Top 10 Da Vinci Code Facts

The Da Vinci Code was written in 2003 by American author and former English teacher Dan Brown. Despite its bestseller status, the book came under scrutiny for the vast liberties its author took to form its storyline. Here are ten fun facts you may not have known about The Da Vinci Code.

10 Opus Dei Is Real

Top 10 Da Vinci Code Facts

In the often skipped over prologue of the novel, Dan Brown states that he was inspired to write the book by Opus Dei and the Priory of Sion. Brown implies in the prologue that his description of Opus Dei is non-fictional, but critics think that Brown presented the organization in a negative light, what with the murder and self-harm.

In reality, Opus Dei is more a set of doctrines than an organization. It emphasizes the marriage of spiritual practice with every-day life, such as work and charitable duties. The main purpose of Opus Dei, according to its members, is to spread the concept that every man and woman can be a saint, and that salvation is always within reach.

9 Dan Brown Was Sued For Plagiarism, Twice

Top 10 Da Vinci Code Facts

In August 2005, Dan Brown’s publisher Random House sued Mississippi author Lewis Perdue for slander when Perdue publically stated that Brown stole his idea from Perdue’s books Daughter of God and The Da Vinci Legacy.

Though Random House won the court case, they did not collect any fees from Perdue for the sake of public image. In 2006, Random House was sued by the authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh for copyright infringement. Leigh and Baigent had written a conspiracy book stating that the Christ bloodline exists to this day, which is integral to Dan Brown’s novel.

The judge found Dan Brown innocent, and even incorporated a Brown-esque code into the written judgement.

8 Dan Brown’s Books Are Available In China

Top 10 Da Vinci Code Facts

I learned this one while teaching English in China. China is famous for its strict laws concerning strict regulation of controversial topics. Most websites and books that stem out of the United States are heavily censored if available at all.

Despite this, Dan Brown is a best selling author in the Shanghai special economic zone. Despite the book’s controversy in the western world, the Chinese government had no desire to regulate its appearing in cities open to western trade. The result was that, when students barely knew anything about life in the US or Europe, they knew The Da Vinci Code’s storyline by heart.

The book has been translated into 44 different languages around the world.

7 Caravaggio Is A Real Artist

Top 10 Da Vinci Code Facts

Painting by Caravaggio

In The Da Vinci Code, the painting that the museum curator takes off the wall to set off the alarm was painted by Caravaggio. The painter, Michelangelo Amerighi da Caravaggio, was born in Lombardy in 1571. Caravaggio set off the Baroque movement in Italy and France with his use of the drastic contrast between the pure neutral white and black oil paints. This process, known as tenebrism or dramatic illumination, may have been the symbolic connection between the painter and the novel that Dan Brown was attempting to achieve. Speculators feel that Caravaggio’s presence alludes to the white of the albino’s skin with the darkness of his true intention.

6 Scotoma Is Real, But Not What You Think It Is

Top 10 Da Vinci Code Facts

Dan Brown states in The Da Vinci Code that scotoma is the process by which your brain leaves out pieces of visual information based on its expectations. There are three different definitions for scotoma in the real world, but this is not one of them. Scotoma, at the lowest level of abstraction, is a physiological blind spot in the peripheral vision other than the one blind spot all eyeballs have. The other two definitions are metaphorical. If someone cannot see the negative aspects of their own personality, they are deemed to have psychological scotoma. If someone cannot perceive aspects of their world view that all others do, they are deemed to have intellectual scotoma.

5 Silas Is Named After Silvanus

Top 10 Da Vinci Code Facts

There are two Silvanus’s in common knowledge that Silas was named after, and they are likely both symbolically significant. One Silvanus was the Roman God of the forest, who delighted in the growing of trees, while the other was an early Christian apostle who accompanied Paul. This may be representative of the discord between paganism and Christianity that is present in Dan Brown’s novel. Though Silas is a venerated apostle, he was never directly made into a saint. This could also be symbolic of the character Silas’ incorrect interpretation of Catholic doctrine.

4 Was Mary Magdalene Really Married To Jesus?

Top 10 Da Vinci Code Facts

In The Da Vinci Code, a fictional historian states that the early records show that Mary Magdalene really was married to Jesus. In the real world, this concept was never even considered until the 1980s by conspiracy theorists Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. Dan Brown even incorporated their names into the novel by way of the character Leigh Teabing. Teabing is an anagram of Michael Baigent’s last name. The myth arose from some non-doctrinal gospels of early Christianity that were rejected by later Christians. For example, the rejected Gospel of Mary states that Jesus kisses Mary, and in doing so, inspired jealousy from all his other apostles. This concept is drawn upon by Dan Brown, but he ignores the strong anti-feminist themes of the other Gnostic gospel, the Gospel of Thomas. In this book, Jesus states, “all women who make themselves into men will earn a place into the Kingdom of Heaven.” This creates a drastic contrast between Gnostic Christianity and Dan Brown’s view of early Christianity, in which the feminine body is considered holy. This idea was drawn more from paganism than gnosticism.

3 Sfumato Is Not Really A Type Of Painting

Top 10 Da Vinci Code Facts

Well, not really!! Sfumato is technically a technique found in painting, and was just one of four techniques that were, for all intents and purposes, universal in the quattrocento Renaissance.  The word sfumato refers to the soft blending of colors around figures that gave both a highly realistic but mysterious and dreamlike quality to Renaissance art. The word is Italian for “vague,” and can also refer to things that are “pale” or “smoky.” The three other techniques are cangiante, chiaroscuro, and unione. Unione is the use of vibrancy, chiaroscuro is the play of light and dark colors, and cangiante is the dynamic created by color and light.

2 The Priory Of Sion Was A Real Organization

Top 10 Da Vinci Code Facts

Much like Opus Dei, the Priory of Sion was both real and misrepresented in the novel. Dan Brown, drawing once again from Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent, states that the Priory of Sion is over 900 years old. Leigh and Baigent, in their book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, state that both Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton were members of the society. Furthermore, they believe that the Knights Templar was created by the Priory of Sion, and that the Merovingian dynasty in France was the true offspring of Christ and Mary Magdalene. In reality, the Priory of Sion was founded in 1956, and did not last a single year before its founding members lost interest and disbounded.

1 Dan Brown Would Have Wanted Harrison Ford To Play In The Movie, not Tom Hanks

Top 10 Da Vinci Code Facts

Or, at least, speculators believe this to be true due to the line describing Robert Langdon as “Harrison Ford in Harris Tweed.” Dan Brown must have enjoyed Tom Hanks’ performance, though, due to his casting in Angels and Demons and Inferno as well.