Greek Statues & Iconography and the Tarot Images


I'd like to discuss some relationships between Tarot card images and images (or statues) of Greek gods etc. I seem to be finding a lot more than I expected.


The Star

MikeH tells me this is Venus, or Aphrodite. Aphrodite is always displayed nude, and sometimes in such a kneeling position.

He also has some interesting theories about the cups in the Star card.


Hebe - Temperance

Hebe was the first cup-bearer for the gods.
She is also known as Iris, and the Waite deck features the Iris flower in the Temperance card.
I think I read that she was sometimes represented as a winged woman, although I can't find the reference now.

Hebe was replace by Ganymede as the cup-bearer by zeus, and became the constellation of Aquarius.

Hebe was often shown with Aphrodite, apparently.


Jupiter - Justice

This one's a bit more of a stretch

The magical image for Zeus is described as a king seated on a throne.


Who is that small woman he is holding?

Or is The Throned King Zeus represented by the Emperor?

Our could the Emperor be Ouranus, father of Cronus/Saturn, grandfather of Zeus


Cronus Hermit

Even more of a stretch. Cronus/Saturn seems to be the only male god shown with a hood or cowl over his head, as does the Hermit.




And sometimes (once?) with a staff (or is that his scythe with the blade missing? Note the handle half-way down)


Some people say that there is confusion between Chronus and Kronos and Saturn. But here is an image with the hourglass and the scythe together.
Some Hermits show the hourglass instead of the lantern.


Of couse, the Hermit stands on a snow-capped peak, which corresponds to Mount Olympus,
although this does not help us distinguish which ruler of Olympus he is.

Hebe as Temperance is interesting to me.
I have both Aphrodite and Hebe (about 4 ft. tall statues) on my porch.
They used to grace my garden, but that is another story.



The Greeks chiseled Fortune as a woman, bald save her forelocks - an opportunity to be seized as she comes at you, or missed once she’s passed you by. As Kairos, her name was invoked in both archery and weaving to describe the flawless moment, when art and practice effortlessly combine - letting loose the arrow that meets its target, or patiently and methodically working the loom, maneuvering One’s shuttle to weave the fabric of creation.

Her connection to Jupiter may reflect the relation to Saturn. Yet, whereas Kronos merely ensures that Time waits for no one, Kairos offers the capacity for brilliance, to shine in those moments where we recognize when to act and what to do.... Also- Keiros asks us to contemplate the Hand setting Fortune’s wheel (=666) into motion.


beanu said:
Who is that small woman he is holding?

I gather from the wreath she seems to be carrying that she represents Niké, goddess of victory and of sneakers. That looks to be a replica of the statue of Olympian Zeus by Pheidias.


This could be a fun thread, Beanu. I just noticed it. But it's misnamed: the way you started it out, it is about Greek gods and goddesses, not Greek astrology. I'm not very up on astrology, or I would have checked it out before now; I know more about mythology.

To narrow the discussion a bit, it seems to me that only imagery available in Western Europe during the 15th-late 17th centuries, when the tarot was being developed, should be considered. Your Hebe, while impressive, is by Canova, late 18th-early 19th century. It could have been inspired by the card. What did she look like a little earlier? Also, we can't in general use Greek pottery or statues, because they weren't known until the 18th century.

I have lots of Greco-Roman imagery at hand that was, or probably was, available in 15th-17th century Italy and France, relating to various tarot cards. How do I put it up for people to look at?

Finally, what is your source for her being the original for Aquarius? All I find is Ganymede in that role. It makes sense--she had to go somewhere after she lost her job. I just can't find a source.