Marziano's Text


Marziano calls himself in the text Martianus de Sankto Alosio, Sankto Alosio being a small village near Tortona.

The work is devoted to Filippo Maria, Duke of Milano. Filippo was duke since 1412 (his reigning brother Giovanni Maria Visconti was murdered at May 16, 1412 ) and Marziano was active in service for the duke until 1423 and definitely dead at February I, 1425. In this range of time 1414 - 1418 was considered earlier as the probable production time of the text by Franco Pratesi, but an information of "storia di Milano" says, that the painter Michelino returned in 1417 back to Milano after staying more than a decade since 1404 outside of town, so the dating-question should be considered again. After his return in 1417 seems to be a sure assumption, but for special reasons we do favour now the time of 1424/1425.

The title " Tractatus De Deificatione Sexdecim Heroum " and the later text (" celestial princes and barons ") gives the impression, that the Greek gods are considered as deified heroes, it seems, that Marziano or his time is confused by common additional names to the gods in classical texts and so he speaks of 3 Jupiters (two Arcadians, one of Creta), 4 Apollos etc., believing, that there once had been three different mortal heroes with the name Jupiter (these additional names normally relate to different cults or temples or appearances of the gods, not to persons).

There are four order of gods, related to birds and qualities (suits), each of the suits has its own king (una quaeque proprio parens regi - beside the king no other court card is mentioned; Marcello also spoke only of kings, when describing the deck):

Marziano turns in rudimentary forms to the rules of the play:

1. No bird has power above the others - the suits are equal in worth ( Harum vero Avium ordo est quia nulla earum species in alteram vis habet ).
Indirectly this rule seems to say, that rules are known at this time, in which the suits are ranked.

2. The power is direct for eagles and turtles, reverted for phoenices and doves - this rule is still known from still living Tarock-variantes, two suits range from ace to ten, the other both from ten to ace ( Aquilarum et turturarum multae paucis praesunt ... foenicum una et columbarum pluribus pauciores imperant ).

3. Each of the gods is higher than all orders of birds and also higher than the kings of the orders - probably indicating, that gods are considered to be trumps ( Deorum vero quisque omnibus ordinibus avium et ordinum regibus praeerit ).
Marcello (later) is right - they are Trionfi (trumps). But around 1420 there is no sign, that the name trionfi was used in context with playing cards.

4. The gods (trumps) have a row, the first listed reigns above all following - in the later treatise to the gods Marzianus gives ordinal numbers (see the table above), which probably serves his aim to arrange the gods in a hierarchy. ( Sed inter se diihac lege tenebuntur, quod (?) qui prior inferius annotabitur sequentibus omnibus praesit ).
A hierachic row is used later also in the known Tarock rules.

Probably the deck had 60 cards, 4x10 pip cards (although Marzianus doesn't lose any word, if all 10 numbers are included), 4 kings without any other court card, 16 gods. But security in this question doesn't exist, as all informations, that we do have, went through the hands of Marcello. We see that, that Marcello wanted, that Isabella should see.

Description of the Gods

The original part of the manuscript has 50 pages, however, written in rather great letters, so actually the text is short with around 600 -.700 signs per page. The text length for the single gods varies from 2.5 - 4 pages.
The text given here is an abstract done by Franco Pratesi in Italian language in 1990, translated with personal comments by Ross Gregory Caldwell in English in 2003. To our knowledge it is the first presentation of the content in English language - a good example, how quick the ways in Tarocchi research had been in the past. A translation of the complete Latin text is in preparation.

1. Giove: Seduto in trono è provvisto di quattro insegne celesti: a destra in alto lo splendore della giusta ragione; a sinistra in alto la luce con cui fondò le leggi; in basso a destra la stella lucente simile a Marte che brilla nei salvatori dello stato; in basso a sinistro il fulmine.
I. Jupiter: Sitting on a throne, surrounded and provided with 4 heavenly signs in the corners. Above right is the splendour of wisdom and above left the light, with which laws are given, at the right bottom is a bright star like Mars, which shines in those who preserve the state; in the left bottom the thunderbolt.
Note: Pratesi has translated Marziano’s latin “rectae rationis” as “giusta ragione”, and has suggested the English translation be Wisdom. I believe it carries the sense of “Just measurement”, of God as the Great Architect. I do not know what a Splendor of it would look like – perhaps a banner with the words. It is interesting to note that the Italian phrase “a giusta ragione” (with good right) is translated by the French “à bon droit”, in a trilingual legal document.
“A BON DROYT” is of course the Visconti family motto recommended to Gian Galeazzo by Petrarch.

2. L'aspetto la indica sposa di Giove; col capo velato all'uso della matrone, l'ordini della corona indica il numero dei regni. E’ ornato riccamente; le sue belle vesti colorate sono però evanescenti. Il carro e le armi, a lei assegnati da Virgilio, sembrano qui da tralasciare.
II. Her aspect indicates the spouse of Jupiter; with head veiled in the manner of matrons, the order of the crown indicates the number of reigns. It is richly adorned; her beautiful dress somberly coloured, but evanescent. The chariot and arms, assigned to her by Virgil, seem abandoned.
Note: I am not sure what “ordini della corona indica il numero dei regni” refers to. The last clause is also obscure.

3. Pallade. Colla destra tiene un pacifico olivo; indossa un amitto multiplo e una vestae variegata (a indicare le modifiche col tempo dei pareri dei saggi) . Tiene un leggero scudo reso orribile della Gorgone.
III. Pallas (Athena). With the right hand holds an olive-branch of peace; wearing a multiple mantle and a multicoloured robe (to signify the modifications of the counsels of the wise over time). Holds a light shield made horrible by the Gorgon.
Note: Amitto - the related English word “amice” is a liturgical garment which descends from a Roman garment, “amictus”, a cloak or mantle which covered the upper body and head, but could be pulled back. I assume that here it refers to the classical garment.

4 Venere: Con aspetto piuttosto lascivo, chioma sparsa, petto e braccia scoperti, ginocchi nudi, per indurre più facilmente all'amore; con un amitto sciolta di pelle di lince; con l'arco pronto e la faretra indossa per cacciare e ferire gli animi degli uomini che vagano nelle tenebre.
IV. Venus: With a somewhat lustful demeanour, hair loose, breast and arms bare, knees naked, the easier to induce love; with a supple lynx-skin cloak; with the bow ready and the wearing the quiver to hunt and wound the souls of men who wander in the shadows.

5. Apollo. Ha aspetto conforme alla vita militare; il capo chiomato è adorno di alloro per diritto guerriero e poetico; porta arco e frecce nel cui uso eccelse.
V. Apollo: Has a look conforming to the military life; his long head of hair is crowned with laurel, by right warrior and poet; he carries bow and arrows, in whose use he excels.

6. Nettuno. Con aspetto regale di vecchio stampo siede su un carro d'oro trainato da due delfine. Ha un tridente per scettro a indicare le tre proprietà dell'acqua.
VI. Neptune: with regal aspect of the old school, seated on a chariot drawn by two dolphins. Has a trident as scepter to show his rulership of the water.

7. Diana. Vestita di un amitto bianco, vaga con arco e frecce su una biga d’oro, trainata da bianchi cervi con corna dorate brillanti. Si raffigura con aspetto trino.
VII. Diana: Dressed in a white mantle, flying on a golden carriage with arrows and bow, drawn by two white deer with shining golden horns. Figured with threefold aspect.
Note: Diana is sometimes presented with three faces.

8. Bacco. Con voltre sempre giovanile e le tempie ornate con le sue viti Secondo il sue nome, porta un bastone per il sostegno degli ubriache. Tirano il carro due tigri.
VIII. Bacchus: With a face of everlasting youth and his temples decorated with his vines. As his name signifies, he carries a stick to support himself when drunken; the car is drawn by two tigers.

9. Mercurio: Come gli Arcadi ha il capo coperto da un galero; col caduceo separa serpenti in lotta; calza i talari.
IX. Mercurio: Like the Arcadians, has the head covered with a "galero" (broad-brimmed cardinal's hat); with caduceus, ringed with two snakes; winged shoes.

10. Marte: Col carro decorato da mille insegno tolte ai nemici. Cavalca con la spada sguainata cosparsa di sangue a indicara la via.
X. Mars: With chariot decorated by a thousand ensigns of victory over enemies. Rides with drawn bloodied sword to indicate the way.
XI. Vesta: Dall'aspetto castigato alla maniera delle monache sta presso l'altare davanti agli immortali e prega gli dei.
XI. Vesta: With chaste aspect like monks standing near an altar before its immortals praying to the gods.

12. Ceres: Procede con abito regale e mèssi ai lati; tiene in mano una fiaccola ardente
XII.Ceres: Advances in regal vestment, harvests at each side; holding in hand a burning torch.

13. Ercole. Con il terribile aspetto, la fronte incoronata di alloro, trascurando vesti leggiadre, con lu spoglie dell'enorme leone Nemeo, insegno monumento della forza. Ai suoi piedi giace copito dalle frecce il mostro antropomorfo delle Strofadi.
XIII. Hercules: in his terrible aspect, his forehead crowned with a laurel, carelessly clothed with the skin of the huge Nemean lion, monumental sign of force. At his feet, wounded by arrows, lies the anthropomorphic monster of the Strofadi.
Note: Strofadi is the island home to the harpies.

14. Eolo. Seduto in abito regale tra gli scogli delle sue isole ricavando fiamme con lo scettro.
XIV. Aiolus: Sitting in regal garment among the reefs of his island creating flames with his scepter.

15. Dafne. In abito virgineo abbracciata al suo Alloro.
XV. Daphne: In virginal dress clinging to her Laurel.

16. Cupido: In volo per marcare l'instabilita degli amanti e cinto di cuori umani. Vaga nudo per cielo e terra con l'arco pronto a scoccare.
XVI. Cupido: In flight to show the instability of the lovers and wearing a human heart. Wandering nude through heaven and earth with bow ready to shoot.
Oldest Tarot Cards
* START * TAROT HISTORY * TAROT MUSEUM * ABOUT US * Oldest Tarot * Imperatori * Ferrara 1441 * Trionfi Documents * 5x14 * From 14 to 22 * Boiardo * Mantegna Tarocchi * Iconography * Time Table * Researchers * Locations * News * Play * Playing Cards documents * FAQ * Name Trionfi * Reviews * Free Reading * Links * Franco Pratesi (1) * Franco Pratesi (2) * Persons 1440-1462 *
The Oldest Tarot Cards
- Michelino Deck