Momus The God of Mockery


Don't forget the Francesi Minchiate has a card named after him--Momus :D


Thank Fire Cat for your interest. Huck had posted that card on another thread, but it is good to know of your interest, as I said.


I just do not understand the dates.
A Venetian copy was for sale (the copy apparently 1528 somewhere between 8000-10000 Euros :bugeyed:) says this which contradicts the Farrarese copy...
A combined edition of the Ecatomfila and the Deifira, Alberti’s two dialogues on love. They originally appeared separately in 1471, probably the first works of literature by a living author printed in Italian. They treat the vagaries of love from different perspectives. In the
Ecatomfila, a woman, expert in matters of love, counsels her youthful listeners on how to
secure and keep love. The ideal lover is prudent, modest, and virtuous; above all, he is a
man of letters. In the Deifira Filarco counsels Pallimacro, hopelessly in love with Deifira, on
the dangers of love and on how the humanist may experience the intensity of love as a young man without abandoning his literary and artistic pursuits.
The illuminations by Giralamo of Cremona seems to indicate an earlier date than 1471.
Is it the earliest printing by a living Italian author anyway?

In the dedication, I translated it poorly, but it seems to read......
"Reading for lovers here with me, acknowledging your mistakes or you'll become more susceptible(or maybe docile) to love", "Learn how some use to live and love from your valuable citizens Pallimacro," begins the Deiphira for aforesaid Messer Baptista, " and esteem as you sit, yet inside of me that severe pain which is still much too pressing, who seeks the "explicit," himself loved, loves is always bitter. Farewell Deifira mine. Explicit Deifira. "
(I guess 'explicit' means Deifira has the last word leaving nothing implied, clear.)

My head copy is apparently in the Catalan Language. Ha! or should I say "Whoa! too hard!"


I have been trying to find these early works by Leon Battista Alberti written in c.1429.
They are called "Amator" "Ecatonfilea" and "Deiphera"
Apparently I will not be successful as this site offers....

Apparently this quote comes from one of the three.

These stories talk of Love and Virtue and are for women apparently- like his offering on the Family.

If any one can direct me towards a Book? Online? In Italian would be passable, but of course English is best for me.

Here's a larger Alberti resource ...

... both work (Italian)


Alberti studies run to the point, that one in most cases of his texts has to read Italian fluently. For historical texts Italian that is relative easy, for texts like those of Alberti it has its limits (at least in my case).

The Philodoxeus is online and English and even with commentaries. 17/NUM 1/1_documento.pdf

It was topic here some years ago in 2009.

It's the early theater play of Alberti (1424).
It caught my attention, that "Trionfi" as "triumphal procession" are mentioned twice in the
text, once, when the good hero Philodoxus enters in the manner "I'm here on my triumphal march", and a second time to get the "bad hero" Fortunius out of the way (Fortunius desires to see a triumphal celebration, which is just in the city).

I analyzed the text and found, that it had 20 scenes ... and also 20 used figures '(each figure presenting an allegory). So I got the idea, that each of the 20 scenes might have been made for one of the 20 figures. I attempted to correlate 20 senes and 20 figures, so, that they formed together a natural hierarchical "from beginning to end" (similar as one has it in the Trionfi card row) and found, that this worked.

(from old discussion, my contribution)

Point 1: The text has 20 scenes (plus an introduction)
Point 2: The text has 20 figures or persons (plus the imaginative author Lepidus in the introduction)

The counting of the "figures" is a matter of discussion ... the appearing figures don't have the same action level. In Alberti's introduction he only notes 15 figures... but we found 20:

11 figures are real actors - 2 minor roles between them (Phimia + Alithia)
4 are parents - they don't really appear, they just exist as a name
5 are no-words actors, very small roles, it's insecure, if they really appear at the stage, some of them even don't have a name.

As this may be, the 20 figures seem to present an organised pattern with some mathematical symmetrie:

6 persons are three pairs of lovers, which either will marry or are already married:

* Polydoxus will marry Doxia ; "I love glory" and "Glory", the positive heroes
To Philodoxos belong his father "Argos" and his mother "Minerva"

* Fortunius will marry Phimia ; "Luck", the adopted sun of Tychia (Fortuna) and Fama ; negative
To Fortunius belong his father with the meaning "Tyranny" and mother with the meaning "Arrogance"

* Phroneus detects his earlier wife Mnimia ; Phroneus is an "autobiobiographical element of Alberti" and Mnimia presents "Memory"

(this altogether are already 10 persons)

A fourth pair are Chronos (Father Time) and Tychia (Fortuna) - as contrasts.
Both have accompanying persons: Chronos has 2 servants and a daughter and Tychia has 3 servants

* Chronos
* an "attendant, used as bailiff" - silent figure
* Calilogo, the "beautiful speaker", used as a writer - silent figure
* Alithia, the "Veritas" (truth), the daughter - has 4 sentences in the text

* Tychia
* Diotonus, a freed slave of Tychia - deeply involved in Fortunius' plans
* Dynastes, still a slave of Tychia - deeply involved in Fortunius' plans
* Volipedia, "Flying Feet" - send from Tychia with the mission to come back successless

In the Tychia-group it's easy to decipher, who the 3 partners are: The wheel of Fortune has four figures. Diotonus seems to be the ascending figure (with some incomplete wealth), Dynastes is the descending figure and the unlucky bottom figure is with irony given as "Flying Feet" completed with a "mission without success".
Similar one has to see the three accompanying figures of Father Time: Punishment, which comes with the time in the role of the bailiff, the collection of passed time through documents by Calilogo, and Veritas, which as "truth" with the time comes to the surface.

This together are further 8 persons.

2 minor figures are still remaining. One is Climarchus, the barber (a silent figure), who own's a house next to the house of Doxia and the other is an anonymous trumpeter (also silent in the text) in the final scene of the whole work.

10 + 8 + 2 = 20 persons

... and here the arrangement of figures and scenes


So let's try the reconstruction of the sequence of the 20 persons or "ideas".

First we have a series of persons, which appear only in one scene in the text (7 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 20). It seems natural to give these scenes to them, as there is no alternative. In consequence Tychia can have only 19 (cause she appears first in 16 and 16-18 are already gone). By this Chronos could only have 14 or 15 (he appears in 14 ... 15 seems to be not elegant). Giving Chronos the 14, Alithia - as belonging to the Chronos group - could have only 16.
Now the Tychia group has 18-19, but couldn't have for the other two members 17-16. It's more logical to give them 2-3 (mirror position to 18-19) and this place is ideal, cause the relevant figures, Diotonus + Dextrinus, have there their greatest scenes. The barber has chances to appear in scene 1 + 6 or 10, but 1 is prefered, cause he is the partner (so also mirror position) to the trumpeter (20) and to the other neighbour to Doxia (as it is also Diotonus - number 2).
Now we have the 3 pairs left and the 4 parents.
Mnimia has in the pair group (Memory) a special function. She is discovered by her husband in scene 13 ... that's her scene. Scene 12, in which Mnimia is also present, is dominated by the crime of Fortunius (Fortunius is called in this scene by the name of his father Thrasis ... so this is a parent scene, Fortunius commits the crime of his father). And then the solution of this inner riddle (4-13) solves with:

4-6 the three male lovers
7-8 two female lovers
9-12 the 4 parent figures
13 Mnimia as the surprizing 3rd women

So we have totally:

1: Climarchus, the barber (left neighbour to Doxia) - is given only by the scene background (3 houses), the scene is dominated by Phroneus
2: Diotinus, the freedman of Tychia (Tychia-group) (right neighbour to Doxia) - promises to help Philodoxos
3: Dynastes, the slave of Tychia (Tychia group) - tries to arrange that Fortunius gets Doxia
4: Philodoxos (pair - male) - on a triumphal march
5: Fortunius (pair male) - disturbs the good hopes of Philodoxos)
6: Phroneus (pair male) - tricks Fortunius to visit another triumphal march
7: Phimia (pair-female) - only scene with Phimia (Fame), she cares for the good name and the reputation
8: Doxia (pair female) - Philodoxos declares his love to Doxiain a monolog
9: Argos (parent - father Philodoxos) - Philodoxos spies the talking of the slaves (Argos has 100 eyes)
10: Minerva (parent - mother Philodoxos) - Philodoxos shows further details of his character
11: Autadia (parent - mother Fortunius) - Fortunius shows his arrogance
12: Thraso (parent - father Fortunius) - Fortunius makes his crime, he robs Phimia)
13: Mnimia (pair female)
14: (Chronos - Chronos-group) - 1st appearance of Chronos
15: (Alithia - Chronos-group) - Alithia is called here by her real identity: daughter of Chronos, guarded by Mnimia
16: Bailiff - Chronos-group - only scene with him, in search for the criminal
17: Calilogus - Chronos-group - only scene with him, documents the criminal case
18: Volipedia - Tychia-group - only scene with him, attempts to keep Fortunius away
19: (Tychia - Tychia group) - last appearance of Tychia, she's successful to excuse Fortunius
20: Trumpeter - only scene with him, successful and lucky finish

As far I can see it, this makes sense ... .-) ... but anybody might try another and possibly better solution.

I personally found this rather remarkable. I didn't notice, that anybody else parted my enthusiasm ... :)

If any other Alberti text would have a similar idea and structure, it would be of high interest (at least to me).


Hi Huck- The reason I wanted the early works of Alberti was to see if I could detect any 'Lucian' in them. (thanks for the sites- it has been a slog and my Latin is OK, my Italian only so-so, and the Northern Dialect of the time has me baffled at times.) But I got a sense of the themes and they are not Lucianiac, as I thought they- appear more in the terms of Oratory-like lessons on behaviour- like a lawyer sets out his arguments.
Very pretty. Not like triumphs.
I did like his eulogy on his dog- Canis though, It made me smile.

Anyway back to your thoughts on Philodoxeus.

Thanks for the recall..... I have it up now and am perusing.
You are right- in all his works it seems to me there is a mathematical arrangement- I cannot actually state what I mean- but it is like his dialogue on Music- there seems a clear 'score' to follow. I think it may have something to do with memory maybe.
When you think about it- a hand of cards is like a little play/theatre or scenes.
Actors are there, in your hand, sometimes in play, sometimes just taking up room.
Put them all together, like in Philodoxeus you have a whole play.
Perfect medium really- a mini theatre lol.
Also he is a ma-thematic poly whatsit!
Anyway I might be late to your idea, I am more than interested.
Thanks for your help.


Here are a few pictures to a specific use of "Momus in France" running from the year 1702, Le régiment de la calotte.

Le régiment de la Calotte1 est une très active société festive et carnavalesque d'origine militaire fondée en 1702 par Philippe Emmanuel de La Place de Torsac et Étienne Isidore Théophile Aymon2.
Jusqu'en 1752 elle produit une quantité de documents manuscrits ou imprimés.égiment_de_la_Calotte

It's a carnival institution with some military character.


Further ...





and some more at same location


Those images are wonderful!
"Looks like thrown out of heaven".....well he was chucked off Mount Olympus- that was where the Gods were.
Anyway the English poet John Dryden wrote of him in the 17th Century....
Here is his bit part in the 'Secular Masque'
Enter CHRONOS, with a scythe in his hand, and a great globe on his back, which he sets down at his entrance
Weary, weary of my weight,
Let me, let me drop my freight,
And leave the world behind.
I could not bear
Another year
The load of human-kind.

Enter MOMUS Laughing
Ha! ha! ha! Ha! ha! ha! well hast thou done,
To lay down thy pack,
And lighten thy back.
The world was a fool, e'er since it begun,
And since neither Janus, nor Chronos, nor I,
Can hinder the crimes,
Or mend the bad times,
'Tis better to laugh than to cry........

My thoughts exactly!


..... :) ...

Well, Olymp stands for heaven, mount Olympos is high enough to be above the clouds, and above the clouds means "heaven", at least at rainy days.
Momus - somehow . is a special variant of Hephaistos, and Hephaistos also as babe was thrown out of heaven.


Something of interest, though a little late. Mardi Gras day seems to be an American prolongation of European customs, celebrated mainly in New Orleans (in the case I get this right).
This page ...
.... assumes a first Mardi Grass in New Orleans in 1699, relative close to the date of 1702 for regiment de la Colotte.

Here I find a closer description ...
On March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived at a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans, and named it "Pointe du Mardi Gras" when his men realized it was the eve of the festive holiday. Bienville also established "Fort Louis de la Louisiane" (which is now Mobile) in 1702. In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated America's very first Mardi Gras.

In 1704, Mobile established a secret society (Masque de la Mobile), similar to those that form our current Mardi Gras krewes. It lasted until 1709. In 1710, the "Boeuf Gras Society" was formed and paraded from 1711 through 1861. The procession was held with a huge bull's head pushed alone on wheels by 16 men. Later, Rex would parade with an actual bull, draped in white and signaling the coming Lenten meat fast. This occurred on Fat Tuesday.

This page ...
... offers some information about New Orleands Mardi Gras coins, objects, which were distributed during Mardi Gras. This is one ...


... and one recognizes "Knights" and "Momus" and a motto. An accompanying text gives some info:

A few of the more well-known Krewes ["Krewe" is a club] are:

Krewe of Momus Chartered soon after Rex in 1872 and one of the oldest Krewes on the Carnival schedule, the Krewe of Momus was named for the God of Mockery. It first participated in the Carnival in 1877. Members come from the ranks of the all-white Louisiana Club and their motto is: "Dum Vivimus, Vivamus" ("While we live, let us live"). Momus is one of the big four Mardi Gras Krewes, founded in the 1880's, and composed of the bluest of New Orleans blue-bloods. They fell afoul of the New Orleans City Council in 1991 and refused to make public their membership list (as did Comus and Proteus) and were refused a permit to parade. They have not paraded since, although a new organization, the Krewe of Chaos, composed of many members of Momus, uses their floats and does parade.

Momus meets Chaos ... that's a nice curious accident, and that as late 1991, thanks to some early anti-terror law of the New Orleans city council and some protesting carnivalists called "Knights of Momus".

Momus meets Chaos ...


.... this happened likely already c. 1660 in the Minchiate Francesi by Francois Poilly. I wonder, if anybody in New Orleans knew about this earlier connection.