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This is an index of the chapters in the novel which contain substantial claims about history. Those chapters which contain only action scenes or plot elements have been ommited.

Each chapter is sub-divided into topic headings analysing the claims made in that section of the novel and their associated subjects.

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'Da Vinci in Drag'


'Da Vinci in Drag'

"Hey Mr Langford," a muscle-bound man said. 'Is it true that the Mona Lisa is a picture of Da Vinci in drag" I heard that was true."
"It's quite possible," Langdon said. "Da Vinci was a prankster, and computerized analysis of the Mona Lisa and da Vinci's self-portraits confirm some startling points of congruency in their faces. Whatever Da Vinci was up to," Langdon said, "his Mona Lisa is neither male nor female. It carries a subtle message in androgyny. It is a fusing of both."

(Chapter Twenty-six, p. 120)

As appealing as this idea may be, it falls down because there actually are no known 'self-portraits' of Leonardo. There is one drawing of the head of an old man which is often said to be a self-portrait, and is regularly reproduced as such, but it is not known if this is the case. Any 'points of congruency' between one of these drawings and the Mona Lisa probably say more about the way the artist drew faces than any 'subtle message in androgyny'.

While it is not known for certain who the model for the Mona Lisa was, it is most likely that it was Lisa, the wife of a silk merchant named Francesco di Bartolomeo di Zanobi del Giocondo - which is what Leonardo's biographer Vasari tells us. Francesco del Giocondo was a rich Florentine silk merchant who was a friend and business associate of Leonardo's father, who may have helped his son get this artistic commission. This is why Italians call the painting 'La Gioconda' to this day while the French call it 'La Joconde'. Whoever she was, the idea that the painting is 'a subtle message in androgyny' is something else which exists largely in Langdon and Brown's imagination.

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'And do you know who the Amon's counterpart was? The Egyptian goddess of fertility?"
The question was met with several seconds of silence.
"It was Isis," Langdon told them, grabbing a grease pen. "So we have the male god Amon." He wrote it down. 'And the female goddess, Isis, whose ancient pictogram was once called L'ISA."
Langdon finished writing and stepped back from the projector.


"Ring any bells?" he asked.
'Mona Lisa … holy crap," someone gasped.
Langdon nodded. "Gentlemen, not only does the face of Mona Lisa look androgynous, but her name is an anagram of the divine union of male and female. And that, my friends, is Da Vinci's little secret, and the reason for Mona Lisa's knowing smile."

(Chapter Twenty-six, p. 120-121)

'Holy crap' indeed. As already mentioned, the painting has traditionally been called 'La Gioconda' by Italians and 'La Joconde' by the French - references to its likely subject as well as plays on the other meaning of both traditional names: 'The Playful Woman'. The English name 'Mona Lisa' was given centuries after Leonardo died, so how he could have come up with this anagram from beyond the grave, in a language he did not speak, is hard to fathom.

Once again, Brown does his level best to create this idea that Leonardo was some kind of pagan nature worshipper, this time using a bit of completely silly linguistic manipulation which simply does not stand up to any scrutiny.

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History vs The Da Vinci Code is copyright Tim O'Neill 2006. All rights reserved.