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A Renaissance Birth Plate Author(s): Maurice L. Shapiro Reviewed work(s): Source: The Art Bulletin, Vol. 49, No.

3 (Sep., 1967), pp. 236-243 Published by: College Art Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3048473 . Accessed: 23/02/2013 18:18
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A RENAISSANCE BIRTH PLATE*


MAURICE L. SHAPIRO

this realism, however, is drawn from a classical or at least a pseudoclassical source, as Bernard Rackham, who has given us the best account of this plate, first discovered.5 It is the scene of the Birth of Hercules (Fig. 2) in an illustrated Ovid of 1497.0 This was not only utilized in a to relatel number of birth plates including ours, it was even-wonderful in handbooks of obstetrics.7 The classicism of the 1497 Birth -imitated of Hercules stops with the story, however, for the composition of the woodcut derives from fifteenth century pictures of the nativity of the Virgin or the Baptist. Like these nativities, moreover, the woodcut reflects Renaissance custom and belief. Thus, the baby's bath placed on the floor and the low seat of the woman who washes the child have their conspicuous counterpart on our plate in the low stool and bath in the foreground.8 On the plate, again, the open drawers beside the bed derive from sympathetic magic: these openings were seen as helping free the vital passages for the birth.? The central roundel of the birth plate is in striking contrast to the rings about it. The congenial, boisterous company of gossips, kindly but unlettered, is replaced by learned references to classical literature, astrology, theology, and philosophy. But these references are not a conventional arrangement of standard emblems such as we might expect in so minor a work; instead the outer rings contain a complex and erudite program. To find such a wealth of symbolism, such pretentious learning, and so tightly knit a program on a mere birth plate suggests that we may be underestimating the intellectual content of the minor arts of the Renaissance. The first ring after the birth scene occurs on the slope of the plate just inside the rim. There are eight medallions in this ring and all but the lowest, the Fortune, have a star on their dark blue inner border. The stars indicate that the figures in the medallions represent the seven planets and not gods as Tervarent seems to hold.1o Shown in conjunction with a birth scene, the planets are obviously an astrological reference. The fact that the stars are marked with prolonged rays that run in a radial direction through the dark, sky-colored ring so as to join the medallions with the central circle also carries the idea of "influences" that stream from the planets to the new-born. Although it is not possi-

The early Renaissance custom of presenting gifts on a painted wooden tray to the mother of a new-born child is familiar to historians and lovers of art. The trays, however, for all the freshness of their pictures and their aspiring classical themes, soon lost their vogue. With the expansion of the ceramics industry in the sixteenth century and the development of the historiated style of pottery a specially designed set of majolica ware was substituted for the wooden tray.1 The fashion of giving birth-wares persisted until the eighteenth century. Perhaps the most magnificent example remaining to us from an accouchement set is a majolica birth plate in the Victoria and Albert Museum dating from about 1530 (Fig. 1).2 Though the painting is derivative, drawn from Raphael and his followers, the vigorous design and color and the clever adaptation to the space distinguish it as a virtuoso piece of the ceramic painter's art. In addition, the rich repertory of iconological material gives the plate a particular interest to the historian of art and ideas.3 The plate is divided into three sections: first, a circular bottom with a lively birth scene; then, rising from the bottom, the slope--quarterround in profile--holding medallions of the seven planets and the goddess Fortune; and finally, a broad, flat rim, divided into upper and lower halves, picturing, above, putti dancing about a cock, and below, figures representing the theological and cardinal virtues. The design of a central circle surrounded by concentric rings derives ultimately from GrecoRoman astrological reliefs, such as the well-known bronze medallion of Antoninus Pius with the Capitoline Jupiter in the center of two concentric rings: the inner representing the seven planetary deities, the outer the signs of the Zodiac.4 In contrast, the quaint lying-in scene of our plate represents a typical delivery of Renaissance times and is full of homely details. In the middle, the parturient--modestly clothed according to custom-is seated on a type of obstetrical chair before the midwife. She is supported on either side by relatives and neighbors; others gape with wonder or sigh with satisfaction; and others again busily prepare for the child. Even

* I owe a special debt of gratitude to Mr. J. G. Ayers, Deputy Keeper, Department of of Ceramics, Victoria and Albert Museum, who arranged for the preparation Keeper the fine photograph used in Fig. 1, and to Mr. J. V. G. Mallet, Assistant of the same department, who very kindly answered my queries. 1 E. Holliinder, Die Medizin in der klassischen Malerei, Stuttgart, 1923, 143. 2 B. Rackham, Victoria and Albert Museum. Catalogue of Italian Maiolica, I, text, II, plates, London, 1940, No. 1006. 1450-1600, Geneva, dans I'art profane: et symboles 3 G. de Tervarent, Attributs 1958, fig. 26 and Table des Illustrations, pl. xt. Erizzo, Discorso sopra le medaglie 4 Illustrated in the 16th century in Sebastiano antiche, Venice, 1559, 304. 5 Rackham, Maiolica, 337f. Rackham dates the plate ca. 1555. I find a number of Raphael and his stylistic motifs drawn from the early part of the century-from to a second birth plate in the Vicalso a number of similarities followers-and No. 624, pp. 207f. From the Rackham toria and Albert, the Birth of Hercules, number of stylistic details common to the two plates I am led to suggest that both were executed by the same hand and date from about 1530, the date Rackham assigns to the Birth of Hercules. Mr. Mallet of the Victoria and Albert Museum he kindly writes me that although he could not determine the point conclusively of the was inclined to the opinion that the Hercules plate is the less manneristic of shading and technique two. He says: "One could point to certain similarities between them, but this might be a question of two artists working in the same workshop or tradition, rather than the same hand." volgare, Venice, 1497. 6 Ovidio methamorphoseos 7 Jakob Rueff, De conceptu et generatione hominis, Frankfurt, 1580, fol. 28v. form of the Madonna 8 This custom may well be at the source of the iconographic

who sits on the ground with the Child on her lap, the Madonna of Humility. The cited by Meiss in his study of the type (M. verbal and symbolic rationalizations 1951, Meiss, Painting in Florence and Siena after the Black Death, Princeton, 132-56, esp. pp. 148-51) may have legitimized the Madonna's action, but the inspiration would seem to come from the tradition described for us in Lodovicus Caelius Lectionum antiquarum (Lodovico Ricchieri) Rhodiginus libri XXX, Venice, 1620 (ed. prin. 1516), 1633f.: infantes terram attingere iuberent, Opemque deam "Priscorum mos fuit, ut aeditos nec vocem prius dari opem ferret, sinu eos excipiens, ut nascentibus invocarent, Levanam quin etiam deam dicebant, quae pueris putabant, quam terram attigissent. Civitatis diviprae esset de terra levandis: cuius auctor doctrinae est Augustinus nae lib. 4 [cap. 11] item Macrobius Symposiacon primo [Sat. I, 12, 20/22], ubi de Varro De vita patrum lib. 2 [where?] Natus si erat Maia instruitur dissertatio. rectus esse. vitalis ac sublatus ab obstetrice statuebatur in terra, ut auspicaretur videtur: Et natus septimo [where?], ipsum hoc significasse Philo item Sapientiae (inquit) accepi communem aerem, et similiter decidi in terram factam. Et in libro De moribus Seneca, Omnes infantes terra nudos excipit. Ex iis Papinio [Statio] [109f.], et Violantillae lux infertur plurima Sylvarum primo in Stellae epithalamio fovique sinu. Sed et lib. 5. [v, v, 69f.] Sylvula postrema, Tellure cadentem/Excepi atque unctum genitali carmine fovi." Tellure cadentem/Aspexi 9 R. Miillerheim, in der Kunst, Stuttgart, 1904, 161 quotes TemesDie Wochenstube Ethnographische in der Geburtshilfe. und Aberglauben Volksbruche Studien, viry, to the effect that "Die Tiiren n.d., und Subladen macht man auf, um den Kinde einen Weg zu bahnen, die Schliisser mussen samtlich geaffnet sein, ebenso die Ohrgehlinge, da sich so auch die Geblirmutter leichter 6iffnet." 10 Tervarent, Attributs, fig. 26.

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ble to cast a nativity from the planets alone without the zodiacal signs, in this ring cannot represent the twelve houses of astrological science,"1 it is nevertheless clear that they bear a message about the child. To read this message we must analyze their nature and relative positions. The seven planets of the plate are not arranged in the familiar astronomical sequence that begins wih Mercury and ends with Saturn. This Copernican sequence, marking the distances from the sun, is not really to be expected in a popular work at this period, although the Copernican system had, of course, already been promulgated. Neither does the sequence we find here reflect the Ptolemaic astrological system that is based on the distances of the planets from the earth, beginning with the farthest planet, Saturn, and ending with Luna. Instead the order in the first ring follows that of the planetary "qualities" as fixed by astrology. Jupiter, the "Greater Fortune," is placed at the very top of the ring; the maleficent Saturn, Mars, and Luna are on the unlucky left and the beneficent Mercury, Venus, and Sol are on the right. The luminaries, Luna and Sol, face each other in the medallions just above Fortune; the lovers, Mars and Venus, are at the quarter positions; and the slowest planet, Saturn, faces the swiftest, Mercury, above.12 An arrangement placing Saturn, the Greater Infortune, nearest the Greater Fortune, Jupiter, may at first seem incongruous. But astrology has many strange rules and relationships. The planetary "friends" and "enemies" described in Reisch's Margarita philosophica may have been called upon to establish the sequence in this plate: "Jupiter, Sol, and Luna are friends of Saturn; Mars and Venus are his enemies. All except Mars are friends of Jupiter and only Venus is a friend of Mars, while the others are his enemies."la As the friend of nearly all the planets, the Jupiter of the plate stretches his arms wide to greet them. Saturn fittingly takes his place next to his most powerful friend, Jupiter, while hailing another friend, Sol, with one hand. We find, however, that Mars keeps both hands on his left hip: he is the only figure who salutes no one. In technical terms, Mars "aspects" none of the other planets as being "afflicting." The evil he portends is thus minimized. Mars and Venus, respectively the Lesser Infortune and the Lesser Fortune, are properly below Saturn and above the luminaries, whose qualiand although the eight medallions

ties as Fortunes are ambiguous. For there is some question whether Sol is properly aligned with the Fortunes and Luna with the Infortunes. It is especially important to clarify the quality of Luna, since she is associated with birth. It is true that Ptolemy, whose Tetrabiblos had great authority in these matters,14 called Luna beneficent--she is listed as a Fortune by his close followers15--and Sol "common" or amphibolous, like Mercury, who is favorable with the Fortunes and unfavorable with the Infortunes. But Ptolemy's view of the two luminaries, derived from the tropical conditions of Egypt where the sun is overwhelming and the moon (or at least the evening) a welcome relief, had long been considered paradoxical by Northern scholars. After all, Luna shines by a weaker, reflected light and is feminine--a telling infirmity!--and variable. Sol as a powerful agent controlling so many beneficent phenomena -the day, the seasons, crops, and health itself--cannot fairly be called an Infortune or even of doubtful propensity. Haly,16 in his influential commentary on Ptolemy, makes these points and adds that Sol is masculine; diurnal; larger, brighter, and denser; stronger, hotter, and drier than the moist Luna; and therefore is superior in his effects and must be held to rule where greatness is involved, as with kings, kingdoms, and magistrates, and matters of wisdom, magnanimity, nobility, strength, splendor. Cardan,17 commenting on the same problem, is more timid: he at first defends the older position but ends by quoting Haly with approbation. Indagine18 whose Astrologia naturalis was very popular, but is, I fear, a rather superficial work--gives us at least the concensus of the times. Luna, he says, is of evil nature and effect: Luna is considered bad, if only because she engenders instability: deed, what evils does instability in a man not bring with it? Sol, on the contrary, he considers beneficent, but with reservation: in-

Everything that we have said of the good planets, we would repeat for Sol. He has no bad planet who has this one. I do not say if he is Lord of the geniture, for he never decides one's fate. Just as when Luna falls in with the lord of the geniture, he seems to me a kind of middle passage between Mars and Venus. And whatever is midmost in order also serves moderation in nature. But if he comes together with the three, that is, with Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury, everyone will see him to whom this befalls become the happiest of men.19

circle, an octotopos, is, as amateurs of astrology 11 The occurrence of an eight-house know, not excluded. Such circles were not used by astrologers, however, and the best known one, that of Manilius, is a vexed problem. Manilius' octotopos is discussed in A. Bouch6-Leclercq, L'astrologie grecque, Paris, 1899, 276ff., but the exposition is not easy to accept; see H. W. Garrod, Manili astronomicon liber II, Oxford, 1911, 145 n. to 11. 864-970. There is a possibility nevertheless that Manilius may have suggested some features of the plate, such as the order of the planets and the place of Fortune and especially of Jupiter (Manilius n, 881ff.). The system for constructing the octotopos of our birth plate employs the seven planets and the Lot of Fortune (see further, below) but ordered according to their qualities as "Fortunes" or "Infortunes." This becomes similar to those systems of astrological chiromancy and physiognomy based on the planets alone and thus dispensing with the zodiacal signs (but see the protest against such systems in I. B. Porta, Naples, 1603, 111). Coetestis physiognomoniae, 12 The eagle and fulmen of Jupiter, Saturn's scythe and dragon, Mars' wolves (or more probably a wolf and a horse) and a shield (of irregular shape: is it the ancile?), the bow and the horses of Sol, the doves and Cupid of Venus (she holds Cupid's bow), and the bat of Luna (who carries Diana's arrows) are all too well known to need further remark except where, as with Jupiter's thunderbolt, they have a special significance. Only Mercury's ape is rather unusual. H. W. Janson, Apes and Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, London, 1952, 317 n. 22, gives the sources of the ape of Mercury as Horapollo's 1. 14 Hieroglyphica and Picatrix: the Egyptians held that the Cynocephalus understands letters, and since Mercury is the god of letters the Egyptian totem becomes his attribute. See

13 14

15

16 17

also Tervarent, Attributs, s.v. "Singe, III," 353f. The ape, however, is not only associated with learning, but also with imitation. Since Mercury as a planet is cum bonis bonus et cum malis malus, the imitative ape is especially appropriate. It is surprising that although our Mercury has the talaria and winged petasus he does not carry a well-developed caduceus. (Is his staff the monocalamus: Caelius Rhodiginus Lectionum 9. 37) Perhaps the artist was squeamish about snakes: he did not use them for Prudence, and Saturn's dragon is of the less common saurian type --or perhaps he felt that the delicate condition of the mother precluded their representation on a birth plate! Gregorius Reisch Margarita philosophica, Frankfurt, 1504 (ed. prin. 1503) 7. 3. I have used mainly the Loeb Classics Library edition, translated and with a valuable introduction by F. E. Robbins: Claudius Ptolemy Cambridge, Tetrabiblos, Mass. and London, 1940; reprinted 1948. For example, Henricus Ranzovius (Rantzau) Tractatus astrologicus, Frankfurt, 1633, 54. Reisch Margarita 7. 3 says: "Sol is favorable when it aspects, unfavorable in conjunctions. Luna acts as a kind of messenger for all and by them is rendered lucky or unlucky." Haly Heben Rodan (Albohazen Haly filii Abenragel; rectius Abi 'L-Ridjal) Liber quadripartiti Ptholomei cum commento, Venice, 1493. Hieronymus Cardanus (Cardano) In Cl. Ptolemaei Pelusiensis III de astrorum indicijs . . . Basel, 1554; De supplemento 1543, Chaps. xviii, almanach, Nuremberg, xx. Introductiones apotelesmaticae, Ursel, 1603 (ed. prin. 1522).

18 Ioannes ab Indagine 19 Ibid., 159.

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Luna, then, is put with the Infortunes on our plate and is shown accompanied by a bat as attribute, since a bat is the symbol of dusk or night from its nocturnal habits,20 of inconstancy from its futtering,21 and of evil from its ugliness.22 But since, as was said, Luna is traditionally associated with parturition, the evil portent must be countered if the plate is to serve for the happy mother. This is done by the Fortune medallion, as we shall see. Sol, meanwhile, is on the side of Mercury and Venus, and is shown as Apollo, the god of light, of health, and of beauty. We have seen that Jupiter, the Greater Fortune, is at the very top of the circle of the planets. He kneels with arms outstretched as if to embrace the other planets to the left and right.23 Benignantly, he faces the maleficent planets, his gaze directed toward Luna. At his feet is the eagle, his traditional attribute and the symbol of his majesty. More interesting is his other attribute, the curious and, as it would seem, not very practicable thunderbolt on his left that falls obliquely and recurves to return to the skies. It is made up of three parts: an upper flaming burst; a middle bolt of spiral structure, itself double and with a central knot so that it is actually a classical fulmen; and at the bottom, the curving dart.24 The physics of such fiery missiles is described for us in Reisch's Margarita phitosophica.25 They rise up, says this work, from the condensation of dry exhalations due to the force of the sun and stars and are able to mount into the highest regions of the air. When the thick parts of the exhalations, where the subtility is unequal, tend to congeal into a hanging structure, somewhat like a candle, the fire is known as ignis perpendicutlaris (Fig. 3). If the thick part is more slender, we have a lancea ardens. If the fire is equally subtile in all its parts and the whole flies flaming like sparks, it is known as scintille. There are candies, "dancing goats," falling stars, ignes fatui, and flying dragons. The lancea ardens seems closest to our thunderbolt and the name "lance" may perhaps account for the spearhead.28 But for a more complete understanding of the action and meaning of the thunderbolt we must consult Pliny's Natural History, our chief authority on this subject. Pliny reviews for us the discoveries of the Etruscans, who were famous for their skill in divining from celestial prodigies. Essentially, the Etruscan system divides the heavens into four quarters, beginning with the northeastern quadrant and ending with the northwestern: the last quadrant is the most fearsome, the first is best of all. By observing the

origin and line of retirement of thunderbolts one can read their portent; most favorable is when they return to the region of sunrise. But here there seems to be a confusion in Pliny's text, for he adds that "it will be a portent of supreme happiness when they come from the first part of the sky and retire to the same part" (N.H. 2. 144). As this must take them to the northeast, there is a conflict with the earlier statement that it is the regions of sunrise, in exortivas partes, that are most favorable, since these regions are, more precisely, to the southeast or in the second quadrant. The matter is of some importance to us, for Pliny also says: "Flashes on the left are considered lucky, because the sun rises on the left hand side of the firmament" (N.H. 2. 142), and we know that the "left side" of the heavens was considered to be the south, and held to be the favorable side. Now, to an observer here below who faces east, the south is on the right; but since the heavens look upward (the head always in the east), the right side of the sky is in reverse, that is, toward the unlucky north. We may take the figure of Jupiter to stand in this cosmic position: the thunder on his left is in the south. Since, moreover, the left half of our plate is the unlucky side-it holds the maleficent must be to the north. And as the thunderbolt moves planets--it obliquely from the opposite side and also from the top of the ring it must come from the southeast--therefore in exortivas partes-and the recurved dart would cause it to return there. It is, consequently, a "portent of supreme happiness."27 That the top of the plate is in the east is supported by several considerations. The cock at the very top of the rim is an old symbol of sunrise. The Fortune medallion at the bottom of the planetary ring has a landscape that, as we shall see presently, pictures the extreme western limit of the world: the Pillars of Hercules and the Fortunate Isles. We must remember, too, that mediaeval maps generally showed Jerusalem and the East at the top, the position of honor. Fortuna, at the opposite end of the ring from Jupiter, has, like him, her arms stretched wide but instead of his gesture of embracing, she holds a yellow sun in her left hand and what Rackham calls a "watery globe"--a moon, as I believe, in spite of its blue color--in her right.28 There is a heart-shaped grapevine around the sun and what seems to be a chaplet of poppies around the moon. That Fortune should be shown riding dolphins and carrying a wind-filled sail is characteristic enough.29 Even her floating forelock that belongs to Opportunity (Occasio) pre-

20 Cesare

Rome, 1603 (ed. prin. 1593), 361, s.v. "Le quattro parti Ripa, Iconologia, de la Notte: Parte prima." Incidentally, the Italian for bat is nottola. 21 Ibid., 225 f., s.v. "Inconstanza": "Vi si pub ancora depingere una Nottola la quale vola irresolutissima hor de una banda, hor dall'altra, come dice Basilio de const. monast." 22 Pierio Valeriano Hieroglyphica, Basel, 1575 (ed. prin. 1556), 25, s.v. "De vespertilione."

reversed?" (J. W. and A. M. Duff, trans.) 28 The "watery moon" is so called because the moon is "humid" according to mediaeval science. Tervarent, Attributs, 274, s.v. "Miroir, VI," sees "un miroir dans le disque que la Fortune tient de la main droit." He ignores the sun in her other hand, which hardly balances a mirror. The fact is that the "mirror" is not held for viewing, has no reflection, and in no way follows the model of the mirror of Prudence on the rim of the plate immediately below. Tervarent also ignores the spherical form and the crown of flowers--both inappropriate to a mirror. According to Vitruvius (9. 2, 1) the Chaldeans held that "The moon is a globe with one luminous half and the other half blue (caeruleo) in color. The part that does not .... shine seems dark because it resembles air." This theory that the moon shines by its own light but has one hemisphere dark is an attempt to explain the phases. Vitruvius also gives the Greek explanation of the phases as due to the reflection of light from the sun, and both theories were widely quoted at least until Caelius Rhodiginus Lectionum 20. 4 (pp. 196f.). Although the blue color and full disc must represent the new moon, it is the full moon that is favorable to birth: "women are believed to have the easiest delivery when the moon is full," says Plutarch (Roman Questions 77). The matter is ambiguous, however, since the light can only increase after new moon and this is propitious for the growth and fortune of the child. 29 Tervarent, Attributs, 410f., s.v. "Voile, I."

23 See Ripa, Iconologia, "con le braccia aperte, come volesse 113, s.v. "Dottrina": abbracciare altrui." 24 There is an old tradition that Jupiter's thunderbolts are triple: Vergil Aen. 8. 429, and Servius, ad loc. Pliny informs us that Jupiter has three varieties of thunderbolts and that when they come from the upper heaven they fall on a slant (N.H.

2. 138).
25 Reisch Margarita 9. 8. Additional information on this discipline, which descends will be found in P. Gasexhalation from the Aristotelian theory of meteorology, paris Schottus (Kaspar Schott) Physica curiosa, Nuremberg, 1667, pars. II, lib. xI, pars. ii, pp. 1206-50, who discusses lambent fire, coruscations, the Castor and Pollux, and the Helen--all argued with learning and classified according to the four causes. The source of the science of celestial fires is Aristotle Meteorologica 1. 4ff. 26 Pliny (N.H. 2. 82) says that thunderbolts are called the darts of Jupiter. 27 See Reposianus De concubitu Martis et Veneris 8: quid conversa lovis laeteris fulmina semper? "Why do you always rejoice that Jove's thunderbolts have been

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sents no problem, for Opportunity was often assimilated to Fortune.s? However, the sun and moon are not her usual attributes;s1 and the planets that have been associated with her are the apple or the ash.32 Although Fortune moves in a landscape of earth and water with two very solid crags at its edge, her world is a mysterious one. The two peaks, lit brilliantly on one side, throw long shadows on the other, yet the sun and moon are on the near, the shadowed side. What country can this of the two peaks be? We must reject such twin peaks as Sinai and Oreb or Olympus and Pelion in favor of the Pillars of Hercules, Calpe and Abyla, at the western end of the world beyond which lay the Fortunate Isles, where the Elysian Fields were situated.33 Vergil, in describing the Elysian Fields, places them on the Fortunate Isles, or at least Servius, his commentator, does so for him: "a land of joy, the green pleasaunces and happy seats of the Blissful Groves (Fortunatorum Nemorum). Here an ampler ether clothes the meads with roseate light and they know their own suns and stars of their own" (Aeneid 6. 638-41. H. R. Fairclough, trans.). But Vergil's Sotemque suum, sua sidera norunt meets the requirement of the landscape of our medallion, for the twin peaks of the limits of the world are illuminated by a sun beyond them at the same time that Fortune holds the luminaries on this side: the "own sun" and moon of her Isles. This is consistent too, with the words of Iamblichus in the Life of Pythagoras, 82, who says: "What are the Blessed Isles? The sun and moon." The theme of the Fortunate Isles does not exhaust the associations suggested by the Fortune medallion. Sun and moon are alchemical terms for gold and silver, material fortune. It is probable that the medallion is also to be read as an astrological figure: the Lot of Fortune. Here it is necessary to introduce a modicum of astrological science, according to which the 30* arc just below the eastern horizon is the first of the twelve "houses" through which the zodiacal constellations (or "signs") and the planets run. This first house is known as Horoscope and is of prime importance in astrology. The particular sign that falls on the horizon and the planets that happen to occur within Horoscope at the time of a birth or other event are considered to be critical in their influence on the event, or at least to indicate the good or bad fortune to be expected. Of course the position of the planets in the other houses are not to be overlooked. The lot of Fortune, to return to the second meaning of the Fortune medallion, is a celestial position that is used as a substitute for Horoscope. Technically it is the house that lies at a distance from Horoscope equal to the space in degrees of arc between the sun and moon at the moment of an event. Used in place of Horoscope as the fundamental point of reference for certain readings, the advantage of the Lot of Fortune is that it brings into a single relationship the special powers of

the two luminaries and the traditional primacy of Horoscope. Now, the action of Fortune, who holds the sun and moon with arms spanned wide as if to measure, inevitably suggests this astronomical function. The fact that the moon is raised high in the middle of the space is perhaps an echo of Ptolemy's designation of the Lot of Fortune as a Lunar Horoscope.34 It may also refer to the moon as a natal symbol. The Lot of Fortune is recommended by Ptolemy for determining longevity (Tetrabibtos 3. 10), inheritances (4. 2), harmony between brothers (3. 5) as well as between parents (3. 6), and for learning the prospects for material fortune (4. 2).35 It is therefore eminently appropriate for our birth plate and fittingly closes the ring of the planets that opens with Jupiter as the Greater Fortune and wielder of the lucky thunderbolt. There remain to be discussed the plants that frame the luminaries in the Fortune medallion: the poppy and the vine. The poppy is an old symbol of fertility and therefore goes well with Luna, who is the goddess of birth. The vine that surrounds the sun is a heart-shaped chaplet. This shape calls to mind several Biblical passages that associate wine with the joyful heart: "wine that maketh glad the heart of man" (Ps. 104: 15); "Wine drunk in season and to satisfy is joy of heart and gladness of soul." (Eccles. 31: 36)36 That the sun, too, is associated with joy is natural enough: "Joy cometh in the morning." (Ps. 30: 5)37 But the vine is also compared with a fruitful wife: "happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thy house." (Ps. 128: 2, 3)38 Thus the Fortune medallion is the most densely packed of all, with references to good luck for the child, a happy delivery for the mother, and continued fruitfulness for both parents. In picturing the Fortunate Isles it suggests also the greater theme of the afterlife; here it rejoins the astrological program, in which the planets are ordered according to the Fortunes and in which the stress is on Jupiter of the thunderbolt, for the thunderbolt not only portends the highest felicity but also refers to the descent and ascent of the soul. The Fortune medallion also connects the ring of the planets with the outer ring to be studied next. That ring deals with the Christian, moral theme. The upper part of the outer ring has a group of dancing putti, two of whom are in the act of crowning a cock with a laurel chaplet. An overturned pot of gold lies at the feet of the cock. The lower part of this ring is made up of the three theological and the four cardinal virtues, each in front of a cloth of honor. Here, as with the planets, there is a strange irregularity in that the hierarchical system according to which the theological virtues should be allotted the places of highest honor seems to be broken. Charity with her two children and Hope with an eagle are, to be sure, at the upper ends of the series.S9 But Faith, the third of the theo-

30 Ibid., 265ff., s.v. "M~che de Cheveux Flottant A l'Avant du Front, I, II." Andrea Alciati, EmbIemata cum commentariis, Padua, 1621, 526. Servius ad Aen. 9. 240 identifies Fortuna with Occasio. The curious reader may wish to conjure with the difficult and interesting theory of actinoboIia (emission of rays) that may explain the direction of movement of Fortune and also the direction in which her lock of hair floats: toward the unlucky side (although the wind blows the other way). See Bouchb-Leclercq, L'astrologie, 247ff. 30. 6) that Bupalos made a statue of Fortune at 31 Pausanias reports (Messenia Smyrna with "the heavenly sphere on her head." P. Valeriano Hieroglyphica 56 (p. 410), s.v. Fortuna amatoria, mentions this and, misquoting Pausanias' addiP tional reference to Pindar, twists 76rly SephroXw into 7/X0% ephroX "Foro,: tune, the Supporter of the City" into "the carrier of the sky." The meaning of polos as a high crown easily gave way in the minds of Renaissance Humanists to its other meaning of the heavens, when, as here, the result was a suggestive, Neoplatonic image. 32 Lilius Gregorius Gyraldus (Giraldi), De deis gentium, Basel, 1548, 640. 33 Odyssey 4. 563ff.; Isidore Etymologiae 14. 6, 8. Servius ad Aen. 5. 735, 6. 640,

34 35

36 37 38 39

says that Elysium has been variously placed in the lower world, on the Fortunate Isles, or on the moon. Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos 3. 10. Lot of Fortune, KXfpor TtXas, sors Fortunae. Ptolemy's interpretation stems from the meaning of KXjpot as "patrimony" and "wealth." Bouch6-Leclercq, L'astrologie, 84, calls attention to the fact that the astrological concept is influenced by Plato's KXfpot, the lot chosen by the soul before birth: see the myth of Er in the Republic 10. 613e-20, esp. 617. (Ps. 103: 15). Exultio animae et cordis vinum Et vinum Iaetificat cor hominem moderath potatum (Eccles. 31: 36). Ad matitudinem Iaetitia (Ps. 29: 5). Beatus es et bene tibi erit. Uxor tua sicut vitis abundans, in Iateribus domus tuae. (Ps. 127: 2, 3) See also Alciati, Emblemata, 679. Charity: see Tervarent, Attributs, 175, s.v. "Femme EntourC d'Enfants, I." Hope: ibid., 7f., s.v. "Aigle, IX"; Rhaban Maur De universo 8. 6 (PL, III, 243): Ad praeceptum ergo Dei elevatur aquila . . . quia terrena desideria despiciens, spe jam 6. 74. de coelestibus nutritur; Ambrose Hexatmeron

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logical virtues, pointing toward the heavens and with a cross and a white dog--the symbol of faithfulness, he is rightfully named Fido4?--is not, as we should expect, in the middle but next after the middle and on the inferior left side, too, where the planetary Infortunes occur. The order of the cardinal virtues is also unusual. Prudence is in the "best" place after Charity and Hope, that is, in the center, but Justice, ordinarily considered the noblest of the cardinal virtues, is to one side. Prudence in her place of honor is shown as the well-known figure with two heads, one looking forward and "reflecting"--for that is the sense of the mirror--the other, older head looking back to the past. With her left hand she grasps a less common addition: a huge volume.41 Justice has the usual scales and sword.42 Temperance follows after Jusand watice in the conventional action of "tempering"--mixing-wine ter.43 Finally, just below Hope is Fortitude with the broken column.44 The order then, is: on the left Hope, Fortitude, Faith; Prudence in the middle; and Charity, Justice and Temperance on the right. As we see, the order is eclectic and not traditional. Nevertheless, it is possible to show that a rational system does exist. Hope, Fortitude, and Faith will have been placed on the side of the planetary Infortunes because they are the virtues most needed in meeting ill fortune. On the opposite side, that of the Fortunes, are Charity, Justice, and Temperance, which are required if one is to live wisely with good fortune. In the center is Prudence, because this is the virtue needed to steer between good and bad; for prudence is, in Aristotle's words, "a truth-attaining rational quality, concerned with action in relation to things that are good and bad for human beings."45 There is also, it seems, an attempt to match the specific planets and virtues. The astrologers hold that Mercury gives money; and in another sense Charity does too! Venus, the morning and evening star, is associated with Justice through Aristotle's famous sentence (quoted from a lost play by Euripides) that Justice is the brightest of the virtues, outshining the morning and evening star.46 In a similar way Sol and Temperance are brought into relation by Macrobius, who calls the sun Temperatio mundi, "the moderator of the universe" (Somn. Scipionis 1. 20, 8). Cicero also says: "the sun by its approaching ever so little at times and at times receding, tempers somewhat the cold and heat" (De natura deorum 2. 19, Jupiter is the planet that gives, according to astronomical science, most honorable qualities of mind and body and it is for this reason he is the Greater Fortune. Ptolemy describes his effects in terms 49). the that that

symbol.47 Fortitude and Mars have often been connected; thus, Dante places those distinguished for fortitude in the Heaven of Mars (Paradiso 14-18). Hope and Saturn seem at first to have no nexus at all. But Saturn, we must remember, is also associated with moon is a well-known the Golden Age and through Vergil's Fourth Eclogue with the Second Coming as well: in this context redeunt Saturnia regna signifies the Christian Hope. We see then that the order of the Virtues is not at all haphazard. This order is particularly important with respect to Prudence. It is not an accident that she holds the central position on a line with Fortune, Jupiter, and the cock, nor that these four figures on the vertical axis of the plate are the most highly charged with special symbolism. They form, as will be shown, a program to themselves. To grasp this program we must first find the meaning of the cock. If the significance of the cock is not obvious it is not because an appropriate symbolism is difficult to find, but because so many meanings have been assigned to the cock and more than one is only too apt. Thus Aelian tells us that "the Cock is the favorite bird of Leto. The reason is, they say, that he was at her side when she was happily brought to bed of twins. That is why to this very day a Cock is at hand when women are in travail, and is believed somehow to promote delivery" (4. 29. A. F. Scholfield, trans.)4s But the obstetrical tion does not explain the pot of gold at the feet of the cock crowning by the putti. Surprisingly, the putti are not of equal an easy associanor his number

on the two sides: there are seven on the right and eight on the left. Since the extra putto on the left seems to have no real function, his inclusion must be willful. I judge that he is there precisely for the sake of the numbers seven and eight and that the numbers must be meaningful in the context. It is true that the number seven is "procreative," in that a baby born in the seventh month is safe, according to Hippocratic writings, but one born in the eighth month will die or be maimed or touched.49 Yet even though the seven putti are on the side of the "Fortunes" and the unlucky eight on the side of the "Infortunes," this explication fails to explain the pot of gold. The crowning of the cock by bad as well as good numbers also stands in the way of our accepting it. The fact that the putti and the cock occur on the same ring with the cardinal and theological virtues suggests that we search the Biblical and theological texts. We find, indeed, in Job 38: 36: Quis posuit in visceribus hominis sapientiam? vel quis dedit gallo intelligentiam? ("Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who had given understanding to the cock?")5o The sage cock accompanied by the numbers seven and eight and a pot of gold seems almost to fit the Biblical injunction to charity-"Give a portion to seven and also to eight: for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth" (Eccles. 11: 2)--except for the contradiction with his wisdom. But this seven and eight are numbers so full of

show the propriety of joining him with Prudence: "If Jupiter alone has the domination of the soul, in honorable positions he makes his subjects magnanimous, generous, god-fearing, honorable, pleasure-loving, kind, magnificent, liberal, just, high-minded, dignified, minding their own business, compassionate, fond of discussion, beneficent, affectionate, with qualities of leadership." (Tetrabiblos 3. 13, 161. F. E. Robbins, trans.). Faith may be said to be equivalent to the Church, of which the

40 Tervarent, Attributs, 94f., s.v. "Chien V"; Gyraldus, De deis, 40: Canis item albus symbolum esse putatur Fidei, etc.; A. M. Hind, Early Italian Engraving, New York and London, 1938-48, Iv, pl. 359. 41 Tervarent, Attributs, 271f., s.v. "Miroir I"; 251, "Livre XIII." In Urbano da Cortona's Tomb of Bishop Andrea Giovanni Baglioni in the Duomo of Perugia, Prudence has a book as sole attribute. 42 43 44 45 46 Tervarent, Attributs, 36f., s.v. "Balance Ibid., 8f., s.v. "Aiguibre I"; 394, "Vase Ibid., 106f., s.v. "Colonne I." Nicomachean Ethics 6. 5, 4. Ibid., 5, i.1129 b29. Donato Acciaioli Venus, probably after Epinomis 987 b. I"; 156, "Epbe I." VI."

47

48

49 identifies this star as in his commentary Aristotelis . . . Ethicorum ad Nicomachum 50

libri decem loanne Argyropylo Byzantino interprete . . . cum Donati Acciaioli . . . . Lyons, 1544 (ed. prin. Florence, 1478). The words are cited also commentariis by Aquinas Summ. theol. la-2ae, 46.4. 44, Natura Humana and Piorum Coetus; Augustine P. Valeriano Hieroglyphica Ennarrationes in Psalmos Ps. 10. In Dante's Paradiso, 2-5, the moon is the abode of those of imperfect faith. Examples are: Giulio Romano, Birth of the Virgin, Duomo, Verona (F. Hartt, Giulio Romano, New Haven, 1958, fig. 425); Tintoretto, Birth of the Baptist, Venice, San Zaccaria (H. Tietze, Tintoretto, New York, 1948, pl. 4). New York, "Commentary on the Dream of Scipio," W. H. Stahl, Macrobius' 1952, 103 n.21; Rhodiginus, Lectionum, 1240. The Authorized Version has "to the heart," instead of "to the cock."

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mystery that even the ecclesiastical authorities give us no decisive statement as to their meaning.51 If we cannot hope to fix the exact sense of the numbers-and numerology, even ecclesiastical numerology, is a bottomless wel152--we may still pursue the cock, though with proper reverence for the sacred numbers that do him honor. The hypothesis that the cock has a theological meaning sends us to the best known expression of the Christian symbolism of this bird, Prudentius' "Hymn for Cock-Crow" (Liber cathemerinon 1). In this poem the cock as awakener symbolizes the awakening into the new life of Christ: Ales diei nuntius lucem propinquam praecinit; nos excitator mentium iam Christus ad vitam vocat. "The bird that heralds day forewarns that dawn is at hand; now Christ, the awakener of our souls, calls us to life." And, "The loud chirping of the birds perched under the very roof, a little while before the light breaks forth, is a symbol of our Judge ... Let us awake! Reality is here. Gold, pleasure, joy, riches, honour, success, all the evil things that puff us up--comes morning, all are naught." The pot of gold overturned and at the feet of the cock on our plate is to be read as a symbol of the rejection of vanity and sin; the cock is crowned as the symbol of Christ who is Wisdom, Understanding, and Light: tu, Christe, somnum dissice, tu rumpe noctis vincula, tu solve peccatum vetus, novumque lumen ingere. "Do then, O Christ, scatter our slumbers. Do thou burst the bonds of night. Do thou undo our long-established sin, and pour in upon us the light of the new day." (H. J. Thomson, trans.) If the cock signifies divine light, intelligence, and wisdom,53 then it is possible to see in the four figures on the vertical axis of the plate--Prudence, Fortune, Jupiter, and the cock--a chain of ideas that gives still another meaning to this plate of multiple or--to use Dante's term-polysemous meanings. Even more, the additional program serves to bring the several rings into a unity. In order to elucidate the program on the axis of the plate it is essential to say a word about the influential theory of Intelligences. Aristotle

had postulated that the immovable mover acts to the degree that he is desired. Since desire implies knowledge, the heavens have their movement through intelligent substances54-a concept that differs from though it resembles Plato's divine souls that move the stars and planets. The Neoplatonists, the Arabian commentators, the Church theologians, and the Humanists of the Renaissance all speculated on the Intelligences as motive causes, and defined them variously as souls, pure essences, or hypostases, that is, hierarchical states of being. In Plotinos himself these hypostases, four in number, were conceived as stages in the emanation of the many from the one. In the Church the Intelligences were identified with the angels.55 Since the first Intelligence is God, the unmoved mover, the next will be that which acts in the moving spheres of heaven,56 and there will be a succession of Intelligences down to the lowest, which act in the sublunary world. If the cock is taken as the symbol of the first Intelligence, Jupiter will then be the active mover, an emanation of Intelligence and identified with the World-Soul. Macrobius explains this in the following way: When Cicero called the outermost sphere, whose revolutions we have just explained, the supreme god, he did not mean to imply the First Cause and All-Powerful God, since this sphere, the sky, is the creation of Soul, and Soul emanates from Mind, and Mind from God, who is truly the Supreme. Indeed, he called it supreme with respect to the other spheres lying beneath, as witness the words immediately following, confining and containing all the other spheres; he called it god because it is immortal and divine and is full of the reason imparted to it by that purest Mind, and also because it produces and itself contains all the virtues which follow the omnipotence of the original Head. The ancients called it Jupiter, and to cosmogonists Jupiter is the soul of the world. Hence Vergil's words "With Jove I begin, ye Muses; of Jove all things are full." This sentiment, borrowed by other poets, originated with Aratus, who, in introducing the subject of the stars, saw that he would have to begin with the celestial sphere, the abode of the stars; hence he said that he had to begin with Jupiter. (Somn. Scipionis 1. 17, 12-14. W. H. Stahl, trans.) Seen from this viewpoint, Jupiter on our plate is an emanation of the First Cause and one of the Intelligences. The recurved thunderbolt will then remind us of the argument which is at the very heart of Macrobius'

51 Durandus (5. 2. 39) has seven and eight refer to the steps of the Temple of Solomon (Ezek. 40), to the Old and New Testaments, and also to the divisions and cycles of the holy office; but elsewhere (5. 1. 3, 5) he has seven signify the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and eight the Resurrection. The last is a borrowing from St. Augustine, who says: "we may safely interpret the octave as the Day of Judgment, for the end of the world will admit us to life everlasting, and then the souls of the just will no longer be subject to the vicissitudes of time. Since all time advances by the repetition of the same seven days, the octave may very well signify that eighth day which is beyond such rotation." (Ennarrationes in Psalmos, Ps. 6, S. Hegbin and F. Corrigan, trans.) If eight signifies resurrection, seven, according to Ambrose (Cain and Abel 2. 34), conveys ideas of rest and remission, because God rested on the seventh day and because he said "whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold" (Gen. 4: 15). On the other hand, if seven refers to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, as Durandus and others assert, eight is the number of the Beatitudes. Consult D. Macrus (Magri), Hierolexicon, Venice, 1712, 394 (ed. prin. 1677) s.v. "Octava." See also Hugh of St. Victor Arca No@ 16. 3. 52 Still another line of inquiry is that suggested by Macrobius (Somn. Scipionis 1, chs. v, vi), who discusses the seven times eight years of Scipio's life in a study of encyclopaedic proportions in which it is proved that eight is the number of body and seven that of function; therefore the very nature of things is involved in the life and being of his hero. 53 Cesare Ripa, Nova iconologia, Padua, 1618, contains an article, "Sapienza Divina,"

by G. Z. Castellini, in which the cock is discussed in the following terms (p. 458): per l'intelligenza, e lume rationale, "I1 Gallo per cimiero in testa il pigliaremo che risiede nel capo, secondo Platone. Che si figuri il gallo per l'intelligenza non cosa absurda. De Pithagora, e Socrate misticamente per il gallo e stata chiamata l'anima, nella quale sola vi la vera intelligenza, perche il gallo hAt molta intelligenza, conosce le stelle, e como animale Solare, risguarda il Cielo, e considera il corso del Sole, e dal suo canto si comprende la quantith del giorno, e la varietg de' tempi, per tal sapere, e intelligenza era dedicato ad Apollo, ed Mercurio riputati sopra la Sapienza, e intelligenze di varie scienze, e arti liberali. Oltre che Dio di sua bocca a Iob nel cap. 38 Quis dedit Gallo intelligentiam, nel qual luogo da gli scrittori il gallo e interpretato per il predicatore, e Dottore Ecclesiastico, che canta, e publica nella Chiesa Santa La Sapienza Divina. Nella rocca d'Elide vi era una statua d'oro, e d'auorio, di Minerua con un gallo sopra bellicoso, come pensa il murione, non tanto per essere augello pid d'ogn'altro A Minerua che per la Pausania, quanto per esser pid intelligente, conueneuole sapienza si pigliaua." 54 Metaphysics 12. 7., 1072a ff. 55 Cf. Dante Convivio 2. 5.

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56 Cicero De natura deorum 2. 15, 42: "Aristotle holds [that] . . . since the stars come into existence in the aether, it is reasonable to suppose that they possess sensation and intelligence. And from this it follows that the stars are to be reckoned as gods." (H. Rackham, trans.)

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Commentary: that souls originate in the World-Soul and return there (Somn. Scip. 1. 9).57 Since souls are deemed to be made of incorporeal fire (ibid. 1. 14), the thunderbolt is especially appropriate as a symbol of soul. The third figure, Fortune, is also an agent of God and therefore, like Jupiter, one of the Intelligences. The most famous statement of this idea is Dante's (Inf. 7. 67-96): He whose wisdom is transcendent over all, made the heavens and gave them guides, so that every part shines to every part, / equally distributing the light; in like manner, for worldly splendors, he ordained a general minister and guide, / to change betimes the vain possessions, from people to people ... / Your knowledge cannot understand her: she provides judges, and maintains her kingdom, as the other Gods do theirs. / This is she, who is so much reviled, even by those who ought to /... praise her, when blaming her wrongfully, and with evil words. / But she is in bliss, and hears it not: with the other Primal Creatures joyful, she wheels her sphere, and tastes her blessedness. (P. H. Wicksteed, trans.)58 Dante's Fortuna is, then, an arm of Providence, and, as the old commentators point out,a9 an Intelligence and therefore unchangeable. She acts, however, not in the heavenly spheres that revolve eternally in perfect circles that, like the planets, never vary, but here below in the mutable. Acting in the mutable also is Prudence, who, since she has to do with our practical lives, is the lowest figure of the series. The Intelligences exist in the heavens and are the object of the contemplative life. In contrast, the active life deals with the changeable: with chance, which is Fortune's to bestow, with the moral virtues, changeable because they affect the merely human condition, and with certain of those virtues known as the intellectual virtues. Of Aristotle's five intellectual virtues, the first three--Intelligence, and the last two-Prudence "theoretical" Knowledge, and Wisdom-are and Art--are "practical." Thus the practical part of the intellectual virtues belongs to the mutable. Aristotle bases his classification of the virtues on the parts of the soul.

have, according to Aristotle, a special relation to intelligence, for both use intelligence (defined as intuitive reason) to apprehend the ultimates which are their particular provinces.60 Wisdom, the cock, is on the same circle with Prudence. Together they express the polarity of contemplative and active ideals; both are intellectual virtues in Aristotle's scheme. On the next circle Jupiter and Fortune illustrate essentially the same dichotomy: the spheres are acted upon by immutable Wisdom from above in the same way that mutable Fortune directs Prudence who is below her. This hierarchical schema of the nature of the forces that work on us mortals-or more specifically, on the new-born child-from Wisdom absolute down to practical Prudence shows that the programmer stands with Aristotle. Contemplation is for him the highest existence, but he insists too on the importance of a virtuous active life. This union of the two ideals of human happiness is the philosophical nexus linking the several programs of the planets, Fortune, the virtues, and the cock. After so pretentious a program it is surprising to find the two doggerel mottoes on the outer ring. Neither in sense nor style do they echo the aspiring message of the painting: He whom you see here clearly presented in picture is born of you to be the flower of our age.61 As the word "clearly" is perhaps badinage, so the "flower of our age" is perhaps affectation. It is true that the affectation is one that implies the statement of an ideal and that it implies a program. The second motto is more specific but scarcely more compelling: Without virtue, distinguished valor and art, the seed of Minerva and Mars is not born.62 The "seed of Minerva and Mars" is of course, the equivalent of the ancient formula to describe the hero: sapientia et fortitudo, wisdom and courage.63 "Virtue, distinguished valor, and art" we may take to signify the valor of Mars and the art, that is, the skill but also the practicality or practical wisdom, of Minerva, plus the virtue of both gods. We see that the spiritual, contemplative goals have yielded to the practical ones: our hero is meant to address himself to the active life. The mottoes are in keeping with the pictorial part of this rather modish birthplate, which, although it makes an obeisance to religious symbols, tends to stress the idea of Fortune and gives prominence to practical Prudence. Indeed, even though the program of the work is too elaborate

The irrational part need not be taken into account for our present purpose, but only the rational part. This part divides into two faculties: is the contemplative, which looks to the immutable principles-this called Wisdom--and the deliberative, which is concerned with those things that admit variation--Prudence. Both Wisdom and Prudence

57 Cf. Plotinos En. 4. 8. 4: "The appetite for the Divine Mind urges turn to their Source." 58 "Colui, lo cui saver tutto trascende, fece li cieli, e die lor chi conduce, si ch'ogni parte ad ogni parte splende, distribuendo ugualmente la luce; similmente agli splendor mondani ordind general ministra e duce, che permutasse A tempo li ben vani, di gente in gente ... Vostro saver non ha contrasto A lei: ella provvede, giudica, e persegue suo regno, come il loro gli altri Dei.

the souls

to re-

Quest'b colei, ch'd tanto posta in croce pur da color, che le dovrian dar lode, dandole biasmo A torto e mala voce.

Ma ella s'd beata, e cid non ode: con l'altre prime creature lieta volve sui spera, e beata si gode." of Guiniforto delli Bargigi, Lo In59 See for example the 1sth century commentary (numerous and Florence, 1838, 166-71; and Scartazzini-Vandelli ferno, Marseilles editions) ad. Inf. 7. 67-96. Bernardino Daniello da Lucca, Dante, Venice, 1568, 50-53, Physics (2. 195b notes the sources of Dante's conception of Fortune in Aristotle's 30-198a 13) and in Augustine's City of God (5. 9). 60 Eth. Nic. 6. 11. 4. The argument is somewhat vexed. At 6. 2. 1 Intellect (voa) signifies the rational part of the soul; at 6. 6. 2 it refers to the faculty which apprehends first principles; here at 6. 11 it is used in the popular sense of practical intelligence. 61 "Quel' ch'i(n) pitura . chiaro . vi . dimostra / nasi. di voi. per. fior del etth . nostra." 62 "Senza . virtu valor . insigne . e . arte / non nasce . el seme . de Minerva . e . Marte." 63 Ernst R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, W. R. Trask, trans., New York, 1953, 173ff. Cicero's nemo sapiens nisi fortis (Tusc. Disp. 3. 7. 14) gives the Stoic interpretation.

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RENAISSANCE

BIRTH PLATE

243

and too learned to be definable as bourgeois, we can hardly think of the plate as aristocratic: it has no heraldic insignia and its philosophy as expressed in the mottoes and demonstrated in the pictures is so very prudential. Upper middle-class then, it must be, yet with what striving after philosophy! The birthplate favors, as we saw, the philosophy of prudence and action, but for no ordinary end; rather to attain blessedness through the active life. Whether the program was conceived as an elegant and fashionable rhetorical confection or as a philosophical statement (in emblem form, to be sure), the story it tells is clear to whoever stays to read it. From the center of the plate outward there pass in order familiar images of the physical life, then the mysterious, astrological

forces that govern our destinies, and finally the virtues and the Intelligences. The figures in the lying-in scene, the midwife at her duties and the mother supported and comforted by the friendly neighbors are there only as a substratum; they signify the sublunary world in which the Hero Child will emerge in an epiphany. The Fortunes will be his help, the Intelligences his support, and the virtues his guide on the way that he must make in this world. But there is more: they will sustain him too when the time comes for that other journey that every man born into this world must make. For him that journey will proceed upward from practical Prudence to the cock that symbolizes spiritual awakening, the ultimate beatitude. Newcomb College, Tulane University

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