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Home > The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon #2)(11)

The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon #2)(11)
Author: Dan Brown

Langdon looked again at the digits, sensing it would take him hours to extract any symbolic meaning. If Sauniere had even intended any.To Langdon, the numbers looked totally random. He was accustomed to symbolic progressions that made some semblance of sense, but everything here - the pentacle, the text, the numbers - seemed disparate at the most fundamental level.

"You alleged earlier," Fache said," that Sauniere's actions here were all in an effort to send some sort of message... goddess worship or something in that vein? How does this message fit in?"

Langdon knew the question was rhetorical. This bizarre communique obviously did not fit Langdon's scenario of goddess worship at all.

O, Draconian devil? Oh, lame saint?

Fache said, "This text appears to be an accusation of some sort. Wouldn't you agree?"

Langdon tried to imagine the curator's final minutes trapped alone in the Grand Gallery, knowing he was about to die. It seemed logical. "An accusation against his murderer makes sense, I suppose."

"My job, of course, is to put a name to that person. Let me ask you this, Mr. Langdon. To your eye, beyond the numbers, what about this message is most strange?"

Most strange? A dying man had barricaded himself in the gallery, drawn a pentacle on himself, and scrawled a mysterious accusation on the floor. What about the scenario wasn't strange?

"The word 'Draconian'?" he ventured, offering the first thing that came to mind. Langdon was fairly certain that a reference to Draco - the ruthless seventh-century B. C. politician - was an unlikely dying thought. " 'Draconian devil' seems an odd choice of vocabulary."

"Draconian?" Fache's tone came with a tinge of impatience now. "Sauniere's choice of vocabulary hardly seems the primary issue here."

Langdon wasn't sure what issue Fache had in mind, but he was starting to suspect that Draco and Fache would have gotten along well.

"Sauniere was a Frenchman," Fache said flatly. "He lived in Paris. And yet he chose to write this message..."

"In English," Langdon said, now realizing the captain's meaning. Fache nodded. "Precisement.Any idea why?" Langdon knew Sauniere spoke impeccable English, and yet the reason he had chosen English as the language in which to write his final words escaped Langdon. He shrugged.

Fache motioned back to the pentacle on Sauniere's abdomen. "Nothing to do with devil worship? Are you still certain?"

Langdon was certain of nothing anymore. "The symbology and text don't seem to coincide. I'm sorry I can't be of more help."

"Perhaps this will clarify." Fache backed away from the body and raised the black light again, letting the beam spread out in a wider angle. "And now?"

To Langdon's amazement, a rudimentary circle glowed around the curator's body. Sauniere had apparently lay down and swung the pen around himself in several long arcs, essentially inscribing himself inside a circle.

In a flash, the meaning became clear.

"The Vitruvian Man,"Langdon gasped. Sauniere had created a life-sized replica of Leonardo Da Vinci's most famous sketch.

Considered the most anatomically correct drawing of its day, Da Vinci's The Vitruvian Man had become a modern-day icon of culture, appearing on posters, mouse pads, and T-shirts around the world. The celebrated sketch consisted of a perfect circle in which was inscribed a nude male... his arms and legs outstretched in a naked spread eagle.

Da Vinci.Langdon felt a shiver of amazement. The clarity of Sauniere's intentions could not be denied. In his final moments of life, the curator had stripped off his clothing and arranged his body in a clear image of Leonardo Da Vinci's VitruvianMan.

The circle had been the missing critical element. A feminine symbol of protection, the circle around the naked man's body completed Da Vinci's intended message - male and female harmony. The question now, though, was why Sauniere would imitate a famous drawing.

"Mr. Langdon," Fache said," certainly a man like yourself is aware that Leonardo Da Vinci had a tendency toward the darker arts."

Langdon was surprised by Fache's knowledge of Da Vinci, and it certainly went a long way toward explaining the captain's suspicions about devil worship. Da Vinci had always been an awkward subject for historians, especially in the Christian tradition. Despite the visionary's genius, he was a flamboyant homosexual and worshipper of Nature's divine order, both of which placed him in a perpetual state of sin against God. Moreover, the artist's eerie eccentricities projected an admittedly demonic aura: Da Vinci exhumed corpses to study human anatomy; he kept mysterious journals in illegible reverse handwriting; he believed he possessed the alchemic power to turn lead into gold and even cheat God by creating an elixir to postpone death; and his inventions included horrific, never-before-imagined weapons of war and torture.

Misunderstanding breeds distrust, Langdon thought.

Even Da Vinci's enormous output of breathtaking Christian art only furthered the artist's reputation for spiritual hypocrisy. Accepting hundreds of lucrative Vatican commissions, Da Vinci painted Christian themes not as an expression of his own beliefs but rather as a commercial venture - a means of funding a lavish lifestyle. Unfortunately, Da Vinci was a prankster who often amused himself by quietly gnawing at the hand that fed him. He incorporated in many of his Christian paintings hidden symbolism that was anything but Christian - tributes to his own beliefs and a subtle thumbing of his nose at the Church. Langdon had even given a lecture once at the National Gallery in London entitled:" The Secret Life of Leonardo: Pagan Symbolism in Christian Art."

"I understand your concerns," Langdon now said, "but Da Vinci never really practiced any dark arts. He was an exceptionally spiritual man, albeit one in constant conflict with the Church." As Langdon said this, an odd thought popped into his mind. He glanced down at the message on the floor again. O, Draconian devil! Oh, lame saint!

"Yes?" Fache said.

Langdon weighed his words carefully. "I was just thinking that Sauniere shared a lot of spiritual ideologies with Da Vinci, including a concern over the Church's elimination of the sacred feminine from modern religion. Maybe, by imitating a famous Da Vinci drawing, Sauniere was simply echoing some of their shared frustrations with the modern Church's demonization of the goddess."

Fache's eyes hardened. "You think Sauniere is calling the Church a lame saint and a Draconian devil?"

Langdon had to admit it seemed far-fetched, and yet the pentacle seemed to endorse the idea on some level. "All I am saying is that Mr. Sauniere dedicated his life to studying the history of the goddess, and nothing has done more to erase that history than the Catholic Church. It seems reasonable that Sauniere might have chosen to express his disappointment in his final good-bye."

"Disappointment?" Fache demanded, sounding hostile now. "This message sounds more enragedthan disappointed, wouldn't you say?"

Langdon was reaching the end of his patience. "Captain, you asked for my instincts as to what Sauniere is trying to say here, and that's what I'm giving you."

"That this is an indictment of the Church?" Fache's jaw tightened as he spoke through clenched teeth. "Mr. Langdon, I have seen a lot of death in my work, and let me tell you something. When a man is murdered by another man, I do not believe his final thoughts are to write an obscure spiritual statement that no one will understand. I believe he is thinking of one thing only." Fache's whispery voice sliced the air. "La vengeance.I believe Sauniere wrote this note to tell us who killed him." Langdon stared. "But that makes no sense whatsoever." "No?" "No," he fired back, tired and frustrated. "You told me Sauniere was attacked in his office by someone he had apparently invited in."

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