The Name of the Rose

When he writes the story of his life, Adso is an old man living in a German monastery and preparing for his own death. However, much of the novel’s action takes place much earlier, when he was a Benedictine novice in his late teens. The younger Adso is described as young and handsome, and is very curious and inquisitive. He loves reading and studying and is fascinated by the mysteries of the abbey’s library. Throughout the novel, he consistently questions authority and ponders the impossibility of arriving at definitive solutions to any of the many mysteries and arguments that unfold around him, since it seems everything can be interpreted in many different ways. The older Adso, by contrast, is more comfortable accepting the limitations of his ability to comprehend the ways of God and the mysterious order of the universe. Adso recounts how he journeyed to an abbey in northern Italy as a servant and companion to William of Baskerville. There, he meets many prominent theologians, explores the greatest library in Christendom, has his first and only sexual experience, helps William solve the mystery of a series of murders, and witnesses the final, tragic destruction of the abbey. The novel’s final section returns to the point of view of the older Adso, who visits the site where the abbey had once stood to gather up the fragments of the library.

Adso of Melk Quotes in The Name of the Rose

The The Name of the Rose quotes below are all either spoken by Adso of Melk or refer to Adso of Melk. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Interpretation of Signs Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Mariner Books edition of The Name of the Rose published in 2014.
"Naturally, A Manuscript" and Prologue Quotes

I concluded that Adso’s memoirs appropriately share the nature of the events he narrates: shrouded in many, shadowy mysteries, beginning with the identity of the author and ending with the abbey’s location, about which Adso is stubbornly, scrupulously silent.

Related Characters: Unnamed Narrator (speaker), Adso of Melk
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:
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On sober reflection, I find few reasons for publishing my Italian version of an obscure, neo-Gothic French version of a seventeenth-century Latin edition of a work written in Latin by a German monk toward the end of the fourteenth century.

Related Characters: Unnamed Narrator (speaker), Adso of Melk
Related Symbols: The Fragments of the Library
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
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Michael of Cesena […] proclaimed as a matter of faith and doctrine the poverty of Christ. A worth resolution, meant to safeguard the virtue and purity of the order, it highly displeased the Pope, who perhaps discerned in it a principle that would jeopardize the very claims that he, as head of the church, had made, denying the empire the right to elect bishops, and asserting on the contrary that the papal throne had the right to invest the emperor.

Related Characters: Adso of Melk (speaker), Michael of Cesena
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:
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First Day Quotes

“My good Adso,” my master said, “during our whole journey I have been teaching you to recognize the evidence through which the world speaks to us like a great book.”

Related Characters: William of Baskerville (speaker), Adso of Melk, Remigio of Varagine
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
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Third Day Quotes

There, I said to myself, are the reasons for the silence and the darkness that surround the library: it is the preserve of learning but can maintain this learning unsullied only if it prevents its reaching anyone at all, even the monks themselves. Learning is not like a coin, which remains physically whole even through the most infamous transactions; it is, rather like a very handsome dress, which is worn out through use and ostentation. Is not a book like that, in fact? Its pages crumble, its ink and gold turn dull, if too many hands touch it.

Related Characters: Adso of Melk (speaker)
Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:
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I did not understand then why the men of the church and of the secular arm were so violent against people who wanted to live in poverty […]. And I spoke of this with a man standing near me, for I could not keep silent any more. He smiled mockingly and said to me that a monk who practices poverty sets a bad example for the populace, for then they cannot accept monks who do not practice it.

Related Characters: Adso of Melk (speaker)
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:
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Fourth Day Quotes

“But then,” I said, “what is the use of hiding books, if from the books not hidden you can arrive at the concealed ones?”

“Over the centuries it is no use at all. In a space of years or days it has some use. You see, in fact, how bewildered we are.”

“And is a library then, an instrument not for distributing the truth

but for delaying its appearance?" I asked, dumbfounded.

Related Characters: Adso of Melk (speaker), William of Baskerville (speaker)
Page Number: 306
Explanation and Analysis:
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“This area called LEONES contains the books that the creators of the library considered books of falsehood. What's over there?”

“They're in Latin, but from the Arabic. Aryub al-Ruhawi, a treatise on canine hydrophobia. And this is a book of treasures. And this is De aspectibus of Alhazen...”

“You see, among monsters and falsehoods they have also placed works of science from which Christians have much to learn.”

Related Characters: Adso of Melk (speaker), William of Baskerville (speaker)
Page Number: 336
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Fifth Day Quotes

What Bernard wanted was clear. Without the slightest interest in knowing who had killed the other monks, he wanted only to show that Remigio somehow shared the ideas propounded by the Emperor's theologians. And once he had shown the connection between those ideas […] and had shown that one man in that abbey subscribed to all those heresies and had been the author of many crimes, he would thus have dealt a truly mortal blow to his adversaries.

Related Characters: Adso of Melk (speaker), Remigio of Varagine, Fra Dolcino, Bernard Gui
Page Number: 407
Explanation and Analysis:
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Seventh Day Quotes

The library had been doomed by its own impenetrability, by the mystery that protected it, by its few entrances. The church, maternally open to all in the hour of prayer, was open to all in the hour of succor. But there was no more water, or at least very little could be found stored, and the wells supplied it with a parsimony that did not correspond to the urgency of the need.

Related Characters: Adso of Melk (speaker), Nicholas of Morimondo
Related Symbols: The Finis Africae
Page Number: 524
Explanation and Analysis:
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Last Page Quotes

Mine was a poor harvest, but I spent a whole day reaping it, as if from those disiecta membra of the library a message might reach me. […] At the end of my patient reconstruction, I had before me a kind of lesser library a symbol of the greater, vanished one: a library made up of fragments, quotations, unfinished sentences, amputated stumps of books.

Related Characters: Adso of Melk (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Fragments of the Library
Page Number: 536-537
Explanation and Analysis:
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Adso of Melk Character Timeline in The Name of the Rose

The timeline below shows where the character Adso of Melk appears in The Name of the Rose. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
"Naturally, A Manuscript" and Prologue
The Interpretation of Signs Theme Icon
Knowledge and Secrecy Theme Icon
In 1980, an unnamed narrator explains how he came across the “terrible story” written by Adso of Melk, a fourteenth-century German monk. He first encountered a published version of the manuscript... (full context)
The Interpretation of Signs Theme Icon
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...forgery. But two years later, browsing a bookshop in Buenos Aires, he finds quotations of  Adso’s story in an Italian translation of a Georgian book from the 1930s. That book was... (full context)
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...enough evidence of its veracity to translate and publish his Italian version. He explains that Adso wrote his memoirs near the year 1400, but that the events described took place around... (full context)
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The narrative then switches to Adso’s point of view. At the end of the fourteenth century, he writes a prologue to... (full context)
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As an aid to the reader, Adso provides some context in order to better explain the political situation in Italy in the... (full context)
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Adso’s father—a wealthy German nobleman—was fighting on the side of the Emperor. In order to avoid... (full context)
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Adso describes William’s unusual physical appearance: he is about fifty years old, very tall and thin,... (full context)
First Day
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William and Adso approach an unnamed abbey somewhere in northern Italy, where William plans to attend a summit... (full context)
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William and Adso encounter Remigio of Varagine, the cellarer, who is searching for the abbot’s lost horse, Brunellus.... (full context)
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William and Adso arrive at their destination. As they enter through the courtyard, Adso notices that the Aedificium... (full context)
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Adso contemplates the door of the church, which is decorated with elaborate carvings of Biblical figures.... (full context)
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Adso’s reverie is broken by the appearance of Salvatore of Montferrat, a vagabond-looking monk and former... (full context)
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William introduces Adso to Ubertino of Casale, a Franciscan who has taken refuge at the abbey because his... (full context)
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William and Adso meet Severinus of Sankt Wendel, the herbalist, who gives them a tour of the abbey.... (full context)
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William and Adso also meet Berengar of Arundel, Malachi’s assistant. They also meet Venantius of Salvemec, a translator,... (full context)
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...Adelmo’s marginal illustrations are very creative and unusual, including one drawing of two baboons kissing, Adso thinks that these drawings “naturally inspired merriment, though they were commenting on holy pages.” The... (full context)
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...“dear” friend, alluding to a particular closeness between Berengar and Adelmo. Jorge warns William and Adso that the Apocalypse is at hand, and that they should not squander the last seven... (full context)
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Before they leave the scriptorium, Malachi tells William and Adso that there are no doors between the kitchen and the scriptorium: thus it would have... (full context)
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...there must be a secret entrance to the Aedificium. And indeed, that night, William and Adso see Malachi emerging from the chapel, suggesting the entrance must be in the crypt. Adso... (full context)
Second Day
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William and Adso witness an argument between Salvatore and Remigio, who call each other heretics, prompting Adso to... (full context)
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...own until someone murdered him. William suspects Berengar, Malachi, Jorge, or Benno himself. He tells Adso that they have to break into the library to try to find out more about... (full context)
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...seems to disagree, but introduces a new topic of discussion: the upcoming debate on poverty. Adso wonders why Abo supports the Franciscan Spiritualists and their vow of poverty, when his abbey... (full context)
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...heretics, because “heretics are those who endanger the order that sustains the people of God.” Adso is confused by all these shifting allegiances and accusations of heresy. He wishes that his... (full context)
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Alinardo of Grottaferrata, the oldest monk at the abbey, tells William and Adso that they can enter the library—which he calls a “labyrinth”—via a secret entrance in the... (full context)
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William and Adso decide to continue upwards into the library. They arrive in a room with seven walls... (full context)
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William and Adso’s progress is further obstructed by a room with a mirror that reflects distorted images. Adso... (full context)
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They see the glow of a candle in another room, and Adso goes to investigate, but is interrupted when he has a vision of Berengar and the... (full context)
Third Day
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...not in his cell. It appears he is gone, leaving only a bloodstained cloth behind. Adso reflects on the “intellectual pride” that led to the recent tragic events: monks are no... (full context)
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Adso goes to the kitchen to eat and encounters Salvatore, who recounts his days as a... (full context)
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Adso finds William at the forge, where Nicholas is making him another pair of glasses. Adso... (full context)
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However, yet another problem remains: William and Adso still don’t understand the rules governing the distribution of the books among the rooms, or... (full context)
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Adso finds Ubertino praying, and asks him to tell him the story of the Franciscan heretic... (full context)
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Ubertino warns Adso to beware the snares of women like Margaret. He brings his attention to the beauty... (full context)
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In the scriptorium, Adso reads a history of heretical movements and learns about the torture and execution of Fra... (full context)
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Adso’s remembrance of Brother Michael becomes confused with the images of Dolcino and Margaret. Upstairs in... (full context)
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Adso flees to the kitchen, where he realizes that someone else is already inside, a girl... (full context)
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Adso faints at the sight, and wakes up when William finds him on the floor of... (full context)
Fourth Day
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Malachi comes in to speak with Severinus, but quickly leaves when he sees William and Adso there. Salvatore accounts for the presence of the girl in the kitchen, confirming William’s theory... (full context)
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William goes back to his room to think while Adso goes hunting for truffles, and reflects on the oddness of the way the word “truffle”... (full context)
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...in opening his own investigation into the murders, focusing on peasants rather than the monks. Adso and William talk with Alinardo, who continues to suggest that the pattern of the murders... (full context)
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William and Adso visit the labyrinth again and discover more about its layout. The group of rooms whose... (full context)
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William and Adso find “Leones,” the south tower, which contains books from Africa and the Middle East. Although... (full context)
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William and Adso realize that the “Leones” tower is missing its central heptagonal room—and yet, logically, the room... (full context)
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When William and Adso return from the library, however, they do see the girl from the village. Bernard has... (full context)
Fifth Day
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The next morning, Adso sees Bernard conferring with Malachi about some papers. He then enters the chapter house through... (full context)
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...property was simply taken from him by the Jews.  Jerome of Kaffa then makes what Adso describes as a “fairly confused” argument that the “Orientals and Greeks” believe in the poverty... (full context)
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...safe. Jorge, Remigio, and Aymaro seem to overhear, and follow Severinus out. On William’s orders, Adso follows them, but Jorge goes to the Aedificium, Aymaro disappears, and Remigio goes back to... (full context)
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After the debate, William and Adso go to check on Severinus. When they get to the infirmary, it is too late:... (full context)
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Left alone in the infirmary, William, Adso, and Benno search for the “strange book” that Severinus had mentioned. William thinks they are... (full context)
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...that he is guilty of all the murders that have taken place at the abbey. Adso observes that Bernard doesn’t have “the slightest interest” in knowing who killed the other monks,... (full context)
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...but to gloss and preserve the knowledge passed down from earlier ages. William whispers to Adso that Jorge’s sermon is a warning that if the monks continue being overly intellectually curious,... (full context)
Sixth Day
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At morning prayers, the monks chant the “Sederunt,” which gives Adso comfort. But then Malachi collapses in church and dies, saying “He told me…truly…It had the... (full context)
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In his new position as cellarer, Nicholas invites William and Adso to the abbey’s crypt, where he tells them some secrets of the abbey’s history. The... (full context)
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Listening to the “Dies irae,” Adso has a vision. He sees Abo, Jorge, Bernard, other monks, and various Biblical figures arrayed... (full context)
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Adso is about to follow them, but then sees William emerging from the labyrinth, holding a... (full context)
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Adso wakes and leaves the chapel, finding William saying goodbye to the Franciscans. He hears that... (full context)
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Adso’s dream reminds William to check the library catalogue. Back in the scriptorium, he sees a... (full context)
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Abo is offended at the insinuation that he might be the murderer. He begins telling Adso about his ring, explaining that it is a symbol of his authority as abbot. Gems... (full context)
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After leaving the abbot’s apartments, Adso suggests that Abo might either have already known everything, or he might not have not... (full context)
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Adso suggests a third hypothesis: perhaps Abo wants to solve the murder on his own in... (full context)
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...should walk outside the dormitory that night. After everyone has gone to bed, William and Adso observe Abo entering the Aedificium alone.  (full context)
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...hour, Abo still hasn’t returned, so he hadn’t gone inside simply to close the Aedificium: Adso suggests that he’s gone into the finis Africae. William agrees that this may be the... (full context)
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In the kitchen, William and Adso hear a muffled noise. William surmises that Abo tried to enter the finis Africae through... (full context)
Seventh Day
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...themselves only when they were alone, and only if they tried to read the book. Adso is somewhat disturbed by the mutual admiration between Jorge and William, calling it a “seduction,”... (full context)
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...one who sees best.” Jorge escapes the finis Africae in the dark, and William and Adso quickly realize that he is shutting the mirror door closed, and that once he shuts... (full context)
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William and Adso pursue Jorge, hoping to catch him before he devours all of Aristotle’s book. They eventually... (full context)
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William and Adso decide the room is lost and go down to the kitchen to raise the alarm... (full context)
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...spread the fire to the remaining buildings of the compound. The monks flee in confusion, Adso finds William near the cloister, where he has saved both of their traveling knapsacks (full context)
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Having given up any chance of saving the abbey, Adso and William watch the abbey burn. A despondent William tells Adso that “it was the... (full context)
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Adso tries again to help, saying that even by looking for a false order, William did... (full context)
Last Page
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...three nights, until the monks give up and begin to abandon the site. William and Adso find two horses in the woods and head east, to Bobbio. They hear that the... (full context)
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William gives Adso the glasses that Nicholas had made him, telling him that they might come in handy... (full context)
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Adso returns home to Melk. Many years later, he is sent to Italy by his abbot... (full context)