Angels and Demons is set in a typical Dan Brown backdrop of an long-standing conflict between the Vatican / church and secret society - this time the Illumintati - highlighting the conflict between religion and science. Like ‘The Da Vinci Code’ which centered around the works of Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci and his role in the Priory of Sion, Angels and Demons focuses on the scientific works of Galileo Galilee and his role in the Brotherhood of the Illuminati.
Author Dan Brown introduced Robert Langdon with this book - a middle aged professor of historical studies at Harvard University, clautrophobic, always sporting a Mickey Mouse watch, art and architecture enthusiast, and ace swimmer nicknamed 'dolphin'. Langdon finds himself recruited by the religion and science - playing mediator sometimes - while racing against an assassin of the Illuminati.
The Illuminati steal ‘Anti-matter’ from CERN and murder theo-physicist – Leonardo Vetra. Leonardo Vetra’s is a modern day Galileo - a priest and a scientist whose life’s work focuses on reconciling science with religion making him a target for the fiercely anti-religion Illuminati. The stolen ‘Anti-matter’ is stablised in a suspension-canister with a backup battery which will last 24 hours; once the battery is powered down the antimatter will fall out of its stablised state of suspension and unleash a destructive potential comparable to a nuclear weapon. This bomb is hidden in Vatican City, where it slowly counts down to detonation.
Robert Langdon - despite his skepticism over the Illuminati angle, is recruited by the head of CERN to recover the anti-matter and joined by Leonardo Vetra's daughter Vittoria. The duo move ahead to Vatican City where they learn that the Illuminati assassin has also kidnapped four cardinals contending for position of the Pope, who has recently died. They are helped by the Camerlengo and the Swiss Guard.
The Illuminati assassin taunts Langdon and team with clues that are shrouded in science - a language the clergy doesn't understand, and as further affront they are in the English language which the medieval clergy never used. Langdon and team race through Vatican City as he discusses arcane factoids and traces the steps of the ancient illuminati in hopes of saving lives. They go through the Vatican Archives, alleged secret meeting places of the original Illuminati society, churches of Rome and unmask their members along the way. As they get closer to the assassin Langdon slowly unravels the assassin's method of murdering the cardinals.
The Illuminati according to Dan Brown
The secret society of the Illuminati is explained in 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 the church's domination over 'science'. They called themselves the ‘enlightened ones’ or the Illuminati. The Illuminati feared the Church's dogma was a threat to mankind, and would lead to a dark ignorant future. The Illuminati remained at odds with the Church and were relentlessly persecuted, driving the group underground. Consequently their notoriety attracted brilliant minds from all over the Europe. 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.
After the prosecution of their colleagues - the Illuminati is thrown into disarray. Eventually the established themselves again but as a different organisation, with other people who were also at odds with the Church. Some 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, explaing why Langdon doubts the involvement of the Illuminati 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.
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 ambigrams in the books were created by artist John Langdon.
Only matter exists. In the moment of the Big Bang energy created matter, but it also created a twin - anti particle matter - identical in mass but with the opposite electric charge. This perfect balance of matter and antimatter lasted less than a second. Antimatter disappeared as did all but a minute amount of matter that is forms the universe. One of the questions that scientists at CERN explore is the mystery of this left over matter. The potential of anti-matter in Angels and Demons is fantastical. To make a gram of antimatter (which is the amount suspended in the canister of the book) it would take all of CERN's resources one billion years to make. So far CERN has antimatter less than 10 nanograms - capable of powering a 60 watt bulb for 4 hours.
The Illuminati appear to be a fantasy of conspiracy theorists. They are a meta-secret society having infiltrated all the major secret societies like the Freemasons, Skull & Bones, and the Bohemian Grove. So not only do they apparently control us but they also control the elites who control us. In the late 18th century one Adam Weishaupt took money from the house of Rothschild and established a cult based on a 16th century Muslim cult called the Roshaniya - or the illuminated ones, and included among other the Marquis de Sade and Sir Francis Dashwood of The Hellfire Club. The combination proved a potent and threatening force in the Christian mind, and this fear was aided by Weishaupt's attempt to destroy the social institutions on Europe. Unfortunately for the Illuminati this plan failed to materialise when its courier was struck and killed by lightning, forcing the Illuminati underground.
Langdon's first appearance.
Like the Da Vinci Code.