November 26, 2004

Casaubon, call your office

The more I read of this story, about a new effort to find the Holy Grail, the more difficult it was to take it seriously:

For 250 years the code, found on the Shepherds' Monument at Shugborough Hall, has mystified visitors, including Charles Darwin.

The monument includes a marble relief of Nicholas Poussin's 17th century painting Les Bergers d'Arcadie II, though the image is reversed. In the picture a woman is pointing at the inscription "Et in Arcadia Ego!"

Beneath it on the monument, commissioned by a member of the Anson family in the mid 18th century, are the letters: "O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V" flanked on one side by a D and on the other an M.

Where does the Holy Grail fit in? For a start, the Anson family reputedly had connections with the Prieure de Sion, a secret society which had its origins in the Knights Templar, the legendary keepers of the grail.

The choice of the Poussin picture could also be significant - he was said to be a member of the Prieure de Sion - while the fact that the image was reversed may also be important because members of the society were keen on inventing codes which involved mirror writing.

Posted by Ideofact at November 26, 2004 12:58 AM

Any trail involving the Priory of Sion is going to lead nowhere. At least they didn't get Eric von Daniken involved. My guess is that those are the initial letters of a line of Latin verse. Get a computer to run through the entire corpus of Latin poetry and you might come up with something. I suspect it will have nothing at all to do with the Holy Grail, buried treaure or L. Ron Hubbard.

Posted by: J.Cassian at November 26, 2004 09:12 AM