The magic square of satori is the most famous palindrome structure that has attracted scholars for centuries because of its undeniable charm. This is essentially a sentence in Latin (SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS) that can be read both ways, as there are many others. Its unique feature, however, is that, being made up of five words of five letters each, you can enter the same phrase in a square of 5 x 5 boxes in which the sentence can be viewed in four possible directions.
Initially it was believed that the painting was medieval invention, because all the discoveries made so far were not dating before the ninth century. But in 1868 an archaeological excavation in the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Corinium (today Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England) revealed the curious inscription on the plaster of a house dating from the third century. A.D.. In this fragment, now at the archaeological museum of the same city, the square appears in his mirror version, which begins with the word ROTAS .
We began to spread the belief that it was an approach taken by the early Christians, whose religion was still opposed and prohibited by the Romans, to adore the Cross in disguised form: the two words of Tenet, in fact, draw the center of a square perfect cross, centered on one letter N. The hypothesis was strengthened when Felix Grossner, evangelical pastor of Chemnitz, discovered after several tests that the 25 letters of the square could be arranged to form words Paternoster folded and placed between the letters A and O, corresponding, in this interpretation, the greek alphabet letters Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of all things.
To further strengthen the Christian thesis contributed a further discovery, in the Syrian city of Dura-Europos on the Euphrates, the ancient Roman colony (300-256 BC). In it were found four copies of the Magic Square, all in the mirror version, dating from around 200-220 of the Christian time.
There are, however, opponents to this view. Most of the criticisms of this interpretation came from the fact that, however, did not explain anything about the literal meaning of the square. The main problem was to explain the word AREPO, no-existent in Latin vocabulary, and many critics refused to accept as a given name (Arepo,-onis, Arepone). This obstacle was soon overcome: that was discovered in ancient Gaul, at the time of Roman rule, a measure of surface semiiugerum was called, in Latin, and arepennis in Celtic. In particular the latter word derived from the Celtic àrepos, meaning “plow.” It seems plausible, then, that this term was then transliterated in Latin arepus to indicate precisely the beloved farm. The literal meaning of the phrase, now assumed a logical sense: “The sower, with the wagon, take care with the wheels.”
Each hypothesis in this regard, however, declined in 1925 when excavations affecting the remains of the ancient city of Pompei, buried by ash eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, revealed the plaster of the house of the Fifth Paquito Proculo ‘ form (although mutilated) of the magic square. Eleven years later, in 1936, it was found another, this time complete, the median groove of a column in the portico of the Great West Gym .
This discovery is still the oldest to have been undertaken, and therefore the Sator Square was also called “Latercolo Pompeiano. That discovery ended the Christian theory, if, in fact, one could still assume the presence of a primitive Christian colony at Pompei illegal in those years was to fall the way of interpreting the Grossner. In fact, A and O remained on the sides of the cross could only refer to the point of the Apocalypse where St. John wrote: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, who is, has been and will be. ” But the spread of the Apocalypse in central Italy was, according to reliable studies, around the years 120-150 AD, and was therefore impossible that this concept was already present before 79 AD.
In fact, the question remains open. Many scholars, researchers, puzzles or just curious tormenting still trying to give a new interpretation to the square. Some of these interpretations I will in a separate section. Finally, however, the history of the Square, we must mention the latest discovery, in order of time in 1978 in Britain, in Manchester. A fragment of an amphora unearthed during archaeological excavations show, in fact, the five words of the magic square arranged from the word ROTAS (mirror version of the square, Fig. 3). The find is dated around 185 AD, and an explanatory plaque in the museum where it is exposed informs us that this is the earliest attestation of the Christian presence in Britain, despite the thesis Grossner was however refuted.