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Who Holds the Reins?

Notes on Equestrian Metaphors and


Politics in Some Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Emblems
iconocrazia.it/who-holds-the-reins-notes-on-equestrian-metaphors-and-politics-in-some-sixteenth-and-seventeenth-century-emblems/

11 novembre 2016
Donato Mansueto
Iconocrazia 10/2016 - "Arts & Politics. Rhetorical Quests in Cultural Imaging" , Saggi

Dynamograms of virtues and vices


Reecting on the relationship between images and memory, Aby Warburg wrote that images can work as
dynamograms, thanks to their capacity to suspend a tension, to accumulate and reverse their charge.[1]
Their ability to assume dierent and sometime opposite meanings is of course the eect of the semantic
indeterminacy of images, but it can hint, as well, at ambiguities and contradictions inherent in what they should
represent, at tensions they can hide or that, on the contrary, they can make visible.
Equestrian metaphors, whose composite structure is based on the relation between two eterogeneous elements,
rider/ridden animal, oer several examples of these ambiguities and inversions. The equilibrium between the two
elements can be unstable and not always the rider prevails. The range of possibilities disclosed by this dual
structure has been fully exploited in the allegorical representation of virtues, especially when these have become
part of a system of civil values connected to politics and law.
Though this paper will focus on emblems and on the way their texts, with more or less explicit didactic intentions,
interact with their pictures, the rst two images we are going to recall are not extracted from emblem books. Both
dealing with the virtue of temperance, they exemplify the way representations sharing an almost identical
iconographic scheme can assume dierent or opposite allegorical meaning.
The rst is an engraving representing temperance, after Marcantonio Raimondi, one of the most famous Italian
engravers of the rst half of sixteenth century.

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Fig. 1. Temperancia, engraving after Marcantonio Raimondi, 1510-1550.

Datable 1510-1550, it is one of seven prints in a series representing the theological and cardinal virtues. [2] It shows
a female gure, Temperancia, sitting on a man and holding in her left hand the instrument to control horses, a
harness; the man, bearded, naked, crawling on his hands and knees, seems a sort of tamed homo selvaticus [wild
man].
The second image shares with Raimondis Temperancia the most composition elements [Fig. 2].

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Fig. 2. Baldung Grien, Aristotle and Phyllis (1515), Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, print (woodcut)

It displays a woman riding a man, holding in her left hand a horsewhip and in her right hand a bridle, attached to a
bit placed in the mouth of the man. This engraving is one of the many variations about the story of Aristotle and
Phyllis, a subject which enjoyed a great iconographic success, as demonstrated by its hundreds of occurrences in
paintings, engravings, objects, furniture, especially between the XV and XVII centuries [Figs. 3a-f]. It is an example
of an old iconographic tradition based on a literary anecdote, whose rst written occurrence is possibly to be found
in Henri dAndelis Le lai dAristote (rst half of XIII century). [3]

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Fig. 3a. Master MZ, 1500-3, Engraving

Fig. 3b. Hans Brosamer, 1520-1551, Engraving

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Fig. 3c. Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530, private collection

Fig. 3d. Aquamanile in the form of Aristotle and Phyllis, late 14th or early 15th century, Southern Netherlan

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Fig. 3e. Johannes Sadeler I, Engraving,16th century (inscription: Nil studium, nil sacra valent Conanima Vatum /
Consilium Sapiens ni pietate regat)

Fig. 3f. Georg Pencz, engraving, 1545-6

The anecdote has three main characters: the philosopher Aristotle, Alexander the Great, and Phyllis, a courtesan.
Aristotle, responsible for Alexanders education, attempts to detract Aristotle from his obsessive attention to Phyllis;
Phyllis, in revenge, seduces and deceives Aristotle into believing that, according to an old tradition of her family,
before being joined, she must ride him; Alexander witnesses, unseen, the scene of Aristotle subdued by Phyllis. The
story is a parable of reversal, the reversal/inversion between up and down, between conventional roles and
hierarchies: man/woman, reason/passion, culture/nature, and so on.
The way these turnarounds are represented does not lack ambiguity. The representation can be read as a warning
against the excesses of passions, which can lead to reverse the right order of things and to corrupt even the wisest
man, the philosopher per antonomasia, Aristotle. The story would invite us to inspire our behavior to temperance; as
an instructive objectication, the scene observed by Alexander should teach him what he could face, in its turn. But
one could point out that the same scene, before our eyes and Alexanders, could instead stand for the pathetic
failure of Aristotles teaching and, with it, of his idea of happy medium and his ideal of temperance.
The correlation and reciprocity between temperance and punitive interventions introduces in the representation of
this virtue many elements of duplicity. Discipline and punishing often evoke actions, behaviors and temperaments

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connected to force and rage, more than to moderation.


The iconography of temperance mirrors this duplicity, which emerges in the contamination between dierent
gurative traditions and in some polar inversions of the meaning of some images, as we can see in the comparison
between the variation of the equestrian topos in Raimondis Temperancia and the many representations of Aristotle
and Phyllis anecdote.
A similar mechanism, where dierences and oppositions do not mean reciprocal exclusion but, in many cases,
mutual implication, can be found in a series of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century emblems.

Of men and beasts: some emblems of intemperance and temperance


Quam mal sessor equo tractandae ignarus habenae
Insidet, ah poterat tutior ire pedes.
[How badly the horse rider sits who knows nothing of handling the reins, Oh he would be safer going
on foot.]
The Sixteenth-century emblem writer and jurist Pierre Cousteau, in an emblem remindful of Platos chariot allegory
(Phaedrus 246a254e), compares the relationship between reason and passions to riding. [4]

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Fig. 4. Pierre Cousteau, Pegma, Lyons, Mac Bonhomme, 1555, Appetitus subsit rationi, ut equus sessori, K7r
p. 157

The author oers to his educated audience the image of a rider succumbing to his horse, as an allegory of the one
who cant put the reins on his own passions.

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Qui fraeno nequit in propriis aectibus uti,


Peccatoque amens mergitur ille suo:
Par est brutorum potius numeretur in albo,
Nam ratio in motus obtinet imperium.
[The one who cant put the reins on his own passions, And succumbs madly to his sin: He is more on
the level of being counted among the role of beasts, For reason must have control over the
passions.]
Governing ones passions is like controlling an animal, a parallel implying that uncontrolled passions represent the
animal part of man; losing control over passions, men are reduced to brutes, to bestiality. Bestiality denotes a decit,
the lack of some distinctive human features, and in Cousteaus epigram can also be connoted morally, as sin.[5]
The Platonic topos is recalled by several more emblems, beginning from Andrea Alciatos Emblemata, whose
emblem LV, Temeritas, uses the charioteer-horse image as an allegory of the relationship between reason and
sensitive appetites [Fig. 5]:
In preaceps rapitur, frustra quoque tendit habenas
Auriga, ereni quem vehit oris equus.
Haud facil huic credas, ratio quem nulla gubernat,
Et temer proprio ducitur arbitrio. [6]
[A driver pulled by a horse whose mouth does not respond to the bridle is rushed headlong and in
vain drags on the reins. You cannot readily trust one whom no reason governs, one who is
heedlessly taken where his fancy goes.]

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Fig. 5. Andrea Alciato, Emblemata, Lyons, Mac Bonhomme for Guillaume Rouille, 1550,
emb. LV, Temeritas, D8r p. 63

This emblem was rst introduced in the 1546 edition of the Emblemata [Fig. 6],[7] with a pictura displaying a rider on
the horses back, a dual scheme that produces a more literal rendition of Alciatos verse, where the opposition
reason/appetites does not follow the three-limbed allegory conceived by Plato (one charioteer and two contrasting
horses). [8]

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Fig. 6. Andrea Alciato, Emblematum libellus, Temeritas, Venice, Aldus, 1546, E7v f39v

Analogous scheme and subject can be found in emblem 22 of Guillaume La Perrires Morosophie [Fig. 7], and
in Lymage de temerit, from Gilles Corrozets Hecatomgraphie.[9] [Fig. 8] The former shows a woman on a
galloping horse, with no reins or saddle, image of undisciplined will, leading to self-destruction; the latter depicts a
naked woman on a horse, symbolizing foolish youth. Woman and youth, in these emblems, play the role of the
immoderate person, who in fact should be considered not yet or no more a proper human being, but rather a brute, if
one reads them in the light of Cousteaus emblem.

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Fig. 7. Guillaume de la Perrire, Morosophie, Lyons, Mac Bonhomme, 1553, E2v

Fig. 8. Gilles Corrozet, Hecatomgraphie, Paris, Denis Janot, 1540, Lymage de temerit, . D1v-D2r

Alciatos emblem LV, with respect to La Perrire and Corrozet, adds to the moral on self-control unbridled
passions lead you to destruction , a lately political teaching following one whom no reason governs, leads to
destruction.
Pictures of later Alciatos editions, closer to Platos allegory than to their own authors text, prefer the iconography of
the chariot towed by two horses[10] [Fig. 9], and in some of their commentaries recall Plato, not mentioned directly
by Alciatos epigram.[11]

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Fig. 9. Andrea Alciato, Emblemata, Padua, Petro Paulo Tozzi, 1621, Temeritas, r3r p. 261

The movement of falling down easily connects emblem LV to LVI [12], [Fig. 10] describing Phaethons fall, whose
parable exemplies the fate of many sovereigns who, rst brought up by the wheel of fortune, must then pay for their
crimes, after having caused destruction to themselves and to everybody else:

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Aspicis aurigam currus Phaethonta paterni,


Ignivomos ausum ectere Solis equos:
Maxima qui postqum terris incendia sparsit,
Est temer insesso lapsus ab axe miser.
Sic plerique rotis fortunae ad sidera Reges
Evecti, ambitio quos iuvenilis agit;
Post magnam humani generis clademque suamque,
Cunctorum poenas denique dant scelerum.
[You see here Phaethon, driving his fathers chariot, and daring to guide the re-breathing steeds of
the Sun. After spreading great conagrations over the earth, the wretched boy fell from the car he
had so rashly mounted. Even so, the majority of kings are borne up to heaven on the wheels of
Fortune, driven by youths ambition. After they have brought great disaster on the human race and
themselves, they nally pay the penalty for all their crimes.]

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Fig. 10. Andrea Alciato, Emblemata, Padua, Petro Paulo Tozzi, 1621, In temerarios, r4v p. 263

While the rider unable to drive his horse can stand for the vices of temeritas, temerit, hybris, recklessness, the
ability to control the animal can symbolize the opposite virtue of temperance, habit of moderation and self-restraint.
Heir of the Greek sophrosyne, enrolled among the Christian cardinal virtues, temperance composed with justice,

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fortitude and prudence, a temporal system of values, subordinated to theological virtues, which was considered
fundamental for the social and political equilibrium of the earthly city. That system had to be taught, remembered,
made visible.
Cardinal virtues were generally represented as female gures with one or more allegorical attributes, and
temperance makes no exception. An early and much-studied example of that iconography is Ambrogio
Lorenzettis Allegory of Good Government, in Siena [Fig. 11], a XIV-century fresco representing the four [Fig. 11]
cardinal virtues, joined by Magnanimity and Peace, next to the kingly gure of Buon governo.[13]

Fig. 11. Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Allegoria del Buon Governo, 1338-1339 (Siena, Palazzo Pubblico), cropped image

Temperances main attribute, here, is an hourglass on her right hand, suggesting that timeliness and measure are
essential qualities of temperated men. Self-restraint is part of rationality, seen in the terms of Norbert Elias[14] as
the capacity of keeping time under control, as the ability of making long-term conceptual models prevails over shortterm aects.
In many paintings and in most emblems [Fig. 12] the reference to self-restraint is more direct, as the distinctive
attribute of Temperance is a harness in her hand, recalling, by allusion, the equestrian imagery we have briey
evoked.

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Fig. 12. Raaello Sanzio, Allegory of Temperance (detail from Cardinal and Theological Virtues),
fresco, 1511, Stanze della Segnatura, Palazzi Vaticani

Let us consider emblem 35 from Gabriel Rollenhagens Nucleus emblematum selectissimorum [Fig. 13], with motto
Serva modum and a very short inscriptio connecting intemperance to hybris.[15]

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Fig. 13. Gabriel Rollenhagen, Nucleus emblematum selectissimorum. Centuria secunda, Crispin de Passe,
Utrecht 1613, pl. 35

The pictura is dominated by a female gure, whose breast is naked, holding in her right hand a bridle and a
harness, and in her left hand a carpenters square. In the background, a bipartite panorama displays a series of
actions requiring measure, commitment, control: on the right behind the hand holding a square some people
with crossbows shooting at the target; on the left behind the hand holding a harness two people trying to tame a
shied horse, with reins and a riding whip.
The equestrian metaphor, through the harness and through the background scene on the left, recalls the dicult
relation between two heterogeneous parts and the necessity of imposing onto these parts the correct hierarchy (who
is the one who must hold the reins, who the one who must be curbed; who is the one who can stay in the upper
position, who the one who must occupy the lower place).

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The epigram focuses on the opposite risk, lack of self-control.


SERVA MODUM
Mens serbare modum, rebus suata secundis
Nescit, et aectus frena tenere sui
It is an almost literal citation from the episode of Pallass death at Turnuss hand in Virgils Aeneid (X, 501-2)[16],
which is a paradigmatic case of shortsightedness, as Turnus, after having killed Pallas, does not restrain himself,
trampling on his enemys corpse and stripping him of his belt (balteus); furor makes Turnus blind, superb and
ignorant of his fate (death, in his turn, at Aeneass hands).
Another representation of temperance as a riding woman, even more puzzling, seemingly, than Raimondis
Temperancia, is included in the tarot series known as Alessandro Sforzas Tarocchi. [Fig. 14]
The female gure, naked, on the back of a deer, is pouring a liquid on her own womb. [17] Her gesture, cryptic at rst
sight, is to be interpreted as a puricatory act performed by the goddess Diana, symbol of purity and virginity. The
deer can be generically read as one among her conventional allegorical attributes, but also, more specically, as the
hunter Actaeon, changed into a stag, for having seen Diana/Artemis naked, while bathing in the woods, in the
sacred spring where she was used to go to renew her purity (according to Ovids narration, source of
inspiration/imitation for several literary and gurative re-interpretations, ranging from Petrarchs Canzone delle
metamorfosi to Brunos Eroici furori and Alciatos emblem, from Tizianos paintings to sculptures in the Royal Palace
of Caserta).
Diana, whose rituals are traditionally connected to water, tames with her purity Actaeon, transformed into a stag,
symbol, in its turn, of docility and purity.[18] Actaeons metamorphosis represents at once, through the stag, the
virtue of docility and the tragic fate of the man dominated by his passions, symbolized by the dogs that in the myth
will devour their own master, the hunter transformed into prey.
Like the equestrian metaphors we have recalled, this myth represents both the individual conicts (reason/passions,
body/soul, etc.) and the conicting relations between tempered and immoderate subjects, relations that can be read
as well in a political perspective (see for example the identication of Actaeons dogs as the bad counsellors of
queen Elizabeths in England[19]).
The Sforzas tarot merges two ways of representing temperance, one based on the equestrian imagery, the other on
the gesture of pouring and mixing liquids. The same combination, with dierent implications, can be found
elsewhere, including emblems. For instance, Henry Peacham, in his Minerva Britanna (1612), in an emblem which
is interesting both for its text and for the allegorical attributes it recalls [Fig. 15], depicts Temperance as a walking
female gure, whose breast is exposed, holding in her right hand a bridle and in her left hand a golden cup.[20]

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Fig. 14. Tarocchi di Alessandro Sforza, Castello Ursino Museo


Civico di Catania (Ferrara 1450-1460 ca.)

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Fig. 15. H. Peacham, Minerva Britanna (1612), emblem 93

The instrument to curb aections and the cup to reward the victors over unrestrained passions, in Peachams verse,
seems to imply a form of correlation between the virtue of temperance and its opposite, intemperance.
Some insightful studies on the transformations of temperance have convincingly argued that in most cases, from
early Renaissance onward, temperance has to be understood more as continence, that is as a an active
intervention to restrain our passions.[21] A continent person, according to Aristotles ethics, experiences the
inuence of passions but is better able to resist their counter-rational pressures than the incontinent; nonetheless,
continent men are not virtuous, although they generally do what a virtuous person does. The truly virtuous man,
instead, does not experience any internal conict; true temperance should mean: absence of pressures towards
ethically wrong objects; absence of conict between reason and passion; full, stable and undefeatable selfcontrol.[22]

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Peachams temperance, as many other sixteenth- and seventeenth-century allegories of the same virtue, including
Ripas Iconologia version, has a martial aspect which better suits continence and not surprisingly shares its main
attributes with another allegory dealing with conict and with the balanced instruments of punishment and rewards,
Nemesis.

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Fig. 16. Andrea Alciato, Emblemata, emb. XXVII, Padua, Petro Paulo Tozzi, 1621, K7r-p. 157

An emblematic representation of Nemesis is in Alciatos Nec verbo, nec facto quenquam laedendum (Harm no
one, by word or deed), [Fig. 16] whose subscriptio says that:

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Assequitur, Nemesisque virm vestigia servat,


Continet & cubitum, duraque fraena manu.
Ne mal quid facias, neve improba verba loquaris:
Et iubet in cunctis rebus adesse modum. [23]
[Nemesis watches for, and overtakes, the footsteps of men, and holds a ruler and harsh bridle in her
hand, lest you do anything evil, or speak dishonest words: She commands moreover that there be
due measure in all things.]
Though in some editions of the Emblemata, possibly for a wrong reading of the Latin word cubitum (which can also
mean elbow), we cannot see any ruler, the text clearly tells us that Nemesiss attributes are a harsh bridle and a
ruler, tools of command and measure, closing the loop and leading us back to Rollenhagen and Withers image for
temperance.
The most famous representation of Nemesis, however, is Drers Great Fortune (1502) [Fig. 17], a representation

that Giorgio Vasari, not surprisingly, did not describe as Nemesis but as an allegory of Temperance. [24]

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Fig. 17. Albrecht Drer, The Great Fortune (Nemesis) (c. 1501-2 British Museum), cropped

The connection between Nemesis and Temperance, already apparent from the visual standpoint, is conrmed by
Ripas Iconologia, where, sub voce Nemesi, we are told that ancient people represented Nemesis with a harness,
as Justices daughter, charged to punish the intemperate passions of men (Gli antichi col freno dipingevano
Nemesis, gliuola della Giustizia, la quale con severit castigava gli aetti intemperati de gli uomini).[25]
Alciatos Nemesis leads us back to Rollenhagens image for temperance (1613), whose woodblock was re-used by
George Wither, around twenty years later (1635), in his Collection of Emblemes [Fig. 18].[26]

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Fig. 18. George Wither, A Collection of Emblemes (A. M. R. Allot, London 1635), book III, ill. XXXV, p. 169

Wither paired that image with a much longer text, connecting the principle of happy medium to word, passion,

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action.
He explains that our nature, like a head strong horse or a blockish mule, needs to be curbed. Square and bridle
are compared to Law and Discipline. Without Law, men are as dull as senseless creatures; they are amorphous
beings, needing to be shaped, like forms by a square. However, teaching Law and making us understand its
importance is not enough, as passions can prevail over reason; hence, Will needs the bridle of Discipline: Will must
be kept in awe and its passions must be bound. Control over passions is connected to an introjection of Law that
must be xed by Discipline, whose image is the bridle, instrument of the constriction used to bring a living being
under control.
The gure of Temperance becomes, in Withers verse, the allegory of a disciplining process, aiming at binding will to
law, a process relying on an active force of control.
Temperance appears to be more connected to continence, to controlling and mitigating passions, than to a choice
between excess and deciency. And in this perspective, the circular correlation between individual self-control and
the possibility of corrective interventions becomes clearer, with a strong emphasis on the social and politic function
of temperance.
Temperance and the other virtues are habits that can be learned and taught through discipline as suggested by
Withers epigram. They can facilitate the transformation of external impositions into internal self-compulsions, a

transformation which is one of the conditions for a stable control of society. [27]

In a tradition going back to at least Thomas Aquinas, temperance had been connected more to the individual than to
the public sphere, and for this reason considered less important. It concerns the individual, and in particular his
bodily dimension, while justice and force are related to the common good, the rst by regulating the relations among
people and the second by enabling to face war for the sake of the community. [28]

The same arguments seem to justify, from the point of view of modern sovereigns, an opposite and much more
positive evaluation of temperance: fortitude in war will become less essential in modern armies (bold knights being
progressively replaced by trained soldiers, able to use rearms, with method and precision) and justice in the mutual
relations must be a monopoly of the state, while individual discipline and self control become essential to relieve the
centralized national state from an almost impossible control over all its subjects.
Politics operates on the ground of practical judgment, always exposed to the inuence of passions, which put
individual interests and immediate satisfaction before collective interests and long-term advantages. The moral
virtue of temperance or sophrosyne, according to Aristotle, should correct this tendency and let right reason prevail.
Among the cardinal virtues, for a long time, temperance was considered less noble than fortitude or justice, as
fortitude and justice concern common wealth, whereas temperance moderates individual behavior only. On the
contrary, for the modern ruling lites, individual discipline and self control were to become essential to relieve the
centralized national state from an almost impossible control over all its subjects. The internal moderation of the
subjects had to be accompanied and reinforced by the external tempering action of law and punishment (actual or
eventual). As suggested by Withers emblem, claiming that once law has schooled, the wit discipline keeps the will
in awe, these two faces of temperance are strictly interconnected.
The emblems we have examined seem to suggest that, at least between sixteenth and seventeenth century, an
external and active connotation of temperance prevails. The equestrian metaphors, potentially apt to represent both
internal dualisms and the dialectic relationship between two distinct subjects, actually tend to privilege a scenery
with two subjects. Temperance, transformed in an active force and applied to the macro-body of the state, becomes
a corrective instrument that can be applied to the entire collectivity. The lack of individual self-control legitimates a
public regulation of passions.

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Marcantonios Temperancia and the iconography of Aristotle and Phyllis [Figs. 1-2], can illustrate the correlation
between temperance and intemperance. They show this correlation and store the tension arising from their chiasmic
relationship: the triumphant virtue of temperance on the left, like in a deforming mirror, becomes the triumphant vice
on the right; the triumphed appetites on the left become the triumphed educator of the prince on the right.
As a fracture in this symmetry, the prince stands in the background of the scene of Phyllis and Aristotle, pulling the
string in the play between temperance and intemperance.

FOOTNOTES
[1] See on this point Georges Didi-Huberman, LImage survivante. Histoire de lart et temps des fantmes selon Aby

Warburg, Les Editions de Minuit, Paris 2002 (in particular, in chapter II, the sections Dynamogramm, ou le cycle
des contre-temps and Champ et vhicule des mouvements survivants : la Pathosformel).
[2] The Illustrated Bartsch, XXVIII, p. 64, n. 080.

[3] See Reinhard Brandt, Filosoa nella pittura. Da Giorgione a Magritte , Bruno Mondadori, Milano 2003, pp. 191-

205; C. Hermann, Der Gerittene Aristoteles. Das Bildmotiv des Gerittenen Aristoteles und seine Bedeutung fr
die Aufrechterhaltung der gesellschaftlichen Ordnung von Beginn des 13 Jhs. bis um 1500, CentaurusVerlagsgesellschaft, Pfaenweiler 1991.

[4] Pierre Coustau, Pegma, Lyons, Mac Bonhomme, 1555, k7r p. 157. (English translation from Glasgow Emblem

Website: http://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/french/emblem.php?id=FCPb048).

[5] For the philosophical debate concerning humanity, animality and bestiality, a debate involving the ontological and

the political dimensions, see at least Jacques Derrida, Sminaire La bte et le souverain, vol. 1 (2001-2002) ,
Galile, Paris 2008.

[6] Andrea Alciato, Emblemata, Lyons, Mac Bonhomme for Guillaume Rouille, 1550, emb. LV, Temeritas, D8r p.

63. (English translation form Glasgow Emblem Website: http://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/alciato/facsimile.php?


id=sm34_D8r).
[7] Andrea Alciato, Emblematum libellus, Venice, Aldus, 1546, E7v f39v (English translation of this and the

following emblems reproduced by permission of Glasgow University Library Special Collections, are taken from
Glasgow University Emblem Website: http://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk).
[8] See on this subject Giuseppe Cascione, Iconocrazia. Comunicazione e politica nellEuropa di Carlo V. Dipinti,

emblemi e monete, Ennerre, Milano 2006.

[9] Guillaume de la Perrire, Morosophie, Lyons, Mac Bonhomme, 1553, E2v (epigram: TETRASTICHON.

/ Nomen equi indomiti quaeris? Nomenque puellae, / Quae velut in praeceps iam moritura ruit? / Hic equus est
hominis petulans sine lege voluntas, / Cuius ad obsequium stulta iuventa perit. [What is the name of the horse wild
and free? you ask. How do they call the girl, rushing madly, as it were, to her death? This horse is the unbridled will
of man, which knows no law, in whose service stupid youth rushes to destruction.] QUATRAIN. / Sur ce cheval, qui
fol vouloir se nomme, / Jeunesse court sans bride, mordz ne frain: / Ce cheval fait perir maint un jeune homme, / Si
de bonne heure il ne change de train.); Gilles Corrozet, Hecatomgraphie, Paris, Denis Janot, 1540, Lymage de
temerit, . D1v-D2r. See also Holbeins panel depicting a man on a gallopin horse, with the inscription E cosi
desio me mena [And so desire carries me along], from

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Petrarchs Canzoniere (http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=814 Hans Holbein the


Younger, German, about 1532 1536, Oil on panel,17 7/8 x 17 7/8 in., 80.PB.72).
[10] Andrea Alciato, Emblemata, Padua, Petro Paulo Tozzi, 1621, Temeritas, r3r p. 261.
[11] See for example 1584 edition, whose picture will be used also by Whitney, enriched by Mignaults commentary:

Il a emprunt ceste similitude de Platon, qui compare nostre esprit un charretier: les perturbations, aux chevaux.
Ainsi est il montr icy quil ne faut rien commettre celuy, qui ne peust commander ses passions, mais se laisse
transporter & l, de maniere que cest ainsi quun cheval qui traine & tire son conducteur. (Andrea
Alciato, Emblemata, Paris, Jean Richer, 1584, . 80v-81r).
[12] Andrea Alciato, Emblemata, Padua, Petro Paulo Tozzi, 1621, In temerarios, r4v p. 263.
[13] See: Quentin Skinner, Ambrogio Lorenzetti: The Artist as Political Philosopher, in Proceedings of the British

Academy, LXXII, 1986, 1-56; Enrico Castelnuovo (ed.), Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Il Buon Governo, Electa, Milan 1995;
Joseph Polzer, Ambrogio Lorenzettis War and Peace Murals Revisited: Contributions to the Meaning of the
Good Government Allegory, in Artibus et Historiae, vol. 23, n. 45 (2002), pp. 63-105.
[14] Norbert Elias, On Civilization, Power, and Knowledge. Selected Writings, University of Chicago Press, Chicago-

London 1998, p. 92.

[15]Gabriel Rollenhagen, Nucleus emblematum selectissimorum. Centuria secunda (Crispin de Passe, Utrecht

1613), pl. 35.

[16] nescia mens hominum fati sortisque futurae / et servare modum rebus sublata secundis! (Aeneid, X, 501-2).
[17] Vd. G. Berti A. Vitali (a cura di), Le carte di corte. I tarocchi. Gioco e magia alla corte degli Estensi, Nuova Alfa

editoriale, Bologna 1987, pp. 32-33.

[18] For more information on this tarot, in the frame of a wider discussion of the representations of temperance, see

Andrea Vitalis La Temperanza, at http://www.letarot.it/page.aspx?id=126, which connects this iconography to the


images of Aristotle and Phyllis. Vitali stresses also the fact that temperance was also seen as intechangeable with
fame, because it can make people famous through praiseworthy actions; in its Parergon Juris, in a passage
recalling the order of the tarot cards, Alciato replaces fame with temperance (Andrea Alciato, Parergon Iuris libri VII
posteriores, Gryphium, Lyons 1554, liber VIII, caput XVI, De ludis nostri temporis, pp. 72-73
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k54627n/f73.image).
[19] See, on this point, Nuccio Ordine, La soglia dellombra. Letteratura, losoa e pittura in Giordano Bruno ,

Marsilio, Venezia 2003, pp. 150-3.

[20] Henry Peacham, Minerva Britanna, or, A Garden Of Heroical Deuises, furnished, and adorned with Emblemes

and Impresas of sundry nature [London : Printed in Shoe-lane at the signe of the Faulcon by Wa: Dight., 1612],
emblem 93.

[21] Kasey Evans, Colonial Virtue: The Mobility of Temperance in Renaissance England, University of Toronto Press,

Toronto 2012.

[22] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1117b-1119b (book III, ch. 10-12).


[23] Andrea Alciato, Emblemata, Padua, Pietro Paolo Tozzi, 1621, p. 157 (f. K7r).
[24] Alberto, non volendo essere da Luca superato, n in quantit n in bont dopere, intagli una gura nuda

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sopra certe nuvole; e la Temperanza con certe ale mirabili, con una coppa doro in mano, et una briglia, et un paese
minutissimo (Vita di Marcantonio Bolognese, e daltri intagliatori di stampe, Giorgio Vasari, Delle vite de piu
eccellenti pittori, scultori et architettori, parte III vol I, Giunti, Firenze 1568, p. 298). The engraving of Nemesis has
been viewed as a secular counterpart of the Apocalypse. From the panoply of the Christian apocalyptic imagery,
many riding gures can be evoked, from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to the Great Harlot of Babylon, on
the back of the seven-headed Beast, holding in her hand a cup, full of inebriating wine. For some considerations
about the representation of the Harlot of Babylon in emblem books and its connections to the image of Christ riding
on an ass, Donato Mansueto, Lasino, il Re e la meretrice. Di alcuni emblemi teologico-politici, in Ernst H.
Kantorowicz, Misteri di Stato, D. Mansueto-G. Cascione eds., Pensa Multimedia, Lecce, 2004, pp. 95-131.
[25] Cesare Ripa, Iconologia overo Descrittione dImagini delle Virt, Vitii, Aetti, Passioni humane, Corpi celesti,

Mondo e sue parti, Padua, Pietro Paolo Tozzi, 1611, p. 508.

[26] George Wither, A Collection of Emblemes (A. M. R. Allot, London 1635), book III, ill. XXXV, p. 169.
[27] A social guration within which an extensive transformation of external into internal compulsions takes place in

a permanent condition for the production of forms of behavior the distinctive feature of which we denote by the
concept of rationality. The complementary concepts of rationality and irrationality refer to the relative parts played
by short-term aects and long-term conceptual models of observable reality in individual behaviour. The greater the
importance of the latter in the unstable balance between aective and reality-oriented directives, the more rational
behavior is (Norbert Elias, On Civilization, Power, and Knowledge. Selected Writings, Stephen Mennell and Johan
Goudsblom eds., University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1998, p. 92 [the above passage is a translation from
Eliass Die hsche Gesellschaft, Hermann Luchterhand Verlag, Darmstadt and Neuwied, 1969].
[28] See on this point Thomas Aquinass argument: Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut philosophus dicit, in I Ethic.,

bonum multitudinis divinius est quam bonum unius. Et ideo quanto aliqua virtus magis pertinet ad bonum
multitudinis tanto melior est. Iustitia autem et fortitudo magis pertinent ad bonum multitudinis quam temperantia,
quia iustitia consistit in communicationibus, quae sunt ad alterum; fortitudo autem in periculis bellorum, quae
sustinentur pro salute communi; temperantia autem moderatur solum concupiscentias et delectationes eorum quae
pertinent ad ipsum hominem. Unde manifestum est quod iustitia et fortitudo sunt excellentiores virtutes quam
temperantia, quibus prudentia et virtutes theologicae sunt potiores (Summa Theologiae, II-II. q. 141, a. 8).
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS AND CREDITS
Fig. 1. Temperancia, engraving after Marcantonio Raimondi, 1510-1550 (British Museum under
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/) Trustees of the British Museum.
Fig. 2. Baldung Grien, Aristotle and Phyllis (1515), Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, print (woodcut)
(British Museum under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/) Trustees of the British Museum.
Fig. 3a. Master MZ, 1500-3, Engraving 1895, 0915.232, AN86195001 (Bartsch VI.379.18) (British Museum under
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/) Trustees of the British Museum.
Fig. 3b. Hans Brosamer, 1520-1551, Engraving 1862,0712.639, AN610908001 (Bartsch VIII.463.18) (British
Museum under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/) Trustees of the British Museum.
Fig. 3c. Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530, private collection (public domain image from Wikimedia Commons).
Fig. 3d. Aquamanile in the form of Aristotle and Phyllis, late 14th or early 15th century, Southern Netherland,
1975.1.1416, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Fig. 3e. Johannes Sadeler I, Engraving (inscription: Nil studium, nil sacra valent Conanima Vatum / Consilium
Sapiens ni pietate regat),16th century, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, (53.601.10(25)).

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Fig. 3f. Georg Pencz, engraving, 1545-6, 1853,0709.138 (Bartsch VIII.350.97) (British Museum under
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/) Trustees of the British Museum.
Fig. 4. Pierre Cousteau, Pegma, Lyons, Mac Bonhomme, 1555, Appetitus subsit rationi, ut equus sessori, K7r
p. 157 (SM371- by permission of University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections)
Fig. 5. Andrea Alciato, Emblemata, Lyons, Mac Bonhomme for Guillaume Rouille, 1550, emb. LV, Temeritas, D8r
p. 63 (SM34- by permission of University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections).
Fig. 6. Andrea Alciato, Emblematum libellus, Venice, Aldus, 1546, E7v f39v (SM29- by permission of University
of Glasgow Library, Special Collections).
Fig. 7. Guillaume de la Perrire, Morosophie, Lyons, Mac Bonhomme, 1553, E2v (SM689 by permission of
University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections).
Fig. 8. Gilles Corrozet, Hecatomgraphie, Paris, Denis Janot, 1540, Lymage de temerit, . D1v-D2r (SM Add385
by permission of University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections).
Fig. 9. Andrea Alciato, Emblemata, Padua, Petro Paulo Tozzi, 1621, Temeritas, r3r p. 261 (SM 1226 by
permission of University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections).
Fig. 10. Andrea Alciato, Emblemata, Padua, Petro Paulo Tozzi, 1621, In temerarios, r4v p. 263 (SM 1226 by
permission of University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections).
Fig. 11. Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Allegoria del Buon Governo, 1338-1339 (Siena, Palazzo Pubblico), cropped image
(public domain image from Wikimedia Commons).
Fig. 12. Raaello Sanzio, Allegory of Temperance (detail from Cardinal and Theological Virtues), fresco, 1511,
Stanze della Segnatura, Palazzi Vaticani.
Fig. 13. Gabriel Rollenhagen, Nucleus emblematum selectissimorum. Centuria secunda, Crispin de Passe, Utrecht
1613, pl. 35 (Internet Archive, Call number 628643 book contributor: Getty Research Institute).
Fig. 14. Tarocchi di Alessandro Sforza, Castello Ursino Museo Civico di Catania (Ferrara 1450-1460 ca.) (public
domain image).
Fig. 15. H. Peacham, Minerva Britanna (1612), emblem 93 (Internet Archive, Call number D-7 P355M book
contributor: Duke University Libraries).
Fig. 16. Andrea Alciato, Emblemata, Padua, Petro Paulo Tozzi, 1621, K7r-p. 157 (SM 1226 by permission of
University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections).
Fig. 17. Albrecht Drer, The Great Fortune (Nemesis) (c. 1501-2 British Museum), cropped, Engraving, 1895,
0915.346, AN2774400 (British Museum under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/) Trustees of
the British Museum.
Fig. 18. George Wither, A Collection of Emblemes (A. M. R. Allot, London 1635), book III, ill. XXXV, p. 169 (public
domain image, from the Digital Collection of the Penn State University Libraries; courtesy of the Pennsylvania State
University).

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Donato Mansueto
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