Foucault's Pendulum has a litany of character names that intrigue me. I wonder where many of them come from.

For example, Casaubon, the name of one of the main characters, seems like it comes from Isaac Casaubon, a French philosopher. While I'm having trouble drawing overall thematic connections and links, this has been useful for considering exactly what's going on in the story.

There are a few names, though, that I can't seem to uniquely connect to any specific person or idea. Particularly, the names 'Colonel Ardenti,' 'Diotallevi,' and 'Belbo' remain a little opaque. My guess is that Ardenti just comes from the Italian word "ardenti" itself, but I'm not entirely sure. 'Belbo' looks like it has a lot of possibilities, and I'm somewhat lost as to which one is correct. And I don't get any results at all looking for connections to 'Diotallevi.'

Do the above names relate to any ideas or allude to the real world? What do they refer to?

  • The Talk page of the Wikipedia entry for the book has suggestions for Diotallevi and Ardenti. I've not read the book so am ill equipped to try and turn that into an answer, but it may be worth having a look there. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Spagirl
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 13:07

1 Answer 1


Colonel Ardenti... well, Ardenti comes from the verb Ardire (to dare) which was also the motto of many die hard, violent, and ultra-fanatic fascists in World War I. In the book, Colonel Ardenti is obviously a "fascist" with a penchant for Mussolini, nationalism (he fought in Vietnam and Algeria on the "wrong side"), uniforms and "dirty war tactics".

Diotallevi is a typical orphan's surname. In Italy in the past many impoverished families abandoned their children. When these were found and delivered to charity organizations, they were given similar surnames (there are many variants) that means "may God raise you up", or "may God take care of you", since their real names were unknown.

  • and, Diotallevi is Jewish, who is particularly interested in religion. So, it can be a pun, because God really took care of him by giving him a particular talent in studying anything divine. Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 13:04

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