|Suit||Suit-sign||16 "Greek" gods in increasing order|
|Virtues||eagle||1. Jupiter||5. Apollo||9. Mercury||13. Hercules|
|Riches||phoenix||2. Juno||6. Neptun||10. Mars||14. Eolus|
|Virginities||turtledove||3. Pallas||7. Diana||11. Vesta||15. Daphne|
|Pleasures||dove||4. Venus||8. Bacchus||12. Ceres||16. Cupido|
1. The first 12 of the 16 gods present the old antique concept of the 12 Olympic gods. In the old concept the figure of Hercules was the 13th god - as in the deck.
2. The centralised figure seems to have been the 15th figure, Daphne. This points either to an influence of Petrarca, who was a sort of house-poet of the Visconti in earlier time, or to Ovid's metamorphoses. Inside the myth of Daphne, Cupido, the 16th figure of the deck, plays a deciding role.
3. In later Tarot games the lowest special cards are the Fool (0) and the Magician (1). Together with the highest card World (21) they are raised above the other trumps and valued with 5 points each, although Fool (called also Excuse) and Magician (called Pagat or le Petit) present low cards in the hierarchy. In the Visconti arrangement of the 16 gods the figures of Daphne (second lowest) and Amor (lowest) are emphasized by the background story (Daphne story) - it is possible, that they already had the function of Excuse and Pagat.
4. Visconti genealogy and birds as heraldic devices:
a. In 1402/1403 the painter Michelino, much later active as painter of the card deck, was commissioned to illuminate the Visconti genealogy. In the genealogy Jupiter and Venus appear as ancestors of the Visconti-Family by evading Trojans under the guide of Aeneas, also birds are used as heraldic devices, doves, eagles and (perhaps) even phoinixes (dove with sun in the background). In the deck seem to have appeared the same birds and Jupiter (1st position) and Venus (3rd) appear as high-ranked. Probably it can be assumed, that the deck was just a curious extension of the genealogy done before.
b. Also relating to the Visconti genealogy interests is the following: Decembrio, later the biograph of Filippo Maria Visconti, started his occupation as a secretary at the Visconti court in 1419 and just the same year he started to translate the Aeneas-story. Aeneas, son of Venus and her mortal lover Anchises was (also) the ancestor of the Visconti. Decembrio stopped the project already after 89 lines, but the project was continued by ... in 1428
5. Filippo Maria Visconti constructed a system with 16 gods. It seems, that the number corresponds to other intellectual interests, and it also seems, that the number "16" reappeared in the structure of the Cary-Yale later.
a. The 16 corresponds to the 16 figures of Geomantia - Filippo Maria had 4 books about Geomantia in his library.
b. The 16 corresponds to the Jupiter square with 16 numbers - the leading figure in the deck is Jupiter. Later one of the names of the card number 16 in Tarot became "house of God" - perhaps associating 16 with Jupiter.
c. The game of chess has 16 figures at each side. Already Johannes of Rheinfelden knew a card game related to chess in 1377: it had 40 number cards and 20 court cards (5 court cards to each suit, King, Queen, upper marshalls, maids and lower marshalls) totally 60 cards. The Michelino deck also had probably 60 cards (4 court + 16 gods and 40 numbers) and in the later Cary-Yale probably a very similar court card construction (King, Queen, Knights, female Knights, Pages, female Pages) was done as in the deck, that was known already by Johannes, Filippo Maria just added "female Knights". The likely number of trumps in the Cary-Yale deck was 16.
6. The concept of the 16 gods was very "modern". In the second half of 15th century the choice of Greek gods as motif in art became very common and farspread. For 1425 this can't be said, it must be stated, that the commissioner behaves very modern and innovative. It's in some aspect "true", that this aspect existed before inside the Visconti family at least with the genealogy-project in 1402 and Giangaleazzo's interest to become King of Italy, but there is a good chance, that this interest got a new impetus with the visit of the Greek Emperor John Palaiologos in 1424.7. Daphne reappeared as a theme in Visconti context in the year 1467. The comissioner was the duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza, via his mother Bianca Maria Visconi the grandson of Filippo Maria Visconti.