Real "Da Vinci code" finally translated

Nearly 500 years after it was written, a manual on magic and the power of numbers written by Leonardo Da Vinci's best friend and teacher, Franciscan monk Luca Pacioli, has finally been translated into English.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the world's oldest magic text, De Viribus Quantitatis (On the Powers of Numbers), was written in Italian by da Vinci's roommate Pacioli between 1496 and 1508 and contains the first ever reference to card tricks as well as guidance on how to juggle, eat fire and make coins dance.

It is also the first work to note that da Vinci was left-handed.

Although the book has been described as the "foundation of modern magic and numerical puzzles", it was not published and has languished in the archives of the University of Bologna, seen only by a small number of scholars since the Middle Ages.

The transcription has taken eight years, involved several translators and cost thousands of euros. William Kalush, a magician and the founder of the Conjuring Arts Research Centre in New York, who financed the project, said: "This book is the first major manual that is primarily concerned with teaching how to perform magic.

"Sources of magic methods go back at least to the first century, but this book teaches not only the methods but also gives a glimpse into how one might perform them with an eye to entertaining an audience."

The book was rediscovered after David Singmaster, a mathematician, came across a reference to it in a 19th-century manuscript. "It's the foundation not only of modern magic but of numerical puzzles, too," he said.

Tricks in the magic text include how to write a sentence on the petals of a rose, wash your hands in molten lead, and make an egg walk across a table ("commoners will consider it a miracle").

The book contains some of the first known European examples of numerical puzzles, which are similar to those printed in today's newspapers, such as Sudoku.

Experts believe the book will give a greater understanding of magical history as well as insights into da Vinci's life and work.

Pacioli was born in Tuscany in 1445 and was a travelling mathematics tutor.

He is often called the father of modern accountancy because his book The Summa (1494) contains the first published description of double-entry book-keeping, accountancy's basic technique.

Now you see it: forgotten magic manual contains original da Vinci code

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Luca Pacioli (Wikipedia)

Da Vinci Code bores Bishops' film reviewer (CathNews 19/5/06)
Scholars setting record straight on Mary Magdalene (CathNews 3/5/06)
Opus Dei priest says it's OK to see The Da Vinci Code (CathNews 28/4/06)

11 Apr 2007