Anathem Wiki

This page documents suspected correlations between the world of Arbre and Earth. The major premise is the isolation of scholars for years, decades, or lifetimes in monasteries/concents, which causes significant differences in what might seem to be fairly direct connections. Some correlations are looser than others. As Stephenson's work frequently points out, you need to make your own judgments.


Specific Persons[]

Suspected references
Arbre Earth
Cnoüs Abraham, Thales or Pythagoras
Thelenes Socrates
Protas Plato
Cartas Archimedes, Benedict of Nursia
Diax Zeno, Jesus of Nazareth
Adrakhones Pythagoras
Saunt Evenedric Gottlob Frege
Halikaarn Kurt Gödel or Georg Cantor
Proc Edmund Husserl or Ludwig Wittgenstein or David Hilbert or Willard Van Orman Quine
Dox Spock
Yorr Comic book supervillain or Mad scientist
Saunt Bly PrometheusÉvariste Galois
Saunt Bucker Michael Faraday
Saunt Edhar Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Saunt Erasmas Desiderius Erasmus
Saunt Ethras ?
Saunt Grod Richard Feynman
Saunt Orlon Hans Goldschmidt
Saunt Hemn David Hilbert, Joseph Louis Lagrange, or William Rowan Hamilton
Saunt Lesper René Descartes
Saunt Mandarast Enrico Fermi, Frank Drake
Saunt Muncoster Albert Einstein
Saunt Taunga Alan Turing
Saunt Tredegarh Lord Kelvin
Saunt Baritoe Immanuel Kant
Saunt Atamant Edmund Husserl, Max Tegmark
Saunt Gardan William of Ockham
Saunt Lora Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Lady Baritoe

Lady Smith Woodward (wife of Sir Arthur Smith Woodward) or Marie Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin

Temnestra Aristophanes 
Kefedokhles Hippias?
Paphlagon Hugh Everett III

In addition to the "functional" correspondence between Arbrans and humans who made certain discoveries, the names of the Arbran characters in some cases recall the names of certain philosophers and scientists of Earth. For example, "Cartas" (especially in the form "Cartasian Discipline") recalls Descartes and his Cartesian method, and "Proc" recalls the Neoplatonist Proclus.

Roles, Occupations, or Positions[]

Suspected references
Arbre Earth
Math Cloister, Monastery, or Abbey, a University, or maybe even a Jail (given hints that the seclusion of avouts in maths is partially imposed for the safety of Saecular society)
Avout Scholar living in a Math. Strictly rational, as opposed to strictly religious as on Earth.
Saecular A "regular" person, a person outside the walls of the Maths. Saeculars and Avouts mingle only at certain designated times, or in emergencies. It is normally used as a general term, as Saeculars can join the Maths (though in extremely metered and structured ways) and Avouts can leave a Math at Apert to rejoin Saecular society.
Deolater Religious, God-believer = Theist.
Ita System administrator. Probably "IT Analyst" or "IT Administrator".
Unarian Someone who has dedicated a block of one year of service in a Math. This correlates to our collegiate system. Many join a Math for only a few years in order to receive a secondary education. Those who stay within a Math become teachers of the younger Unarians. Gifted young individuals are often graduated to the Decenarians.
Decenarian Scholar who dedicates 10-year blocks of time to a Math. Can only join at a younger age. Sometimes they are bright but difficult offspring of Saeculars. They correlate to graduate students conducting research, along with professors who teach and conduct research. Those unable to keep up intellectually become the laborers and hobbyists in the Concent, although the least of these are still highly educated compared with Saeculars; this "Falling Back" occurs after the equivalent of a bachelor's or master's degree.
Centenarian Someone who dedicates a 100-year block of lifetime isolation in a Math. Involved in extremely high-level research. The closest correlation is a research think tank.
Millenarian The collegiate metaphor breaks down at the 1000-year level of service. The closest correlation is a highly enlightened monk or even a Buddha. See Fraa Jad.
Burger Bourgeoisie, middle-class. Businessperson. Often involved with the Unarians.
Artisan Craftsman or highly-skilled laborer.
Sline Short for Baseline, usually refers to an uneducated person or peasant. This tends to be more clinical than derogatory, but is still a biased term.

Ideas and Philosophies[]


Suspected References



Adrakhonic Theorem

Pythagorean Theorem

Diax's Rake

A warning against Metaphysical Optimism

Aboutness Problem

IntentionalityTuring Test

Gardan's Steelyard

Occam's Razor


General Relativity

Hemn Space

configuration space, phase space

Lazy Peregrin problem

Traveling salesman problem

Saunt Lesper's Coordinates

Cartesian coordinate system

Saunt Alvar's Syndrome

Stockholm Syndrome

Suvinian Dialog

Socratic Method

Peregrin Dialog

Peripatetic / Aristotelian method

Periklynian Dialog




Sconic thought

Kantianism, transcendental idealism


Aristotelian Rhetoricist

Polycosmic theory

Many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics
Polycosmic Manipulation Penrose's Quantum Mind, weaponized


Ontological, Nominalist


Platonic Realist





Platonic Ideal

Hylaean Theoric World

Platonic World of Forms

cf. hyle

Halikaarn's Diagonal

Cantor's diagonal argument

Conjecture of Saunt Mandarast Rare Earth Hypothesis

Religions and Practices[]

Suspected References
Arbre Earth
Orth Greek or Latin
Fluccish English, other vernacular languages
Theorics Science, especially physics and mathematics
Metatheorics Metaphysics, philosophy
Theor Physicist, intelligentsia, intellectual
Enthusiast Fideist
Deolator Theist
Ark of Baz Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church
Counter-Bazian arks Protestant denominations
Kelx Jehovah's Witnesses (evangelization), Trinitarianism (three base entities), One Thousand and One Nights (tales to avoid execution).
Moshiach Millenialist, Evangelical, or Messianist ("Moshiach" is Hebrew for "Messiah")
Vale Lore Martial Arts, approached and dealt with in a highly disciplined and almost religious manner. Very reminiscent of the histories and legends of Eastern monasteries like Shaolin and Wudang Mountain .


Suspected References (see Iconography)
Arbre Earth
Doxian Iconography Star Treks Mr. Spock, perhaps DC Comics heroic Braniacs (Braniac 2, Vril Dox, and Braniac 5, Querl Dox)
Muncostran Iconography Albert Einstein, perhaps Back to the Future's Doc Brown
Yorran Iconography Comic book supervillains generally, perhaps specifically Marvel Comics's Doctor Doom
Temnestrian Iconography Socrates, especially as portrayed in the satirical play The Clouds by Aristophanes; this iconography is said to originate from a satirical play called The Cloud-Weaver by Temnestra
Rhetorian Iconography Sophists, both Athenian historical figures and conceptually
Moshianic Iconography Messianic religion, particularly Messianic Judaism (in which the messiah is called 'moshiach')


Suspected References
Arbre Earth
Ethras Athens
Baz Rome/Byzantium
Periklyne Agora
Sea of Seas MediterraneanArctic Ocean
Ecba Pompeii/Stromboli /Mt. Etna , Sicily/Crete, Santorini
Temple of Orithena Pythagorean School


Suspected References
Arbre Earth
Allswell Serotonin. Potentially also a satire on concentrated antidepressants in environment and "bioceuticals".
Cartabla Handheld mapping device with integrated GPS (advanced GPS unit)
Clesthyra's Eye ’Flyeye’ NEOSTEL
Drummon Cargo truck, semi
Everything Killer Neutron bomb, miniaturized
Farspark Analog TV (obsolete)
Fetch Passenger truck
Jeejah Cellphone/PDA/Laptop
Mobe Automobile
Newmatter Nanotechnology
Pusher plate, etc. Project Orion, a theoretical design effort undertaken in the '50s
Reticulum Internet, literally network
Saunt Bucker's Basket Faraday Cage
Saunt Grod's Machine Non-deterministic Turing Machine
Saunt Orlon's Powder/Saunt Loy's Powder Thermite
Speely Video
Speelycaptor video camera
Syntactic Device Computer/Computing devices in general


Historical Events and Chronological References[]

Suspected References
Arbre Earth
Bazian Empire Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Holy Roman Empire
Old Mathic Age Middle Ages
Rebirth Renaissance
Praxic Age Enlightment/Industrial Revolution to current technology
First Harbinger European Revolutions, from the French to the Russian. More specifically, may correspond to European Revolutions of 1848.
Second Harbinger World War I
Third Harbinger World War II, Holocaust
Terrible events Apocalyptic event or series of events, no Earth counterpart (yet); suggestive of worldwide thermonuclear war and/or biological/genetic/nanotech warfare. For it to be called "Terrible Events" indicates that warfare was only a subset of what was happening. Other terrible events perhaps included catastrophic climate change (hinted at in some parts ot the novel), and/or a technological singularity.
Sarthians Parthians, Huns or other Eurasian nomads

Cultural References[]

Suspected References
Arbre Earth
Concent Monastery, Convent, Concentration camp (?), University campus, analogy to concentric circles (different areas, same origin)
Math Monastery, University school, Cloister
Pin-prick Math Hermitage
Polycosm Many-worlds interpretation, Multiverse
Discipline Rule of Saint Benedict
Blithe St. John's wort
Atamant's Copper Bowl Husserl's Copper Ashtray
Aut Ritual, Rite
Convox Convocation, Council
Tangle Three-Sisters Planting