’t read it, because her account of it in English seems quite short compared with the text.



Quote:
Hieroglyphic, according to Piero Valeriano, whose Hieroglyphica of 1556 represents the sum of sixteenth-century knowledge on the subject, is a language of images invented by Egyptian priests and preserved by them for the purpose of revealing sacred wisdom, i.e., the lessons of philosophy, theology, history, and poetry, to the knowledgeable few, while concealing it from the ignorant multitude. The hieroglyphic method of revealing to some while concealing from others, says Valeriano, was adopted among the Greeks by Pythagoras and Plato, and among the Hebrews by Moses, David, the Prophets, indeed by all the writers of sacred Scripture. In the Christian era, he says, explicating Psalm 77:2, Christ himself used hieroglyphic when he spoke in parables, and the Apostles, following Christ’s example, similarly veiled their teachings. (Gallis p. 364f)
Concurrently with ordinary emblem books, books with enigmatic alchemical emblems were published. A famous example is Michael Meier’s Atalanta Fugiens, 1618. Even before the rise of the “emblem” format (picture, motto, explanation), alchemy books often had enigmatic illustrations, for example the Zurich copy of the Aurora Consurgens, early 15th century. There were alchemical books listed in the 1426 inventory of the Visconti library at Pavia (Joose-Gaugier, Pythagoras and Renaissance Europe, p. 245).

Roman letters were included with hieroglyphs in the Hypnerotomachia and in paintings of obelisks etc by Bellini, Mantegna, etc. Here is Dempsey:
Quote:
The reason for this lies in the Renaissance notion that the Romans themselves used hieroglyphs on their temple friezes and on coins and medals, where they appear together with conventional inscriptions and familiar abbreviations. The dolphin and anchor, for example, derives from a coin of Titus, while the reverses of imperial coins are often inscribed with such forms as S.C. for Senatus consulto.p. 357)
As for temple friezes, there was San Lorenzo and a temple of Vespasian (see my previous post).

To these I think we could add the friezes on Roman-era Dionysian sarcophagi. To the uninitiated, these simply look like orgiastic “bacchanals”; but the people and objects were seen in terms of Orphic and Dionysian “mysteries” and so had ritual meaning, discernible to those who could interpret myths and veiled allusions in classical sources. In that sense, they conveyed profound truths about life, death, and salvation, truths knowable to the wise or initiated; they, too, are hieroglyphs. They were engraved in the 16th century and inspired further works of art (some of it classed as pornography).

But I think that in the emblem books, starting with Alciato, there is a certain debasement from the lofty mysticism of the 15th and early 16th century. Even Valeriano does not really deliver on his claims of reaching divine heights, according to Manning (p. 61). Instead of truth inexpressible in words, we have seemingly enigmatic pictures which on closer inspection turn out to be common exhortations to virtue. In contrast, Alberti would partially explain an image, leaving out important elements, and end by telling the reader he's only said some of what's there. (I like to think the same about tarot cards.) I should probably expand on or qualify this point, but I will stop here.
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Francesco Filelfo also makes use of Horapollo in his commentary on Petrarch's sonnets and canzoni.

In his commentary on Sonnet 8 - "A pie de colli: ove la bella vesta" - he gets into a discussion of lust at the end: "Partridges are lustful birds, not only in the manner of the male with the female, but, according to what the naturalists write, these males instead together perform the vice against nature. For this reason the Egyptians, before letters were discovered, when they wanted to represent such a vice, figured two such partridges." (Le pernice sono animali luxuriosi in modo che non solamente il maschia usa la femina: ma etiamdio, secondo che scriveno i naturali, essi maschi essendo invechiati usano insieme nel vicio contra natura. Et per questa cagione gli Egyptii prima che le lettere trovate fusseno volendo significare tale vicio figuravano due si facte pernice)

(for an old translation of part of this sonnet, see -
http://books.google.com/books?id=czH...nna%22&f=false )

The mention of Egyptians made me suspect Horapollo. Googling "Horapollo" and "partridge" brought up a result with explained both "the naturalists" and "the Egyptians": "'Pliny says 'in no other animal [the partridge] is there such susceptibility in the sexual feelings', and that when the female is sittting on her eggs the cocks relieve their emotions by practising sodomy'. Although Horapollo 106 confirms this homosexuality, his explanation differs: 'when these birds lose their mates, they abuse each other.'" (Williams quoting Graves here)

(link to page 999, s.v. "Partridge", in Gordon Williams, A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature -
http://books.google.com/books?id=2Xt...tridge&f=false )

Okay. Editions seem to differ on numbering, but searching "when these birds lose their mates" in Google Books brought up a translation (George Boas, 1950) where it is Horapollo bk. II, number 95: "PEDERASTY. When they wish to indicate pederasty, they draw two partridges. For when these birds lose their mates, they abuse each other."

(Link to George Boas translation of the Hieroglyphics -
http://books.google.com/books?id=NF-...tes%22&f=false )

The 1840 translation by Alexander Turner Cory, presented at Sacred Texts .com, at least translates the delicate subject matter into Latin rather than bowdlerizing the book entirely: "XCV. QUOMODO PAEDICATIONEM. [Pos Paiderastian] Pædicationem designantes, geminas perdices pingunt: quæ cum viduæ sunt, se invicem abutuntur." (note it is also chapter 95 - where did Graves get 106 from?)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeH View Post
I checked Dempsey. On whether Filelfo had a copy of Horapollo. Dempsey says:

Quote:
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) -


http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/f...amonti1444.jpg

This is a combined image from the 1502 edition of the Epistolarum Familiarium libri XXXVII here -
http://www.uni-mannheim.de/mateo/ita..._itali.html#p1

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.
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Thanks for confirming Dempsey, Ross. 1444 might have been a good year for the tarot in Milan, if, for example, a deck was made as a gift for the christening of Filippo's new grandson, or some such occasion.

As to the relevance of Filelfo's reading Horapollo, etc, to the tarot, I was trying to answer the question you posed at the beginning of this thread: why did writers later call the cards "hieroglyphs" and when might that have started? I am not denying that the cards had conventional meanings. What was significant about hieroglyphs is that they had sacred ro noble meanings hidden from the many, known only to the wise. If cards were hieroglyphs, they, too, would have similar meanings, inaccessible to the many. The humanists would not have invented the the card-designs, but only given their recondite interpretations of them, seeing them as stimulants for further meditation, and mostly only responsible for particular details which would mean something to the wise but not the ignorant. However a few cards were not conventional, and might well have been inspired by humanists: I am thinking of the Cary Sheet Moon card, for example. Only the crayfish was conventionally associated with the Moon (somehow the same thing as a crab).

As to when the term "hieroglyph" might have been applied in that sense to the cards, Filfelfo probably picked up his Horapollo when he lived in Florence, early 1430s. Then he was in Bologna in 1439 and Milan starting later in the year. Bologna had Alberti there in the 1420s as well. Ferrara had Alberti in 1439 and then in the 1440s as a friend of Leonello's, when Alberti was writing his book. I would guess that the later significance of pictures as hieroglyphs was not appreciated at first; but at what point, and by whom, is too speculative for me: certainly by the 1440s. Plethon's 1439 lectures in Florence might have helped.
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