Literature Study GuidesThe Name Of The RoseThird Day From Lauds To Prime Nones Summary

The Name of the Rose | Study Guide

Umberto Eco

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The Name of the Rose | Third Day, From Lauds to Prime–Nones | Summary

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Summary

Third Day, From Lauds to Prime

Berengar seems to be missing and a white, bloodstained cloth is found in his cell. Some monks are sent to search around the foot of the cliffs and around the abbey walls, but they find nothing.

William of Baskerville goes to see Nicholas the glazier, presumably to have a new pair of eyeglasses made. Adso falls asleep in the church.

Third Day, Terce

Adso remembers that Benno had said he'd "be prepared to sin in order to procure a rare book," but Adso thinks Benno lacks humility and should not sin to satisfy his own curiosity. Adso looks through the titles listed in the library catalog. He decides that it makes sense the crimes in the abbey should involve the library because its "prohibitions ... [make them want to] violate all its secrets." This, Adso thinks, is intellectual pride. But then he realizes that the abbey trades in the knowledge contained in its library texts, thus the library is key to the abbey's wealth and prestige. Adso considers that opening the library to the wider public would likely sully its quality and reputation, leaving each book subject to the "yes and no" (sic et non) of each reader. Adso wonders if the library is sullied even by allowing the monks access to its collection.

Adso admires the skill and dedication of each of the monks working in the scriptorium. He really cannot come to any conclusion about whether or not the library's books should be kept secret or accessible to all who seek knowledge.

Third Day, Sext

At breakfast, Salvatore tells Adso about his life. He grew up destitute and half-starved on a farm that frequently produced a sextary (a pint) of grain for each bushel planted. Some "very wicked men" (homeni malissimi) in his village even dug up and ate human corpses. Adso realizes that Salvatore would be categorized by William as "simple," meaning an ordinary, unlearned person, though not a fool. Salvatore had suffered so much, "he yearned for a different world." He pursued this new world by traveling throughout Europe, living by begging or stealing, and sometimes taking odd jobs as a temporary laborer. In his travels he lived among a whole host of unsavory types, including charlatans and heretics. The pope fears the so-called heretical sects that preach poverty and attract large followings of poor people. The pope and other clergy view such orders as populated by "outcasts and robbers" rather than by hopeless poor people looking for a better life. Adso realizes he cannot distinguish between true hermits of God who preach poverty and heretics whose preaching was truly unchristian, for example, encouraging violence and theft.

Salvatore describes how he became attracted to Franciscan sects because they understood the lives of the poor and taught that poverty could be a "joyous act of dedication." He sometimes joined penitential sects and some whose teachings were highly questionable. In Italy, he had joined a convent of Minorites and at one time ended up with "a band of Fraticelli ... without any law or discipline."

Finally, Salvatore ended up in Casale, where he met Remigio of Varagine. He became the cellarer's assistant and followed him when Remigio sought refuge in the abbey. Adso thinks about how a crowd of destitute people can so easily "mistake the laws of the Devil for those of the Lord." But he thinks it quite different when an individual deliberately commits a sin or crime. Adso wants to know more about Fra Dolcino, but when he questions Salvatore about him, the monk hurries away.

Third Day, Nones

Adso finds William at the glazier's, where he's having new eyeglasses made. William tells Adso why so many people are attracted to so-called heretical orders. He tries to help Adso understand differences and the "accidents" that lead to these differences. Accidental differences seem to be superficial, such as the relatively minor differences between supposedly heretical sects. However, explaining and differentiating orders is difficult even for William. He says that the Church is like a huge river that became too rich or too polluted by power. Streams and rivulets that branch off from the river are like the many so-called heretical sects that branch off from the Church, which "has lost its purity." Each sect is somewhat different but all are somehow connected to the main river.

William explains heresy and Fra Dolcino in terms of social ills and injustice. He understands that it is the simple and impoverished who are attracted to the so-called heretical orders because these sects give them hope and a modicum of self-respect. The sects may be somewhat unorthodox, but they're a haven for simple people despised by the Church. The "little people," or the simple, are easy prey for sectarians who may preach violence, looting, and the destruction of the Church and clergy. These little people are like lepers who are hated and feared by nearly everyone and so are always outcasts. The lepers are so angered and hurt by their outcast status they "would like to drag everything down in their ruin." The Church accepted those unorthodox sects that helped add to its wealth and power. But the Church almost always transformed these sects to serve its own greed. Those sects that could or would not promote the Church's ambitions were persecuted or destroyed.

The conversation turns to the obscure message Venantius left on the page. The message relates to "the secret of the finis Africae," and William deciphers it using his knowledge of the zodiac, the planets, and the code for the Latin alphabet. What William must do now is figure out what the obscure decoded message means. Only after getting a new pair of eyeglasses does William manage to translate a key line in Venantius's parchment: "For the secret of the end of Africa, place the hands over the idol on the first and seventh of the four" (Secretum finis Africae manus ... septimum de quatuor).

Analysis

Power is portrayed as the Church's primary aim. The Church cannot be bothered distinguishing one offshoot sect from another because all are seen as heretical threats to its power and wealth. Those few orders that are embraced by the Church are transformed by it into a source of wealth production. The Church will accept only sects that it can mutate and control.

The issue of heresy is expanded when William correlates it with poverty and social injustice. William distinguishes sects that embrace poverty from those that use violence to foment chaos. But the Church refuses to make such distinctions, seeing heresy everywhere and in all sects. William knows that orders embracing poverty are magnets for the desperately poor who are attracted to any teaching that promises them a better life and some self-respect. That's why the simple and the outcasts flock to them. But the Church cannot or will not see the signs that distinguish one sect that embraces poverty from another. It sees all as mortal threats to its power and wealth. Neither the Church nor its inquisitors care to decipher the signs that differentiate one sect from another.

When Adso asks "where the truth is," William explains that finding truth often depends on one's perspective. He elaborates when he describes how he "perceives the connections" among signs, each of which may signal only another sign. The best William can do is determine from the signs what the facts are and then try to connect them to find meaning. William has deciphered some signs on Venantius's page, but they are ambiguous and confusing, and he is unable to determine their meaning.

Adso thinks the abbey's library is "a living thing ... [so] why should it not be opened to the risk of knowledge?" But the abbey views knowledge as a commodity, and if it maintains its monopoly on that commodity, it's sure to enhance its wealth. William's pursuit of knowledge is, perhaps, even more dangerous to the Church, for he is adept in science and philosophy. Scientific knowledge gained independently undermines the Church's imposed world order and is considered sinful or heretical.

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