12 Olympic gods

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

I think, at least at the base it is an easy riddle.

Regarding the content of the 16-gods-group, we find, that 12 of the 16 gods used in the deck belong to the socalled “12 olympic gods”, which were known as a standard pattern in old Roman and Greek art.

It was an old standard-pattern, just like the Tarot later developed to be a standard pattern with 22 motifs or like another old standard-pattern, the 12 zodiacal signs of astrology. The 12-gods-system was far-spread in the old world, the gigantical dictionary of Pauly-Wissowa spends a long article with 40-50 pages on it, gathering all the fragments found in early archeology.
The 12-gods-system knew variations, it weren’t always the same gods, which were considered. Most of them were essentially necessary, but some were exchangeable. So Vesta or Hestia, a rather modest Greek goddess with only few myths, was a variable, often replaced by Bacchus. Markus Manilius used a 12 gods-system in an astronomical poem around 15 AD, which he attributed to the 12 monthes, he used an order that might have been the original form with Hephaistos (Vulcanos) and Vesta, but without Bacchus. His order was used as the model for the Sala del Mese in Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara, around 1470. Hephaistos-Vulcanos was a weak Roman god and belonged to Athen as industrial partner of Athena, in Rom with its preference for the Mars-Venus pair the cult of Vesta was stronger. So one might suspect, that the painter (or commissioner) did rely upon a Roman tradition and not on a Greek (which seems, considering the early time of renaissance - around 1420 - logical, probably there was not much about Greek mythology around then, some early scholars just learning Greek language in Constantinople or proud to have just captured a few scriptures; although it is possible, that the composition was done with influence of John Palaiologos).

Can one be sure, that the painter or constructor reflected the 12 olympic gods? Not totally, but with a very high probability. The painter gave the 12 olympic gods the 12 highest positions (1-12). Hercules ist the 13th "uncounted" Olympic god (in the antique view and in the deck), he presented the human “astronom”, who raised into the heaven and ordered the 12 others gods, and none of the trio Eolus-Daphne-Cupido (the final three figures in the composition) did ever belong to the 12 Olympic gods.

Leaving the speciality of the precise position of Hercules as the 13th aside to keep matters simple: That this ( 12 Olympic Gods as highest cards) happened accidently is against a probability of

1820 : 1 = 16x15x14x13 / 4x3x2x1

, that means rather unlikely. About this one can be more sure than about most other historical informations, which mostly live on a smaller scale of "being surely true" (total security in historical matters is "impossible").

As the 12 gods together with the 13th present a standard, the rest of the 16 gods might be considered, that they tell us the real story of the deck or something about the background or the central idea of this piece of art.

There is one figure in the deck, which is no god and that is Daphne. She is the most astonishing person between all the other 16, because one wouldn't expect her to be in this circle of almost important figures of Greek mythology.
She is by this the secretly hidden dominating figure.
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