include ("util.php"); $page = "pillow"; $toc = array( "info" => array("Additional Info",0), "discussion" => array("Discussion Questions",0), "teaser" => array("Teaser for 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail'",0), ); writeTop(); ?> The DaVinci Code Discussion Guide
Below is a link to the Crisis Magazine, a Catholic publication, that has done a book review on the Da Vinci Code. They pretty much tear the book apart.
Below is a split image of the Mona Lisa and Da Vinci. Some believe the theory that Ms. Mona Lisa is really a self portrait of Mr. Da Vinci. I guess you can say it would be Da Vinci in drag?
In the late 19th century, the parish priest, named Berenger Sauniere, of a tiny mountain village in the south of France discovered four encrypted parchments while refurbishing an ancient dilapidated temple. Two of the parchments were said to contain geneologies. The other two contained codes insoluble without the requisite key. The parchments also utilized anagrams and other ciphers to hide their messages. In addition, scattered throughout the neighboring villages were other ciphered messages of similar content.
One favored subject of the codes was the painter Nicolas Poussin, creator of the famous tableau, "Les Bergers d'Arcadie" ("The Shepherds of Arcadia"). The treasurer for Louis XIV, Nicolas Fouqet, received the following letter from his brother, who was visiting Poussin.
"He and I discussed certain things, which I shall with ease be able to explain to you in detail -- things which will give you, through Monsieur Poussin, advantages which even kings would have great pains to draw from him, and which according to him, it is possible that nobody else will ever rediscover in the centuries to come. And what is more, these are things so difficult to discover that nothing now on this earth can prove of better fortune nor be their equal."
Immediately following the receipt of this letter, Louis XIV (who ruthlessly intercepted all incoming mail) imprisoned Fouqet and took great pains to acquire the tableau (Fouquet is a candidate for the man in the iron mask). Two and a half centuries later, the parish priest also made huge effots to acquire a reproduction of the painting.
"Whatever its artistic greatness, the painting would seem to be innocent enough. In the foreground three shepherds and a shepherdess are gathered about a large antique tomb contemplating the inscription in the weathered stone: 'ET IN ARCADIA EGO.' ['And in Arcadia I']"
Seemingly cryptic, the latin phrase mentioned above is also an anagram for another latin phrase, "I TEGO ARCANA DEI", which translates into "Begone! I conceal the secrets of God."
The parish priest acquired reproductions of two other paintings. One seems to have been a portrait by an unidentified artist of Pope Celestine V, who reigned briefly at the very end of the thirteenth century. The other was an unspecified work by David Teniers, who is also mentioned in the encoded manuscripts.
There's a lot more to this story... After finding the parchments, the small-town parish priest suddenly found himself in the company of the most well-known and powerful men and women of the time, including the Prince of Hapsburg and many others, and he was accorded special privileges by the Church in Rome.
Not only that, but bank records show that after the discovery he spent the equivalent of millions of dollars on bizarre, thoroughly un-Catholic projects. There are very few records explaining where the money came from. Upon his death, he left all his money to his maid (thought by many to be his lover) of 32 years. After WWII, given the choice of explaining where the money came from or losing all of it, she chose the latter. Although promising to many people to eventually reveal the secrets of her treasure, she died before she ever devulged them.
Which brings us to yet another favored subject of the parchments: treasure. Some believed that the treasure was made of gold; however, there is mounting proof that the treasure is actually information. The authors of the book posit that this information was so important to the world that the Catholic Church paid the priest these millions in order to keep him quiet. Perhaps the parchments really "conceal the secrets of God?"
The authors of the book go on to describe the Prieure de Sion, the secret organization charged with keeping the secrets discussed. This organization grew from the Knights Templar and touts headmasters such as Leanardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and many of the most accomplished men of their times.
There is no doubt that Dan Brown was intimately familiar with the stories of the parish priest, the Prieure de Sion, and the Knights Templar. I believe one of his later books is devoted entirely to the Knights Templar.
Do I dare say what the secret might be? Well, since it's mentioned on page 16 of the book, ok...
"The 'treasure' did not involve gold or precious stones. On the contrary, it consisted of 'incontrovertible proof' that the Crucifixtion was a fraud and that Jesus was alive as late as A.D. 45."