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Romana Petri vive tra Roma e Lisbona. Editrice, traduttrice e critica letteraria, collabora con «ttl La Stampa», il «Venerdì di Repubblica», «Corriere della Sera» e «Il Messaggero». Considerata dalla critica come una delle migliori autrici italiane contemporanee, ha scritto tra romanzi e raccolte di racconti ben 23 libri. Ha ottenuto prestigiosi premi e riconoscimenti, tra i quali il Premio Mondello, il Rapallo-Carige e il Grinzane Cavour. È stata inoltre finalista due volte al Premio Strega. Tra i suoi libri più conosciuti Figlio del lupo e l'ultimo uscito: La Rappresentazione.
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Autore: Simone Stazi
Titolo: The Holy Square
Genere Religion History Mystery New Age
Lettori 339
The Holy Square
- The Sator's key -



Z : First voice
X : Second voice
Y : Third voice


A : Andrew
T : Professor Toretti
F : Father
M : Mother
C : Caesar


Paris. Sunday 18 September, night.

The city was full of lights, drowning out that of the distant moon. Away from the shining Eiffel Tower, three mysterious figures dressed as monks entered an abandoned church hidden in some woods at the edge of the city. One of them, holding an electric torch, was searching for something among the ruins of the floor.
- It's here! -
A voice broke the silence.
- Are you sure? -
A second voice answered.
- Absolutely this is the central point. -
The third voice stated.
The three monks were stood under what would have once been the church's main dome. Most of the structure was now gone, and the floor beneath was covered with a thick layer of dust, making it almost impossible to see the marble beneath.
Z - In any case we will soon know for certain, I'll start cleaning the floor and then you will see, let's use our clothes as mops! -
X - Please let me do it! You are always doing everything yourself. This time I want to help as well, after all maybe it's better if we all started doing something. Come on Y! Help us! -
They began cleaning the floor and some engravings started to appear.
Z - Aha I was almost certain of it! Look, it's marvellous! -
Y - What is it? -
A circle, a few bow lines and some writing that encircled these became legible.
X - Z, you are the best at drawing, while we continue cleaning please make a faithful copy. -
For the next few minutes X and Y continued to clean while Z drew.
X - Is it complete? -
Z - Yes but... do you see what I'm seeing? -
X - It's a sun? -
Z - Yep, it definitely is... did you read the writing? -
Y - No my friend, we have been too busy cleaning!
We let you have the best part of the job...
But I'm pretty sure it's in Latin. -
Z - Exactly, and here the writing is palindromic and... -
A tremor stopped Z. Y and X sensing the solemnity of the moment arose and looked at Z.
Z - And here it is! As foretold, the Sator's key is right here, look... -


Rome. Thursday 15 September 9:30 AM
The Sapienza University, archaeological department, room 10A.

A door slammed shut with a bang. A young student, dressed in black tracksuit trousers and a white shirt, with long hair tied up like a samurai's, ran in and interrupted what seemed to be a detailed study of some old manuscripts on wooden tables.

A - Professor you would not believe it! Look what I've found! -

T - Oh for the love of God ... let me breathe Andrew, I'm tired of your peculiar finds! -

Professor Toretti, despite only being in his forties, was already as wise as an oriental guru; serious, professional, methodical and focused. Even though he would be the first to admit his excitement when coming across new discoveries, the erratic demeanour of Andrew drained him. Indeed it was not the first time that Andrew had presented him with - the most extraordinary discovery in the world - asking for his involvement in research projects that, in the end, were always a waste of time. With indifference he turned back to his tables.

A - It'sIt looks weird. This must be one of the oldest mysteries and I'm pretty sure even you will already have heard of it! -

He placed a sheet of paper on the table.

T - And where exactly did you find this? -

A - I found it on the wall of the ladies' toilet...
Isn't it amazing how something like this can end up in a place like that? -

T - Hmm yes... surely amazing! May I ask why you were in the wrong toilet? -

Andrew's cheeks turned red and he laughed awkwardly.

A - Hahaha you know that I'm full of mysteries.... I heard some voices in the courtyard and at the right moment I went in to check! -

Professor Toretti took off his glasses and gave him a sceptical look.

T - Hmm I'm sure that's what happened... anyway stop getting so over excited about everything you find! I can understand your enthusiasm, but this is simply the Sator's square, also known as the magic square. -

A - And is that not amazing? We could analyse it and, with some detailed research, we could finally find the solution! -

Toretti could no longer control himself. He collapsed with laughter and laughed so hard that he not only turned red but also shed some tears.

T - Ehm, ehm, stop jumping so quickly to such grand conclusions! What exactly would you like to find? Do you think there is a solution? It's the most famous word square in history and yet there are still few interpretations as to its meaning and it's by no means certain that anything more could be discovered! Sometimes things are just the way they are let these manuscripts on the table be the proof of this. -

A - I'm sorry but what do you mean? Everything has a solution... plus there are always different degrees of meaning! Just because there are already many suggested interpretations doesn't mean that a final solution doesn't exist... I will read them all! Then I will go and look where nobody has looked before... -

The Professor sighed.

T - I always applaud your enthusiasm... theoretically you could do it, but as I have already said things are never quite as they seem. Some truths escape our reason and leave us having to accept that we can't control everything, and furthermore, it is often only possible to research within the limits of our previously acquired reason. Although this frustrates us, there must be something reminding us that we are not perfect... -

He pronounced these last words with a hint of melancholy. Maybe in the past his behaviour was more similar to the young student's, but life with her ebbs and flows had changed his perceptions, compressing his joy, fantasies and dreams into a little room within his heart, and leaving too much space for cold and detached reason. Andrew on the other hand was still young and full of inquisitive emotion.

A - Great so you have also heard of them! -

Toretti emerged from his thoughts and felt lost for a moment ...

T - Of what? -

A - Well, the secrets of the human reality of course! -

T - Andrew... what do you mean? -

A - You said that life presents us with barriers so as to show us that we aren't perfect, and she does this with an uncanny precision. -

T - I think I have lost your point... -

A - It's easy, we fail and keep on failing because we are not perfect! But we should not let this get us down... sometimes we believe we have understood everything and then life breaks us down in some way, but it is this process that feeds our personal growth and our overall evolution. As the sole species on this planet with an advanced conscience we are the only which knows what it even means to strive for perfection.
So in the end our strange behaviour is justified ... we make mistakes and misunderstand in order to stand up again, increase our skills and finally discover the solution! -

Andrew's words echoed round the room like waves breaking on rocks and some inner part of the professor must have been moved, as he seemed to rediscover a mood of serenity and willpower that had been missing in him for a long time.

T - What can I say? ... certainly in realizing this we could live a more carefree and fulfilling life ... but as you well know strife is part of being human and we must choose whether we either turn away from, or focus extremely hard on, those things that present obstacles in our paths. -

A - That's true... in the end, it's always our choice! -

There was a moment of silence.

T - You know, I'm glad to see you have so much confidence. It's clear that you will seek to venture out into the unknown intellectual ocean but at least I can see now that despite the storms you will face you will resiliently maintain a steady course. -

Toretti smiled and gave Andrew a pat on the back.

T - So what do you think you're going to do with the Sator's square script? Will you put all your efforts into trying to solve it or leave it as a simple pastime? -

A - Hahaha, nice try, my last words were about life in general! However, logically speaking we both know that the square riddle is a waste of time... therefore I promise that if I realise I have made the wrong decision in pursuing this endeavour, I will be the first to drop it. -

T - In any case it's up to you to tackle this as you please. I just wonder why you devote so much effort to such unimportant things... if you invested just half of the energy that you devote to such schemes and fancies into planning your future, your studies, or your career, surely you will be highly successful! Don't you think that would be better? -

Andrew thought for a moment, his ocean blue eyes shimmering in the rays of sunlight streaming in through the window.

A - You are right. I waste a lot of time analysing issues of little significance! Yet perhaps it is this endless rumination that defines who I am. We all have different life purposes but that is what keeps each of us going! It is the same for everyone...
And even though some of my priorities may be questionable at the moment, maybe sooner or later I will develop my passions and turn them into something more harmonious and functional. Why shouldn't this be possible? -

Touched by the spirit of the young boy, the Professor smiled again.

T - You know what, I wish with all my heart that this indeed transpires. Tell you what, if I can help you in some way with this research I will gladly do so. -

A - I'm honoured to hear this. -

Andrew smiled mischievously.

A - So what you can tell me about it? -

T - I don't know... what would you like to know? Information, hypotheses, interpretations? -

A - Well, whatever is necessary... it's clear that it is a ( 5 x 5 ) square consisting of five words which repeat themselves both vertically and horizontally, but... where does it come came from? Who made it? -

T - Great questions. As I said earlier, there are various hypotheses! Some associate it with the Templars, some to early Christian veneration and there are some who even think it stems from pre-roman cults . Each proposition has got a valid argument but there is always something that doesn't fit. Its linguistic and enigmatic malleability mean that it could many theses, which is why there are so many conflicting interpretations. -

A - Very well...and what about the words? It's Latin, is it not? -

The professor hesitated for a second.

T - Yes the words in theory are in Latin, there are also those who have suggested other influences to justify the palindromic structure of some of the words, Celtic origins, Arabic, German and pre-Roman... again different suggestions have been given to suit different interpretive theories. -

A - Ok but is it not possible to analyse these linguistic attestations and see if these words actually compare or not with some other texts? In this way we can easily understand which theories are based on a true thesis and which are not. -

T - Yes, for sure, but could you please tell me how you would like to conduct such an analysis? Where will you look? Will you go around all the libraries? I don't think you'll be able to find much -

A - Surely there must be a way to interpret it or to find a hidden meaning...
I'm confident because such perfect examples of style must have an amazing keystone...
In any case yes, I'll carry out a detailed search in all of the libraries even if I ultimately only find one page referring to it. -

Toretti chuckled and looked at the boy.

T - I don't want to ruin your optimism but there's a chance that your - keystone - has already been discovered, and there might be nothing else to research on it. I would suggest that you focus on something else for now... once you get back home you can concoct a more feasible plan and way to approach the research... from what I remember some hypotheses have already been made by scholars from Italy, France, Germany, England, America and elsewhere. All of them have found different ways to interpret it. Copies have been found spread across Europe and beyond, across different centuries and cultural substrates. From the mysterious example of Pompeii to those of the Ukraine and England... in France and Italy alone there are more than one hundred examples of the square! The main problem is to comprehensively cover such a long historical period! -

A - Well this means that there must be a lot of source material to search through at least! All those hypotheses you told me about surely have something in common... don't they? -

The professor seemed to be in doubt but then recalled something.

T - Actually yes, there are symbolic interpretations common to most of the theories. Honestly, I don't remember that much about them right now but back at home I should have some old notes and articles. I will find them for you. -
Simone Stazi