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'In all things, moderation.'

Demure, poised, and assured, Temperance dips her toe into the cold mountain stream flowing at her feet. Her hair is bound at her neck in a chignon. As she stands, she pours water from one cup into another.

In the standand allegory, Temperance is mixing water into wine. But, here, it seems clear that the woman is completely content with the purest water from the stream. Associated with the ideas of harmony, balance, and moderation, for the ancient Greeks, Temperance was the central virtue of civic life. It represented the restraint of appetite, whether for food, drink, or sex. In classical philosophy, therefore, it stands for the subordination of physical desire to higher, rational ideals.

But, here, somehow, the woman exudes a kind of sensual quality that implies that, perhaps, even rational ideals need moderation.

Temperance appears in the oldest Italian decks where it is numbered VI or VII. In most contemporary decks the card is numbered XIV. In the Thoth Tarot this card is called Art rather than Temperance.

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