Literature Study GuidesThe Name Of The RoseSixth Day Sext After Compline Summary

The Name of the Rose | Study Guide

Umberto Eco

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The Name of the Rose | Sixth Day, Sext–After Compline | Summary



Sixth Day, Sext

William of Baskerville returns to the scriptorium and finds in the catalog the book he's been looking for—one with a single entry and four titles, in Arabic, Syriac, and Latin. Before he examines the book's titles, William asks Adso to figure out the succession of abbots in the abbey, including the dates each served as librarian and then abbot. William uses the catalog's dates of acquisition for each title and the similarities in handwriting to figure out the dates each librarian (who later became an abbot) served as librarian. He finds a period of 10 years in which no one is listed as librarian. The missing decade does not provide immediate clues or useful information, but William will hold on to this fact and apply it later.

William talks with Benno and learns that Adelmo, Berengar, and other monks had been discussing the Scripture parody (Coena Cypriani) in relation to the finis Africae. For some reason, this earlier conversation infuriated both Malachi and the abbot. Benno then tells William he's afraid he's going to be murdered. He thinks the murders have been carried out by conspiring Italian monks, as an Italian had almost always been head librarian. When asked, Benno assures William he "touched [the secret book] ... but without opening it." He recalls that the catalog records the secret book with the abbreviations ar (for Arabic) and syr (for Syriac), which matches the titles in the book William has just found. Benno says he had trouble with the book because its pages were "strange ... like cloth but very fine" (charta lintea, or linen cloth). Such cloth-based paper is usually from Arabia, but it is also made in one city in Italy. William thinks he has another clue. He goes to speak to the abbot.

Sixth Day, Nones

Abo is in his apartment. He shows William his learning by describing the mathematical and scientific bases for the design of the abbey. The abbot turns a "stern face" to William when he's asked about "the latest events" at the abbey. William suggests that "these crimes ... originate in the remote history of the abbey." William tries to get the Abo to explain this dark history, but the abbot becomes flustered and angry. William explains that as far as he knows, "everything turns on the theft and possession of a book, which was concealed in the finis Africae." The abbot asks William how he knows about this hidden room, but William deftly sidesteps the question. William instead persists and says that all those who knew the library's secrets are now dead. He states emphatically: "Only one person remains: yourself." The abbot is outraged, but William points out the abbot may be the next victim. Abo deflects William's line of questioning by showing off the ring that signifies his authority. He enumerates the beauty and meaning of each gem in the ring. An exasperated William finally implores the abbot to name another monk who is privy to the forbidden book, but again the abbot deflects. Instead of answering, Abo explains why he thinks William's investigation is over. He expels William and Adso from the abbey as of the following morning.

William leaves and decides the abbot most likely knows something but does not want to divulge because it will hurt the abbey's reputation, and perhaps his own as well. But William will not be deterred, saying, "By tomorrow morning I must know. I must." William will work all night if necessary to solve the mystery. But first, he and Adso must find a way to get into the finis Africae. Based on the Apocalypse sign about the next trumpet, they will try to find a way to access the horse stables.

Sixth Day, Between Vespers and Compline

William rests in his room before his investigation. Adso enters the church for the vespers service but notes that Jorge is missing. Abo, too, notices this and seems nervous. The abbot wants Benno to look for Jorge but learns that Benno is also missing. Alinardo also isn't there. The abbot is agitated and cries out for someone to find Jorge. A monk leaves and returns with Benno, who says Jorge is nowhere to be found. Adso is worried and wakes William, who asks Nicholas where Jorge might be. Nicholas reports that earlier he'd seen Jorge waiting for a private conference with the abbot. Everyone goes to dinner, but Jorge and Alinardo are still missing.

There is great anxiety among the monks and especially the abbot: "All understood that a new calamity was about to befall the community." As soon as the meal is over, the abbot commands all the monks to retire and not leave their cells that night. As William and Adso leave the dining hall, they see the abbot entering the Aedificium.

Sixth Day, After Compline

William and Adso rush to the stables. Adso's offhand Latin comment about horses has revealed to William how to open the library's mirror door to enter the finis Africae. William spreads out the page from Venantius and again reads "the first and seventh of the four" (primum et septimum de quatuor) and correlates these words with the writing above the mirror: "On their thrones sat the twenty-four elders" (Super thronos viginti quatuor). William has found the clue—the message refers to letters in a word.

The pair is moving through the underground tunnel when they hear sounds coming from behind a part of the tunnel wall marked with a plaque. The sound gets louder and more violent as William and Adso enter the kitchen. William realizes someone is trapped inside a secret tunnel. He must think fast because whoever is trapped may soon run out of air. William and Adso climb to the scriptorium and find the room with the mirror. They study the carved words above the mirror and immediately understand that if they press the letters q and r in the word quatuor, then the mirror-door will open. William presses the q and hears the "sharp click" of a mechanism being released. He presses the r, and "the whole frame of the mirror seems to shudder, and the glass surface snaps back." The mirror-door creaks open, and the two men finally enter the finis Africae.


William is certain Abo has knowledge of the secret book and that this knowledge endangers his life. But the abbey's wealth concerns the abbot far more than his own personal danger. William tries to elicit information from the abbot, who uses signs as a means to deflect William's questioning. Abo describes the mathematical and scientific signs that were used to design the beautiful abbey buildings. Each of the gems in the abbot's ring is a symbol of his. They also exemplify the wealth of the abbey and the unquestioned authority of the Church. Abo demands that William and Adso leave first thing in next morning, giving them no time, the abbot believes, for further investigations. Abo would rather the multiple murders go unsolved, with the murderer still at large, than risk solving the crimes and having the light of scandal shine on his abbey and himself.

William's insightful analysis of signs leads him and Adso into the finis Africae, the hidden room. William's breakthrough comes via a reinterpretation of the complexities of Latin, a language in which words can often be interpreted in different ways to mean different things. When William fully comprehends this, he is able to determine which letters he needs to press over the mirror-door in order to enter the finis Africae. The secret of the finis Africae is thus attainable for William and Adso, and they breach the hidden room in the labyrinth. Once inside, they will be privy to the forbidden knowledge contained in its books.

Knowledge represents a danger for both William and Abo. William is in danger because he knows of the existence of the secret book. The abbot is in danger because, supposedly, he is the only member of the abbey who also knows about the secret book. The symbol of the secret book as a repository of forbidden knowledge propels the action and deepens the sinister tension among everyone in the abbey. William regards the fact that the secret book is made of linen cloth as a "beautiful and interesting revelation," but what it signifies to William remains unclear.

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