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Arepo Sator | The Rotas Square Meaning

The Mystery Lingers

Sator Square

The ancient city of Pompeii has reserved more than one surprise for scientists. In 1926, for example, a mysterious epigraph was discovered in the home of Paquius Proculus. In addition, the same strange inscription is found on one of the columns of the city's large gymnasium. These five words form a palindrome square - that is, you can read the text either from left to right or from right to left, but also from top to bottom and vice versa - resulting in a combination of terms that greatly surprise, and not only for the originality of its layout. “ROTAS OPERA TENET AREPO SATOR“. The text of this message has still not been deciphered for the simple reason that the word “arepo” does not appear in the Latin vocabulary, or in that of any other known language of the time.

Dating elements

Who may have engraved this message, and when exactly? The only element that allows us to locate ourselves in time is the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD which sows death in Pompeii. A cloud of ash and dust then covers the city and its inhabitants, forever freezing certain moments of daily life. We deduce that what everyone now calls the Rotas Square or the Sator Square probably dates from the 1st century AD.

The original text

The inscription is relatively widespread in a good part of the Roman Empire. This suggests that it is a kind of code and a secret message that only the early Christians knew how to interpret. Some specialists believe that under the guise of a simple pun, there is actually a secret for initiates: Christians, for example, who at that time had difficult relations with the Romans.

But the Sator Square echoes a much larger universe than we imagine. Archaeologists have found it on several occasions, in Mesopotamia as in Europe; at the Cirencester site, for example, in the county of Gloucester, in Great Britain. Its influence is just as vast in terms of time: it is found repeatedly in Egypt in the 4th and 5th centuries, but also in the cave paintings of Cappadocia from the 9th century.

In the Middle Ages, the formula seems to have been used in magic rites and to protect those who ventured into the universe of the supernatural. Likewise, it is found in a large number of Gothic cathedrals and where the influence of the Templars is felt.

The mystery of its translation

Specialists and enthusiasts have long considered its meaning. Some see it as a first testimony of the Pater, the most important of the Christian prayers, and consider that the Sator Square is irrefutable proof of the presence of the first Christians in Pompeii.

Another hypothesis tries to deepen the question by proposing a numerical reading of the Sator Square. By replacing and rotating letters and words, according to a system based on historical and religious considerations, one would end up with a surprising revelation. The first Christians would therefore have written a secret there, to give themselves the courage to resist the persecutions to which they were subjected. The inscription would indeed reveal the secret location of the Ark of the Covenant, at the foot of the pyramids it seems. However, if that were the case, the solution to this enigma would coincide with the beginning of another mystery, no less great ...