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About The Cover Image
Why I Chose This Cover Image. There is one immediate connection between (a) these two theater masks and (b) the ancient Sator Arepo inscription, namely that both are among the many treasures found in the ancient city buried in 79 CE by a massive (Plinian) eruption of nearby Mt. Vesuvius. Years ago, I borrowed this public domain image and smoothed out the plaster cracks for my Sator Enigma book cover, as seen on these web pages.
Two Pompeii Theater Masks. Click the image at right to read on a separate web page some good information provided by Columbia University
Great Parallel. Actually, in my translation of the Sator Rebus, I cut through centuries of inconclusive notions about the ancient inscription (it's a curse, it's meaningless, etc.) to arrive at a powerful and plausible conclusion that makes much sense. The Sator aphorism is still alive today, among other things, in the doctrines of sin and free will, although there was never any connection whatsoever between Christianity and the Sator Rebus. In fact, early Christians would have shunned it as a polytheistic artifact. Sator/Rotas is a practical and powerful philosophical statement as valid today as it was in ancient times. I offer it as my personal theory about the palindrome's meaning.
Dualism. Whatever the painter's intention, that fresco represents a DUALITY, just like the Sator Rebus. The fresco is found in Pompeii, in the House of the Golden Bracelet. To me, the painting seems to suggest a dualism representing the two natures of Persephone. That is an ancient Aegean (Hellenic, Greek, what have we) myth about the virgin daughter (Korē) of wheat goddess Demeter (near equivalent: Ceres in Latin).
The Persephone myth is a wonderful story in itself. It tells how Korē (virgin, maiden) was kidnapped while playing with fellow virgin girls including Artemis on a sunny meadow. Her mother roamed the earth on a long, desperate, melancholy search for her child. The name Demeter (similar to Roman Ceres; De- may be related to Latin Dis-, as in Dis Pater, Underworld Father, where dis (see note*) could suggest 'below;' Meter is Gk for Mother), during which the earth stopped bearing fruit and the skies grew somber, the sun god Helios revealed to Father God Theos (Zeus) that he witnessed Hades, the father god of the Underworld, kidnapping the Maiden. Hades took her down below into his dark realm and will not let her go, but makes her his wife. Theos intervenes, and manages to gain a compromise: The Virgin will be allowed to spend half of each year on the surface of the earth. The other half of the year, she will remain down below with Hades. As Queen of the Dead, she will be a terrifying persona known as Persephone, or 'She Whose Name We Dare Not Speak.'
In my view, the Sator Rebus is an ancient aphorism that teaches a powerful lesson about Fate. That lesson is as vital and important today as it was in ancient times. There are two kinds of Fate that govern our lives. I call them Sator Fate (which we cannot control) and Rotas Fate (by which each of us controls his or her life's direction). Read
Interpretations. According to the Columbia University website, "Two female theater masks. Roman fresco from the House of the Golden Bracelet (VI 17, 42) in Pompeii. 1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE. Theatrical masks were found decorating the walls of the living and dining room areas in the House of the Golden Bracelet in Pompeii. Symposia (drinking parties featuring poetry recitations and other entertainment) were often held in these rooms and thus the god Dionysos, god of wine but also of theater, had a prominent presence in the rooms' decorations." I have no dispute with any of that. The long-ago painter was commissioned by the wealthy owner of that house to decorate the walls with frescoes that would serve as an entertaining and meaningful backdrop for dinner parties and other events. On seeing the fresco for the first time, I was reminded of the Persephone story. The brighter foreground face reminded me of her Maiden persona, with spring flowers in her hair and vivid, living features, whereas the other image seemed more somber and unadorned, like her dual persona as Queen of Hades. Either view is possible, and not my primary concern in presenting my personal Sator theory.
*NOTE It may be a stretch to relate De- in Demeter to Dis- as in Dis Pater. However, a key element in ancient agricultural theory and calendrics involves a long, slow, very complex movement toward the key Neolithic religious theory I call the Miracle of the Grain. Namely, in the early Holocene at some point, as humans settled down to become farmers, their lives depended on the inexplicable and wondrous annual crop cycle. To wit, they would plant seeds from last year's harvest into the earth, typically during early spring or toward the spring equinox (as in April, from Latin aperire ('appear' possibly fused or elided with ire, 'go'), to open or to bud or to blossom). Half a year later (after let's say Apr/May/Jun/Jul/Aug/Sep) a full harvest would present itself. Today, in many parts of the world (e.g., Thanksgiving, Ger. Erntedank), that time of year and its crops are still celebrated. The traditions are deeply embedded in our modern lives, including for example why students have summer vacation: to help with the harvest on the farm, since most people until recently were agrarian. Lots more info where that came from/ separate article in work (soon).