Literature Study GuidesThe Name Of The RoseFourth Day Nones Night Summary

The Name of the Rose | Study Guide

Umberto Eco

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The Name of the Rose | Fourth Day, Nones–Night | Summary



Fourth Day, Nones

The papal legation of inquisitors, led by Bernard Gui, arrives at the abbey. Gui is hostile to William of Baskerville because the latter gave up his role as inquisitor. Gui already knows about the murders in the abbey. The misinterpretation of words as signs revealing meaning or intent is evident in the frosty exchange between William and Gui when they first meet. When William says to Gui, "I do not have your experience of criminal deeds," Gui seems to interpret these words as compliments on his expertise in finding heretics. William is rather using the word "criminal" to refer to Gui's methods of interrogation and punishment.

William goes to examine the books left on Venantius's desk. Adso of Melk goes to the kitchen where he overhears Gui quizzing the servants with seemingly "innocuous questions" that are intended to elicit hints of heresy among the abbey's low-caste workers. Gui does not question any monks.

Fourth Day, Vespers

William speaks with Alinardo, who again insists that the murders are following the blowing of the trumpets as described in the Book of Revelation. Alinardo once wanted to be appointed librarian, but another monk got the post. Alinardo cannot remember the name of the monk he still resents so much.

William instructs Adso about how to use logic to solve mysteries. He describes the pitfalls one might encounter if one depends too much on logic alone. He uses the example of animal traits as unreliable information for determining how these traits help classify animals. Only when all evidence is connected can accurate conclusions be drawn.

Fourth Day, Compline

Adso comes across Salvatore hurrying out of the kitchen carrying a bundle. Salvatore tells Adso he has a black cat in the bundle, along with other arcane and rather repulsive objects he needs for a spell to get a woman to have sex with him. For the spell to work, Salvatore must have a girl from the village spit on the foul brew. Adso wonders if Salvatore is going to bring the village girl back to the abbey, but Salvatore refuses to say. Adso leaves Salvatore to his necromancy and goes to join William for another foray into the depths of the labyrinth.

Fourth Day, After Compline

In the library William and Adso use the writing over the room arches to refine the map they are creating of the labyrinth's rooms. As they examine books in different rooms, they realize each room seems devoted to books on the same topic. Then they analyze the red letters on the phrases above each room's arches. By putting the first red letters from a series of arches together, they realize the letters spell a word. They use other red-letter combinations to find the name and location of other rooms in the labyrinth. For example, the letters that spell out YSPANIA designate an area meaning Spain and containing Spanish books and art. Further analysis reveals that the rooms are located in towers corresponding to the four directions. So, YSPANIA is in the south tower because Spain is in southern Europe. After assembling red letters to locate rooms designated GERMANI, ANGLIA, AEGYPT, and so on, William discovers the designation LEONES, or lions, which is named after Africa. Upon further inspection, the LEONES tower seems to contain books by non-Christians, or infidels. William says, "This area called LEONES contains the books that the creators of the library considered books of falsehood." Adso and William discuss the nature of falsehoods and how they may or may not be false. They enter the room whose first red letter begins with "L" and do indeed find books by African authors.

Adso remarks that the finis Africae should be somewhere in this part of the library. William hurries back to the first "blind room," whose verse translates: "On their thrones sat the 24 elders" (Super thronos viginti quatuor), a quote from the Book of Revelation. The blind room should, like other blind rooms, lead to the central heptagonal (seven-sided) room. Instead, it seems this tower, which "should have had its heptagonal room ... [has] none." Yet it's the same size and shape as the other rooms, which leads William to conclude that "the [heptagonal] room exists, but cannot be reached." And that unreachable room must be the room called the finis Africae. Further analysis of Venantius's obscure message leads William and Adso to conclude that the finis Africae can be reached somehow through the room with the distorted mirror. Yet, they can't figure out how to open the mirror, which likely permits entry into the hidden room. William is philosophical about this failure, content to have found the location of the hidden room.

Adso has completed his map of the library labyrinth for all rooms except the finis Africae. He has used "the system of words" to complete a fairly detailed map of the labyrinth.

Before they leave the library, William stops in a room to read books of Arabic origin. Adso, meanwhile, finds a room with books dedicated to analyzing love, how if unrequited it can result in illness or even death. One book prescribes giving up hope of attaining "the beloved object," which makes Adso feel that maybe he is cured of his love for the village girl.

Fourth Day, Night

As William and Adso descend from the library and approach the kitchen, they hear a tumult outside that "heralded something unpleasant." They go out and see archers holding on to a terrified Salvatore. Other archers are tightly grasping a woman. Adso's "heart contract[s]" when he sees it's the village girl he's in love with. Abo and Bernard Gui approach the prisoners and are told by the archers that in making their rounds they found Salvatore with his bundle containing the black cat and other objects. Salvatore had been apprehended at the kitchen door, bundle in hand, with the village girl at his side. Gui cries out that he "knows such paraphernalia" as objects used in witchcraft. After reciting harrowing tales of supposed witchcraft involving these objects, especially black cats that are "no other than devils," Gui accuses Salvatore and the village girl of necromancy. Gui explains, "Now the case seems clear to me. A monk seduced a witch, and some ritual, which fortunately did not take place" was thwarted.

The two prisoners are dragged off to separate cells. Gui will question Salvatore first because the village girl will quickly be burned as a witch as her guilt is not in question. The girl cries out in her vernacular language, but no one understands what she's saying. Adso is extremely upset, but William restrains him from trying to help her, saying "The girl is lost; she is burnt flesh." Ubertino approaches Adso and notices him intently watching the girl. Adso says, "Perhaps she is innocent," but Ubertino replies, "If you look at her and feel desire, that alone makes her a witch."

William speaks with Michael of Cesena, warning him that Gui will use this incident to condemn the Minorites. Gui will torture a confession, whether true or false, from Salvatore and "will keep it in reserve; it will be of use [to him] later" during the meeting.


Language and words are presented as containing signs that may or may not yield meaning. Speaking in a language unknown to others may have lethal consequences. The village girl yells in her vernacular language as she's dragged away by the inquisitors, but no one understands what she's saying, so she is ignored.

William's instructions to Adso about logic and reason teach skepticism in interpreting signs. Facts or signs are disparate and ambiguous. They remain unenlightening until something happens to connect them and reveal a comprehensible result. So, for now, William has only several hypotheses about the murders, none of which can be proven until the signs, or clues, are connected.

William wants to go beyond the signs to "discover things in their individual truth," or essence. Adso wants to know if knowledge is always limited to "something that speaks ... of something else" and if the truth really exists. William has enough experience interpreting signs to say only, "Perhaps it does," but he cannot say for sure. William posits that the finis Africae they're seeking may hold a book that actually reveals the truth.

William and Adso's experiences in the library are an exercise in finding and correctly interpreting signs and their meanings. Signs that were incomprehensible before are analyzed again and become clearer. The symbol of the labyrinth as the repository of forbidden, secret knowledge is beginning to unravel. William correctly interprets the tower LEONES (lion) as the one containing African works. By interpreting Venantius's cryptic message and applying it to this tower, William determines that the finis Africae, the hidden room, must be in the LEONES room containing the mirror. Yet, even with this knowledge, William is unable to use the clues in Venantius's message to figure out how to open the mirror to access the finis Africae.

It becomes clear that Salvatore engages in heretical practices. When he is captured and the contents of his bundle are revealed, it is Gui who emphatically defends the reality, even the truth, of witchcraft. Unlike William who seeks ultimate knowledge and truth, Gui seems to believe in superstition as much as Salvatore does. Gui expounds on the supposed truth that the objects in Salvatore's bundle are embodiments of the Devil. Unlike William, Gui's interpretation of signs is superficial, lacking knowledge, insight, or wisdom. Yet, he is the inquisitor who judges others' beliefs.

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