f85r2: Die 7 Freien Künste and 4 virtues


This concerns page  f85r2.

Die sieben Freie Künste sein:

  1. Astronomica
  2. Grammatica
  3. Rethorica
  4. Dialetica
  5. Musica
  6. Arithmetica
  7. Geometria

And the Philosophia in the middle in the picture Hortus Deliciarum der Herrad von Landsberg (1180).

That are the Seven Free Arts. Translated into : Liberal arts education.

The liberal arts (Latin: artes liberales) . The enkuklios paideia, circle of learning educated a person in all disciplines.


datierung: 1500-1600


Martianus Capella (410-420)  was a Latin prose writer of Late Antiquity one of the earliest developers of the system of the seven liberal arts that structured early medieval education.

His single encyclopedic work, De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii (“On the Marriage of Philology and Mercury”, also called De septem disciplinis “On the seven disciplines” or the Satyricon) is an elaborate didactic allegory written in a mixture of prose and elaborately allusive verse.

Deutsch: Sieben freie Künste. Tübinger Hausbuch. Von links nach rechts: Geometrie, Logik, Arithmetik, Grammatik (in der Mitte), Musik, Physik (anstatt der Astronomie), Rhetorik. English: Seven liberal arts. Tübingen house-register (Tübinger Hausbuch). The library of University Tübingen. From left to right: Geometry, Logic, Arithmetic, Grammar (in center), Music, Physics (instead of Astronomy), Rhetoric. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tuebinger_Hausbuch_Freie_Kuenste.jpg



The four cardinal virtues

The four classic Platonic cardinal virtues are

  • prudence: φρόνησις (phronēsis)
  • temperance: σωφροσύνη (sōphrosynē)
  • justice: δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosynē)
  • courage: ἀνδρεία (andreia)

The four cardinal virtues comprise a quartet set of virtues recognized in the writings of Classical Antiquity and, along with the theological virtues, also in Christian tradition. They consist of the following qualities:

  • Prudence (φρόνησις, phronēsis; Latin: prudentia): also described as wisdom, the ability to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time
  • Justice (δικαιοσύνη, dikaiosynē; Latin: iustitia): also considered as fairness, the most extensive and most important virtue;[1] the Greek word also having the meaning righteousness
  • Temperance (σωφροσύνη, sōphrosynē; Latin: temperantia): also known as restraint, the practice of self-control, abstention, discretion, and moderation tempering the appetition; especially sexually, hence the meaning chastity
  • Courage (ἀνδρεία, andreia; Latin: fortitudo): also termed fortitude, forbearance, strength, endurance, and the ability to confront fear, uncertainty, and intimidation
Jacques Patin (15..–1587) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Figure_des_quatre_Vertus_from_Ballet_comique_de_la_reine1

These virtues derive initially from Plato’s scheme.

Picture date 1582. Jacques Patin
Bron Balet comique de la Royne, faict aux nopces de Monsieur le Duc de Joyeuse & madamoyselle de Vaudemont sa sœur. Par Baltasar de Beaujoyeulx, valet de chambre du Roy, & de la Royne sa mere Page 40 verso at Gallica.

Ceste harmonie bocagere prenant fin, sortit de l’autre treille une autre troupe, qui estoit le troisiesme intermède composé de quatre Vertus, représentées par quatre filles vestues de bleu céleste, ayans leurs robes chargées d’estoiles d’or bruny ; faisant entendre la perfection de ceux qui accompagnent et suyvent la Vertu.
Leur coiffure estoit faicte à arcades d’or et de soye, et au-dessus de la teste voyoit-on trois grandes estoiles reluisantes. La première portait un pillier, l’autre une balance, la troisiesme un serpent, et la quatriesme un vaze ; le tout fait d’or bruny. Deux d’entre elles jouoyent de luts, et les deux autres chantoyent, qui donnèrent grand plaisir à la compagnie, pour la douceur de leurs voix excellentes, avec lesquelles ils dirent la chanson suyvante, respondant à icelles la voulte dorée.

(Another band, which was the third interlude composed of four Virtues, represented by four girls dressed in celestial blue, with their robes laden with brown gold stars, came out of the other trellis; Making known the perfection of those who accompany and follow the Virtue.
Their head-dress was made of gold and silk arches, and above the head were three great shining stars. The first carried a pillar (Note: here it is not only a pillar but also a citare ), the other a scale, the third a serpent, and the fourth a vaze; All made of bruny gold. Two of them played lute, and the other two sang, which gave great pleasure to the company, for the sweetness of their excellent voices, with which they said the song suyvante, corresponding to them the golden wish.



vaze -> Temperance

pillar / citare-> Courage

serpent-> Prudence

scale-> Justice



The Liberal Arts were an educational tool, meant to develop mental capacities. As such they fitted very well in the Mantegna engravings. To complete the group of ten cards, Poetry, Philosophy and Theology were added to the original seven Liberal Arts.

The next level, labeled B, consists of the Seven Virtues. Three of the Virtues, Temperance, Strength and Justice are present in the Tarot, and all of them can be found in the Minchiate cards (see next page).

Before the Seven Virtues, in order to arrive at ten cards, are depicted three Geniuses, Iliaco the Genius of Light, Chronico the Genius of Time and Cosmico the Genius of Space. The image below presents the four cardinal Virtues in the order given by Platon; Temperance, Strength, Prudence and Justice. source: see image.


TAOIST elements

In ancient Taoist thought,Wu Xing (Chinese: 五行; pinyin: wǔxíng), or the Five Phases, usually translated as five elements, five movements, or five steps are five dynamic qualities or energies that can be perceived in all natural phenomena. The elements are:

Metal (Chinese:金, pinyin: jīn, “gold”)
Wood (Chinese: 木, pinyin: mù)
Water (Chinese: 水, pinyin: shuǐ)
Fire (Chinese:火, pinyin: huǒ),
Earth (Chinese:土, pinyin: tǔ).

source :http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Wu_Xing
Thomistic philosophy:
St. Thomas Aquinas believed that truth is to be accepted no matter where it is found. His doctrines draw from Greek, Roman, Jewish, philosophers. Specifically, he was a realist.

Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), philosopher, theologian.


You may have noticed that  the vaze that “symbolizes the virtue temperance” looks a lot like the vases in the VMS. Read also here.

But especially this image is a clear example of the virtue temperance on f85r2:



Well, now we just have to fill in the other images.

fleur de lis, fleur-de-lys

Fleur-de-lis has always been a symbol for courage, used by kings and armies.
It also represents faith, wisdom and chivalry but can also represent kingship and state.

The primarily catholic symbol is used for many things. There are even writers that have traced the symbol into ancient Egypt. In Italy, the fleur de lis, called giglio. The symbol is also used on a compass rose to mark the north direction. And there are many more associations.

The fleur de lis traditionally represents the virtues of perfection, light and life.

Extending as far back as Mesopotamian times, the fleur de lis, or stylized lily flower or iris but has close links with the country of France, and more esoterically, with the Italian city of Florence.

The Florentine fleur de lis is red with the stamens interposed between the petals. Furthermore, the tips of the petals and the stamens form flowers themselves. The French version shows three petals, the central one which is erect, and the other two curving outward and joined by a band, with protruding feet. -source-

The French fleur de lis contains no stamens, unlike the Italian version, and looks more like this picture below, but not quite.

The most ancient variation is the fleur-de-lys ‘au pied nourri’, i.e. without the lower part, everything under the horizontal bar apparently cut off. Old French also calls this fleur-de-lys ‘en lonc’ or ‘a pié coupé’. Sometimes the lower part is represented but in a triangular shape: it is then called ‘au pied posé’


While the fleur de lis was sporadically used in Babylonian, Egyptian and Roman architecture, the symbol was first used prominently in 1147 century by French monarch Louis VII.

In 1179, Philippe-Auguste wore a robe of azure semy de lis at his coronation. The first arms of France were “Azure semy de lis Or,” or golden fleur de lis strewn on an azure field; however in 1365, Charles VI reduced the number of flowers to three, presumably in deference to the Trinity. The red fleur de lis of the coat of arms of Florence denotes that city, namely during Medici rule.

read more :http://www.heraldica.org/topics/fdl.htm

The fleur de lis in French history is associated with the conversion of the Frankish king, Clovis, to Christianity in 493. Legend asserts that a lily appeared at his baptism as a gift by the Virgin Mary, who is linked to the flower. Other stories say that Clovis placed the lily in his helmet before his ultimately victory at a decisive battle, after which the fleur de lis became a royal symbol. The name Clovis is also known as “Loys,” and therefore “fleur de lis” has been said to be the corruption of “flower of Loys”. The Medicis were said to co-opt the existing symbol of Florence by reversing the colors of the flower that were native to that city, from white to red.

As the symbol of the city of Florence, the fleur de lis was found in the currency of Florence, or the fiorino. Beyond Florence in Italy, the doges of Venice and dukes of Parma, and was used in papal crowns adopted the symbol and coats of arms. In France, the fleur de lis is ubiquitous, found not only in connection with the French throne. In French heraldry, it first appears in 1199; in 1211, it appears as an official seal of future Louis VIII. In French communal arms, bearing the fleur de lis was deemed a privilege to specially designated cities granted by the monarch, notwithstanding its prevalent use as arms by other French cities.

There are no coats of arms before 1130-1140.  H. Pinoteau’s work of the past 30 years have shed definitive light on the subject: although we have no iconographic testimony of the coat azure, semy of fleur-de-lys or by a king of France before Louis VIII (on a stained glass window in Chartres of 1230; Louis VIII did bear the coat before becoming king, on a seal of 1211)
read more: flag of santa verena

Here it is obviously not an Italian fleur de lys, nor French from let’s say 1450. The Voynich fleur-de-lys looks more like two leafs with a flower bud coming out.

Fleur de lys in combination with the cardinal virtues.

According to Philippe de Vitry (1291-1361) in his Chapel des fleur de lis, as described here, do the three lillies represent the three cardinal virtues of the French nation: Faith Science and Chivalry.




Now there is not a serpent to show prudence but a more loving image: a flower cord.
Which is a positive approach of the virtue prudence and is perhaps closely related to the humanism of that period. But it is unclear to me if any person with a flower cord (wreath of flowers) is a prudent person.


Then in the book,   Imagining Aristotle: Verbal and Visual Representation in Fourteenth-Century France,  I found a picture (35) of a lady with a round thing in her hand on the left and on the right with a kind of vaze.

It appears in Raison, Le Continent. Concupiscence; Raison, L’incontinent. Concupiscence. Les ethiques d’Aristote MS A. Brussels Bibl. Royale Albert Ier. MS 9505-06 folio 132. www.kbr.be

moral decisions

The Greek terms for these concepts, Enkrateia and Akrasia , have a complex history in Greek and subsequent philosophy. Because of present-day medical usage, the customary translation of these terms as “continence” (Enkrateia ) and “incontinence” (Akrasia ) both in English and French is unfortunate.


The subject here in 21th chap. is : The continent man is one through concupiscence (sexual lust and desires of the flesh) is subject to bad desires for and temptations to gluttony or lechery. And at the same time he has good rational judgment, which he follows and by which he restrains his bad desires.

The figure 35 is embedded in the first text column following the chapter headings and is placed above the introductory paragraph signaled by the six-line dentellated and foliated initial A . Although the position and dimensions of Figure 35 do not indicate importance within the cycle, the illustration has a unique feature.

The miniature is divided into two vertical halves based on the contrast of the opposing characters of Le Continent and L’Incontinent. Previously, lateral division of the picture space in the illustrations of Books III, IV, and VI (Figs. 15, 20, and 33) correspond to identification and explanation of two separate subjects. This new ordering of the picture space by Oresme thus corresponds to the verbal definitions and contrasts he established in the glossary and commentary. Furthermore, the opposition between Continence and Incontinence is immediately set up in the first two paragraphs of the text, directly below and next to the miniature. As noted above, in his commentary Oresme further explains the essential distinctions between Continence and Incontinence.

There the reader also finds the relationships of these states to virtues and vices of different degrees. Even the contrasts of colors in the backgrounds and costumes of the figures carry out the theme of opposition and internal conflict set forth so emphatically in the text and commentary. To bring out these differences, the memory gateway places the opposing characters in separate but adjoining spaces divided by the central column.
The compositions, costumes, and gestures further clarify the contrasting choices made by Le Continent and L’Incontinent. Another way of putting the reader in the picture is Oresme’s transformation of the adjectives Continent and Incontinent into nouns.

Le Continent and L’Incontinent become masculine equivalents, or concrete exemplars, of types of behavior analyzed by Aristotle. These physical doubles and opposites are identified by inscriptions unfurling vertically over their heads. Their short, tightly fitting jackets, low-slung belts, pointed shoes (poulains ), and colored hoods with trailing ends (liripipes ) distinguish them as fashionable, secular types. Both occupy the center of the shallow picture stage that avoids a strict axial or symmetrical organization. Instead, a more fluid composition pairs Le Continent with the figure on the left. The inscription identifies this personification: “Raison est ce” (this is Reason).

Her widowlike headdress and ample blue robe resemble those of virtues like Actrempance and Liberalité (Figs. 15 and 20). Raison also occupies the same position in the right half of the miniature. The third figure, common to both scenes, stands on the right. Her inscription identifies her as Concupiscence (Sexual Desire). Her worldly status as a young woman of fashion is established by her braided tresses and fur-trimmed low-cut gown. In both scenes she proffers a chaplet of flowers, emblem of sensual pleasures.
The decision taken by Le Continent and L’Incontinent toward or away from the two types of conduct is expressed by the movement of their figures. Le Continent has literally turned his back on Concupiscence. His proximity to Raison, reinforced by his glance, the touch of his arm, and the position of his right foot emphasizes that he listens to her counsel. Yet, Le Continent indicates a struggle with his passions by pointing toward the eager and expectant figure of Concupiscence. A sense of uncertainty or anxiety about the outcome derives also from the expression of Raison’s face and the tense gestures of her upraised and rigid hands. But the void between Le Continent and Concupiscence confirms the nature of his decision.

The opposite conclusion takes place in the right half of the miniature, where L’Incontinent turns his back on Raison and moves in the direction of Concupiscence. Not only do his feet advance toward her, but he touches her shoulder with his outstretched left arm and with his other reaches for the wreath of flowers.

Raison’s resigned expression and upraised hand acknowledge that L’Incontinent has taken a step in the wrong direction. The vivid body language, expressed in visual metaphors such as “turning his back” or “taking a step in the right direction,” reinforces the verbal language of the inscriptions.
The decision allegory in A is marked by a concrete and specific action taken by a contemporary secular figure. The visual evidence of moral struggle based on the protagonist’s conflict between Reason and Desire is effectively conveyed. Whereas Aristotle did not single out sexual pleasure as the only area of moral conflict, Oresme may have chosen to do so because of the traditional medieval associations of the term Continence . Nevertheless, thanks to the fluent style of the Jean de Sy Master, the illustration makes clear the essence of the verbal definition. Oresme’s instructions probably specified details of costume, gesture, and identity of the opposing protagonists. Such a program is an ingenious solution to the visual and verbal translations of subtle philosophical concepts clearly conveyed to Oresme’s secular audience. Rooted in rhetorical strategies, complex visual devices such as repetition, opposition, and single versus double identities are designed to engage and enhance the cognitive and mnemonic responses of these readers.


source: Preferred Citation: Sherman, Claire Richter. Imagining Aristotle: Verbal and Visual Representation in Fourteenth-Century France. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1995 1995. http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft4m3nb2n4/

Nicole Oresme’s translation of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, and Economics into French from Latin in the 1370s is the subject of Claire Sherman’s stunningly illustrated book. Though both the text translations and their images have been studied separately, this is the first time they are published in their entirety and considered together.

Intended for an audience of Charles V, his counselors, and high-ranking lay people, these manuscripts are significant for their linguistic and political implications, for moving Aristotle’s work beyond clerical and university boundaries, and for reflecting the dynamics of monarchic control of French language and culture. Sherman shows the importance of Oresme’s role as translator and book designer. She also explores the gender and class representations in the imagery, relating them not only to the views of Oresme and his audience but also to the contemporary secular culture. Nicole Oresme’s translation of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, and Economics into French from Latin in the 1370s is the subject of Claire Sherman’s stunningly illustrated book. Though both the text translations and their images have been studied separately, this is the first time they are published in their entirety and considered together.

Intended for an audience of Charles V, his counselors, and high-ranking lay people, these manuscripts are significant for their linguistic and political implications, for moving Aristotle’s work beyond clerical and university boundaries, and for reflecting the dynamics of monarchic control of French language and culture. Sherman shows the importance of Oresme’s role as translator and book designer. She also explores the gender and class representations in the imagery, relating them not only to the views of Oresme and his audience but also to the contemporary secular culture.



Now there is only one left, Justice. Which is shown by the man with the ring.



Let us call this image a person with an extended arm with ring on finger, in order to differentiate with the other images.

In the mentioned “Imaging Aristotle: Verbal and Visual Representation in Fourteenth-century France” we also see the virtue of the ring as presentation of Justice back on


The sheltering mantle of Justice légale also has multiple associations. This important motif expresses the virtue’s characteristics of benevolence, protectiveness, and inclusiveness. The six smaller forms she harbors are subordinate to her and contained within her. In a visual and conceptual sense, they are “daughter” virtues. Of the six depicted, four are named: Fortitude, Justice particulière (Particular Justice), Mansuétude (Gentleness) and Entrepesie (Conciliation).

The ring extended belongs to Mansuétude: Gentleness.

Then on p 153. Moral Obligations of Friendship (Book IX)

..a large gold ring held by the man on the right. With outstretched hand, he offers it to his companion, who reaches out to accept or call attention to this prominent object.

Indeed, several interpretations of Figure 40 are possible. This first alternative draws on the costumes and the ring as clues. The fashionable dress of the Amis differs from the modest attire worn in Figure 37 by the friends who are associated with the noblest, spiritual type of Friendship. Together with the ring, the worldly dress of the Amis in Figure 40 may signify the less worthy types of Friendship, those for profit or pleasure.


In this type of temporary and disingenuous Friendship, the gold ring may symbolize the material gain sought by each party. More positively, Figure 40 may stand for a principal theme of Book IX: the various obligations of friends. Thus, the giving of the ring may signify a generous act, or one of the four actions of Friendship, called beneficence, discussed in Chapters 5 and 9 of Oresme’s translation.[5] In the ninth chapter Oresme takes up Aristotle’s theme of the different attitudes to one another of the benefactor and the recipient. Such an interpretation of Figure 40 is difficult to define verbally because of the weak links among the parts of the miniature and the meager inscriptions.


But, there are of course pictures that deviate from the findings above.

Take for example, this image from Muchen St. B. Cod. Lat 25899. Sammelhs aus Aldersbach. fol 101v. Philosophia, 12 th century:

There we find Prudentia, holding a fleur-de-lis. Which is different from our predicted courage.

It is also true that the image in the VMS is not exactly “holding the staff”. It more or less looks like the person is reaching for the fleur-de-lis. That does not matter regarding the direction of this article; it still smells like a symbolic display of the four virtues.



Based on these assumptions we could now find the geographical location, exact period and perhaps the person or language of the VMS.


On f85r2: The inner ring of text says (starting at the west):

[okees. ochar. otedar. ochedy. otody. olchedy. otchdo. ar. or. air. ol. otees. ar. ar. am]

It does not look like the text is directly related to the pictures in the form of direct labels, therefore I assume a flowing text. Possibly the middle sun is mentioned in the text and the relation to the four virtues.

The text in the four quarters probably describes the four cardinal virtues.



Let us further enhance the knowledge on the virtues.

For example a recent paper  “Aristotle’s Cardinal Virtues: Their Application to Assessment of Psychopathology and Psychotherapy”.

James M. Stedman Aristotle’s Cardinal Virtues
Practical Philosophy, 10:1, (web edition, 2011; originally published July 2010) 59

source: Virtues.pdf. James M. Stedman:  http://www.society-for-philosophy-in-practice.org/journal/pdf/10-1%20057%20Stedman%20-%20Aristotles%20Virtues.pdf. James M. Stedman

Table 1: Aristotle’s Cardinal Virtues and Their Subdivisions.

Habit of choosing right means to achieve worthy ends In Self-Direction In Domestic Behaviours In Public Affairs Ability in Command Ability in Execution Memory
Docility Sagacity Valuation Reasoning  Inventiveness Foresight Circumspection Caution

Habit of rendering the other his/her rights Commutative Justice Distributive Justice
Legal Justice Religion Piety to Parents Obedience
Respect to Superiors Liberality Fidelity Friendliness Gratitude Patriotism
Give rights to others Avoid injury to others

Habit of moderation in use of pleasurable things Frugality Abstinence Sobriety Chastity
Modesty Dignity Good Temper Continence
Meekness Clemency  Humility Self-Respect Studiousness Good Manners Proper Dress Sense of Shame Sense of Propriety Calmness

Habit of restraining fear or moderation of rash behavior in the face of danger or difficulty
About Actions: Magnanimity Magnificence Munificence About Bearing: Patience Perseverance


Virtue is is moral excellence. The opposite of virtue is vice.

Personification of virtue (Greek ἀρετή, areti) in Celsus Library in Ephesos, Turkey. In an statue.

But have a look at the statues of By Giovanni Caccini (1556-1612).

Marble statue of Temperance, Giovanni Caccini. source http://www.cynic.org.uk/photos/USA201110/NYC/Met/index2.html

Or this statue of summer with the strange hair by Giovanni Caccini.

Most Roman concepts of virtue were also personified as a numinous deity. The primary Roman virtues, both public and private, …see wikipedia for more.



London, BL Arundel MS83 II. Discussed on google books. Around 1310-1340



More links.



(auch Jorg Pents, 1500-1550)



“Artes liberales”, Pesellino. Birmingham Museum of Art (Alabama)




Looking at the inner text however, today. 26.4.2017 I see that the text indeed could talk about age, such as suggestion by the note in the transcription file of TT.

On f85r2: The inner ring of text says (starting at the west):
okees. ochar. otedar. ochedy. otody. olchedy. otchdo. ar. or. air. ol. otees. ar. ar. am

The words that start with [o-] are all nouns.

If it is indeed Gallicia-old Portguese:

 1  2  3  4  5  6 7
okees.  ochar. otedar. ochedy. otody. olchedy. otchdo.
 o lure


 o eras  o mente[..]


o eredas ?  o emot[ias]


o et eretia

o exterias

o exterior

o ?
the tempation the age the mind emotion

the fear

virtue1 virtue2 virtue3 virtue4 virtue5 virtue6 virtue7

and the remaining text:

ar. or. air. ol. otees. ar. ar. am
 as os ais oet  o emu re  ase






As you can see, also this line of text,  ends with “amen”, but it could easily mean: amo (i love) or any of the other conjugations see  here for example.

Otherwise, ase! ase! amen. is very legit in African culture



Virtue Latin Gloss (Sin) (Latin)
Chastity Castitas Purity Lust Luxuria
Temperance Temperantia Humanityabstinence Gluttony Gula
Charity Caritas Willbenevolencegenerositysacrifice Greed Avaritia
Diligence Industria Persistence, effort, ethics Sloth Acedia
Patience Patientia Forgivenessmercy, sufferance Wrath Ira
Kindness Benevolentia Satisfactioncompassion Envy Invidia
Humility Humilitas Braverymodestyreverence Pride Superbia

source: wikipedia



“goede minne wordt gekenmerkt door vooral vier eigenschappen: trouw, gelijkheid, edelheid en kuisheid. ”  source: dbnl

04.12.2017:  stoicism

The four cardinal virtues (aretai) of Stoic philosophy is a classification derived from the teachings of Plato (Republic IV. 426–435):


Read more on the invention of the virtues on this page