BACK TO MENU
THE TAROCCHI OF MANTEGNA - A SPECULATION
SAMTEN DE WET
"The magical wheel discovered in the thirteenth century by Raymond Lully, which was to solve all problems, was the Tarot."
C. C. Zain, The Sacred Tarot, p. 53:
One can understand that academia would take the above statement by Zain cum grano salis. But on firmer territory, Frances Yates writes:
"As the inventor of a method which was to have an immense influence throughout Europe for centuries. Lull is an extremely important figure. Lullism is a precursor of scientific method. Lullian astral medicine developed into Pseudo-Lullian alchemy. The great figures of Renaissance Neoplatonism include Lullism in their interests, and naturally so since Lullism was the precursor of their ways of thinking."
Frances A. Yates, The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1983. p. 13.
“The Renaissance seized on Lullism with intense enthusiasm; in fact, it is perhaps hardly an exaggeration to say that Lullism is one of the major forces in the Renaissance. Pico della Mirandola acknowledged that his system owed much to the Ars Combinatoria of Raymundus.2 Nicholas of Cusa collected and himself copied Lull manuscripts. Giordario Bruno and Agrippa of Nettesheim were both Lullists. So was John Dee, one of the most influential figures in the thought of Elizabethan England. The Lullian medical theories were known to Paracelsus.”
Yates, Francis , The Art of Ramon Lull, JWCI, p.166.
“Nicholas of Cusa possessed a good many other works by Lull and was no doubt fully able to place his "squaring of the circle" in the context of his outlook as a whole, and of his Art.”
Yates, Francis , The Art of Ramon Lull, JWCI, p.168.
Lully's influence on later thinkers has been substantial, if largely unsung. Pico della Mirandola, John Dee, and Cornelius Agrippa were all Lullists, as were Cardinals Bessarion and Nicholas of Cusa, to say nothing of Aeneas Sylvius, who became Pope Pius II. Saints John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila were inspired by Lully, while Philip II fought for his canonisation in Rome and employed Lullian symbolism in his Escorial palace. If Giordano Bruno, burned for heresy, was a Lullist, so too was the Inquisitor Cardinal Ximenes, who endowed a chair of Lullist philosophy at the university of Alcala. Paracelsus derived much of his medical expertise from Lully's manuscripts, and Leibniz's system of monads was also derived from them. Neither Bacon nor Descartes were immune to his influence. Even Newton treasured and annotated some of his works. It is not too much to say, as does Frances Yates on page seven of her Lull and Bruno, that "the European search for method, the root of European achievement, began with Lull."
Charles A. Coulombe, Doctor Illuminatus, The Achievements of Raymond Lully, Gnosis Magazine, Winter 1991, pp. 52 ff.
1459 - 1460. The Tarocchi were devised and made in Mantua, during a long council which was held there from June, 1459, to January, 1460; they allegedly served as a pastime for three members of the council, the cardinals Bessarion and Nicholas of Cusa and Pope Pius II himself." Seznec, pp. 138 - 139, Gods.
Giordano Bruno was influenced by Nicolas Cusa as well as Raymon Lully. Cusa definitely transmits the Lulian vision of circular meta-cartography.
Why not wooden beads? Why Glass?
The relationships between the Glass Bead Game and De ludo globi of Cusanus?
Thus, this card game sums up the speculations of St. John Climacus, of Dante, and of St. Thomas Aquinas. It is true that we do not know its rules in detail,39 but there is no doubt that it was played seriously, with the feeling that each image was, as it were, a piece from the divine chessboard. And we may apply to it the words which Nicholas of Cusa wrote of a similar game, a "geographical globe game," which he uses as an illustration for his philosophical thought: "This game is played, not in a childish way, but as the Holy Wisdom played it for God at the beginning of the world." 40
39 The figures carrying globes of increasing size (the Emperor; the Muses - minus Thalia; Apollo, Poetry, Astrology, Theology, Iliao, Cosmico, Octava Sphaera, Primum Mobile, and Prima Causa, which is itself a sphere) undoubtedly were of special importance in the playing of the game.
40 Luditur hic ludus; sed non pueriliter, at sic / Lusit ut orbe nova Sancta Sophia Deo - De ludo globi libri duo (probably written in 1463), in the third edition of Nicholas of Cusa’s complete works (Paris 1514). On this treatise, see E. Vansteenberghe, Le Cardinal Nicolas de Cues (Paris, 1920), esp. pp. 275, 335, 337.
Frances Yates tells us
“Nicholas of Cusa possessed a good many other works by Lull and was no doubt fully able to place his "squaring of the circle" in the context of his outlook as a whole, and of his Art.” p.168
The Liber de quadratura et triangulatura circuli (Ott. 71). was in the possession of
Nicholas of Cusa …. p.168
(see M. Honecker, Lullus-Handschriften aus dem Besitz des Kardinals Nikolaus von Cues, pp. 252-309 in Gesammelte Aufsätz zur Kulturgeschichte Spaniens, ed. M. Honecker, G. Schreiber, H. Finke, Munster, 1937). p.168
J. E. Hofmann, Die Quellen der Cusanischen Mathematik I: Ramon Lulls Kreisquadratur in Sitzungberichte der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse, Heidelberg, 1942. p.168
No other medieval thinker so crucially influenced the hermetic and Theosophical systems of the 16th and 17th centuries as the Neoplatonic universal scholar Nikolaus of Cusa, or Cusanus (1401-1464). His concept of the coincidence of all opposites in God and consequent speculations about the infinity of the universe and human existence helped to colour the views of Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola and influenced Giordano Bruno. In his most important theorems Fludd builds upon this concept, and through the influence of ValentinWeigel some aspects of Cusanus' epistemology flowed into the works of Jacob Bohme.
Alexander Roob, The Hermetic Museum, Taschen, p.274.
Allers R., Microcosmus. From Anaximandros to Paracelsus, Traditio 1944, 2, pp. 319-407.
"Microcosm becomes with Cusanus a very general principle. Although it is man who is speciafically considered as the microcosm, the fundamental microcosmic relation is extended to any finite being whatsoever. The whole is mirrored in every part, and thus the universe and each of its parts become perfect. p. 379
1438 - "When George Gemistos Plethon attended the Council of Florence in 1439, his lectures on the differences between the work of Plato and Aristotle were eagerly received and prompted the later comment of Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) that Plethon had brought the spirit of Plato from the Byzantine empire to Italy (Thompson, 78; Setton, 57-8; Brown, 389-90; Woodhouse, 171-88)."
Plethon was the teacher of Bessarion.
Byzantines in Renaissance Italy, Jonathan Harris, Hellenic Institute, Royal Holloway, University of London