Lollio and Imperiali, Ferrara 1550 ca

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Lollio and Imperiali

Girolamo Zorli has provided a complete transcription of the Italian manuscript CL I, 257, Ariostea Library, Ferrara:

http://www.tretre.it/dk/menu/accademia-del-tre/biblioteca-del-tre/lollio-imperiali-trascrizione.html

The manuscript contains two poems: the “Invective of Mr. Alberto Lollio, academic of the Philaretes, against the game of Tarot” and the “Reply” by Vincenzo Imperiali. Both texts were written in Ferrara in 1550 ca.

Lollio, having played a game of tarot in which he had suffered particularly heavy losses, wrote his harsh invective, in which he wishes the extinction of the game. Imperiali replied prising the virtues of the game. Imperiali provides an almost complete list of the trumps in the Ferrarese B order, with a sketchy interpretation of the meaning of the trump sequence. Trump XII, missing in Imperiali's reply, is mentioned by Lollio as the Traitor (“il Traditore”).

The following presents an English translation of a few passages from both poems. These passages are mainly about:

  • the meaning / meaninglessness of the trump sequence
  • the meaning of Temperance
  • the etymology of “Tarot”


Italian Original

Alberto Lollio

175
Servir convienti gli altri due compagni,
Rispondendo a ciascun giuoco,per giuoco.
Et se per ignoranza, ò per errore,
Dai una Carta, che non vada à verso,
Tu senti andar le voci infino al Cielo.
Nè ti pensar, che quivi sian finite 
Le pene tue: bisogna tener conto
D'ogni minima Carta che si giuochi,
Altramente ogni cosa và in ruina :
Siche tu brami spesso la memoria 
Di Mitridate, di Cesare, ò di Ciro.
212
Che vuol dir altro il Bagatella, e'l Matto, 
Se non ch'ei fusse un ciurmatore,e un baro? 
Che significan altro la Papessa, 
Il Carro, il Traditor, la Ruota, il Gobbo: 
Là Fortezza, la Stella,il Sol,la Luna, 
E la Morte, e l'Inferno: e tutto’l resto 
Di questa bizarria girandolesca, 
Senon che questi havea il capo sventato, 
Pien di fumo,pancucchi,et fanfaluche? 
Et che sia ver, colei che versa i fiaschi, 
Ci mostra chiar ,ch'ei fusse un ebbriaco: 
E quel nome fantastico e bizarro 
Di Tarocco,senz'ethimologia, 
Fa palese a ciascun, che i ghiribizzi 
Gli havesser guasto e storppiato il cervello.

Vincenzo Imperiali

247
Onde non posso far, ch’io non mi scaldi, 
Che tal giuoco non fù senza mistero, 
Sicome afferman molti ingegni saldi. 
Chiaro quì veder puossi, s’egli è vero; 
Prima, IDDIO lascia nel suo seggio eterno, 
Che nominando in giuoco è vitupero. 
Il primo è il Mondo, che di se il governo 
Ha dato alla Giustitia : e incontanente  
L’Angel del Ciel la segue, e state, e verno. 
E vi’l Sol, che da luce à tutta gente, 
Et mena il giorno, e accenn’alla sorella, 
Che le notturne tenebre sgomente. 
Per ordine dapoi si’ ne vien quella, 
Ch’à naviganti da non poca spene, 
D’indurli al porto, e trarli di procella. 
Qui d’un estremo all’altro à un tratto viene, 
Dal chiaro Ciel, scende nel scuro centro, 
Et ritrova l’Inferno, e le sue pene. 
Quivi il Demonio  di rado stà dentro, 
Anzi fra l’human seme sviluppato 
Sempre dimora; et io in un gran mar entro : 
S ’io voglio di costui haver narrato, 
Come nel Mondo ognihor fa nuova preda, 
Onde di quello è Principe chiamato. 
Tal, che convien qua giù, ch’ognun li ceda,
D’ingegno, di malitia, et di possanza, 
Ben che la sciocca turba ciò non creda. 
Vien poi la Morte, et mena un’altra danza, 
Et la prudenza, e la malizia atterra, 
Et pareggia ciascuno alla bilanza. 
Ma,’l vecchio saggio la Fortun’afferra, 
Et fa di lei, et di sua ruota un fasso, 
Quantunque essa la forza vinca in guerra.
Quest’altri Amor col suo carro  in fracasso 
A’ terra getta; et da spavento e horrore 
A’ quella, c’ha due vasi,un’alto,e un basso.  
Poi viene il Papa,con l’Imperatore, 
Et ciascun d’essi hà la sua donn’ à canto,  
Che senza donne star,lor non da il core. 
Chiamato vien l’un Sacro,e l’altro Santo, 
pur vogliono buffoni,et giocolari,  
Et pazzi in tutto,con risibil manto. 
370 
Et dico,che fù buona fantasia 
Porli tal nome, assai scuro al presente, 
Perch’è corrotto dalla lunga via. 
Gia s’appellò Teroco anticamente, 
Quasi teriocor, che in Lingua Latina 
Vuol dir tre fiate giuoco parimente. 
Onde veggiorn, che il giocatore inchina 
A’ far tre sorti di giuoco in un tratto, 
Com’ei dimostra nella sua dottrina. 
Lo invito in dar le carte fa il prim’atto; 
C’ha maggior Ronfa,co i trionfi insieme, 
Riman vincente dell’invito fatto. 
Chi perde il primo, nel secondo hà speme, 
D’haver suoi danni alquanto ristorati, 
Ma spesso avien che questo anchor lo preme.
Et questi sono gli honori accoppiati, 
A’ quai si rende una certa onoranza, 
Secondo i patti da prima fermati. 
Il terzo segue, secondo l’usanza 
Il valor de’ Tarocchi, et le figure 
Chi riman con più punti, tanto avanza.
Hor questi sono i danni, et le sciagure, 
Che quel capo sventato hà dato al Mondo, 
Di fanfalucche pieno, et di sozzure. 
Voi, per por la sua gloria in tutto al fondo, 
Si, che per sempre mai resti sommersa, 
Quasi l’havete mandato al profondo. 
Dicendo che colei, che i fiaschi versa, 
Ch’ei fosse un’ebbriaco chiar dimostra, 
Che in più parti la mente havea dispersa. 
Ma io dico che quella i vasi mostra, 
Acciò che s’habbia da temprar ciascuno, 
Che di tal giuoco vuole entrare in giostra. 
Che veramente non la intende ognuno, 
Benche vi corrano molti alla ballorda, 
De’ quali potrei dir, ch’io ne foss’uno.

English Translation

Alberto Lollio

175
You have to serve the other two players,
replying to everyone in the same suit.
And if for ignorance or for an error
you give a card that is not correct,
you year the voices going up to the sky.
Don't think that these are your only
troubles: you must keep the count
of any minimal card that is played,
if you don't, everything is a ruin:
So you often wish you had the memory
of Mithridates, Caesar or Cirus.
212
The Bagat and the Fool only mean that
[the inventor of the game] was a charlatan, a cheater.
What is the meaning of the Papesse the Chariot, 
the Traitor, the Wheel, the  Hunch-backed Man,
Strength, the Star, the Sun, the Moon,
Death, Hell and all the rest of this
bizarre absurdity?
Only that his head was foolish,
full of smoke, trifles and fancies.
She who pours the flasks clearly shows
the truth of the fact that he was a drunkard.
And that fantastic and bizarre name
of Tarot, having no  etymology,
makes clear to everyone that fancies
had spoiled and rotten his brain.

Vincenzo Imperiali

247
So I cannot avoid to get heated,
because there is some mystery in this game, 
as many valid minds affirm. 
Here you can see clearly whether this is true; 
Firstly, leave God in his eternal seat, 
naming him in a game is an insult. 
The first is the World, that assigned its government [XXI]
to Justice; then the Heavenly Angel [XX,XIX]
follows, at summer as well as at winter. 
There is the Sun, that gives light to everyone,  [XVIII]
and brings the day, hinting to his sister  [XVII]
that defeats the darkness of the night. 
In the order follows the one  [XVI]
that gives hope to the sailors of leading them 
to a port, saving them from the storm. 
Here suddenly it comes from one extreme
to the other,  from the luminous sky down  [XV]
to the dark centre, finding Hell and its torments. 
The Devil is seldom there, [XIV]
on the contrary he always prospers 
and dwells between the human seed; I now enter 
a wide sea wanting to speak about this. 
He always takes new preys in the World 
so he is said to be its Prince. 
And down here everyone must yield to him 
in cunningness, malice and power, 
even if the foolish plebs do not believe this.  
Then Death comes, leading a different dance [XIII]
defeating both prudence and malice 
and making the scales even for everyone. 
But the old wise man catches Fortune [XI,X]
making a single bundle of her and her wheel, 
even if she wins her fight against Strength. [IX]
This one with a great noise throws down 
Love with his chariot, causing fear and horror [VIII,VII]
to her that holds two vases, one high and one low. [VI]
Then the Pope and the Emperor come, [V,III]
each with his woman at his side because [IV,II]
their hearts forbid to them to be without women. 
One [the Emperor] is called Sacred, the other one [the Pope] Holy^,
but they want jokers and jugglers [I]
and complete fools, with funny dresses. [0]
370
I think it was a good idea to give to the game
such a name, which is currently obscure,
because it has been corrupted by the length of time.
The antique name was “Teroco”,
from “teriocor”, that in the Latin language
simply means “I play three times”.
Because we see that the player is ready
to make three kind of games at the same time,
as he shows in his doctrine.
The first one is the invite, when cards are dealt;
whoever has the best Ronfa^, together with trumps,
is the winner of the invite that was made.
Those who lose the first one, hope that in the second one
their losses will be repaid,
but often it happens that they lose more.
This [second game] is the coupling of honours,
that deserve a certain win, according 
to the pacts that had been previously agreed upon.
According to the usage, the third one follows
the value of the Tarots and of the court cards:
whoever has more points makes a corresponding win.
These are the damages and misfortunes
brought to the World by that crazy mind,
full of foolish and dirty things.
In order to bring his glory has low as possible,
burying it forever,
you have put him almost in the deepest place.
You say that she who pours the flasks
clearly proves that he was a drunkard
whose mind was dispersed in different places.
But I say that she shows the vases
so that all those who want to join the game
know that they must temper themselves.
She is not always understood,
because many play in a foolish way,
and I must say that I have been one of them.

Notes

Sacro and Santo

The reference is to "il Sacro Romano Imperatore" (the Sacred Roman Emperor) and "il Santo Padre" (the Holy Father).

Ronfa

The Ronfa was a sequence of cards belonging to the same suit.