Horapollo- some thoughts

John Meador

Horapollo's name has emerged here occasionly as a possible source in the development of tarot imagery. I came across three emblems illustrating the cynocephalus for Horapollo in Erik Iversen's: The Myth of Egypt and Its Hieroglyphics in European Tradition, 1961; (plate 16, chapter 3.) One by Albrecht Dürer, another: Horapollo’s De Sacris Aegyptiorum notis, aegyptiace expressis libri duo (Paris, 1574) “Every page illustrated with fine woodcuts, very rare.” And lastly: - Rome: Aloisii Zanetti 1597: a “purified” Greek and Latin version by Giulio Franceschini, for use in the schools, with 184 poor woodcuts. Reprinted 1599.

The "dog-faced ape-baboon-monkey" wears a crown and stands erect (or attempts to) on its hind legs and reaching upwards toward the moon. The moon is depicted twice (in two of these emblems) as both full and crescent. The cynocephalus faces the crescent. In these three versions the cynocephalus is unadorned except for the crown.

At first, I thought of the Moon card in TdM versions of tarot, with its often vague representations of a dog/wolf. Later, it occurred to me that the cynocephalus apparently may figure in Wheel of Fortune cards, doubling as Hermanubis; ie: dog-faced Hermes. The Wheel of Fortune from the uncut sheet of six trumps circa 15th or early 16th C. in the Bibliotheque de l'Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts (see S. Kaplan, 1978 Vol. 1, p.128) has a zoomorphic figure atop the wheel which could be a cynocephalus although it is robed and uncrowned holding an orb of empire. The Jean Payen (Avignon,1713) Roue de Fortune depicts perhaps the crowned cynocephalus atop the Wheel reaching with one arm and holding a sword with the other.
This potential "Egyptian motif" precedes the appearance of Avignon's Hermetic Rite:
"From Gould's History of Freemasonry, Volume III:
From 1740 onwards, there existed at Avignon, capital of the
department Vaucluse, a school or rather many schools of Hermeticism,
working in some cases under Masonic forms on the basis of the Craft
degrees, with an intermediate structure of so-called Scots degrees.
The head of the movement was apparently Dom. Ant. Jos. de Pernety
(1716-1801), a Benedictine Monk, alchemist, and mystic."

One source I've seen asserts that Pernety was Cagliostro's mentor.
-Cagliostro : a biography / by Roberto Gervaso ; translated [from the Italian] by Cormac Ó Cuilleanáin. London : Gollancz, 1974.

"Antoine Joseph Pernety (1716-1801) justified 1766 in Avignon a "Rite

"... from 1740 onwards, several cities in France developed.as centres of occultist high-degree Masonry. Masonic schools of Hermetism and Cabalism developed in Avignon, a city which played a vital role in the exportation of Masonic occultism into England in the 1780's."
-Marsha Schuchard: Freemasonry, secret societies, and the continuity of the occult traditions in English literature, 1975.

"Barruel lists Grabianka, as well as Cagliostro (founder of the Egyptian Rite) and Louis Claude de Saint-Martin (founder of the Elus Coens) as “brethren of Avignon,” who “recognized the Illumineés of Swedenborg as their parent Sect.”

Ross Caldwell has noted earlier the existence of an ideological opposition between de Pauw and Pernety. Pernety and de Pauw may have been at Frederick's court at the same time. Concerning de Pauw's nephew Jean-Baptiste du Val-du-Grace, Freiherr (Baron) von Clootz:

In the Anonymous Parisian Tarot beneath the Magician's table are a dog and monkey sitting together. Interesting in light of the *Children of the planets* scheme of things (magicians being under the Moon's rule).
In this deck, a "monkey" with a "cap" appears to be holding a mirror for a woman in the Sun card.

"The Brambilla Tarot (1440-45) shows the classic blindfolded Dame Fortune at the center with four people around her on the stations of and Typhon in Coptic, is pictured with the qualities of a reptile, suggesting the unconscious, instinctive residue of our animal nature.. ...Etteilla, on the other hand, uses the image of a crowned monkey on a tree branch, ....El Gran Tarot Esoterico combines the crowned monkey of the Etteilla with the white bear of the late fifteenth century Minchiate, here seen rolling a great stone Wheel of Time. "

Also see::
from the Parisian, Jacques Kerver 1543: the first French translation by an anonymous translator, illustrated with 197 woodcuts generally attributed to Jean Cousin. Its Appendix contains ten “additional hieroglyphs,” including 1.66, 2.1 and 2.5 of the Aldine edition, plus some others taken mostly from the Hypnerotomachia Poliphilii.

Horapollo’s De Sacris Aegyptiorum notis, aegyptiace expressis libri duo (Paris, 1574) “Every page illustrated with fine woodcuts, very rare.”
[Emblems] - HORAPOLLO - Ori Apollinis Niliaci, De sacris notis & sculpturis libri duo (...) [Greek text & Latin trsl.] Io. Mercerus. Paris, (G. Morel for) Jacques Kerver, 1551, 8vo, ....One of the great sources of early emblem books and important for the "patterns of symbolic significance which are placed on objects" (French emblem books). Ill. with 196 woodcut emblems (cancellans woodcut pasted on p. 110). Printed in Greek & Roman type. Some Hebrew words (A3r). Woodcut mark at end....

Orus Apollo, de Aegypte : de la signification des notes hiéroglyphiques des Aegyptiens, c'est à dire des figures par les quelles ilz escripvoient leurs mystères secretz et les choses sainctes et divines / nouvellement traduict de grec en francoys [par Jean Martin] et imprimé avec les figures chascun chapitre

"Horapollo. Horapollinis Hieroglyphica graece et latine... curante Joanne Cornelio de Pauw ..." 1727 " Pauw’s introduction and commentaries demonstrate the presence of a vast non-Egyptian material in the Hieroglyphica."

Here is a good page listing various editions of Horapollo

"papio cynocephalus ursinus".
The cynocephalus standing, with its hands raised towards heaven, Horapollo considers to have been the symbol of the rising moon:
Ori Apollinis Niliaci: Hieroglyphica, Per Bernardinum Trebatium Vincentinum a Graecis translata.
" Cynocephalum Scribentes Quid significent. Lunam volentes significare, aut orbem terrarum, aut literas, aut iram, aut natationem, Cynocephalum pingunt. Lunam quidem, quoniam hoc animal varie afficitur ad cursum lunae quando enim Luna Soli juncta non apparet, tunc mas Cynocephalus neque videt, neque comedit tristis est autem oculos in terram dejectus, tanquam Lunae raptum lamentetur. Foemina vero, praeterquem quod non videt, & eodem modo quo mas afficitur fluxum sanguinis emittit ex naturalibus. Unde in sacris & in haec usque tempora nutriunt Cynocephalos, ut per eos pateat Solis & Lunae conjunctio. Orbem terrarum, quoniam di**** duo & septuaginta esse climata mundi hos autem diligenter nutritos in sacris ac curatos non mori, quemadmodum coetera animalia, uno, die, verum singulo quoque die partem earum defunctam sepeliri a sacerdotibus, reliquo corpore adhuc pristinam naturam retinente, & sic deinceps fieri usque ad secundum supra septuagesimum diem, & tunc denique totum mori. Literas, quoniam innatae sunt lierae Cynocephalis apud Aegyptios. Unde cum primum advectus est in templum, Cynocephalus apponit ei sacerdos tabellam, stilum ac attramentum, periculum faciens, an sit ex genere a literis non abhorrente & inscribit. Iram, quoniam animal hoc supra coetera animalia iracundum est. Natationem vero, quoniam reliqua animalia, si natationem frequentent, sordida ac squalida fiunt, solus cynocephalus quo vult enatat, nullis unquem foedatus sordibus."

"Since Hermes of Greek mythology and dog-headed Thoth of Egypt are ancient prototypes of the Mercurius of alchemy, Manly Hall's words are relevant to an interpretation of the companionship of fool and dog. "Cynocephalus, the dog-headed ape," he writes, "was the Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol of writing, and was closely associated with Thoth. Mercury rules the astrological Third House of writing and communication. Cynocephalus is symbolic of the moon and Thoth of the planet Mercury. Because of the ancient belief that the moon followed Mercury about the heavens, the dog-ape was described as the faithful companion of Thoth."
--Richard Roberts

Thoth was the baboon, or again he was represented outright as an ape" (Jung 133). " . . . we have seen the cynocephalus or dog-headed baboon associated with Thoth-Hermes, the highest among the apes known to the Egyptians, that its godlike affinities make it an equally appropriate symbol for that part of the unconscious which transcends the conscious level" (Jung 137). Jung, C.G. Psychology and Alchemy. Princeton University Press 1968.

"As Hermes-Thoth-Aah, he is Thoth, the moon, i.e., his symbol is the bright side of the moon, supposed to contain the essence of creative Wisdom, "the elixir of Hermes". As such he is associated with the Cynocephalus, the dog-headed monkey, for the same reason as was Anubis, one of the aspects of Thoth. (See "Hermanubis".)
Hermanubis (Gr.). Or Hermes Anubis "the revealer of the mysteries of the lower world" -- not of Hell or Hades as interpreted, but of our Earth (the lowest world of the septenary, chain of worlds) --and also of the sexual mysteries."

"...the Egyptian god of reading and writing (as well as magic). This may be a far-fetched piece of symbolism, but the cynocephalus does occur in church architecture and there is at least one representation of Saint Christopher - at St Keverne in Cornwall - where an allusion to the legend that he was originally "dog headed", "of the race of cynocephali", has been tentatively identified.<<M. Anderson, History and Imagery of British Churches (Murray, 1971).>>"

The above post is not intended as an assertion of demonstrable interrelationships, just some ideas I didn't feel like keeping to myself!



I have not had proper time to carefully look through any of the links, but you certainly bring to consideration that broader and important picture of the multifaceted influences at play in various parts of Europe during this time (and earlier).

When I first mentioned Haropollo's little book, it was, of course, not in specific context of direct influence, but rather of the important considerations as to the merit of Egyptian-ite influence at work in not only late antiquity and Roman times, but also in the later mediaeval and proto-Renaissance...

Thankyou for this wonderful addition that will provide for more careful reflections.

I thought it warranted also a quick response before a far more carefully reflected one...

John Meador

Horapollo & Wheel bred prudence

Mercury represented *chance* and Mercury also represented *determinations* as in an inner writing upon the memory by which to effect a mastery over chance; perhaps these were perceived by TdM contemporaries as two manifestations of Mercury; -Hermes and his cynocephalus: Magican and Wheel of Fortune.

"WHAT A BABOON SIGNIFIES When they mean the moon, or the inhabited earth, or letters, or a priest, or anger, or a diver, they draw a baboon. The moon, because this animal has a certain sympathy with the conjunction of this goddess. For when the moon, moving into conjunction with the sun, is darkened, then the male baboon does not look nor does he eat; but he is bowed down to the earth in grief, as if lamenting for the rape of the moon. And the female does not look either and suffers the same things as the male, and bleeds from her genitals. For this reason up to now baboons have been fed in the temples, in order that from them can be known the time of the conjunction of the sun and moon. And the inhabited earth, since they say that there were seventy-two ancient countries of the earth. And the fact that these happen to be fed in the temples and taken care of [is explained because] these are not like other beasts who die in one day. But a part of them dies on each day and is honoured with funeral rites in the temples, while the rest of the body remains in its natural condition. And when the seventy-second day is completed, then the whole animal dies. And letters, because here in Egypt a race of baboons exists who know their letters, in accordance with which, when a baboon was first cared for in a temple, the priest handed him a tablet and pen and ink. This was to attempt to find out whether he was of the race which knew its letters and whether he could write. Moreover, the animal is sacred to Hermes, the god of letters. And a priest, because by nature the baboon does not eat fish, nor even "fish-bread." And it is born circumcised, which operation the priests are accustomed to perform. ... << On the literate baboon, see Aelian, VI, 10.>>

"MOONRISE When they wish to signify the rising of the moon, they draw a baboon again, but in this way: standing, with its hands raised to heaven and a crown on its head. This figure they mean to indicate moonrise, for the baboon is represented, so to speak, as if praying to the goddess. For both share in light. <<This will be recognized as an old story from Pliny, VIII, 54 (215).... That the baboon is sacred to the moon appears also in Artemidorus, II, 12. 4. This is one of the hieroglyphs which was actually used to decipher an Egyptian inscription. See Lorenzo Pignoria's Mensae Isiacae Expositio, Frankfort, 1608, with illustrations by the brothers De Bry. The Mensa Isiaca was a bronze table-top -or at any rate a bronze tablet set upon legs- which had belonged once to Cardinal Bembo and then to the king of Sardinia. Pignoria, thinking Horapollo a good guide to the meaning of the inscription on it, translated the cucupha as filial devotion (p. 14 v), the baboon with upraised hands as the rising moon (p. 23 r), the scarab as the sun (p. 31 r)."
-The Hieroglyphics of Horapollo, trans. by George Boas, 1950 (from the 1727 Horapollinus Hieroglyphica...curante/ Joanne Cornelio de Pauw...)

"For convenience I have translated Dominus & Domina Casus as Lord and Lady of Chance. However, the literal meaning of casus is "anything that befalls" (from cado, to fall): an accident, an opportunity, an event, an occurrence, an occasion, etc.; thus a "chance" should be thought of as an opportunity rather than a uncaused event. Therefore, instead of calling them the Lord and Lady of Chance, it would be better if the Dominus Casus, Hermes the Magician, were called the Lord of Opportunity, and if the Domina Casus, Fortuna, were called the Lady of Destiny."

"Indeed, from at least the fourth century BCE the Greeks distinguished tuche (fortune) from automaton (chance) (OCD s.v. Tyche; Plutarch "On Fate"). Tuche especially represents the success and good fortune that is a consequence of skill as well as luck (OCD s.v. Tyche). We are reminded of Pasteur, who said, "le hasard ne favorise que les esprits prepares" - "luck favors only the prepared mind" (Oxf. Dict. Quot.).,,,Menander called her "a divine breath or understanding that guides and preserves all things." (Biedermann s.v. blindness; Cooper s.v. rudder;OCD s.v. Tyche; Oswalt 292) ...In addition to the goddess, the Greeks and Romans thought that each individual had their own Tuche or Fortuna, a daimon steering their destiny. The individual Fortuna is the "hidden Self," which unconsciously chooses the turnings of fate; this is the central core, the hub of the wheel, which is hidden. (Each city also had a Fortuna, which is why she wears the mural crown.) (Larousse 164, 213; OCD s.v. Tyche; Sharman-Burke & Greene 56) "

Cursus Fortune variatur in more lune:
Crescit, decrescit et eodem sistere nescit.
Elevor in primis, regno tuo utor, in imis
aufero ecce nimis: raro distant ultima primis:
regnabo, regno, regnavi, sum sine regno.

*The course of Fortune changes like the moon*:
It grows and shrinks, and knows not how to stay the same,
At first I'm raised, and I enjoy the reign; at last,
Behold, I take too much: the ends differ seldom from starts:
I shall reign, I reign, I have reigned, I have no reign.

"The four figures represent the four principles and four stations of all processes of cyclic rise and fall; as paradigms we may take spring-summer-autumn-winter and youth-maturity-old age-death (21 years each). (The real and fanciful beasts around the Wheel in some tarot decks are a result of cardmakers misunderstanding the symbolism of the ass's ears; see Dummett 120.) "

*The course of Fortune changes like the moon* -cynocephalus?

"The English phrase "by rote" probably derives from the ubiquity of wheel diagrams in medieval education (or if not, it is from the French "route", which refers to another diagrammatic way of organising facts). 14"

"Medieval mappaemundi are more like diagrams, in the sense of the London underground map, than maps drawn to scale, or according to a definite projection. 64 Some of them are combined with Wheels of Fortune, to illustrate conditions on earth, 65 and various other purposes can dominate the purely spatial information."

"...as a memory device, the complex magical incantations involved in the Ars Notoria were displayed as a "rota", a Latin word for wheel."

"Sandler (1983) shows the Wheel of Fortune in a collection of memory images...Both Albertus Magnus (Carruthers 1998) and Thomas Aquinas (Rossi 1983) discuss the memory arts as an aspect of Prudence. "

"On modern decks the outer circle of the Wheel of Fortune contains the letters of the Tetragrammaton, the Divine Name. This suggests that the wheel is a Lullian wheel, a letter mixer of the type recommended by Ramon Lull and the Kabbalist Abulafla. Such a wheel must have suggested to the Renaissance viewer a system of Hermetic meditation which the Fool might apply to his further progress."
Robert V. O'Neill: Tarot Symbolism, 1986

In the early hand-painted Tarots, the Wheel of Fortunes have 4 figures around the Wheel but in the TdM style decks there are generally 3 figures.

"Yet another interpretation identifies the Wheel as the missing virtue of prudence. The three figures on the wheel are the three divisions of the virtue as analysed by Cicero and medieval theologians: memory, intelligence and foresight, which together provide a grasp of the past, present and future. They also illustrate Cicero's definition of prudence as the knowledge of what is good, what is bad, and what is neither good nor bad."
-Richard Cavendish: The Tarot, 1975.

Cicero: De Inventione
Book II chapters 52-59
"Virtue is a disposition [habitus] of spirit [animus] in harmony with the measure of nature and of reason. So when we know all its parts, we will have considered all the force of simple honor. It has four parts: prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance.

[160] Prudence is the knowledge of what is good, what is bad, and what is neutral. Its parts are memoria, intelligentia, and providentia [memory, intelligence, and providence--or perhaps, hindsight, insight, and foresight]. Memory is that by which the spirit returns to what has been; intelligence is that by which it sees through what is; "providence" is that by which something that will be is seen before it has been done."

"According to<Jerome> Cardano, the best type of gain to be made in a game of chance is from those who are both willing to gamble and skilled at the game. Cardano promoted legitimate skill and did not equate highly skilled players with cheaters. Among the skills he saw as legitimate was the use of memory. In Chapter 23 Cardano recognizes the importance of remembering what cards have been played. Earlier in Chapter 17 he states explicitly that, "Those, however, who know merely by close attention what cards they are to expect are not usually called cheats, but are reckoned to be prudent men." "
http://www.stats.uwo.ca/faculty/bellhouse/decoding cardano.pdf

"An anonymous speaker in Theophraste Renaudot's seventeenth-century academy at the "Bureau d'Adresse" (on which see Harcourt Brown, Scientific Organisations in Seventeenth Century France, Baltimore, 1934, pp. 17 ff. and infra, p. 296, note 4), discussing famous people who have used Lull's art of memory, says. "Cardan confesse devoir a cet art tout ce qu'il scavoit..."
-Frances Yates: The French Academies of the Sixteenth Century, 1947

The question O'Neill raises in his 1986 book is what other symbols in Tarot are found that demonstrate dependance on Horapollo? And if there are none, why should the cynocephalus find its way to the TdM Wheel of Fortune? I haven't explored other hieroglyphic possibilities (access to various illustrated Horapollo volumes would be preferable and this is unavailable to me) although a link to the TdM Moon's "crayfish", dog and wolf, could perhaps exist.


John Meador

da monkey speaks (mercury retrograde)

The Wheel of Fortune
Nicolaa de Bracton of Leicester
O Fortuna, O Fortune
velut Luna like the Moon
statu variabilis changeable in state
semper crescis always waxing
aut decrescis; or waning;
vita detestabilis detestable life
nunc obdurat at one moment hard
et tunc curat and at the next cares for
ludo mentis aciem the witty games of the mind
egestatem poverty
potestatem power
dissolvit ut glaciem it dissolves like ice..
(Carmina Burana )

John Mandeville refers to "Babewynes, Apes, Marmesettes, and othere dyverse bestes"" -but this is supposedly in Java, Sumatra, Borneo
How Men Know by the Idol, If the Sick Shall Die Or Not. of Folk of Diverse Shape and Marvellously Disfigured. and of the Monks That Gave Their Relief to Baboons, Apes, and Marmosets, and to Other Beasts

H. W. Janson: Apes and Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance evidently deals with this sort of thing but I've not checked it yet.
We know from Horapollo (I,16) that the squatting *caped* baboon (might this *cape* explain the *wings*on the zoomorphic figure atop some TdM Wheels ie Conver, Payen ?) indicated the equinoxes; Horapollo explains that the apes, during the equinox, urinate hourly, as a sort of measure of time. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa: Of Occult Philosophy, Book I. (part 2)
Chapter xxiii. *How we shall know what Stars naturall things are under, and what things are under the Sun, which are called Solary*, echoes:
"Also the beast called Baboon is Solary, which twelve times in a day, viz. every hour barks, and in time of Equinoctium [equinox] pisseth [urinates] twelve times every hour: the same also it doth in the night, whence the Egyptians did Engrave him upon their Fountains"

Dodal/Conver *Rovers*:

" Thoth ...often depicted as a dog-headed ape when attending the judgment of a soul...When passing judgment on the deceased, the baboon Thoth told the ibis-headed Thoth when the scales were balanced."

"Baboons carried out Thoth's duties as the god of measurement when they were portrayed at the spout of water clocks, and on the scales which weighed the heart of the deceased in the judgement of the dead.

The baboon had several other funerary roles. Baboons were said to guard the first gate of the underworld in the Book of That Which is in the Underworld."

good reference:


Ross G Caldwell

John Meador said:
We know from Horapollo (I,16) that the squatting *caped* baboon (might this *cape* explain the *wings*on the zoomorphic figure atop some TdM Wheels ie Conver, Payen ?) indicated the equinoxes; Horapollo explains that the apes, during the equinox, urinate hourly, as a sort of measure of time. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa: Of Occult Philosophy, Book I. (part 2)
Chapter xxiii. *How we shall know what Stars naturall things are under, and what things are under the Sun, which are called Solary*, echoes:
"Also the beast called Baboon is Solary, which twelve times in a day, viz. every hour barks, and in time of Equinoctium [equinox] pisseth [urinates] twelve times every hour: the same also it doth in the night, whence the Egyptians did Engrave him upon their Fountains"

The Cape is an excellent suggestion. The imagery of the wheel could often have drawn from parallel iconographical traditions of the wheels of the year and seasons, and the waxing and waning of the moon.

With this cynocephalus you might have found the first indication of an emblem-hieroglyph being used as a source for a tarot image. We know that some people (i.e. Pierre Grégoire) found both traditions similar; he could have been looking at a deck like Catelin Geoffroy, which is very emblematic looking - unfortunately no Wheel of Fortune is preserved. The Anonymous Parisian has fully human figures on the wheel... the earliest theriomorph I can find is the Beaux-Arts sheet (other half of the Rothschild sheet), c. 1500 - not just ass' ears, the whole head of the highest figure is an animal.

John Meador

Horapollo, Agrippa, Durer

Hi Ross,
Horapollo's Equinoctial cynocephalus does seem a possible influence on the development of TdM Wheel's zenith. I have not seen any illustrations from the various editions of Horapollo yet to reaffirm this hypothesis however. Horapollo doesn't, to my knowledge, explicitly say *caped* in his description. So whether or not 16th-17th C. illustrators knew the dog-faced baboon WAS caped or not remains to be determined. I can't seem to find any illustrated Horapollo editions in the university library here or online. The Gallica site version of Jean Martin is not allowing me access currently although I crawled through about 35 pages from the front and then 35 pages from the end at an earlier time without detecting obvious tarot connections (except perhaps the spiny lobster) so observations are welcome from others with access to illustrated editions of Horapollo on this subject.

an example of the caped cynocephalus:

"Horapollo's Hieroglyphica began a fashion for Egyptian hieroglyphs whose influence continued well into the eighteenth century. The Greek text, said to have been translated from an Egyptian original by a certain Philippus, otherwise unknown, was first published in an edition of Aesop printed at Venice in 1505 by Aldo Pio Manuzio. A Latin translation appeared at Augsburg in 1515, and numerous editions followed. This edition of 1727 contains both the Greek and Latin texts, and includes commentaries by Jean Mercier (d. 1570), David Hoeshel (1556-1617), and Nicolas Caussin (1583-1651), author of Symbolica Aegyptiorum Sapienia (Cologne, 1522). This copy bears the signed autograph presentation of the editor, Johannes Cornelius de Pauw (d. 1749)."

1506: Agrippa founds secret magic society in Paris

"By 1506, as we read in his Epistles, he <Agrippa> was a secretary to the Emperor Maximilian I and studied in the University of Paris where he organised a secret society - a brotherhood of students interested in alchemy and magic"

Perhaps this is when Agrippa first encountered Horapollo (Maximilian seems likely to have acquired the Greek translation of Horapollo):

The Triumphal Arch and the Large Triumphal Carriage of Maximilian I: Two oversized, multi-block, 16th-century Woodcuts from the Studio of Albrecht Durer
"The decorations in the arch are a mixture of Christian, heathen and even Egyptian symbolism. Of the three the last is perhaps the most interesting. In the second or fourth century A.D. ... the elegance of an ideographic language which could express a whole sentence by a series of images, was very appealing to the humanists who always held a fascination for mysterious Egypt. This new language is still known as "emblem literature". Dürer definitely knew of the existence of this new language since he was to illustrate a Latin translation of Hieroglypica by his friend Pirckheimer. Maximilian embraced the latest fashion, supposedly derived from ancient antiquity.

A good example of the use of emblematic language is found in the top tablet where the emperor is surrounded by supposedly hieroglyphic symbols. He is shown sitting on a leaf of papyrus, signifying his ancient lineage; supported by a lion of courage and a bull of power. Visible at the bottom are detached feet walking on water, representing the ability to rise above the impossible."

"At the beginning of the 16th century, we see functioning a secret association, "Communauté of Mages", founded by Henri Cornélius Agrippa, an association which grouped contemporary Masters of Alchemy and Magic. "When Agrippa arrived in London, in 1510, he founded, resulting from his correspondence (Opuscula, T II, page 1073), a secret society similar to that which he had founded in France. The members were equipped with distinguishing marks of recognition and passwords. These members founded then, in various other states of Europe, corresponding associations, called Chapters, for the study of sciences 'interdites'."
- Robert Ambelain: Le Martinisme, 1946

"3. Later on, this would be known as the Frères de la Rose+Croix d'Or, or the Gold Rosicrucians, around 1570.

4. Also related to this group would be the Militia Crucifera Evangelica, founded in 1598 at Nuremburg by Simon Studion."

Durer's cynocephalus illustration would have been included in the 1514 Latin Horapollo that Willibald Pirckheimer presented to Maximilian I.

"While it has never been established that Durer had read Ficino's book, a derivative manuscript, De occulta philosophia by Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim, was circulating within German humanist circles a few years before the date of the <Melancholia> engraving (1514) "
<<see Raymond Klibansky, Erwin Panofsky, and Fritz Saxl, Saturn and Melancholy (London: Nelson, 1964), esp. 275-373.

Did Durer execute an engraving of the Horapollon *Equinoctial* baboon as well as the lunar depiction?

"The earliest example of the Rose in union with the Cross is perhaps the frontispiece of a work by Jacob Lochter, issued at Nuremberg in 1517. It exhibits a great circle of Roses having a Cross in the centre and the figure of the Christ thereon. <<see: A Rosy Wreath by Hans Suess von Kulmbach, woodcut, 1515 (Barbara Miodanska, Miniatury Stanislawa Samostrzelnika, Warsaw 1983)>>. There is, however, no to suppose that the circle is other than an ornamental border" (<A.E. Waite>The Brotherhood.., p. 101). If I am right in identifying that frontispiece, it is a woodcut by Hans Suess von Kulmbach dated to 1515. Kulmbach was a friend and one time disciple of Albrecht Durer, whose art is full of Hermetic imagery (for example his famous Melancholia)."


John Meador

Horapollo's cynocephalus contd.

Here is Durer's 1514 illustration of Horapollo's equinoctial baboon:
(membership required)

Within seven years Durer had witnessed an actual baboon in the royal zoo at Brussels and drew an accurate rending (including the cape):
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tarotsalon/files/Horapollo's cynocephalus/durerbaboon1521.jpg

Interestingly, Durer had much earlier in 1498 executed a version of the Wheel of Fortune with a fool and asses:

" The Renaissance had rediscovered it <Egyptian lunar associations with cynocephalus> in Horapollo, and developed it into a popular emblem.With its insatiable interest in astrology and ancient mystic lore, the sixteenth century could not fail to realise, however dimly, the gnostic significance of the cynocephalus, confirmed by the frequent appearance of the animal, often ithyphallic and in an adoring pose, on late classical gems.<<Cf. the numerous examples listed in McDermott, p. 319 ff.; another specimen (from C. W. King, The Gnostics and their Remains, London, 1887) is reproduced in Seligmann, op.cit., p. 104.>> Some of these were probably known even in the Quattrocento, as may be inferred from the ithyphallic baboon in a Florentine engraving of c. 1460-1470. Such gems, originally made to cater to the superstitions of mystic votaries in ancient Rome, must have regained a semblance of their old magic power in the hands of alchemists and other students of the occult in sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe. It seems entirely plausible, therefore, that Fludd's simia naturae should owe part of its symbolic meaning to the moon-worshipping cynocephalus of Horapollo. The second volume of Utriusque Cosmi Historia, published in 1618 under the title Tractatus Secundus De Naturae Simia, was essentially a compendium of theory and practice relating to the eleven liberal arts enumerated above. It seems to have been a more successful venture than the first volume; a second edition was published in 1624. The book probably deserves an important share of the credit for spreading Fludd's conception of the ape as an emblem of the 'universal artist' (or better perhaps, 'the realm of the arts and sciences'). The lower part of the engraved title page (Fig. 26) shows the animal squatting inside the ring formed by the artes liberaliores, but the chain as well as the figure of Nature have been omitted. The longevity of this pictorial idea is well attested by the fact that it could still serve, directly or indirectly, as the source of inspiration for an Italian painting of the later eighteenth century."

"Cf. Aby Warburg, "Italienische Kunst und Internationale Astrologie im Palazzo Schifanoja zu Ferrara", in: Gesammelte Schriften, II, Leipzig, 1932, p. 45 ff ; also Erwin Panofsky, "The Early History of Man in Two Cycles of Paintings by Piero di Cosimo," in: Studies in Iconology, New York, 1939, pp. 37-38. As Warburg has pointed out, the simii redaction of the Vulcan myth is reflected among the astrological frescoes in the Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara (by Francesco Cossa and assistants), where the god is shown attended by apes. The Mercury panel of the same cycle also contains apes, in accordance with the specifications of Picatrix, an Arabic compilation of late classical astrological lore (cf. Warburg, op.cit., p. 640). The ultimate source for this combination is probably Horapollo Nilous (Hieroglyphica, XIV, f), who claims that the cynocephalus was dedicated to Mercury by the ancient Egyptians because there is a race of these animals that understands letters, and Mercury (= Hermes = Thoth) is the patron of all letters. After the rediscovery of the Horapollo text by the humanists, the association of the cynocephalus (and by extension of apes generally) with Mercury received wide circulation in books on emblems and hieroglyphics."
-H. W. Janson: Apes and Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, 1952

The Jean Payen and Nicholas Conver creatures surmounting their Wheels of Fortune do not look that much like Fludd's ape to me, so perhaps a later edition of Horapollo may hold an illustration of the cynocephalus more resembling an actual baboon. The Jean Martin 1553 cynocephalus in the edition at Gallica does not resemble a baboon anymore than Durer's 1514 version.

Robert Fludd : Tractatus secundus de Naturae simia, 1624

Robert Fludd: Integrae Naturae speculum Artisque imago: 'The Mirror of the Whole of Nature and the Image of Art'.

Allegory of June: Triumph of Mercury 1476-84
Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara


John Meador

From ass to monkey with your host: Giordano Bruno

In: Cabal of the Cheval Pegasus with Appendix on the Cillenican Ass, Described by the Nolan (Cabala del Cavallo Pegaseo con l'aggiunta dell' Asino Cillenico, [12] Descritta dal Nolano)
"There follows a sonnet to The Cillenican Ass which introduces the appended Dialogue with the same title. The Nolan gives expression to his contempt for the academic pedants; the Ass makes good his claim to academic honour.

The speakers are the Ass, the Pythagorean Micco (i.e., the Ape), and Mercury. The Ass implores Jove who has given him talent, to give him also speech. Micco expresses his horror, but the Ass declares that he desires to be a member of a college so that he may become a doctor, a grade for which he feels fully equipped. Micco admits that God might cause asses to speak, but cannot conceive that He would secure their admission to a Pythagorean school. "Be not so proud, O Micco," retorts the Ass, "remember that thy Pythagoras teaches that naught within the bosom of nature shall be despised. Moreover I who have now the form of an ass, may have been and may presently be in the form of a great man." They exchange-quips on the subject and at length the Ass exclaims: "Tell me now, which is more worthy, that a man should become like to an ass or that an ass should become like to man? But here comes my Cillenican," and he appeals to Mercury, who now intervenes. Claiming to have bestowed many gifts and graces on the Ass, Mercury declares:

I now with plenary authority ordain, constitute and confirm thee an academician, a general dogmatic, that thou mayest enter and dwell everywhere, that none may hold the door against thee or offer thee outrage or hindrance ... nor do we desire that thou shouldst be bound by the Pythagorean rule of biennial silence.... Speak then to those who can hear, reflect and contemplate among mathematicians; discuss, enquire, teach, declare and determine among the natural philosophers, [25] mix with them all, fraternize, unite thyself and identify thyself with all things, rule all things, be all.

The work closes with Micco's dour reply to the triumphant enquiry of the Ass: "Hast thou heard?" "We are not deaf."

"...the learned Ass of the dialogue appended to the Cabala proper, ‘‘L’Asino Cillenico del Nolano’’ [The Nolan’s Cillenican Ass], is denied access to the Pythagorean Academy until Mercury himself arrives to deliver the gods’ will that the Ass ‘‘possi entrar ed abitar per tutto, senza ch’alcuno ti possa tenerporta o dar qualsivoglia sorte d’oltraggio o impedimento’’ [may enter and reside anywhere, without anyone able to bar the door to you or to give any sort of insult or impediment]...
...Onorio’s asininity is Pythagorean in literally every sense,even when this leads to amusing contradictions. The reader learns inthe Second Dialogue that Onorio was an ass in a former incarnation,making him pejoratively Pythagorean thanks to the vicissitudes ofthe philosopher’s doctrine of metempsychosis. Far more positively, however, Bruno’s sense of a mathematically formulaic method of approaching the deity (for example, in De magia mathematica [1590]:‘‘Ascendit animal per animum ad sensus, per sensus in mixta, permixta in elementa, per elementa in caelos, per hos in daemonesseu angelos, per istos in Deum seu in divinas operationes’’ [3:493]) matches S. K. Heninger’s description of the Pythagorean secret society open to men and women, which ‘‘held out to its members the hope of divine perfection’’ through a program of mathematics instruction, followed by ‘‘a study of physics and the investigation of primary principles, and finally promised knowledge of the deity’’(1974, 22)."

-a different gameshow than the one on TV!