11. Le Vieillard

The Old Man or the Hermit from Tarocchino Arlecchino

About the Card

English Name(s)

The Old Man, The Hermit, Time


  • Grand Etteilla: Card Number 18
  • Tarot de Marseille: Trump VIIII

Image Description

A Harlequin with outspread wings walks on two crutches. A long white beard hangs down below his mask. He wears a round hat, a jacket with long tails, and pants, all decorated with irregular patches in both angular and round shapes. A gold purse hangs from his belt and there is a tall hexagonal column behind him.

Further Notes

The Grand Etteilla’s Card Number 18 depicts a monk or hermit resembling Trump VIIII of the Marseille Tarot. However, this card’s keywords are more fitting for the Hanged Man (who does not appear in the Grand Etteilla): Traitor (upright) and Sanctimonious/Bigoted (reversed). The trump from Tarocchino Arlecchino has new keywords following from the attributes of the original card in the Bolognese tarocchino.

The upright and reversed keywords I chose are two different Ancient Greek translations for time.

Chronos, accumulating and calculated time, is associated with the god Cronus or Saturn. As such, it can be represented by an old bearded man, sometimes with Saturn’s kindly attributes of wealth and agriculture, and others with the more macabre, child-devouring aspect.

Kairos, in contrast, is a fleeting moment, the opportune time for action. It is depicted with fleeting wings. And what’s more fun, Kairos has his own fun hairstyle, an extreme reverse mullet, showing that you can snatch him from the front but have no hope of so doing from the back.

The Old Man of the Bolognese deck combines attributes of Chronos and Kairos. Paradoxically, even with wings spread wide he hobbles along (or backwards) on crutches. It is really an apt metaphor for time, both flying and dragging.

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Time, chronos, age, elderly, generation, epoch, year, month, day, hour, minute, second, measure, tempo, duration, eternity, golden age, Saturn.


Time, kairos, moment, instant, opportunity, occasion, juncture, fleeting, time to act, the right time.