Saturday, August 12, 2006
There's an enigmatic connection between the Star of David and the Magic Square
Rotas Opera tenet Arepo Sator (Shorter name: Sator) . The Sator is a palindrome that can be read in the same way from four directions of the square. There are dozens of interpretations of its meaning, but still there is no consent which of them is right.
I found two instances of this connection:
1. Elio Galasso wrote an on line book in order to show that the most ancient Sator found in Pompeii, dated 79 C.E, is eligible if you put a Star of David on it and read the letters along its lines and not from left to right.
2. M. Costa ["Hatakh ha-zahav, hotam Shelomoh u-magen-David", Poalim, 1990, Hebrew, pp. 174 [copied a whole page from A. Kircher's book "arithmology" (1646) with a Star of David encircling a Sator.
IMHO the Star of David and the Sator served for many centuries as amulets. Their perfect symmetry doesn't allow the penetration of evil spirits from any side. This is a solution for amulets that contain words since those that go from left to right can be read by the demons from right to left and those that go from right to left can be read by the demons from left to right. This solution is a double action prevention device and its proliferation shows how convincing it was….
Rotas Opera Tenet Arepo Sator can be translated: The sower, Arepo, guides the wheels with care.
The earliest examples are Roman: Two Sator squares were discovered in the ruins of Pompeii, Italy. There is a Christian interpretation that many scholars accept, which claims that the Sator contains the PATER NOSTER prayer plus A and O (alpha and omega in Greek). This could mean Christianity reached Pompeii at a very early date. These scholars believe that during that time of persecution the owners of the house were it was found used the Sator as a secret sign showing they were Christians. Another version is that it was put on the side of houses which offered refuge to Christians, who were the only people who knew how to decipher the code. Other historians think that the Sator was even older than the Christian Church.
Four Sators were unearthed in 1931-32 excavations in Dura Europos, in Syria; three of them on the walls of a [Roman] military office in a building that had originally been the temple of Artemis Azzanathkona. In 1868 it was found in excavations of a Roman villa, scratched on a wall plaster, at Corinium Dobunnorum, near Victoria Road in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England. Another Sator square was found in Manchester and is considered to be the earliest evidence of Christianity in Britain. There are some specimens of it in Egypt, in Cappadocia, in Aquincum, in Hungary, on the wall of the Duomo of Siena, Italy, in the pavement outside the church of the Knights in Valetta, Malta…In later periods uncountable other examples have been found all over the world.
Rose Mary Sheldon wrote an excellent review of the literature on this subject.
Picture (courtesy of Synwell Liberation Front from Flickr) shows wall-plaster from second century C.E., excavated at Victoria Road, Cirencester, 1868