Sator Square

The Latin word order SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA rotas, called Sator Square is a Satzpalindrom, which can be read as a Magic square horizontally and vertically, forward and backward:

Whether the text has a meaning is unclear.


The five earliest examples ( they date from the first century AD ) have been handed a mirror image, so they begin with the word rotas: a scoring in a pillar of the Palaestra in Pompeii, a second example in Pompeii, more in Cirencester, Manchester and St. Peter's Basilica. Since medieval times, the text is preserved in the form known today.


There are several approaches that phrase to translate. The problem is that the word arepo has no meaning. Sator means in particular in Christian interpretations as a metaphor for the Creator God.

  • According to one view, the text has no meaning. Arepo is a non-word that should only complete the four lexical words to the square.
  • Summing arepo as a name, it would mean " The sower Arepo holds the wheels with effort " possible. Other interpretations suggest a word for " plow ", " bottom " or a connection to the verb repere, "creep".
  • Another possibility is the square zigzag ( boustrophedon ) to read and also to double the middle row ( sator opera tenet - tenet opera sator, " The sower holds the works - it keeps the works of the Sower ").
  • The word AREPO written as AREBO, appears in Swedish runes and in the Orient. Apparently this spelling is easier to pronounce and makes more sense. To get the full feature of the square when reversing reading, the word OBERA must be written in this way.
  • Finally, attempts to decrypt the text by changing the letter sequence or with the help of numerology.


In Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, the Sator Square experienced widespread. Due to the rare quality of being a four-fold palindrome him magical properties were attributed; so that it is one of the most common charms of the West. The square was also used to protect themselves from disease and disaster. From the first half of the text can be a paternoster o shapes, but this was only described by authors of the 1920s and has esoteric value.

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Examples can be found today at the Cathedral of Siena and the ceiling painting of Peter and Paul Church on the Westerbuchberg. A Sator Square is also located on a plaque in memory of the composer Anton von Webern, who has dealt with him in his concerto op 24 musical, as well as in the floor of the Lord's Prayer Chapel In Bach Book (1968).