Rounded Rectangle: FACT BEHIND FICTION
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A section from

‘A Jedi shall not know hatred, nor fear… nor love.’ from Star Wars Episode II










Angels & Demons is set in the backdrop of conflict between religion and science, specifically between the Vatican and the Brotherhood of the Illuminati. Just like ‘The Da Vinci Code’ centered around the works of Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci and his role in the secret society – The Priory of Sion, Angels and Demons focuses on the scientific works of Galileo Galilee and his role in the Brotherhood of the Illuminati.


The Protagonist


Dan Brown intended that we get to know his protagonist through this story, but the majority of us were introduced to him through ‘The Da Vinci Code’. Robert Langdon – middle-aged professor of Religious Iconology at Harvard University is a suitable hero with a few quirks of his own to make him believable – claustrophobic, always sporting a Mickey Mouse watch and an art and architecture enthusiast; intrepid (more often than not) nevertheless, and an ace swimmer and aptly nicknamed ‘dolphin’ by his friends.


Langdon is recruited by both the opposing forces in the story – CERN (representing the bastion of science) and the Vatican (representing religion) to avert a disaster that is being played out in Vatican City on the eve of the Conclave (election of the new Pope)


Religion versus Science


The genesis of the duel between the Vatican and the Illuminati is explained through the course of the novel by Langdon.


Rome, 1500 CE. Learned professionals (physicists, astronomers, mathematicians etc.) began to take a stand against the Church’s position on truth by meeting in secret and voicing their concerns among fellow scholars. They adopted the name – the Illuminati or the learned ones, but even as a young organisation they were persecuted by the church. The Illuminati’s immediate reaction was to respond in kind with acts of violence but they were dissuaded by the scientist Galileo Galilee.


Galileo was a devout catholic scientist, and at the very least saw common ground between religion and science. But his theory that the earth revolved around the sun rather than the other way as proposed by the church drew that wrath of the clergy. Galileo was arrested and subsequently four Illuminati members were captured, tortured, branded with crosses and killed when the refused to give up the rest of the group. Eventually the Illuminati were pushed deeper underground.


Re-emergence of the Illuminati


Operating under the radar, the Illuminati rubbed shoulders with other groups of people that were escaping persecution at the hands of the Church. The Illuminati evolved into a new type of organisation over the centuries, gaining wealth and influence, and ultimately emerging as a single-most potent threat to the Church.

Though the Illuminati had evolved, they never forgot the persecution of the four scientists at the hands of the Church, and they swore vengeance. Their means of operating had changed suddenly, and instead of using power and influence behind the scenes to be effective the Illuminati seem to have resorted to terrorism and assassination


The Illuminati Plot


The Illuminati steal ‘Anti-matter’ from CERN and murder one of CERN’s most brilliant minds – Theo-physicist Leonardo Vetra. Leonardo Vetra’s motives are similar to Galileo’s. Vetra himself is a priest and a scientist and his life’s work focuses on reconciling science with religion. This acceptance of religion makes him a target of the Illuminati.


The stolen ‘Anti-matter’ is placed deep inside the Vatican, where is slowly counts down to a ‘detonation’ that will flatten the entire city and its occupants – the cardinals at the Conclave.


Additionally, the four most popular contenders for the position of the new Pope are kidnapped. The Illuminati informs the Vatican of the ‘Anti-matter’ and the kidnapped cardinals who are to be executed on the hour every hour before the detonation of the ‘Anti-matter’.


The Mission


Robert Langdon teams up with scientist Vittoria Vetra, the daughter of murdered scientist Leonardo Vetra. They plan to apprehend the Illuminati assassin at the very place he promised to kill the first cardinal, and extract information on the location of the Antimatter. Langdon’s theory, as supported by clues given by the assassin during a telephone call, assumes that the cardinals will be murdered at the altars of science. The altars of science are famous locations in Rome which contain clues finally leading up to the Illuminati lair.


The clues are laid out by Illuminatus, starting with Galileo, the motive behind the exercise at the time being to lead only the most finely tuned scientific minds to the Illuminati lair. Conversely it aimed to keep the lair hidden from everyone un-scientific, specifically the Church, and thus keep the lair location a closely guarded secret.


The Clue at the First Altar of Science


Langdon and Vetra uncover the first clue in the Vatican archives in Galileo’s Diagramma Della Verita. Diagramma is written in English which was considered the pure language because the clergy never used it, and thus gave the Illuminati the best chances of keeping their work hidden. The first clue is a poem written by suspected Illuminatus John Milton along the pages of the Diagramma.


From Santi’s earthly tomb with Demon’s hole,

‘Cross Rome the mystic elements unfold.

The path of light is laid, the sacred test,

Let angels guide you on your lofty quest.




An ambigram is a word or design which looks the same when turned over. An early edition of the book featured the cover design as an ambigram, with the title designed to read ‘Angels & Demons’ even upside-down.


Inside the book the Illuminati use ambigrams for their name and the four elements as known to renaissance scientists – namely earth, air, fire and water.


The Illuminati ambigram logo was anonymously created by an Illuminatus out of respect for Galileo’s fondness of symmetry. This logo was kept under wraps destined to be revealed to the world only when the Illuminati were powerful enough to carry out their final plans.





The secret society that is the Brotherhood of the Illuminati as Dan Brown wants us to understand it is explained in bits and pieces throughout the book by Robert Langdon.


Langdon traces the origins of the Illuminati to Rome in the 1500s when a group of scientists decide to fight back in the age old battle of religion versus science, which religion seemed to dominate. The group of scientists feared the Church’s monopoly on ‘truth’, and decided that the first step to fight back was to organize. They called themselves the ‘enlightened ones’ or the Illuminati. The Illuminati feared that superstitious dogma as put forth by the Church was a threat to mankind, and would lead to a dark ignorant future.


The Illuminati remained at odds with the Church and were relentlessly hunted down and persecuted, which drove them further underground. Consequently they gained notoriety which attracted brilliant minds from all over the European continent. Their headquarters were established right under the Church’s nose in Rome itself, and the strategy of ‘hiding in plain sight’ became policy for the Illuminati. Their secret base was called the Church of Illumination.


As their numbers grew their views varied and some members wanted to respond to the Church’s violence in kind. They were convinced otherwise by Galileo who was an Illuminatus and a catholic. His scientific views were not entirely at odds with religion and he considered this a way around their problem. Unfortunately the Church didn’t agree with Galileo and imprisoned him, along with four other members. These other members were tortured into giving up the secret lair or the Church of Illumination, and were branded with crosses on their bodies but still didn’t reveal the hideout. Their dead bodies were publically displayed as a warning to other members.


The events threw the Illuminati into disarray, and they fled Rome to regroup. Eventually the established themselves again but as a different organisation, with other people who were also at odds with the Church. Other opponents of the Church aped the Illuminati, carrying out rites and rituals that the Church accused the Illuminati of and thereby giving rise to modern Satanism as we know it.


Meanwhile the Illuminati infiltrated another secret society – the Freemasons. As a clandestine group within a secret society the Illuminati amassed influence within the masons for their own purposes. Their ultimate goal was to establish a New World Order, and the influence they gained in financial, educational and commercial establishments was a means to an end. To that purpose the Illuminati put forth their Luciferian Doctrine. The name – Lucifer translates to Illuminator but the Church claimed it was a reference to the devil.


However over the last several hundred years there has been no proof of the Illuminati being in existence, that’s why Langdon doubts the seriousness of the threat when it first manifests in the story.


Over the years the Illuminati’s method of operation took form. Infiltrating elite and powerful organisations was their favoured method, as they preferred to wield power through wealth and influence. They operated from behind the scenes but always from positions of strength, and adhering to a moral code, holding men of intellect and science in high esteem. When the Illuminati killed, they did so with the utmost discretion by carefully selecting their targets. Nevertheless, they preferred to use subtle but wide reaching methods to achieve their goals. Their wealth was rumoured to include a large and flawless diamond nicknamed the Illuminati Diamond.


According to Langdon, American currency is filled with Illuminati symbols like pyramids, eyes inside triangles and a phrase that translates to ‘New Secular Order’.


All Copyrights reserved by the Author/Publisher of the book.




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The Cover of Angels & Demons as an ambigram (Image: Wikipedia)

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