Greek Statues & Iconography and the Tarot Images



Hyginus edition 1535, but the 1482 edition from Ratdolt should have been rather similar.

Following text from
Hyginus translated:


Aquarius or Water Bearer. Many have said he is Ganymede, whom Jupiter is said to have made cupbearer of the gods, snatching him up from his parents because of his beauty. So he is shown as if pouring water from an urn.

Hegesianax, however, says he is Deucalion, because during his reign such quantities of water poured from the sky that the great Flood resulted.

Eubulus, again, points out that he is Cecrops, commemorating the antiquity of the race, and showing that men used water in the sacrificed of the gods before wine was given to them, and that Cecrops ruled before wine was discovered.


There is a certain circular figure among the constellations, white in color, which some have called the Milky Way. Eratosthenes says that Juno, without realizing it, gave milk to the infant Mercury, but when she learned that he was the son of Maia, she thrust him away, and the whiteness of the flowing milk appears among the constellations.

Others have said that Hercules was given to Juno to nurse when she slept. When she awoke, it happened as described above. Others, again, say that Hercules was so greedy that he couldn’t hold in his mouth all the milk he had sucked, and the Milky Way spilled over from his mouth.

Still others say that at the time Ops brought to Saturn the stone, pretending it was a child, he bade her offer milk to it; when she pressed her breast, the milk that was caused to flow formed the circle which we mentioned above."


The topic star catalog developed necessarily in its icongraphy: as the nicest representation is taken the ceiling of the Sala da Mappamondo (ca. 1575) in the Palazzo Farnese.
Here they found to this representation (detail with Aquarius and Eridanus, which are near to each other):


... and itself the Sala looks like this (just to give an impression)



When I think about a connection between the ideas "Milky way" and "Aquarius", thn I find to the conditions, that in the Manilius astrology the goddess Juno alias Hera reigned in the month Februar and was so connected to just Aquarius.

Minerva- Aries
Venus - Taurus
Apollo - Gemini
Mercury - Cancer
Jupiter - Leo
Ceres - Virgo
Vulcan - Libra
Mars - Scorpio
Diana - Sagittarius
Vesta - Cappricorn
Juno - Aquarius
Pisces - Neptun

The Manilius astrology became known in Italy, when the Florentine Poggio discovered some old texts in German cloister libraries during his stay at the council of Constance. The Manilius poem seems to have been his most important finding then.

The text exploded in its importance, when duke Borso took it as a model for the paintings in grandious paintings in Palazzo Schifanoia. The work started 1469. In 1472 appeared editions of the Manilius edition parallel in Ferrara and Nurrember (there Regiomontanus as publisher). Then it seems, that the astrology/astronomy of Manilius, was quickly overcome by other, more common astronomical models ... it was not completely forgotten, but the influence stayed small.
(Wikipedia mentions only the Regiomontanus edition, but there was one 1472
in Ferrara)

For the Juno painting in Palazzo Schifanoia .. it think, it was lost ... (error ?, I don't believe it)

But from the situation it's clear, that an iconographicul action took place once (probably around 1471) in Ferrara, the location, where also Tarot cards were produced, to connect Juno with Aquarius. Generally we find Aquarius near to Eridanus, the river in which Phaethon found its end.
This scene found its expression in the Mantegna Tarocchi, from which the hypothesis states, that it was made ca. 1475, not ca. 1465 - in this case after the Palazzo Schifanoia paintings (in the Juno case unknown to us). It's a scene, where the young hero drops dead from the triumphal chariot - surely a speaking picture in the time, when whole Italy fevered about this new Trionfi custom. But the star picture Eridanus is long, so it could be associated by this logic to Aquarius or Pisces or to both.

So I don't know ...

Hera-Juno was naturally connected to the "Milky Way" legend with Herakles - ... indeed, occasionally in antique texts it was not Herakles, but Mercury, who caused the milk spill over the heaven, so Hera-Juno was the central and probably original figure, not Herakles.


Hyginus, Juno, Joseph

I had already cited Hyginus in an earlier post, but from a later edition that has the conventional man with one jug. I had not found the 1535 edition, which has the more feminine Aquarius. My general point was that in one brief period of time, 15th to early 17th century, Aquarius suddenly became feminine, and pronouncedly masculine before and after. I looked on cathedral sites, for example, which have lot of zodiacs. The only possible exception I've found is an Aquarius in a cathedral in Spain, which I can't make out. Perhaps it is a Muslim influence.

Your alternative for how this came about is certainly plausible: there is a famous painting of Francis I of France as androgynous; and with Leonardo da Vinci, one never knows what to think (i.e. his John in the Last Supper, his angels, his Baptist, maybe even his Mona). However after this free-wheeling period Aquarius went back to his masculine welf; but the Star figure went the other way. Why is that? That's even more where I suspect the influence of Dendera. At some point (after I have finished a certain project on another thread, I will post some other images from Greco-Roman Egyptian zodiacs that may have seeped into the tarot.

Your point about Juno is well taken. I had investigated the Juno connection but did not find enough information to present more than a brief sketch. The Milky Way is the path from the constellations to the realm of the gods, like the "spring of remembering" in Pausanias.

An addition to your point about Joseph: His interpretation of Pharoah's dream, that there would be 7 lean years and 7 fat years, is indirectly connected to the seven smaller stars. The Nile had a 7 on/7 off flood pattern. So 7 came to be associated with fate, in fact the "7 hathors" were said to appear at a child's birth to predict the course of its life. This Joseph-Hathors connection is in Desroche-Noblecourt's book about Egypt (in French) that I quoted earlier.

I doubt if the Renaissance knew about the Egyptians' interpretation of 7 as fate, but it may be an aspect of the Greek astrological idea that that the "7 planets" determine one's destiny. In the New Testament there is the sentence about Jesus "casting out7 devils" from Mary Magdalene. In the apocryphal "Gospel of Mary Magdalene" (part of the late 18th century Bruce Codex) Mary has a vision in which the soul passes by the 4 elements and then confronts 7 "powers.of wrath," described in planetary terms, after which it is free. The "Poimandres" in the Corpus Hermeticum has a similar passage, extremely well known in the Renaissance. Some examples: Henry Vaughn, 17th century, put the Poimandres version into poetic form, and Fludd put an extended version of it (from Reuchlin or Agrippa, ultimately back to Pico and Ficino if not earlier) in picture form. Beyond the 7 is freedom (through Jesus or whatever), the one large star.


Temperance & Hebe, Part Two

Now that I know how to post images, I will return to the Temperance card.

Here is the image of Hebe in Cartari, Lyon 1581, the only one I've found from that period. (You can read about Cartari at In the margin are the words "Iuventa Dea," goddess of youth. The image, with commentary in Latin, is at and surrounding pages.


She has two cups, I think. Her pose is very much like that of the 18th century Conova statue that Beanu posted at the beginning of this thread. You might wonder what is going on the right-hand side of the illustration, with the man praying. The publisher wants you to buy the book and read the explanation!

Well, here is what Cartari says, from the 1647 Venice edition (the original was in Italian). I have divided it into two sections, alternating with my attempt at a translation. The first section pertains to the left half, the second to the right half. There remain words that I could not find in the online dictionaries. However it will all make sense in the end:

"Il che pare essere proprio di tutti gli altri Dei anchora, che non invecchiano mai. Onde Homero disse che Hebe, la quale voce appresso de i Greci viene à dire fiore della età, e significa la prima lanugine che mettono i giovani, ministrava il vino, o nettare che fosse, e dava bere à tutti gli altri Dei, si come Ganimede à Giove solo. Percioche questa fu la Dea della gioventù, adorata parimente da gli antichi, e la facevano i Romani nel tempio, che à lei fu dedicato nel circo massimo da Caio Licinio, e l'haveva votato sedici anni prima Marco Livio il dì, che ruppe l'esercito di Asdrubale, come scrive Livio, in forma di bellissima giovane con vesti di diversi colori, e con ghirlande di bei fiori in capo, poco differente dalla Dea Pomona."

"He [Apollo] seems really to be, of all the other Gods, one who never grows old. Whence Homer said that Hebe, was called in Greece "flower of the age": i.e. the first down that young people have. She attended to the wine, or served the nectar, and gave it to all the other gods to drink, while Ganymede alone served Jupiter. Because this was the Goddess of youth, she was beloved parimente by the ancients, and the Romans devoted a temple to her, which was dedicated in the circus maximus of Caio Licinio, approved sixteen years before, Mark Livio wrote, when the army of Asdrubale dispersed. As Livio writes, she had the form of beautiful girl, with dresses of different colors, and with garlands of beautiful flowers on her head, little different from the Goddess Pomona."

Cartari does not talk about the two cups, unless we count one each for the wine and nectar he mentions, which she pours. But now we have a work of art much closer in time to the mid-15th century, the time of the first recorded image of the lady with the two jugs. It is now all the more likely that Hebe was a source for that image, either from a pictorial tradition or from some literary source, such as the passage from Nonus I quoted in my earlier post. Here is the second passage in Cartari, immediately following the first:

"Ma come fosse fatta da Greci non saprei dire: perche Pausania scrive, che nel tempio dedicatole nel paese di Corinto in certo boschetto di cipressi non hebbe questa Dea statoa alcuna, che si mostrasse, e manco che stesse occulta per certa ragione misteriosa, la quale egli non ha però voluto dire, ne io l'ho saputa trovare scritta da altri. Non di meno l'adoravano quelle genti, e le facevano grandi honori, il maggiore era che chi fuggiva colà humilmente supplicando la Dea era liberato per rispetto di lei da ogni castigo, e pena, che havesse meritata per qual sivoglia grave peccato. E quelli, li quali erano liberati di ferro, portavano i zeppi quivi, e gli appiccavano à gli alberi intorno al tempio."

"But how she was served in Greece I would not know how to say: because Pausanias writes that in the temple devoted to her, in the countryside of Corinth in a certain grove of cypresses, no statues to this Goddess were displayed, nor were there hidden ones, for some mysterious reason, which he didn't want to say, nor have I found it written by others. These people adored no gods less than her, and did her great honors, the greatest being that those who ran away there humbly begging the Goddess were freed, for respect of her, from every punishment, even punishment deserved for qual sivoglia serious sin. And those who were freed from the irons, brought the zeppi there, and set them in the trees around the temple."

The meaning is still not altogether certain. Fortunately, Cartari has cited an easily accessible source in this second bit; we can get his meaning from the online translations of Pausanias, Description of Greece(2nd century c.e.), 2.13.3. The text is indeed in the section on Corinth. Since the translations differ, I will give two, the first from and the second from Sir James Frazier's translation. I have underlined the relevant sentences:

"On the Phliasian citadel [at Phlios, Argos] is a grove of cypress trees and a sanctuary which from ancient times has been held to be peculiarly holy. The earliest Phliasians named the goddess to whom the sanctuary belongs Ganymeda; but later authorites call her Hebe, whom Homer mentions in the duel between Menelaos and Alexandros, saying that she was the cup-bearer of the gods; and again he says, in the descent of Odysseus to Haides, that she was the wife of Herakles. Olen [a legendary Greek poet], in his hymn to Hera, says that Hera was reared by the Horai (Seasons), and that her children were Ares and Hebe. Of the honours that the Phliasians pay to this goddess the greatest is the pardoning of suppliants. All those who seek sanctuary here receive full forgiveness, and prisoners, when set free, dedicate their fetters on the trees in the grove. The Phliasians also celebrate a yearly festival which they call Kissotomoi (Ivy-cutters). There is no image, either kept in secret of openly displayed, and the reason for this is set forth in a sacred legend of theirs though on the left as you go out is a temple of Hera with an image of Parian marble." (

"In the acropolis of Phlius there is a grove of cypresses and a sanctuary of awful and immoemorial sanctity. The goddess of the sanctuary is named Ganymeda by the most ancietn Phliasian autorities, but Hebe by the later authorities. Homeralso mentions Hebe in the single combat of Menelaus and Alexander, where he says that she was the cupbearer of the gods; and again, in Ulysses' descent to hell, he says she was the wife of Hercules. Olen in his hymn to Hera says that Hera was nurtured by the Seasons, and was the mother of Ares and Hebe. Of the honors which the Phliasians the greatest is this: slaves who take sanctuary here are safe, and when prisoners are loosed from their bonds, they hang their fetters on the trees in the grove. The Phliasians also hold a yearly festival which they call Ivy-cutters. [/u]Image they have none, neither preserved in secret nor shown openly. The reason for this is given in a sacred story of theirs.[/u] (Frazier, Vol. 1 p. 90, in Google Books.)

From this account we can see another reason why the card-designers would have chosen Hebe as one of their models for the Temperance card, besides her function as dispenser of the elixer of immortality. You can see it in the illustration. Praying to Hebe is like praying to the Virgin Mary, for intercession in the forgiveness of sins. Hebe, like the Eucharist, grants absolution.

Neither Pausanias nor Cartari mention the two cups that are in the illustration. Perhaps they are the wine and nectar which Cartari mentions her serving. But now we can see the iconographic tradition in which Canova sculpted his statue, and it goes back at least to Lyon of 1581 and probably earlier, considering that the card is essentially unchanged from the mid-15th century on.

I thought I might end by showing you a few images of the drunken Dionysus. These relate to my framing of Temperance in terms of the god of wine. First, here is a woodcut of Dionysus in a procession, from Cartari 1647:


I suspect that the source of that illustration was one of the Dionysian sarcophagi that were lying around in Rome at the time. Italian nobles had been emptying them and having themselves buried in them ever since an early Visconti cleric established a combination museum/cemetery in Pisa for them in the 1300's. (It's right next to the Leaning Tower.) Their original contents might have been an early source of gold tablets with Orphic sayings on them. They were also used as planters in gardens. Here is one sarcophagus with the drunken Dionysus. I have flanked him with Michelangelo's version and a tarot card. The card is what the Church should expect when it objects to the representation of the Pope: the designer puts a drunk there instead.


Finally, from left to right, we have Camoin-Jodorwsky, 1999, a Roman-era mosaic from Morroco, and Catelin Geoffrey 1557


The middle image would not have been seen in the Renaissance, but they would have understood the message independently, as shown in Cartari and Michelangelo. The caption is an invocation to Dionysus that I thought up, using an epithet of his that began with the letter Omicron, the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet. To get 15, I counted the Fool as 0, because there is no Roman numeral 0 and the Fool has no number, and also because it has that number in the Sola-Busca, c. 1491. Giving him that number, 14 Temperance is the 15th trump. I claim no historical validity for the invocation. I was just playing around.


More on Star card

Beanu, in post 52 of this thread, introduced as an association to the Star card an alchemical image of a woman with liquid flowing out of both breasts. I was not very responsive then, trying to put down my own ideas. But I have seen something recently to get me to look at that image again.

I talked a lot about the 1528 fresco with two figures, a nymph and an old man, each carrying two jars wit water pouring out of them. I have had occasion to look at another photo of that fresco, or rather, corner of a fresco--and what do you know, there is a lady with liquid flowing out of both breasts. She is the figure I had identified as Dionysus. To refresh your memory, here is the scene, as shown in Art in Venice by Furlotti and Rebecchini (English ed. 2008, originally in Italian):


The colors are slightly different than in the version I posted before, because it is in a different book. The lady in question is behind the nymph with the jars. Here is a closer view:


You can see the milk flowing from her breasts, onto the rock, and then breaking up into 3 streams below her. For comparison, here is Beanu's image, posted a couple of weeks ago:


As you can see, they are quite similar. Beanu's is from the De Occulta Philosophia, attributed to Basil Valentine, reputedly a 15th century German monk (Johannes Fabricius, Alchemy p. 78). Although the illustrated version was first published in 1603, the image may have been known when Romano did the fresco in 1528. Since the room was used as a banquet hall on state occasions, one may assume that such imagery would have been understood by educated Europeans in general.

The earliest text reference I have found is to a text called the "Tractatus aureus." According to C. G. Jung (Psychology and Alchemy p. 358), it was "ascribed to Hermes and regarded as of Arabic origin even in the Middle Ages." It says:

"The king shall come forth from the fire and rejoice in the marriage. The hidden things shall be disclosed, and the virgin's milk be whitened...Come hither, ye sons of wisdom, and rejoice, the dominion of death is over, and the son reigns; he wears the red garment and the purple is put on."

The earliest alchemical image I have found is in the 14th century Aurora Consurgens, showing two philosophers suckling at the breasts of the philosopher's stone (in red). She is giving them the universal elixer, the lac virginis or virgin's milk.


A later image, closer in form and meaning to the fresco, is in John Mylius's Philosophia Reformata, 1624 (de Rola, The Golden Game), p. 178):


Here there are two sets of two streams each, one set from the maiden and one from the whale. The one gives the virgin's milk, also called the water of life. The other has the water of death: it is alchemical sulphur, made into an acid bath in which the substances in the alchemist's laboratory dissolve. Fabricius (Alchemy p. 78), describes the this water as follows:

This is the 'foutain's vinegar,' a corrosive and poisonour agent, 'splitting' or souring the 'virgin's milk' and the 'water of life.'

And about the mixture of the two waters:

"The sea is filled with the mercurial water of birth and death, described by the adepts in many ways: ";/They call the simple water poison quicksilver, cambar, permanent water, gum, vinegar, urine, sea-water, dragon and serpent....This stinking water contains everything it needs...It is the mother of all things, and out of it and through it and within they prepare the laps. ..The water is that which kills and vivifies." (Alchemical quotes, all 16th century or earlier, cited by Jung, Collected Works Vol 16 , paragraph 454). It is again the two waters in the Star card, one for immortality and the other for mortality and the eternal round of death and new birth.

But the image of a virgin spouting miraculous milk was a perfectly orthodox Christian idea. Here is a 1533 quotation of 1533, from a Spanish pilgrim to the Holy Land:

"Outside the church [in Bethlehem] is a cave, entered by a small door, in which the Blessed Virgin Mary gave suck to her son...The pilgrims take pieces of the earth of this grotto for the use of women who have no milk." (Women Pilgrims in late medieval England: private piety as public performance, by Susan Signe Morrison, p. 32, at Google books).

And also this one:

"Throughout the Middle Ages, the faithful cherished vials of the Virgin's milk as a healing balm, a symbol of mercy, an eternal mystery." (Nature's body: gender in the making of modern science, by Londa L. Schiebinger, p. 59, at Google books).

The image is also pre-Christian: there were the breasts of Diana at Ephesus. The famous statue was recreated with improvements at the Villa d'Este, near Rome at Tivoli ( The d'Este were the rulers of Ferrara, close to Mantua and an early center of proto-tarot production.


The virgin Diana/Artemis, Greco-Roman goddess of childbirth, is a precursor to the Virgin Mary. First the one and then the other were revered at Ephesus.

And of course before that there was the "Venus of Willendorf," the rotund goddess with the big breasts whose worship was everywhere at the dawn of culture 20 to 27 thousand years ago.



Three other details in the Romano fresco are noteworthy.

(1) The dead or dry tree is clearly visible behind the lady with the milk. It conrasts with the living tree next to the old man. This is a Christian contrast between the tree of knowledge and the tree of life. The tree of knowledge was said to have withered after Adam and Eve ate from it. For example, in the Purgatorio, shortly before drinking of the two waters in the Earthly Paradise, Dante walks through a woods:

So passing through the lofty forest, vacant
By fault of her who in the serpent trusted,
Angelic music made our steps keep time...
I heard them murmur altogether, "Adam!"
Then circled they about a tree despoiled
Of blooms and other leafage on each bough...

He soon witnesses the tree blooming with new life, as a result of contact with a griffon representing the Church: the tree of death was transformed by Christ's sacrifice. There was also, for Dante, a tree that never withered, a heavenly tree (Paradiso XVIII, 29). A famous Renaissance painting illustrating the two trees is Piero della Francesco Rserrecion of Christ:


I do not know of any similar Greek imagery. It may be significant that this tree is directly above the nymph; to me that positioning suggests that she offers the water of death, of languishing in Hades or a return to our world for a new incarnation. She is a femme fatale, not divine love.

(2) The living tree, next to the old man, is not what I thought it was earlier: it is cut off above the first branch. I had assumed from the earlier photo that the trunk and branches extended upward, but we could not see them because of damage to the wall. That is clearly not the case:


In cut-off tree imagery, a branch usually grows upwards out of the stump, signifying death and resurrection. Here are two examples, both from the Renaissance:


(Images from Gerhard Ladner, "Vegetation Symbolism and the Concept of Renaissance," in Images and Ideas in the Middle Ages, p. 746 p. 746, figs. 4 and 5, at Google Books). The designation "falcon" is Leonardo's. But it looks to me more like Noah’s dove, bringing back a twig of new life. As Ladner observes, the theme is clearly that of renewal (Ladner p. 733). The branch on the stump is an image that goes back at least to Roman times: a Roman fresco found at the Villa Farnesina shows the killing of the infant Dionysus accompanied by the same motif (Ladner p. 733). And the historian Livy used the image to describe the renewal of Rome after its destruction by the Gauls (Ladner p. 731).

In the Romano fresco, however, the branch is below where the trunk is cut off. The branch grows abundantly in the direction of the lake. I would surmise that the significance is the importance of experiencing the realm of the immortals as much as possible before one dies, even though one may not drink of their Lake of Memory beforehand.

In the only similar image I have found so far, it is linked with the Phoenix, the bird which dies and is reborn, and also with the conjunction of Christ and the Virgin Mary. The accompanying poem says:

“Behold how Death aymes [aims] with his mortal dart,
And wounds a Phoenix with a twin-like hart.[heart].
These are the harts [hearts] of Jesus and his Mother
So linkt [linked] in one, that one without the other
Is not entire...”


(Image and text from The Virgin Mary as alchemical and Lullian Reference in Donne, by Roberta Albrecht, p. 62, at Google Books). It would seem that the image is of the soul’s union with Christ; only in such union can the soul partake of the Phoenix of resurrection.

There is an evident connection with the Greek image of the Phoenix. I am still researching the issue of the bird’s relationship to the tree in medieval and Renaissance imagery.

(3) If you go back to the first image in this post, you will see a blonde girl in a green dress standing on the right side, looking over at the old man with the two jars. The girl is Psyche, the protagonist of the tale that Romano is illustrating. She appears in a similar green dress elsewhere in the room, which is called the "room of Psyche." The only episode in the story that I can think of to which the scene corresponds is the one in which Venus gives Psyche the trial of going down to Hades and bringing back some of Persephone's beauty ointment for her. Psyche is of course terrified at the prospect of such an ordeal, and almost as terrified on the journey back.

In that context, the body of water would be the River Styx, and the boat in the middle would be Charon's ferry by which people get to Persephone's realm. It would thus not be the Lake of Mnemosyne that I suggested. However I am not convinced that it is only the River Styx. The body of water has many coves and bays, which are not typical of free-flowing rivers. It looks more like a long Italian mountain lake with steep sides, or perhaps a reservoir made by damming up a river in such a place. So it could still have a secondary meaning of the Lake of Memory, I think. And there may also be a play on words: it is lacus, Latin for "lake," as well as lac, Latin for "milk."


more on birds in trees

I have done some more reading, pertaining to the Dodal/Chosson/Conver Star cards' bird in the tree. The following is from Gerhart B. Ladner, Images and Ideas in the Middle Ages , p. 756ff (in Google Books, although without many of the images). After talking at length about trees as symbols of renewal and regeneration, Ladner says:

No wonder then that the two great birds which were renewal symbols par excellence were frequently pictured as perching on trees. These were the eagle and the phoenix, who were both believed to overcome old age by entering upon a new cycle of life (footnote: The eagle by burning its heavy plumage and its dulled eyes in the rays of the sun and then submerging itself three times in a fountain, also by breaking its cumbersome beak on a rock; the phoenix by burning itself completely and arising from its own ashes. The main sources of medieval and even Renaissance phoenix and eagle symbolism were the Physiologus and the bestiaries derived from it. Already the Greek Physiologus (ed. F. Sbordone, Milan, etc., 1936) had established a connection between the rejuvenation lore around eagle and phoenix and baptism, penance, reform.)... From Roman imperial times, if not earlier, the phoenix along with the eagle was a symbol of rulership and of the real or supposed renewal of the world through a ruler ... Renaissance medals, imprese, and emblems often blended images of the great trees-oak, palm, laurel, etc.-and the great birds-especially the eagle and the phoenix-thus evoking a double symbolism of vital renewal in order to intimate greatness, constancy, immortality (see for instance, the medal by Spinelli, Fig. 15)
Here is Radner’s picture of the Spinelli medal:


There was also the alchemical tradition. Here a bird in a tree, not otherwise specified, stood where the elixer or lapis was put, and where, in medieval religious art, Christ often stood. Thus the bird would no more be shown in flames than would the resurrected Christ or the elixer/lapis at the end of the work. Ladner continues (p. 759f):

The phoenix signified the "mercurial" power of the spirit which the alchemist reached in the final and highest stage of his "work". such alchemistic imagery (cf. Fig. 16) the symbolism is no longer that of the Resurrection but of the "highest mercury"; the quasi-mystical matter-transforming and life-renewing core of alchemy (related, of course to ancient Hermetism).
Here is Ladner’s illustration, along with a close-up of the relevant detail.



Radner refers us to Jung’s Psychology and Alchemy for more images. I have reproduced one, Jung’s figure 122.


Here is a clearer view of the words at the top:



There is also Jung’s figure 221 (not shown), also from Norton, very similar but with the lapis in place of the elixer.

And here is one of Ladner’s examples of the corresponding religious imagery:


But the best part is yet to come. Ladner continues:

The phoenix on the tree of life appears, for instance, in a late Renaissance pictorial synthesis of alchemistic renewal symbols: the frontispiece of Francois Beroalde de Verville's translaton (published in the year 1600) of the famous allegorical novel Hynnoerotiomachia Polifili by Fra Francesco Colonna, O.P. (first published 1499), which in the sixteenth century had greatly influenced hieroglyphics and emblematics, but now was interpreted by Beroalde de Verbille from the "stenographic", that is to say, esoteric point of view of alchemy. ...In Beobilde de Verville's image the fountain, the new sprig from the old trunk, the phoenix, the tree of life, and the other symbols of renewal are all connected by the curve of a strong branch which holds this symbolic universe together; the composition is supported furthermore by a vegetative background network formed by a ramifying myrtle tree, which we are told symbolizes the all-pervading power of love. (p. 759f)



Radner adds in a footnote that his account of the symbolism comes from Beobilde de Verville's own introduction. 17th century readers would thus have seen the bird in the tree as a phoenix--although it is clear enough from how it gazes at the sun, a pose that was part of the myth. The Roman poet Claudian had written (

...Then, realizing that his span of life is at an end and in preparation for a renewal of his splendour, he gathers dry herbs from the sun-warmed hills, and making an interwoven heap of the branches of the precious tree of Saba he builds that pyre which shall be at once his tomb and his cradle.
On this he takes his seat and as he grows weaker greets the Sun with his sweet voice; offering up prayers and supplications he begs that those fires will give him renewal of strength...
Then the sun-god provides one golden hair from his head, and the the bird suffers itself to burn in its flames.

So from a Renaissance medallion, alchemical images, and the frontispiece to the Hypnoerotomachia (Strife of Love in a Dream}, we see birds portrayed as sitting in trees without yet being in flames. The Frontispiece especially I cannot help but think influenced the Marseille-style tarot Star card of Dodal and Chosson. The phoenix in his tree gazing upwards at the sun became, or so I imagine, the bird looking up at the Morning Star, the Biblical harbinger of the apocalypse of destruction and renewal.