Andrea Vitali's Historical Essays on the Tarot

Folly and 'Melancholia'

Sensible and senseless folly in the procession of the Triumphs


Translation from the Italian by Michael S. Howard, May 2013

"Homo sanctus in Sapientia manet sicut sol, nam stultus sicut mutatur moon"
(Ecclesiasticus 27:12) [Douhy-Rheims translation: A holy man continueth in Wisdom as the sun: but a fool is changed as the moon.]

Having described the figure of the Fool [Folle] (1), we aim with this article to bring out the reason for his presence in the procession of the Triumphs, as we have done with the Bagatto (2). If the latter was a sinful man who needed to amend his soul through the use of the ethical values expressed by the allegories following, the Fool was there to represent not only the starting point, but also the convergence of all the other Triumphs.


As we have described in the iconological essay related to this personage, the thought of Scholasticism, which sought to corroborate the truth of faith through the use of reason, combined in the category of fools all those who did not believe in God. In the Gospels the man who does not believe is considered a fool, and often figures of fools  appear in the Bibles of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries illustrating Psalm 52, "The fool says in his heart, there is no God".


But who is this fool that brought with his presence one of the most poignant significations of the entire procession of the Triumphs? Since he manifests himself in disparate facets, it will be necessary to bring out those differences that characterize him in illuminated decks of the fifteenth century.


A substantial difference distinguishes the figure of the Misero [Wretched one] in the so-called Mantegna Tarot and the Visconti Fool [Folle} from the Estensi Madman [Matto] of Ercole I and that of probable Bolognese origin called “Charles VI”. If the former express exclusion, the iconography of the latter refers to the life of the court by the presence of a fool-jester.


The Misero is presented as a man delineated by one hand on his chest and the other on a staff supporting his chin. Barefoot and covered by a cloak, he appears unconcerned about one dog that bites his calf and another that barks. He is surrounded by a landscape that looks bleak - withered trees and a crumbling wall – summarizing the humoral characteristics (sense of emptiness) of this personage. He is an outcast, a person who lives outside the rules of social expression, with that 'melancholic' attitude that we will see again in the figure of the Hermit. His feeling is one of "living badly", which the Church of the time understood as emptiness of soul, that is, as a vice, as the medieval mentality still lacked mental categories for thinking of man in terms of subjectivity. He belongs to various ranks given negative connotations by the Church, such as, as we shall see later, the Fool and the Jester [Giullare] (3).


The Hermit will take the place in the classic tarot that Saturn occupied in that of Mantegna. A God, the final one, but also a planet that the astrological imagination and medical texts of the time always put into relation with the melancholy mood. Analogous to the Hermit is the wanderer: If the first chooses to leave the company of society to atone for his sins, a religious attitude which the community will be willing to listen to and provide support, the second lives in a removal not of personal choice, but by the will of a capricious fate and fortune. He supports himself by alms, trusting to his state of the vicarious Christ, because as poor, he becomes the mirror of Christ on earth.


The Wanderer embodies the most diverse destinies: from the pilgrimage in a penitential march toward the holy places, to the criminal fleeing from justice, from the madman [matto] that nobody likes to the simple presence at the homeless vagabond. One example is the Prodigal Son of Hieronymus Bosch, somewhat similar to the Misero, where the presence of pigs, as we find in the cycles representing the four temperaments, shows his melancholic state (4).


The iconography of the Visconti Fool is reminiscent of the Prodigal Son, in virtue of the presence of a staff, the tattered clothes and melancholy attitude, while the feathers adorning his head put him in relationship with Stultitia [Folly] as painted by Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, where the latter are adorned with bells that we find again in the standardized iconography of the Fool.


As stated, the jester lives in the courts, becoming an indispensable attraction. Through the simulation of defects and illicit actions, something at which he excels in skill and congeniality, he goes so far as to assume the position of a positive role. His original, disorderly, and outrageous charge turns into a moral denunciation that, although ritualized, aims to break old patterns, while its pretense of folly is converted into wisdom.


In the religious sphere, with Francis of Assisi the "fool-jester-stupid one” [folle-buffono-stolido] will be symbolically taken as a model for the identification of the new spirituality, and Francis himself will not hesitate to act as idiotus in the sense of "simpleton" and joculator Dei (God's fool [buffone]) .... No less will be Jacopone da Todi.... On the momentum of spirituality proposed by the mendicant orders, we will finally find movements that will be given the name of Fools [Stolti] in Christ, of Madmen [Pazzi] of God, Jesters [Giullare] of God, arriving at the Diggers of the seventeenth century and the first Quakers" (5).


During the Renaissance, the jester will be understood as a figure of the border between madness and wisdom, the two determining factors on which the whole procession of the Triumphs is structured.


To understand this, it will be necessary to start from the concept of melancholia, a passion of the soul that we find in the face of the Misero of the Mantegna Tarot and the Folle of Visconti, as well as in the attitude of the Hermit. In the treatise De Melancholia, Book Two, Africanus Constantine writes: "It is observed that the symptoms of the soul derived from here [melancholia] are fear and sadness ... The definition of sadness is in fact a loss of something very dear. While that of fear is a suspicion of something that can harm us... Therefore melancholia is the belief in the appearance of any kind of evil. From fear and anxiety in fact you suspect that things are about to happen that will not happen" (6).


The psychotherapist Antonella Mancini emphasizes that "Sadness and suspicion therefore characterize the mood of melancholia. But how? Sadness is related to the separation and loss of an object that can be real or imaginary - and here we are fully inside the modern depressive problematic - while unrealistic suspicion introduces us to the persecutorial content and fixed ideas that characterize some of the most noted psychotic syndromes, because of which the patient maintains a troubled relationship with  the world that surrounds him and with himself" (7).


Regarding the aspect of sadness, Constantine in other of his reflections "would seem to delineate the difference between a depressive feeling of grief as the loss of a real good and the pathological feeling associated with the loss of an imaginary good, or, to put it in today's jargon, "internal self-object": "if they remained alone, it would seem that they were approaching death." The sentence may indicate in fact a clarification of the more general definition of sadness as "loss of something very dear” (8).


The Misero and the Folle of the Visconti tarot reflect the melancholic feeling tied to sadness. A feeling that comes from a human condition that cannot be reversed even if our personalities were accepted by the community and conducive to living at ease. Their unconsciousness separates them from the feelings of all the other men who live their lives ignoring that in reality they are also fools.


Recites Ecclesiasticus (1-15): "Infinite is the number of fools", meaning that all men are fools. While Jeremiah says, "Every man is made foolish by his wisdom" (Chapter X, 15) and attributes Wisdom only to God and leaves foolishness to men (X 7 and 12). Turning to Ecclesiasticus (27.12), when it says "The fool changes like the moon; the Wise One like the Sun does not change", this means that all mortals are fools and that the title of Wise One belongs only to God. The Moon is identified by the interpreters with human nature; the Sun, source of all light, with God


Significant in this regard and of the era in which the tarot triumphed throughout Europe is this Song of Madness [Pazzia] (9) attributed to Giovambattista dell'Ottonajo (1482-1527), herald of the city of Florence, in which every category of people is declared mad [pazza]. All mortals, without exception, belong to the family tree of Madness:




That which deeply punishes

    Our superb madness

   Wants us now to show to all the world

   That all have a branch of Madness

Crazy [pazzi] indeed are all the lovers,

    Because they are always the people’s  jokes;

    Crazy all the Soldiers

    Who go to die for almost nothing;

    Crazy is each one living

    But even crazier is the one who would hide his madness.

Crazy are all the Princes and Lords,

    Being able to stay in peace but wanting war;

    Crazy, Historians and Professors,

    Who consider crazy even those who don’t do wrong;

    Crazy those who believe that on earth

    There is someone who is without madness.

Clerics all of them crazy

     For the mad ambition that reigns in them;

     Crazy all the Merchants,

     Because their goal is always gold.

     Crazy is he who with treasure

     Thinks to hide his madness.

Crazy the Common People and all the Craftsmen,

     Who expect to live richer receiving aid and gifts;

     Crazy are the servants and the peasants

     Who labor that their masters may live well.

     Crazy is one who lives in festivals and music

     And those who complain too much of his madness.

Crazy is he who wears himself out and spends money

    To give pleasure to the ungrateful and envious ;

    Crazy is he who criticizes others

    Without first having shown his own works;

    Crazy is one who wants to know

    More things other people, rather than his madness.

Crazy are those who believe too much and love too much,

    And crazy those without faith or love;

    Crazy is one who accuses himself

    That others may have usefulness and honor.

    Crazy is he who thinks to cover

    His mistake with madness.

Crazy are those who never think about things

    And those who think so much that their brains melt;

    Crazy is the one who gives to others

    Without measure and remains himself in his underwear [still poor]  

    But craziest is the one

   Who unites malice to his madness.

Crazy all women, changing at every wind,

    Which is death to those who love them;

    Crazy is one who lives at Court,

    and then dies in hardship in a ditch.

    Crazy is one who hopes to live content

    In the middle of all the madness.

But although madness is a sweet thing,

    And the more you have, the less you think you are infected,

    He who rules and is in Heaven,

    Does not want us to say

    That all our faults

    Can be excused by madness.

The tree of Madness spreads its branches

    Over all mortals, which includes

    The young, the beautiful and the ugly,

    and the Old, and Women; and each sometimes takes

    Small branches and leaves;

    Those who embrace the tree, and those at its top, have the [whole] Madness.


Erasmus in his Praise of Folly will say: "If he who is not wise is a fool, and if one who is good, according to the Stoics,  is also wise; foolishness of necessity is the heritage of all men" (10).


From where does the melancholia that unites all men in this state of madness derive? From the lack and emptiness of a primordial state of happiness, which the Church identifies with Eden, Paradise Lost. Humanity, departed from this, is empowered to live with the responsibility for their own actions, forced to live within a reality that involves tears, suffering and ultimately death, with no certainty of tomorrow, since the Wheel heavily affects everyone.


It is difficult and almost impossible, given human nature, to rebel against such a fate, because man, being mad [pazzo], is furious over nothing: "A gnat is enough to infuriate an ox, and a trifle [bagatella] to put out the cadence of a fool [stolto]" (11). Reason lies elsewhere, only in God and in the Church that represents reason in this land. "Foolish is he who does not want the Church as a Master" (12) will become one of the demonstrable principles of the Christian faith, although the ministers of the Church themselves are also fools [folli]. King Solomon was not ashamed of this qualification when in Chapter XXX [Proverbs 30, 2] he said, "I am the most foolish of men." And St. Paul, the great doctor of the Gentiles, writing to the Corinthians [2 Cor. 11,23], did not disdain the name of fool: "I speak, he says, by foolishness: I am the most foolish." As if to be surpassed in terms of folly was improper, writes Erasmus in his Praise (13).


The Ship of Fools (Der Narrenschiff) by Sebastian Brant, an intolerant Catholic, carries fools who are actually already dead. For Brant there is no possibility of self-regeneration through folly: the latter is blind in the face of death, be it physical or of the soul. Brant’s analysis is aimed at those who cannot and will not be saved, by promoting an action of communication on the need to avoid, for the salvation of the soul, senseless folly.


If it is true that every man is a fool, it is also true that there are two kinds of folly: sensible and senseless folly. Senseless folly leads man to destruction, sensible to the mitigation of his sense of loneliness, accepting God and working to conform to His holy will.


"The fool changes as the moon, which increases today and decreases tomorrow: today he laughs, tomorrow he cries, today he is all cheerful and gentle, tomorrow distressed and angry, in sum, he changes as things change that give him prosperity or adversity. But the righteous one is like the sun, always the same and uniform in his tranquility in everything that happens, because his peace is in conformity to the divine will: Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis (Luke 2:14)" [And on earth peace to men of good will”] (14).


Medieval and Renaissance man will live this reality: being mortal, everything for which he labors is vanity, and folly to pursue, but because all men seek in some way their well-being, all are foolish, because only in God is true happiness. The only remedy is the pursuit of sensible foolishness, for all is vanity, including the Wisdom of the World: "The fourth Vanity, which belongs to ambition or pride for one’s life, is Worldly Wisdom, of which the Apostle says: The wisdom of this world is foolishness unto God. And if it is foolishness, so it is a great vanity to delight in it, and take so much pride in the same, as the Worldly do, especially against the Wisdom of the same God and His saints. And it is strange and marvelous to see how contrary God’s Judgments are to those of the World. Who would not believe that the Worldly were the most likely to render service to Jesus Christ in his Church? Yet the Apostle says: Non multi sapientes secundum carnem: God has not chosen many wise men after the flesh. Who would not believe that a Worldly Wise person would make a Wise Christian? Yet St. Paul says no to him until he becomes a fool: Stultus fiat ut sit sapiens: If anyone among you is wise, let him become a fool, in order to be wise. Vain and therefore of no account is the Wisdom of this World, if it is not subject to the Wisdom of God, for anyone who out of worldly regard, as seems important to him, condemns with the Wisdom of the World those people who condemn the world, and are resolved to serve God, absolutely on this account is merely senseless, and so he will confess one day, when he will exclaim in eternal pain with those of his condition: Nos insensati vitam illorum aestimabamus infaniam: We senseless ones judged the lives of the saints mad: now we see that they were prudent, and the rest of us mad. And this means, when the carnal Wisdom contradicts the spiritual, and not otherwise" (15).


The only solution for man consists in the negation of his state of folly, that is, of worldly folly, senseless folly, to become fools of God like St. Francis. Only to emphasize that in God is the only real answer to the feeling of abandonment and loneliness, as return to Him is to return to the lost Father. An arduous goal full of pitfalls that only a select few are able to achieve. Moreover, the divine will, like his judgments. are inscrutable, so that even Christ himself, suffering on the Cross, had to hesitate when he turned to Him asking the reason for His abandonment, and then conformed to His will, in the words "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit".


All that was opposed to the divine will was thus a sinful action. Gambling fell into that category, as instigated by the devil in order to make one lose one’s soul through blasphemy, anger and so on. How would it be possible to think that no one would lose their money when the evidence demanded winners and losers? Only madness could drive the game on and the senseless madness of playing.


La Guerra al Gioco de le Carte è pari:

     Dove si perde, e vincesi tal volta,

     Dove assistono Rè, Fanti, e Danari.

Ma più la Guerra delle Carte è stolta,

     Che da Spada dipinta a Spada vera,

Da Punto a Punta è differenza molta. (16)


 (The War in the Game of Cards is like this:

      Where you lose, and win sometime,

      Where you assist King, Knaves, and Coins

But the War of the cards is more foolish

       Because from a painted Sword to a real Sword

 From Point to Point is much difference)


And, as the Bible teaches, God's hand was not too subtle when hitting sinners:


Playing & cursing, two gamblers were slaughtered by an invisible knife


“But the most terrible and horrible case happened to another bad gambler, narrated by the same Author, saying that being all immersed in this iniquitous Vice of the game, one it day happened that he gambled at cards for a long time, and seeing that he always lost, he was in so much wrath and anger, that he thus began to curse wickedly and criminally, which put all his other companions in great fear and terror. And finally having lost everything he had, there came another cursed player: who said to the one who had lost everything. Arise, arise, put aside your misery. you do not play, but I play for you, & teach you also to curse. And with that he poses to gamble a lot instead of a little. And seeing that he still lost, then all aflame with diabolical fury he began likewise to curse all the Saints, and the most sacred members internal & external of blessed Jesus Christ, and his sweet Mother. And here now suddenly he was from a visible hand, in the company of that other, slaughtered & horribly killed, leaving everyone in great terror and fear" (17).


Even in hell the game and its effects on men was discussed, as we learn from this dialogue of Eustache Le Noble (1643-1711) between a Squint-eyed Devil and a Lame Devil (18):


The Squint-eyed. That is Licida the gambler, who after losing at three dice everything that his Father, a good and rich merchant, had left of substance, gambled away Contracts, House, Carriage, Lackey, and finally his own clothes, and has become so crazy, that his relatives were obliged to put him away.


The Lame. It must be confessed that the passion of the game, even if a man is the wisest in the world, is terribly close to madness. Therefore, in conclusion, you enter a game Room, you will see that it is not possible that Fortune won’t misread any who plays around  a basset table, whether Pharaoh, or  Lansquenet; you heard everything possible screamed against the Master of Fate, and you search for the most effective words  for understanding their anger. Not all at that moment are worthy of the hospital, in which he [one player] is put to serve as an example to others.


The Squint-Eyed. The passion of the game is stronger and more pernicious than that of love; for that, one suffers in the heart; for avarice, one precipitates shipwrecks in the cards. As soon as the game dominates a soul, the triumph of love is rare, and this, which was invented to be a bond of society, never fails to break, because an endless amount of angry disputes arise in the games, which after separating the most intimate friends creates their rupture, of which with time they repent.


It is difficult to put up resistance to folly, because its seed is inherent in every man. Even the good can fall into the devil’s trap:

"That poor youth is an Angel of Heaven, if he does not know cards, cannot play, no murmurs, no blasphemy, he is reserved, he is a saint: What does the devil do? He gets him in conversation one day about the game, and then goes his way. What are you doing, O tempter, do you not see that he does not know how to play, has no money to spare, never blasphemes? You will  not gain your intent. Certainly, says the devil, he will be thinking of overcoming his difficulties, making the stones soft". He sees those playing at trenta, & quaranta, which are easy to play, comes to desire to borrow money, loses every bet, gets angry, blasphemes; the devil gains his intent: who was, who was, the one who overcame the difficulties, made the stones [i.e. the youth's principles] soft" (19).   

From the first known order, dating from the early sixteenth century (20), it is clear that the game of Triumphs was structured on ethical values. The Juggler (Bagatto) depicts the sinful man to whom is given temporal guides, the Empress and the Emperor, and spiritual  guides, the Pope and the Popess (Faith). Human instincts are to be mitigated by the virtues: Love by Temperance, and the desire for power, or the Chariot, by Force (the Christian virtue "Fortitude"). The Wheel of Fortune teaches that success is ephemeral and that even the powerful are destined to become dust. The Hermit who follows the Wheel represents time, to which all beings are subject, and the need for everyone to meditate on the true value of existence, while the Hanged Man (the Traitor) denounces the danger of falling into the temptation of betraying one’s Creator in sin before Death occurs.


Even the Hereafter is represented according to the traditional medieval conception: Hell, and thus the Devil, are placed under the earth's crust, above which are the celestial spheres. As in the Aristotelian cosmos, the terrestrial sphere is surrounded by the circle of "celestial fires", depicted as lightning striking a Tower. The planetary spheres are summarized by three main celestial bodies: Venus, the Star par excellence, the Moon and the Sun The highest sphere is the Empyrean, home of the Angels that on the Day of Judgment will be called to wake the dead from their graves. On that day divine Justice will triumph, weighing souls and separating the good from the bad. Above all is the World, that of “God the Father".


For the powerlessness that is generated by the state of melancholia in reaction against senseless folly, in the game of tarot every allegory could not better illustrate folly itself, each in its determinate role and function.


The Fool, the one who does not believe in God, emblem of the madness that rules the world.
The Bagatto, the folly of those who tend to diminish the sinfulness of their own actions.
The Empress and the Emperor, heirs of God's power: the folly of thinking to use it for their own interests.
The Popess, Faith: the remedy against the inevitability of folly.
The Pope, the first and last (21) representative of sensible folly.
Temperance, cardinal virtue able to mitigate the folly of human passions.
Love, the human instinct that foolishly pursues its own pleasure.
The Chariot, the pursuit of glory: the folly of not thinking of all earthly triumph as ephemeral.
The Force, cardinal virtue able to teach folly how to conform to right reason.
The Wheel, the folly of trying to remain permanently in a state of well-being, a goal useless for the salvation of the soul.
The Hermit, thinking as a fool (sensible) for attaining true wisdom, despite the fact that the Lord never ceases to confound (22).
The Hanged Man, the betrayer of God: fools’ ingratitude to their Creator.
Death, the folly of not thinking about one’s earthly end.
The Devil, Hell: the receptacle of sinful fools.
The Tower, the divine punishment of senseless folly.
The Star, the folly of believing blindly in the influences of the planets.
The Sun, the immutability of the folly that is recognized in the divine light.
The Moon, the instability of folly, always changeable.
The Judgment, the folly of deeming oneself exempt from divine judgment.
Justice, divine evaluation of folly.
The World, God the Father, who is true Wisdom, free from every form of folly.


In the procession of the Triumphs, which is established as a teaching for the salvation of the soul, the Wheel of Fortune is the centerpiece of this 'memento mori'. We conclude (23) by reporting the passage in which Sebastian Brandt in his Ship of Fools highlighted the folly of those who "want to go too high" (24):


Dell’Instabilità della Fortuna


Chi sulla ruota di Fortuna siede,

Attento stia che non gli manchi il piede

E non abbia dei matti la mercede.

Matto è chi troppo in alto vuol salire,

Pel mondo intero spregio ad esibire,

E vuol montare ad ulteriore quota

Senza pensar di Fortuna alla ruota.

Chi troppo in alto sal cade sovente





On the Instability of Fortune


One who sits on the wheel of Fortuna,

Is attentive that he not miss his footing

And not have the reward of madmen [matti].

Mad [Matto] is he who wants to go too high,

To show contempt of the whole world,

And wants to climb to further height

Without thinking of Fortune at the wheel.

Who goes s too high often sits


Etc .......




1 - Read the iconological essay The Fool

2 - Read the essay El Bagatella or the symbol of sin.

3 - See: Antonella Mancini, Un dì si venne a me... malinconia [One day you came to me ... melancholia], Milano, Franco Angeli, 1998, p. 106 ff.

4 - Ibid., p. 113.

5 - Ibid., pp. 115-116.

6 - Costantinus Africanus, De Melancholia book two, in "Costantini Opera", Basel, 1536, p. 280.

7 - Antonella Mancini, op. cit., p. 59-60.

8 - Ibid., footnote 5, pp. 59-60.

9 - Tutti i Trionfi, Carri, Mascherate o Canti Carnascialeschi andati per Firenze dal tempo del Magnifico Lorenzo de’ Medici fino all’anno 1559 [All the Triumphs, Chariots, Masquerade or Carnival Songs of Florence from the time of Lorenzo the Magnificent de' Medici up to the year 1559], Ex Museo Fiorentino, 1750, Part I, pp. 159-162. This song was later performed for many voices in Florence at Carnival in 1546, when it staged a wagon of madmen [pazzi] which presented several categories of people, especially the lame and deformed. Among these was Jeronimo Amelonghi, called the Hunchback of Pisa, mocked by Alfonso I de 'Pazzi in the following verses:

 A Jerónimo Amelonghi

O Gobbo Ladro, spirito bizzarro, 
   Che dì tu or di me? hai tu veduto,
   Che i Pazzi come te vanno sul Carro,
   Ed io, che Pazzo son sempre vissuto,
   E morrò Pazzo, al trionfo de' Pazzi
   Non son per Pazzo stato conosciuto?

To Jerónimo Amelonghi

O Hunchback Thief, bizarre spirit,

   Is it you or me? have you seen,

   How Madmen like you go on the Wagon,

   And I, who have always lived Pazzo [Crazy],

   And will die Pazzo, at the Triumph of  Madmen [de' Pazzi],

   Was not recognized as being Pazzo?


(Reported in the Sonetti d’Alfonso de’ Pazzi contro Benedetto Varchi, con diversi Madrigali, e Strambotti del medesimo [Sonnets of Alfonso de’ Pazzi against Benedict Varchi, with several madrigals, and strambotti of the same], in “Il Terzo Libro dell‘Opere Burlesche” [The Third Book of burlesque Works], In Usecht al Reno, Jacopo Brofdelet, 1771, p. 348).


The description of the wagon of fools is in Rime di Antonfrancesco Grazzini detto Il Lasca, Parte Seconda, Annotazioni, [The Rymes of Antonfrancesco Grazzini called The Roach, Part Two, Annotations], Florence, Francesco Moücke, 1742, pp. 330-331 "Such a festival Antonio d'Orazio d Antonio da San Gallo remembered in his Diary ms. of the things that occurred in our City from 1536 to 1555 in such manner." On 10 March 1546. His Excellency made a beautiful Masquerade and Song, which was entitled The Hundred Arts: and the words of the Song concluded that all in this world in all its manners were mad: and the aforesaid Masquerade was understood in this way. First was a Horseman dressed in yellow satin, and after him a Matron on horseback, dressed in various colors, who had a yellow banner in her hand, containing a figure,from both hands of which hung a fishing net, in which in the guise of fish remained the wise and crazy. Afterwards followed the Masquerade, each to his own place, depending on the kind of Art, which were 50 couples, I don’t give the details, not to be tedious. It is enough, that it was a nice thing and honored. The music began with 4 voices, then 8, then 12, then 15. Afterwards followed a wagon in the guise of a tower, containing many madmen, many humpbacks and malformed in Florence, doing different games. This masquerade continued up to 3 in the night: and more than 300 torches accompanied it, which was a pretty sight. Among the humpbacks and malformed who participated in the Wagon, it was said, was even Girolamo Amelonghi, called the Hunchback of Pisa. For this reason Alfonso de’ Pazzi took the occasion to mock him with various compositions".


10 - Eugenio Garin (ed.), Erasmo da Rotterdam: Elogio della Follia [Erasmus: Praise of Folly], Milan, Mondadori, p. 116.

11 - Pensieri, Riflessioni e Massime del Conte Oxenstirn, Tomo Primo [Thoughts, Reflections and Summary of Count Oxenstirn, Volume One], Basilea, Giov. Rod. Turneisen, 1747, p. 309.

12 - Trattato De’ Principj Dimostrabili della Fede  Cristiana, Tradotto dal Francese dal Canonico Giuseppe Guerreri, Tomo III [Treatise of demonstrable principles of the Christian Faith, translated from the French by Canon Giuseppe Guerreri, Volume III], Piacenza, a spese del traduttore [at the expense of the translator], pp. 118-119.

13 - Eugenio Garin, op. cit., p. 117.

14 - Oreste Gregory (ed.), S. Alfonso M. De Liguori, Opere Ascetiche, IX, Apparecchio alla Morte e opuscoli affini [S. Alfonso M. De Liguori, Ascetic Works, IX, Instruments of Death and related booklets], Roma Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1965, pp. 373-374.

15 - Roberto Personio, Guida degli Uomini alla loro Eterna Salute, Cap. IV: Contra l’amore del Mondo [Guide of Men on their Eternal Health, Chapter IV: Against love of the World], Roma, Komarek, 1737, p. 413. The author was a Jesuit.

16 - Antonio Abati, Delle Frascherie, Fasci III [Of Trinkets, Folder III], Frankfurt, Heredi Sardani, 1673, p. 76.

17 - Giuseppe Ballardini, Prato Fiorito di Varii Essempi, Diviso in Cinque libri, Nei quali si tratta, e ragiona delle virtù Christiane, e Religiose perfettioni, e d’altre diverse, & utilissime materie; & si descrivono notabili Essempij di santi e felici avvenimenti, e d’altri casi accaduti à molti, [Flowering Meadow of Various Examples, Divided into five books, such as the nature and thought of the Christian virtues and Religious perfections, and of other different & useful materials; & describing notable Examples of holy and happy events, and a lot of other things that occurred], Venezia, Fioravante Prato, 1608. Libro Primo. Capitolo Undecimo  - Del Giuoco, quanto sia pericoloso alla salute, e come cagiona molti danni,  e rovine all’anima, & al corpo [First Book. Chapter Eleven – “Of the Game, how it is dangerous to health, and causes much damage, and ruins soul & body”], p. 74.

18 - Dialoghi fra il Diavolo Zoppo e il Diavolo Guercio, Trattenimenti curiosi del Signor Le Noble, Tradotti dal Francese nella Lingua Italiana [Dialogues between the Lame Devil and the Squint-eyed Devil, Curious Entertainments of M. Le Noble, translated from the French into the Italian Tongue], Francesco Storti, Venezia, 1734, p. 150. In addition to Joseph Hall, with his Mundus Alter et Idem (see our essay), Eustache Le Noble also wrote an imaginary journey characterized by a negative utopia, entitled La carta topografica dell'Isola del Maritaggio [Topographical map of the island of Maritaggio], a polemic against the institution of marriage.

19 - D. Marco Antonio Sanseverino, Quaresimale, Parte Prima, [Lent, First Part], Napoli, Luc'Antonio Fusco, 1664. Domenica Prima di Quaresima [First Sunday of Lent], pp. 54-55.

20 - The Ms. perutilis Sermo de ludo. See the essay The Order of the Triumphs.

21 - Thus in Erasmus. “Ecclesiasticus wrote - and you know that this is the ecclesiastical order - that whoever is first in dignity must occupy the last place, which is consistent with the dictates of the Gospel”, in Eugenio Garin, op. cit., p. 116.

22 - Thus in the First Epistle to the Corinthians (1:27): God never ceases to "confound the wise through what is foolish in the world". [Douhy-Rheims: But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise...]

23 - We wish to express heartfelt thanks to our vice-president Diana Romagnoli for invaluable advice and for having patiently checked repeatedly the first draft of our article, highlighting necessary corrections.

24 - Francesco Saba Sardi (ed.), Sebastian Brandt: La Nave dei Folli [Sebastian Brandt: The Ship of Fools], Milano, Spirali, 1984, pp. 92-93.