Geist-Fick: Protestant Mindfuck
ATA Team, September 22nd, 2013
Translated by: Stefania

In the last days this particular image was released by Ubisoft. The image shows Edward debating with Charles Vane and it seems the reason of the conversation is the already more than famous cube. In addition to the various pieces of furniture, different nautical charts are present on the table, two about the Caribbean and one that should refer in detail to the New Providence island, on which stands Nassau, with some unspecified points of interest marked (potentially treasures) and in the end, under a lead stick, a letter. The letter in question, as well as the cube, is what aroused the greatest interest of the Italian community.

About the cube there's not much to add besides the theories we already exposed. Our continuous research, however, has produced an image of the cube with an extremely high resolution that shows a rather unmistakable detail and, to some extent, could considerably limit the mystic theories about it, as well as the idea that it's a Piece of Eden.

The cube in ultra HD
In the high resolution image here above you can view the geometry of the cube. This representation is rather different from the one seen in the cinematic trailer, but considering that the image is in-game we believe we have to refer to it for all the appropriate observations.
The cube shows a transverse section passing for 3 corners/sides of the cube. What ensues from it seems to be a tetrahedral portion predisposed to break away from the rest of the body, almost as if it were the lid of a chest. Following this logic the chance that the cube is a mere container increases, just like the chances that the object inside is a drop of blood. To give a better idea of our theory we created a 3D representation, that you can see below:
3D representation of the cube

Till new details, however, there's not much to add and it cannot even be excluded that the tetrahedral portion is an integral part of the cube and has a different function.

Then let's then move to the letter.

Frontal view reworked by our Simonsens

The letter, re-elaborated by us here above, is in German and soon after the symbol of a cross, perhaps Templar, the lines 1-3 of the thirteen chapter of the First epistle to the Corinthians are transcribed.

"Wenn ich mit Menschen-und mit Engelzungen redete, und hätte der Liebe nicht, so wäre ich ein tönend Erz oder eine klingende Schelle.

Und wenn ich weissagen könnte und wüßte alle Geheimnisse und alle Erkenntnis und hätte allen Glauben, also daß ich Berge versetzte, und hätte der Liebe nicht, so wäre ich nichts.

Und wenn ich alle meine Habe den Armen gäbe und ließe meinen Leib brennen, und hätte der Liebe nicht, so wäre mir's nichts nütze."


"If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don’t have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but don’t have love, I am nothing.

If I dole out all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but don’t have love, it profits me nothing."

Why, then, the First epistle to the Corinthians and why exactly these verses?
When a first low resolution image appeared on the web we noticed the letter and despite the translation, before postulating any theory, we tried to ask some information to McDevitt through Twitter on July 23rd.
Unfortunately at present we're so far without an answer (maybe because it is a question between the tens or thousands he gets, maybe because it's something he can't answer). To make up for it, however, we started to do some research and to study the verses. Let's start, then, with some supposition and interesting analogies.

The moral contest

First of all we can say that the letter has a rather heavy moral concept that could symbolically follow Edward Kenway's course of life. The creators of AC4 have extensively repeated the qualities that are typical of Edward and how these qualities of loyalty, fidelity and love are in conflict with the desire of fame and wealth that Ed has since his youth. The letter, in other words, symbolizes the ethics of a rich and powerful life that is meaningless without the preponderance of love. And precisely in regard to love the AC4 developers (first among everyone Darby McDevitt) have often spoken out highlighting that, despite his egoistic nature, Edward is deeply in love with his wife.

Venus is the woman in green on the right
The Mythology of Assassin's Creed

Apart from this digression, let's read this letter from an AC point of view.
Symbolically the letter persistently refers to both characters and contexts already seen in the world of Assassin's Creed. This same symbolism is rooted in the very origins of the complete letter.
The creation of the "First epistle to the Corinthians", one of the texts of the New Testament, is indeed credited to Paul of Tarsus, better known as Saint Paul. Saint Paul, as the Second epistle to the Corinthians states, had a rather realistic view of man. The human being is, as Paul himself when he was an Apostle, against his own will, a weak and flawed creature and love is, to the detriment of any form of knowledge or superiority, the only virtue and the greatest expression of a good Christian. Paul of Tarsus, a good Pharisee who firmly believed “in the immortality of the soul” and “in the angels”, wrote this Letter for the citizens of Corinth, whose protective goddess was Aphrodite, deity of Love.
Aphrodite is actually the only TWCB who appeared with the triad in the comic book Assassin's Creed: The Fall and the only one who hasn't made an appearance yet in the video games plot, regardless of what many of us would have expected.
Aphrodite / Venus is highly awaited in the games by the hardcore fans because she didn't appear just in The Fall, but also in Project Legacy and maybe there was a reference to her in the Revelations finale too.
In Project Legacy Aphrodite appears in the chapter dedicated to Kyros of Zarax, set in the 16th century B.C. The "goddess" appears firstly to Kyros as a hologram, while he was going toward the inside of a temple dedicated to her. Later Kyros passes out and the goddess appears to him a second time in a sort of generated genetic memory. In this memory Aphrodite shows herself to Kyros in a garden, with tangible features, while she passes next to him, picks three apples from a tree and goes in the same temple that Kyros was visiting while he was awake. Inside the temple, under a statue dedicated to Aphrodite, the woman/goddess puts the three apples and soon after Kyros awakens from the memory. Kyros then gets up again and goes where Aphrodite, in the memory, had put the three ripe apples and finds a single golden fruit, an Apple of Eden. Now do you understand why the fans of Project Legacy have loved so much this Facebook “little game”?
The symbol of Venus
The reference to Venus in Revelations is in the last frames of the finale, as you can see in the picture to the side. This image, visible on the door of the Grand Temple in Turin, recalls the symbols in this picture. Apart from the references to the Ankh, the image on the door of the Grand Temple is very similar to the female symbol, that in turn is almost identical to the Venus one. Another clue supporting this wait which is still not yet satisfied.

In any case more direct references to TWCB in general aren't missing in the passage of the letter in the picture of Edward and Charles Vane. The representation of TWCB as angels was, indeed, already previously showed, like many other divine representations, in Assassin's Creed.
William Miles in ACIII, for example, compares TWCB with the Nephilim, creatures halfway between God and Man but also indicated as fallen angels, since the name descends from the semitic root “Nafal”, “to fall”. (As mentioned in the article about the six methods of salvation).
The most evident comparison between TWCB and angels, however, is in a memory of the chapter dedicated to Elizabeth Jane Weston (1581 - 1612) from the set “The Divine Science” of the omnipresent Project Legacy.

Open your wings, Evil Angel!

The “guilty” text is the following:

Papa needs to leave now, to earn money. I know about money; we need it to eat and purchase things. I do not want him to go.
I give Papa a big hug, and Uncle John too. I wave at them until I can no longer see their carriage. How long will they be gone this time?
I ask Mama about Papa's work. She says he gives conferences with Uncle John, providing advice to people who need it.
John Francis says Papa communicates with angels. I laugh, but Mama does not. "He told me!" he says, crossing his skinny arms over his chest.
After a long pause, Mama sighs. "John Francis is right. Your father speaks with angels. He gains..." she scratches her head, "insight from them."
I ask Mama what an angel is. She says it is a being from beyond, a winged entity that lives with God, in Heaven. I do not know what she means.
John Francis says only Papa can call angels. Mama nods, saying he has a rare gift. "He uses a crystal ball!" John Francis declares.

The passage is extremely interesting both for the characters involved and the contents. The main character who speaks in first person is Elizabeth Jane Weston, Anglo-Czech poetess, sister of John Francis Weston and daughter of Jane Cooper, mentioned as Mama. Hardly anything is known about Elizabeth's father, while, to the contrary, there are various informations about her stepfather, Edward Kelley, here mentioned as Papa. Kelley was an English alchemist, medium and inventor of imaginary languages whose notoriety and colorful biography contributed to create his fame as charlatan, as confirmed by Wikipedia. Kelley often collaborated with John Dee (uncle John in the passage of PL), a very famous occultist himself and scholar of hermetic philosophy. Historically Kelley said that he had this supposed skill to evoke and talk with spirits and angels through a crystal ball and affirmed they used a special language, angelic or “enochian”, that they had taught themselves to him and Dee. From an AC point of view this turns out in a dialogue between Kelley and TWCB/Angels, permitted by a rare gift that could be the crystal ball itself or the TWCB DNA/ Eagle Vision and that would allow him to activate the sphere in the correct way exactly as Connor does in AC3 to speak with Juno.

To confirm the fact that the piece of the first epistle to the Corinthians is very close to the themes handled in the AC saga, we can point out that two out of three verses refer in some way to some concepts and situations that were shown to us, especially in AC3.

"If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don’t have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal"

The first verse refers to the fact that, even possessing the ability to speak the angels' language, but not having love, a men's trait, we'd be like inanimate objects defined only by an empty and meaningless sound like for example a cymbal, a percussion instrument. The TWCB's representation as angel, as we said, isn't new in AC. In the third chapter, for example, there's a small part where William describes the difficulty in speaking with TWCB (hence the reference to the languages of men and angels). Specifically, Desmond, in a transport of rage, complains about the ambiguousness and crypticity of Juno's talks, begging her to speak clearly. In that moment William stops him explaining the impossibility of TWCB to communicate in a form that is inferior to their abilities. William compares the incommunicability between TWCB and men to the one between an adult and a two-year-old child or between a man and a locust, affirming that when you talk about the unknowability of gods' will, there's more truth than you might think (for more information about that we redirect you once again to the article about the six methods of salvation).

"If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but don’t have love, I am nothing."

This verse could represent the union of TWCB's abilities to the detriment of human beings.

The gift of prophecy could be a rather strong reference to the TWCB's ability of prevision (the so-called “calculations”). This ability, among other things, isn't mystic at all, given that these precursors of humankind got the results of these previsions using a logic composed of theories and the concept of cause and effect, to the limit of a very complex mathematical calculation.

One of the various TWCB's prevision
The knowledge of all mysteries could be connected with the most known ability of TWCB, in other words the sixth sense or the knowledge, according to Juno. We could appreciate this sense in limited form under the name Eagle Vision, in the TWCB's hybrid descendants like Desmond and the rest of his lineage, and in a more advanced form under the name of Eagle Sense (it's the case of Ezio in Revelations). It's an ability that can, it seems, give an exponential understanding to what an individual perceives regarding what surrounds it, despite it was noticed how, at least in the limits of Desmond and companions, this ability seems tied to the feelings of the user.

Possessing the faith to remove mountains , could instead be connected with a hidden ability of the individual to, in some way, being able to give a physical form to its own will, equivalent to the third method of salvation utilized by TWCB. In the article about the six methodswe examined the example made by Juno, who mentioned the ability, in various individuals together, to tear down a wall or generate a tree simply wanting it intensely.

Historical Origins in the saga

The passage, as we said, is extracted from the German version of the first epistle to the Corinthians. The main German translation of the Bible and the first that included also the New Testament (and so the epistle to the Corinthians) is the one by Martin Luther, finished in 1534. Luther's translation was inspired by the second version of the New Testament, published by Erasmus of Rotterdam in 1519. Guess what? Both the men are cited in Assassin's Creed.

Portrait of Erasmus, Holbein the Younger
Erasmus of Rotterdam Erasmus of Rotterdam (Rotterdam, 1466 – Basel, July 12th, 1536) was a Dutch theologian, humanist and philosopher and also the leader of the North-European branch of the Assassins, whose “jurisdiction” included roughly the territories of Germany, France and the current Benelux.
Erasmus always signed his pieces of writing with the pen name Desiderius Erasmus and in this manner was known by the Brotherhood. His most famous work is The Praise of Folly, and he's considered the most important representative of the Christian Humanism.
After the death of his parents from the Plague in 1483, the tutors of Erasmus and Pieter (his brother) sent them to study in a school in Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands), from where they returned in their city after two years. Pieter became a friar of the monastery of Sion, near Delft, and shortly after, in 1487, Erasmus joined the Augustinian monastery of Steyn, close to Gouda.

During his “stay” at the Augustinian monastery Erasmus was impressed by its library and became fond of literature, especially the classical one, and in a short time he proved to have gained knowledge of all the most important classical Latin authors, of Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome and some Italian humanists.
His relationship with the Church wasn't, however, very good. If in the monastery he increased his education and his love for the classical literature, his attachment for the monastic life advanced in an inversely proportional way.
Around 1493 he tried to leave the monastery to serve the bishop of Cambrai, but it was a troublesome situation for Desiderius himself. So it was that in 1495, with the bishop's approval and a modest allowance, he went to study to the University of Paris, that at the time was the main branch for the scholasticism (meant as philosophical tendency).
Erasmus stayed in Paris until 1499. He settled first in the Collège de Montaigu (the building of the University of Paris dedicated to Fine Arts), but soon he became convinced to move in a boarding house for students, rounding off the allowance of the bishop with private lessons of Latin.

In the summer of 1499 he left Paris for England. Here he came into contact with several exponents of the English Aristocracy, perhaps Templars, like it can be seen in the contracts of Project Legacy. Such contracts, indeed, showed the presence of a Templar conspiracy to oust the then-ruler Henry VII. An important role within this conspiracy was carried out by Margaret of York, but as it can be seen in Project Legacy, the templar plotters were present in many small English baronies. PL even shows that four senior members of the Star Chamber, a political supreme court founded by Henry VII with the task to restrain any opposition attempt, met up with some Roman ambassadors who handed over some letters with the seal of the Borgia family.

In London Erasmus met the philosopher John Colet, who listened with great interest to Erasmus' lessons about the letters of Saint Paul, like, oddly enough, the Corinthians one. It was affirmed that Colet exerted a remarkable influence, crucial for Erasmus, pushing him to that philological interest for the Bible, that is central in his activity as a scholar. In this sense, in AC, Colet could also be seen as the one who initiated Erasmus to the Assassin Brotherhood, or, to the contrary, as an agent who tried to incline him towards the religion, that at the time was one of the main Templars' instruments for pursuing their objectives.
But after six months Desiderius went back to Paris, and the travel was very lively: in Dover the English customs officers seized all his money and in France two bandits tried to rob him (were these events connected to the Templars too?).

Erasmus had started to study Greek only from 1500. The knowing of Greek was, indeed, indispensable for dealing with his prime task, the one about the Bible and the theology (as suggested by Colet). It's during November 1500 that the events narrated in the Contracts of Project Legacy happen, where the Italian Assassins go to France, while Louis XII gets ready to face Ferdinand I for the control of Naples. During his absence Louis has left on the French land his ministers to rule, actually men in the pay of Rodrigo Borgia. These ministers had picked on Erasmus of Rotterdam, who was hiding in the church of Paris.

The kidnapping of Erasmus (PL)
Yet Erasmus is kidnapped by an emissary of the Borgias and taken in a villa outside Paris. After having silently eliminated every guard, the Assassins arrive at the cell where he's been locked up and Erasmus tells them that there were other prisoners with him, among which another member of the Brotherhood.

After receiving the bad news, the Italian Assassins strive to get back their brother and, once in Paris, through the voices of the people, manage to find some useful information about a conspiracy underway, and are sent to the archbishop George D’Amboise (who appeared in ACB).
After being found and questioned, D’Amboise reveals the position of three ministers who he thinks are part of the conspiracy. After having dealt with the ministers, the Assassins get only parts of valuable information from the three, that put together give a clear picture of the situation.
After having burst in a manor outside Paris, where their brother is kept prisoner, they manage to join him, but find him with his legs broken and moribund. His last words, indeed, are that they can't trust the Orsini family.

Going back to Erasmus, the new century opened up with new travels from Paris to Orléans, then to Leuven in 1502, and once again to Paris in 1505. After a brief stay in England at the Queen's College of Cambridge, from 1506 to 1509 Erasmus lived in Italy. After a first period in Turin he moved to Bologna and then to Venice. He also visited Padua, Siena, Naples, Cuma and, in 1509, Rome, where he met the cardinals Domenico Grimani and Giovanni de' Medici, the humanists Raffaele Riario and Egidio of Viterbo (his future, tenacious rival, orator particularly appreciated by Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, and so maybe a templar emissary?) and attended, on the Good Friday, a sermon held in front of Julius II in which the orator of Viterbo compared the Pope to Zeus who imposes his authority to the powerful of the world.
The news of the death of the English king Henry VII in April 1509 and the forthcoming accession to the throne of Henry VIII, communicated to him by his friend William Blount with a dispatch of money and the illusion of the great successes waiting for him in England, pushed him to leave Rome.
After a two-month journey Erasmus arrived in England and went again to the Queen's College where he remained from 1510 to 1514 and during his stay he restarted to write his Moriae Encomium or The Praise of Folly that he finished in a week.
In 1511 Erasmus had obtained a pension and the benefits of the parish of Aldington, in Kent, and also had permission from the bishop and dean of the University of Cambridge to teach Greek and theology in the University. Here he started an in-depth study of the Letters of Saint Jerome and of the New Testament.
Actually it's during this time, roughly in August, 1512, that Erasmus of Rotterdam sends a letter to the ruler of the Assassin Order at that time, Claudia Auditore da Firenze, informing her of the situation of the country, and Ezio himself learns about it, as narrated in a passage of the Revelations novel:

"(Ezio) "There were other things on his mind. The leader of the North European branch of the Brotherhood, Desiderius Erasmus, had written to Claudia from Queens’ College at Cambridge, where the wandering scholar was for the present living and teaching, that there was a newly appointed Doctor in Bible at Wittenberg, a young man called Luther, whose religious thinking might need watching, as it seemed to be leading to something very revolutionary indeed—something that might yet again threaten the fragile stability of Europe.
He told Sofia of his concern.
«What is Erasmus doing?» [Does Sofia know Erasmus from before?]
«He watches. He waits.»
«Will you recruit new men to the Order if there is a shift away from the Roman Church in the north?»
Ezio spread his hands. «I will be advised by Desiderius.» He shook his head. «Everywhere, always, there is fresh dissent and division.»
«Isn’t that a feature of life?»
He smiled. «Perhaps. And perhaps it is not my fight anymore.»"

During his English stay Erasmus started the systematic study of the manuscripts of the New Testament [also the newly discovered ones or those manuscripts that, in that period, arrived from Greece after the fall of the Byzantine Empire (Complutensian Polyglot Bible) in order to prepare a new edition and a Latin translation.
The copy of the New Testament would have been published in 1516. It would have been the base for the most part of the scientific studies about the Bible in the period of the Reformation, and would have been used by Luther himself for his translation of the Bible.

The Reformation of Martin Luther (tradition wants it to start on October 31st, 1517 with the billposting on the door of Wittenberg Church of 95 thesis about the importance and effectiveness of indulgences) put to the test the disposition of Erasmus.
Erasmus shared, indeed, many aspects of the Luther's criticisms about the Catholic Church, for example towards indulgences and exterior formalisms of the clergy, as well as the need of a comeback to the original essence of Christianity (a humble Christianity). On the other hand the Free Will keep the two characters divided (Luther denied its existence and spoke of "servile will"). Erasmus highly respected Martin Luther and, in turn, the reformer always demonstrated admiration for Erasmus' superior knowledge. Luther hoped he could collaborate with Erasmus to a work that seemed the continuation of his own. But Erasmus declined the invite to commit himself and this choice seemed to Luther a mere refusal to assume his responsibilities motivated by the lack of firmness or worst, cowardice.

It was then that Erasmus stood up against Luther. Especially about the crucial subject of free will that he dealt with in 1524 in the writing "De libero arbitrio diatribe sive collatio" (Of free will: Discourses or Comparisons). Erasmus describes the free will as "power of the human will by which a man can apply himself to the things which lead to eternal salvation, or turn away from them."
As specified on Wikipedia, Erasmus was convinced that the one who affirmed that human free will could be expressed only deciding to commit a sin was wrong. Similarly also who believed that the free will was an empty abstraction was wrong. This type of mindset justifies even more its position in the Assassin Brotherhood.

But while the Reformation triumphed, those social disorders feared by Erasmus and considered unavoidable by Luther started: the war of the farmers, the iconoclasm and the radicalism that resulted in the anabaptist movement in Germany and Holland. Erasmus was accused of having been the troublemaker of such discords.
Precisely in this subject of disputes and conflicts inside the country the second and last source about Erasmus of Rotterdam, coming from the ACR novel, inserts itself, where Ezio doesn't long since get news from him:

"(He (Ezio) still trained, too, despite the nagging cough that he had never quite left him. But he had long since handed his Assassin’s weapons over to Ariosto. There was no news from Rome or Constantinople, or indeed from Erasmus in Rotterdam, to give him any cause for anxiety, though the predicted split in the Church had occurred, with young Luther at the forefront of the Reformation in the north; and new wars threatened the world once again. Ezio could only watch and wait. Old habits died hard, he thought. And he’d become enough of a countryman to be able to catch the scent of a storm."

And he’d become enough of a countryman to be able to catch the scent of a storm...

In the end Erasmus died on the night between July 11th and 12th, in Basel and it is said that, on January 19th 1543, his books were burned in Milan together with the Luther's ones. He was buried in the cathedral by now dedicated to the reformed cult, although he had always remained Catholic.

Even so we want to highlight that our theories and historic reconstruction obviously remain in the field of suppositions. The reading of the verses has led us to think immediately to TWCB, and having detected such a strong reference, we found it fair to analyze them in details.
The same thing is valid for the brief history mentions. In the light of what we found out, the choice of inserting the German text appears a wanted connection to the events and people bound to the translation, and to the saga in a wider perspective. That paper, actually, could also be one of the many collectible objects that could affect the main or secondary storyline, and could have a clear purpose.
However the likelihood that it's just an object used to enrich the environmental and scenic context remains, even if by now we learned that Ubisoft is rather specific when it comes to such details and unlikely abandons certain information to chance...

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E3 2013