Andrea Vitali's Historical Essays on the Tarot

About the etymology of Tarocco

From ancient Greece to the Arab world and from this to Italy


 Essay by Andrea Vitali, June 2008, update March 2021 



After in-depth historical research, having found numerous historical documents of the XIII-IX century, today we can affirm that the word Tarocco (Tarot) identifies the card of the Fool, so much so that Andrea Moniglia from the seventeenth century clearly writes about it with the meaning of Balordo (1), a term that in Italian is synonymous with crazy (2). Naming a card game from a figure in his deck was in fact a common habit at the time, as we have highlighted with regard to the game of minchiate, which in Liguria and Sicily was called game of Ganellini or Gallerini, terms used to identify the card of the magician. (3).


In our essay  Tarocco sta per Matto (Tarot stands for Fool) (4) we cited a number of documents (but the list could be expanded) where the meaning of tarocco= mad was clear. It should be emphasized that among these documents the term tarocco, also in its version taroch or tarochus (5), has been interpreted as idiot or mad by modern philologists, while in other documents, which constitute the majority, the relation of the tarocco = mad, idiot is explicitly clarified by the authors or is inferred by correlation. An example of this is a sixteenth-century document where the Venetian name of a wind, the theroco wind, within the same letter is also called the scirocho wind, a wind that in the Italian tradition is considered to bring people mad (6).


As highlighted in one of our essays (7), the term Tharocus can also be related to Bacchus, referring to the madness that characterized the orgiastic ceremonies performed in his honor.


The origin of the word tarocco can be traced back to the Arab world, which inherited it from the ancient Greek language (8). Tárachos is indicated as a synonym for taraché; and so it appears in some sources, including the Septuagint, for example in the book of Esther (1,4): «Thunders, earthquakes and revolts in the territory [tàrachos epì tês ghês]", and in Plutarch.


The taraché recurs in more ancient and even Hellenistic sources, with different meanings: 1. physical disorder, especially of the intestine; 2. mental disorder; 3. disorder that takes hold of an army, or a flock, or a people; 4. political unrest, unrest,


Some examples of use in the second meaning, that of mental disorder:


Pindar (Olympian, 7.30): "The distorted mind [hai dè frenôn tarachài] misleads even the wise"

Plato (Phaedo, 66b): "This intruder [the body] deafens us, gives us agitation [tarachèn], throws [as from a horse] us [the mind]." Published English translation: “The body is constantly breaking in upon our studies and disturbing us with noise and confusion [tarachèn].”

Plato (Republic, IV 444b): "It is in the disorder and confusion [tarachèn kài plànen] of these parts of the soul that injustice, intemperance consists" etc. "…the confusion of these principles [the three parts of the soul] and their straying from their proper course is injustice and licentiousness and cowardice and brutish ignorance and, in general, all turpitude.”

Ibid (IX 577e): " "[The soul] always violently dragged by passion will be full of agitation [tarachês] and remorse." “Always perforce driven and drawn by the gadfly of desire it [the soul] will be full of confusion and repentance.” 

Ivi (X 602e): "[Optical illusions] throw disorder [tarachè] into our soul"

Thucydides (Peloponnesian War, III 79): "[The Peloponnesians] were no longer inclined to attack the city [Corcira], despite its inhabitants being in a state of great confusion [en pollè tarachê] and fear."  “…there was great panic and confusion among the inhabitants.”

Sorano of Ephesus (On women's diseases, I, 46): "After conception] the sperm can be expelled [from the uterus] by the effect of various causes: a fright, a sorrow, a sudden pleasure, and in general any profound psychic upheaval [dianòias ischyràn tarachèn].


This term later passed into the Arab worl. One of the etymologies that had more credit, even in etymological dictionaries of other European languages (as the cards for the game of tarot made their appearance in Italy, the corresponding word in English, French, German, etc, is almost always derived from Italian) (9) is one that leads the tarot, as cards, back to the Italian word Tara, whose origin seems now established in the Arab Tárah, colloquial form of Tarh “detraction,deduction”, thing which has been put on the sidelines, which  has been taken away; then also "defect, imperfection". This derives from the Arabic verb Taraha, meaning "remove, subtract", from which the Italian verb Tarare (10). The word Tarochus, as we have seen meaning "moron, idiot," is equivalent to the Italian word tarato or "missing intellect" as the subject is removed, reduced to a certain IQ. With the term Tara is also indicated an anomaly or a genetic pathology. In the Castilian language we find the substantive Tarea, always deriving from the same Arabic root, with the same meaning enlarged to “to throw, to cast, to assign (cards?)”, but also “vice, lack”:  «Es interesante que este mismo verbo también nos dia la palabra Tara en sentido de "vicio" y "defecto"».


The first known document in which the term Tarocho appears in relation to card games, is a literary text by anonymous called Barzelletta (Brescia, c. 1502) (11);


…Si a tarocho ho già giocato

Mai mi vien el bagatella,

Mai el mondo māco el matto

Ne giustitia meschinella,

Langiol mai con sua favella

Non mi vien a visitar.

       Maladetto sia il giocar.


…When I played tarot

I never got the bagatto

never the world and not even the fool

nor petty justice

the angel never with his speech

comes to visit me.

    The game be cursed.


The second an accounts register of the Este Court of the second semester 1505, in a note dated June 30th. Then it appears again in the same register on December 26th.


Below we offer an overview of the interpretation of the word tarot in past centuries along with some interpretations of contemporary scholars, bearing in mind that its meaning of Fool is now very clear.


Contrasting meanings characterize the interpretations of the term tarot [Italian tarocchi] in Renaissance authors, given more by personal conviction than by a true knowledge of etymology (12)


Lollio, in his famous Invettiva (13) defines in this way his beloved and hated hobby “quel nome bizzarro / Di tarocco, senza ethimologia, / Fa palese a ciascun, che i ghiribizzi / Gli havesser guasto, e storpiato il cervello. / Questa squadra di ladri, e di ribaldi, / Questi, che il vulgo suol chiamare Trionfi, / M’han fatto tante volte si gran torti, / Si manifeste ingiurie, ch’io non posso / Se non mai sempre di lor lamentarmi /…” (that bizarre name / of tarot, with no etymology, / shows everybody that oddities / had wasted and mangled his brain. / This team of thieves and rogues, / these that the vulgar are wont to call Triumphs, / they  have done me so many great wrongs,/ so many injuries that I cannot / do anything but always complain about them /…).


In the Capitolo del Gioco della Primiera (Chapter of the Game of Primiero), Francesco Berni writes that “…viso proprio di tarocco colui a chi piace questo gioco, che altro non vuol dir Tarocco che ignocco, sciocco, balocco degno di star fra fornari et calzolai et plebei a giocarsi in tutto di un Carlino in quanto a tarocchi, o a trionfi, o a Smischiate che si sia, che ad ogni modo tutto importa minchioneria et dapocaggine, pascendo l’occhio col sole, et con la luna, et col Dodici come fanno i puti” (…the proper face of tarot is of one whom this game pleases, that no other may be said of Tarot than ignorant, foolish, a plaything worthy of being among bakers and shoemakers and low people to gamble everything from a Carlino [a unit of money] to however much, in tarot, or triumphs, or Smischiate, that is, in every way all this imports idiocy and worthlessness, feasting the eye on the sun, the moon, and the Twelve [i.e. the Zodiac] as children do) (14).


 But the jurist Andrea Alciati, the famous author of the Emblemata, in another of his works, the Parergon Juris, in Chapter XVI, entitled De ludis nostri temporis, interprets, starting in the 1544 edition, the etymology of the word in this way: “Interrogatus sæpissimè fui, an veteres lusum chartarum haberent, quo transigere tempora otiosi maximè solent. Respondi, nusquam me hoc legisse: habuisse quidem alios lusus, quos Jul. Pollux lib. IX recenset: hunc verò, quod equidem sciam, nemo prodidit: tametsi ille, qui vulgò Tarochorum dicitur, Gręcum etymum habeat, possunt enim [hetarochoi] hi sodales dici, qui cibi causa ad lusum conveniunt, & chartulis hoc ferè ordine lusitant.

(I have been asked many times, if  the ancients had the game of cards, with which today many lazy people regularly prefer to spend their time. I have answered that I have not read about that anywhere: actually they had other games, which Julius Polluce describes in his IX book. But about this, nobody has ever written, although the game that vulgarly is called the game of tarot might have a Greek origin. It is possible in fact to call hetarochoi those “friends” who gather to play games for food,and it is generally usual to play cards in this manner).


Mundus habet primas, croceas dein Angelus alis:
Tum Phoebus, luna, & stellæ, cum fulmine dæmon:
Fama necem, Crux ante senem, fortuna quadrigas:
Cedit amor forti & justo: regemque sacerdos,
Flaminicam regina præit que is campo propinat
Omnibus: extremo stultus discernitur actu.

The world has the primate, then the golden winged angel;
Then Phoebus, the moon and the stars, the devil with the lightning;
Fame precedes death, the cross the old man, fortune the chariot;
Love yields to the strong and the just: the priest precedes the king,
The queen precedes the high priest’s wife (15), the innkeeper offers drinks
To all these: at the end the fool is recognizable by his behavior.

The order of Triumphs that results is this: World, Angel, Sun, Moon, Stars, Lightning (Tower), Devil, Fame, Death, Cross (the Hanged Man), The Old man (the Hermit), Fortune, Chariot, The Strong (Strength), The Just (Justice), Love, The Priest (the Pope), King (the Emperor), Queen (the Empress), The High Priest’s wife (the Popess), The Innkeeper (the Magician), The Fool.

It is necessary to underline that the word "hetarōchoi", in Greek in the text, is not possible in Greek grammar. "Hetairos" on the contrary exists and means companion, friend, Alciati translates it in Latin with “sodalis”.

Even the anonymous author of the Discorso, perché fosse trovato il Giuoco, e particolarmente quello del Tarocco (Discourse, on why Game-playing, and Tarot in particular, was invented) (16), makes the term derive from the Greek language: “Tarocco in lingua Greca altro non vuol dire, che salso e pretioso condimento, nome veramente conveniente e proprio, essendo questo di diverse cose fatto in concime (sic) saporito di acutezze e giovevoli contemplazioni ripieno, e perciò pretioso e solo fra tutti gli altri degno di essere tenuto in pregio, essendo tutti gli altri a paragone di questo, schiocchi e d’invenzioni privi, e di giudizio, che ad altro non tendono, che à fine pernicioso e brutto” (Tarot in Greek means salted and precious condiment, a truly fitting  and appropriate name,  it being of diverse things made in compost, with a sharp taste and full of pleasant contemplations, so it is precious and is the only one among the others to deserve to be kept in consideration, since the others, in comparison with it, are foolish and lacking invention and wisdom, and their aim is nothing but something  pernicious and bad).

About this, it is necessary to say that in the Greek language there exists the verb Tarichèuo, which means “to put something into salt to get it dried”, which is to say to salt and by extension even “to mummify”. Further, the substantives Tàrichos and Tàrichon mean “meat (or fish) conserved with salt” and by extension “mummy” (17). These substantives passed into Latin becoming Tărīcus (Tarichus), a, um “et dicitur de salsamento piscium et de carne quae sit sale condita” (18).

Just for information, in the Iconology by Ripa (19) the term Tarochino is used as the common name for a species of parrot. So Ripa in the description of “Devotion”: “Donna giovanetta vestita semplicemente di bianco, starà con ambi le braccia aperte in atto di abbracciare qual si voglia cosa, che sé gli rappresenti avanti, con dimostratione preghevole, & d'inchinarsi altrui, & al petto per gioiello harà un specchio; Harà il capo adorno da vaga e bella acconciatura, sopra la quale vi sarà con bella gratia un Tarochino spetie di Papagallo, overo una Gazza…” (A young woman dressed simply in white, stands with her arms open in the act of embracing something, so that everyone before her will bow and pray, and she has a mirror at her breast; her head is adorned with a graceful and beautiful hair-style, and above it you see, with beautiful grace, a Tarochino, a species of parrot, that is, a magpie…). Concerning Devotion, Ripa affirms that one of its principal characteristics is “Docility", which the author symbolically connects to the Tarochino: “Tiene in capo con bella gratia il Tarochino overo Gazza, perché questi uccelli sono docilissimi nel imitare le parole, & la voce umana, onde del Tarochino Monsignor della Casa si dice: Vago augelletto delle verdi piume / Che pellegrino il parlar nostro apprendi" (She has on her head, with beautiful grace, a Tarochino, that is, a Magpie, since these birds are very docile [in the sense of "compliant"] in imitating words, & the human voice; thus about Tarochino Monsignor della Casa says: Roaming small bird with green plumes / as a pilgrim you learn our speech).

Because of this docility, and since it is described as a very clean bird - “it is the cleanest bird in the world” - in the Middle Ages it even became a symbol of Christ, since “he was the only  clean one in the world, other men are dirty” (20). Since the parrot has many plumes on its head, forming a sort of wig [parrucca], Tarochino could mean Parochino (Parrot in English and French as well). However, since the term is repeated twice in the same form in capital letters in the text, it is difficult to consider it a mistake (T in place of P).

As we have seen earlier, the game of tarot was highly regarded during the Renaissance. Other examples in this sense can be found in the famous text by Francesco Piscina Discorso sopra l’ordine delle figure dei tarocchi  (Discourse on the order of the figures of tarot) (Monte Regale, 1565) and in Syntagma iuris universi, (Lyon, 1582) by the juriconsult and canon Pierre Gregoire, who writes “Nevertheless, card games were invented that reveal, while playing, traces of a certain erudition, as in the tarots, with which sacred and philosophical maxims were composed,  by the typographer Vuecchello in Paris. Apart from that, human cupidity abuses these games, as long as money and the desire to get it persist” (21). 


Understood as card games, some dictionaries have given the etymology of Tarot as uncertain or unknown. Other offer different attempts at etymological derivation, some of them really funny. Among the second: Taro(t) as an anagram of the Latin Rota; as a fusion of improbable Egyptian words meaning “road” and “king”, therefore “king’s road”. Ad esempio, Antoine Court De Gébelin, the initiator of the esoteric doctrine of the tarot, in the eighth volume of his monumental work Le Monde Primitif (22) fancifully derived the etymology from the Egyptian words Tar, path or road, and Ro, Ros or Rog, which means king or royal, so that 'tarot' would have meant "true road of life" (23).


Once we tended to believe that the term Tarocco/Tarocchi had its origin from the kind of decoration on the cards themselves, called Tara, from Vulgar Latin Taràre, a variant of the classical verb Térĕre, which is to say full of points. The workmanship in relief and in points on the early cards (and then on their backs) recall the similar-sounding Sicilian word for the knotty peel of the orange. In the Dizionario etimologico della lingua italiana (Etymological Dictionary of the Italian language) by Ottorino Pianigiani (Florence, 1907), at the entryTarot is written: “Fr. Tarot (from which Taroté, full of marks in tarot style); Ger. taroke: ancient Italian game of cards…Usually tarot cards are finely painted, illuminated on a golden background, sprinkled with points that form gracious arabesques, and surrounded by a silver background, in which points represent a gigantic ribbon turning as a spiral. With no doubt this Tàra, or print or impression made with small points aligned in an orderly way (low Latin taràre, to pierce, similar to classic Latin tèrere: to beat), must have given its name to tarot, whose modern cards recall their ancient origin, when they have their back covered with arabesques or black or coloured points. (Someone notes that the French tarot indicated also dice, with a number of black holes on each side; the name could have been passed to the game of cards itself. Derivation. Taroccàre).


According to others, the name would be derived from the verb Taroccare, an adaptation of the verb Altercari / Altercare, to answer with a more powerful card (24), and to quarrel with someone, "to grumble, remonstrate, torment oneself, in particular due to a strong emotional alteration, to curse  loudly, fume, fly into a rage" (25). It also means “To find a way to argue, to make malevolent criticisms” (26). In the Ferrara dialect still today, tarocar means to get angry and also to falsify, while tarocada is equivalent to foolishness, stupidity, fraud. From taroccare comes the word taroccone to indicate one who usually is taroccare, one who is impatient and reproachful (27).


Taroccu in Sicilian dialect means blasphemy as we find in these verses of the abbot Giovanni Meli of the 18th century taken from the 'Primu Cantu' (First Canto) of his poem D. Quixotti, and Sanciu Panza: "Un taroccu pantoticu, al 'custom / D 'un jucaturi, chi' ntempu d'un nenti / Lost all the summa, who advances there "(A solemn, great blasphemy, like a player who loses in a flash all the sum he had left) (28).


If we consider that the term Minchiate [Italian Minchiata] might derive from the Latin Mentula, penis, to mean a thing with no value, a trifle, a bagatelle or foolishness (in Italian language and in many dialects the “foolishnesses”, as things with no value, among them the game of cards, are spoken of with terms coming from names of the male sex organ), it appears plausible to unite the meaning of “tarot” and that of “minchiata” in the sense of foolishness, a small thing, as we often find expressed by Berni. Apart from this, Altercare in the sense of answering with a higher card, is in relation to "sminchiare", a word used by Bolognese players when they are “in hand”, to ask the partner to intervene with his most important triumph. Some people affirm that Minchiata could derive from this last term. The word Germini, which was replaced by Minchiate to designate the tarot of Tuscany, seems to derive from Gemini, the sign of Gemini that, in the zodiacal list in the game, is the highest.


Veber Gulinelli suggests a derivation from a medieval Latin literature binomial "Tartarus oculis", which in the vernacular means "Hell, eyes", ie Tarocchi, to highlight, according to Catholic moral teaching, that these cards were the eyes of hell or the devil, to condemn those who used them (29).


The historian of mysticism Gerardo Lonardoni has highlighted how the doctrine hidden in tarot can be found in two symbolic systems of oriental origin, the Shiva Sutra or Aphorisms of Shiva, of Hindu origin, and the Tibetan Tara, of Buddhist origin. The Aphorisms  of Shiva are 78, divided into three chapters or “opening slightly”, of which the most important is comprised of 22 aphorisms, the second of 10 aphorisms and the minor of 46. The Tibetan Tara are 22; each has its own well defined characteristics, its own prayer, its own mantra and so on. In these symbolic systems, fully analyzed in the work La Via del Sacro (The Sacred Way)to which we refer now, the numerical attributions are correct: 22 is actually the number to which Tara and the principle “opening slightly” of the Shiva Sutra refer, and 10 is the number the second and less important “opening slightly” of the Shiva Sutra. (30)


So Professor Cardini writes in the preface to Lonardoni’s work: «Some great iconologists and historians of art, from Krautheimer to Wittkower, to Baltrušaitis, usher us into the extraordinary world of the “migration of symbols”: a world that, until few decades ago, seemed reserved for erudite fantasies, but often walking a tightrope, by some esotericist thirsty for mystery who, on the other side, had been visited, sometimes with unbelievable but always charming results, but also by anthropologists and ethnologists on the one hand,  and depth psychologists and psychoanalysts on the other. By now, after the long, exhausting debate,  even "superseded (in the sense of being put aside), but never however indeed resolved, among diffusionists and structuralists and after the deep investigations concerning the analogies between phonetic systems and those of the imagination, we have arrived at the conclusions that Umberto Eco knew how to translate into terms of erudite and amusing irony: reality is a tight texture of resemblances and coincidences, and since at base we can imagine the world alone activating a sufficiently limited number of basic forms and basic numbers, it is quite natural that "everything holds itself”  (or seems to hold itself) and that there is nothing that cannot be read as the external aspect of one deep, impenetrable truth. On the other side the cultural anthropologists invite us, considering a monument, a manufactured object, an image, never to stop - if it is not possible to avoid the shallows of  recourse to the old comparativistic tools - with the morphological aspects of things, but always to investigate also those connected with contexts and function....This is why we are surprised and even suspicious before this essay so rich and full of erudition and intuitions, in which there is the research of a mytho-symbolic complex tied to the forms and colours of the goddess Tara, the principal Hindu divinity received into Buddhism, the North Pole   Star distinguished into various forms - the twenty-one “primary emanations” characterized by different colours, among which white and green excel. A dangerous counsellor, homophony: but really for this reason do we have to pretend to be indifferent before the resemblance between the Indian Tara, the Arabian Tariqa and the word “tarot”?  We must not let ourselves go with the beatific trust of the amateur esotericist  -  who converts to a theory just if is different from those of the boring “scientists” - before the magic of 4, 22, 56 and 78 that this book suggests. Let’s read it with vigilant consciousness, hunting for mistakes, approximations, forced fits and incongruences. But let's not deny its foundation, however non-inductive and circumstantial. Really, there are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in our philosophy» (31)


Concerning Tārā (32), Professor Jacques May, emeritus of the University of Lausanne, a famous expert on Buddhism, specialist on the mahayanica current of the vijñānavāda-yogācāca, recalls how the authoritative pāli dictionary of the Pāli Text Society refers to a possible Semitic origin of the word. It was held in fact that Tārā and all other similar words (theonyms or not) came from the Indo-European root Tř- (o Tr -).


Here there is an allusion to Tāraka, Tārakā, Tārikā Tārana, Tāranī, Tārinī; some of these words are still present even in modern Indian languages. Since they are formed by the causative Tř- (tār-) they mean: saviour, redeemer, conserver, liberator, wayfarer, star. In Hindi, for example, the male substantive Tārā today means: star, aster, pupil of the eye, person, house; so they say “tum merī ānkhom ke tāre ho: “you are the light of my eyes" (like the expression in English "you are the apple of my eye”).


Tārā was also the female saviour, the female Wayfarer, one of the ten aspects (mahāvidyā) of Sakti; “Star”, the paredra, the companion of the god Brhaspati, the abducted of the moon god Soma-Candra; wife of the king of Scini Vālin in the age of Rāmāyana. Tāranā and Tārī are also the names of the “boat”, the one that makes the passage from one bank to another. Especially in mahayanico and tantric Buddhism it acquired important functions in India, Java and southeast Asia of the VI century. Finally, in Tibet where its name is given as SGrol-ma (Chinese: Tuolo - Japanese: Tarani bosatsu - Mongolian: Daracke).


She is the Liberator, the Saviour, the “Star of Redemption”, the active Compassion, the Merciful Strength, of the “Dhyānibodhisattva” Avalokiteśvara: “The Lord (íśvara) who looks (lokita) down (ava)” the Lord who considers us. She is the one who make us pass from one part to another, identified with the perfection of knowledge (one of the six perfections of the bodhisattva), the Prajñāpāramitā: “wisdom (Prajñā) gone (itā) from there (param)”.


In any case “star” is the predominant meaning. It is also true that, going back centuries and millennia, the roots, Semitic and Indo-European respectively, seem to converge. The three-lettered ŢTR and the Indo-European root STĔR are very similar (STER / STĔR / STR-). Which one is prior? If the Semitic (Akkadian) influenced the Indo-European, it could not have happened when Cyrus conquered Babel/Babylon, defeating its last king in October 539 B. C., and freeing the Jews from captivity, but much earlier.


From the Semitic languages we have the name of the great Goddess who replaces the Sumerian Inanna, Ištar with all its variants. A good example of this crossing is the name of the Jewish queen ESTHER: from Semitic or Iranian STĂR- .




1 - See the essay  Il significato di Tarocco in Andrea Moniglia - 1660(In Italian)

2 - For an overview of the many etymes inherent in madness in the Italian language see the essay The meaning of the word ‘Tarocco’

3 - See the essay Treatise on the Game of Minchiate

4 - At link  (In Italian)

5 - Ross Caldwell has pointed out that the word tarochus, even if not referring to card games, was already used in the XV century, as he discovered in the Maccheronea (dedicated to Gaspare Visconti, † 1499), by the poet Bassano Mantovano, in which the term is used with the meaning of “idiot”.


Erat mecum mea socrus unde putana
Quod foret una sibi pensebat ille tarochus
Et cito ni solvam mihi menazare comenzat.


(My mother-in-law was with me, and this idiot thought he could get some money out of her, so he started threatening me). 

6 - Read the essay Theroco Wind

7 - Read the essay Tharocus Bacchus est.

8 - Si cfr: See Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, Henry Stuart Jones, and Roderick McKenzie, A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1996 ed.).

9 - In Avignon, where there was a great activity of producing cards for games, we find in 1507 the word tarau(x).

10 - The same analysis of this possible etymological derivation has been made in 2006 by Jess Karlin.

11 - Barzelletta Nuova qual tratta del giuoco, dal qual ne viene insuportabili vitii, a chi seguita ditto stile, gionge a increpabil morte (New joke which deals with the game, from which it is insupportable vices, to those who follow the said style, reaching an incredible death), Brescia, Bernardino Misinta, s.d., [c. 1502]. See by Thierry Depaulis the article «Entre farsa et barzelletta: jeux de cartes italiens autour de 1500», The Playing-Card, vol. 37, no. 2, Oct.-Dec. 2008, p. 89-102.

12 - Some documents of the period show that the game of Triumphs was distinct from the game of Tarot, as found in the Statutes of the Città di Crema in 1536: “Quilibet possit ludere ad tabulas et schacos et triumphos et tarochum de die et de nocte”.  Statuta Municipalia Cremae, Venetiis, Pincius 1536, III. "De poena ludendi et de domo in qua luditur", folio 89r. These statutes allow the playing not only of “tabula et schacos” (table-games and chess) but also to "triumphos et tarochum” (triumphs and tarot) both night and day. The former distinction has yet to be fully explored. Anyway in this article, for Tarot I mean the game consisting of 22 triumphs. On the game of Triumphs, starting from the XVI century. On the game of Triumphs, starting from the 16th century onward read the essay Triumphs, Trionfini and Trionfetti.

13 - Flavio Alberto Lollio, Invettiva di F. Alberto Lollio accademico Philareto contra il giuoco del tarocco, (Invective against the game of Tarot), ms. 257, cc. 30, 1550, Ferrara, Ariostea Library.

14 - Rome, 1526. Here the author distinguishes the game of Tarots from that of Triumphs that was actually something else. See about the essay Triumphs, Trionfini and Trionfetti

15 - The flaminica was a priestess of Jupiter, wife of a flamen (priest), one of the higher religious offices in ancient Rome.

16 - The whole title is Discorso, perché fosse trovato il Giuoco, e particolarmente quello del Tarocco dove si dichiara a pieno il significato di tutte le Figure di esso Giuoco (A Discourse on why game-playing, and Tarot in particular, was invented) Venice? c. 1570.  The translation has been made from the ms. 1072, Vol. XII F, which is in the University Library in Bologna.

17 - From a phonological point of view there are no problems about changing the accent to the second syllable (Tarìchon), but the transformation of i into is absurd.
18 - Apicius in Lexicon Totius Latinitatis, Pavia, 1940. The humanist Ludovico Ricchieri, known as Celio Rodigino, writes in his Lectionum Antiquarum: "Invenio apud Graecos dici quidem tarichos, salsamentum", Liber XIII, Cap. XXVI. Basel, 1542, p. 497. 

19 - Liber I, Venice Edition, 1645, p.163.

20De la natura del papagallo (On the nature of the parrot), in "Il libro della natura degli animali" (The book of the nature of animals), XLIII.

21 - XXXIX, 4, 11.

22 – The complete title of the book is Monde primitif analisée et comparé avec le monde moderne, considéré dans l’histoire civile, réligieuse et allégorique du calendrier et almanach (Primitive world analyzed and compared with the modern world, considered in the civil, religious and allegorical history of the calendar and almanac).

23 - On De Gébelin and his work read Le Monde Primitif  di Antoine Court De Gébelin (In Italian)

24 - In the commentary to Il Malmantile Racquistato by Lippi, Manuzzi expresses himself in this way about this matter: “Taroccare is said, in the game of Minchiate, when someone doesn't have any of the suits where the insignia of coins, cups, swords and batons are painted, and he has to respond with a triumph [tarocco]”.

25 – The entry “Taroccare”, in Salvatore Battaglia (edited by), Grande Dizionario della lingua Italiana (Great Dictionary of the Italian language),Turin, 2000. On this subject, read also our essay The Hospital of Incurable Madmen  by Tomaso Garzoni da Bagnacavallo. In the Canto IV of Riccardetto, written between 1716 and 1725 by Niccolò Forteguerra, we find: ”Ma mentre ch' ei fatica e che tarocca, / Ecco che piomba ancor sopra di lui / Un'altra rete da quell'altra rocca / E restano prigioni tutti  dui [Orlando e Rinaldo]” (But while he toils and curses=tarocca, here falls over him again another net from another tower, and they both remain trapped) and also in Canto II, Scene VIII of the Meo Patacca (1695) by Giuseppe Berneri: “Con te tu ciancie no, non me la ficchi, / Co ste frollosarie  non m' infinocchi, / Disse Meo, con ingiurie tu me picchi, / E poi non vuoi ch'io contro te tarrocchi?" (With this nonsense of yours, you do not deceive me, / With this jumble, I'm not fooled / said Meo, you assaulted me with insults / and then you don’t want me angry=tarocchi at you”). The same word in Vocabolario Universale Italiano (Italian Universal Vocabulary), compiled by Tramater & C. Typographical Company, Naples, 1840: “(in low manner) shout, become angry, [Troubled or angry loud shouting, clamour]. Latin: anger, excandescere. From Greek Tarachos, tumult. Taraka in Turkish, tumult, clamour, din. Tyrak in Persian, with the same signification. 

26 - In La Carta del navegar pitoresco (The Card of pictorial navigation) by Marco Boschini, In Venice, By Li Babam, M.D.CLX [1660], one of the most original works of Venetian literature, the painter-writer Marco Boschini writes: Ghe vuol ogio in la lume e sale in zucca, / e aver studià, per far de sti quadroni, / e lassar tarocar quei babioni, / che 'l natural la note e 'l zorno struca" (It needs oil in the lumen and good sense / and studying, to produce pictures of this kind, / and leave to criticism=tarocar these blockheads / who squeeze their brains day and night).

27 - In the Dizionario Etimologico Italiano (Italian Etymological Dictionary) by C. Battisti and G. Alessio, Florence, 1957, at the entry “Taroccare” we find: Venice Tarocàr: to quarrel - Romagna Tarochè: to shout, to get angry, to blaspheme -  Genoa and Piacenza Tarocà: to dispute, to altercate - Cortona Tarocchè: to altercate, to argue, to grumble - Montale Taroccà: to squabble - Bologna Tarucär: to shriek - Calabria Taroccu: horrible blasphemy, foolishness - Sicily Taroccu: to utter swearwords, blasphemy and Taruccari: to shout, to blaspheme - Pisa Taloccà: to grumble angrily.

28Poesie Siciliane dell’Abate Giovanni Meli, Pubblico professore di Chimica. Nella Reg. Accademia degli Studi di Palermo (Sicilian Poems by Abbot Giovanni Meli, Public Professor of Chemistry. In the Royal Academy of Studies in Palermo), Volume III, In Palermo, By Solli, MDCCLXXXVII [1787], p. 14. In the ninth edition, published in Palermo in 1853 by the Pagano Typography, we find the Dizionario delle Voci e Maniere Oscure di Giovanni Meli (Dictionary of Voices and Dark Manners by Giovanni Meli) where taroccu is bestemmia (Blasphemy) (V. XXXIX) and  pantoticu  big, fat, solemn (grande, grosso, solenne) (V. XXIX).

29 - Veber Gulinelli, Carte da Gioco Italiane, (Italian Playing Cards), Carpi, 2011, p. 77. (In Italian)

30 - Gerardo Lonardoni, La Via del Sacro. I Simboli dei Tarocchi fra Oriente e Occidente, (The Way to the Sacred One. The Symbols of Tarot between East and West), Bologna, Martina Edition, 2008. (In Italian)

31 - Ibid, p. IX.

32 - This close etymological  examination of the term Tara is based upon a dialogue between the writer and the oriental researcher Professor Flavio Poli.


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