Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Sator Square, Palindromes, and Fun with Words...


Palindromes are statements that can be read the same in each direction. English examples are:

Do Geese see God?

Never odd or even.

They can, of course, theoretically exist in any language. There is a famous known Palindrome from ancient Rome called the Sator Square. It's attested as early as 70AD in Pompeii and scattered throughout the Empire:



It reads in the square right, left, up, and down as:

SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS
THE SOWER AREPO HAS WORKS (IN) WHEELS

In my novel, Amor Vincit Omnia: an Andrew Valquist Adventure, the hero is a newly hired employee at the NSA (a matter on which I have some expertise). On his second day of orientation, however, he's whisked away to a mission in Romania where a knowledge of Latin is key to success. He then is put in charge of a team tasked with translating a Latin book which somehow cryptically holds a secret message about an upcoming attack. Just when they think they've figured everything out, an unexpected Latin palindrome emerges! Here's a hint. Amor (love) is a palindrome for Roma (Rome).












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