Did Nostradamus really predict the 9/11 terror attacks?

Nostradamus
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Who was Michel de Nostredame?

Michel de Nostredame, better known as Nostradamus (December 1503 – July 1566) was a former French apothecary turned writer, whose supposed predictions about the future have made him a household name. He was famous in his own lifetime and just as controversial, then, as now, regarded as either a genius, a lunatic, a phoney, a heretic or, quite simply, plan wicked.

Nostradamus began making prophecies around 1547, by this time he was a successful author, but his contentious reputation wasn’t until truly established until he published Les Prophéties in 1555.


Quatrains

Written in a series of quatrains - four lines of rhyming verse - grouped into bundles of one hundred, Les Prophéties made Nostradamus famous. But he always insisted he wasn’t a prophet –such claims would make him dangerously unpopular with the Catholic church. Even so, it’s plausible that if it wasn’t for one of his most ardent admirers, Catherine de’ Medici, he may well have been imprisoned (or worse) for far longer than a brief spell in 1561 for publishing an almanac without permission from a bishop.

Nostradamus: 'Not a straight player'

The problem with Nostradamus was that he wasn’t a straight player. He’d claimed to have invented a pill to ward off plague, he’d been expelled from medical school (for operating on the side as an apothecary) yet worked as if a fully qualified doctor.

We can see elements of this ambiguity in his rhyming quatrains too, so let’s take a closer look at two versions of the same quatrain attributed to Nostradamus (many more variations exist) that form a part of a wider text used to suggest that he predicted the attacks on the World Trade Centre on 9th September 2001.


Ambiguity

Version1

'Two steel birds will fall from the sky on the Metropolis

The sky will burn at forty-five degrees latitude

Fire approaches the great new city

Immediately a huge, scattered flame leaps up'

Version 2

'In the year of the new century and nine months

From the sky will come a great King of Terror

The sky will burn at forty-five degrees.

Fire approaches the great new city'

Before we unpick the differences between the two texts, we already have a number of issues. Nostradamus was never concise, even scholars of his writing disagree on what he was trying to say, and it all begins with the language used to write the quatrains.

Middle French

Nostradamus wrote in middle French, popular in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, with other languages, such as Latin and Greek, thrown in for good measure.

His propensity to scatter his text with obscure metaphors and obscure references make his writing suspiciously vague as well, to the degree one might be forgiven for thinking he was being deliberately verbose in lieu of substance. And that’s even before the text has been translated from middle French into modern French (it’s been noted that the quality of the translations tended to be quite poor) and then further translated into its designated language, in this instance, English. This explains why there are so many versions of Nostradamus’ writing.

Inconsistencies

Taking all of that into consideration, it’s almost a pointless exercise to pick out some of the more glaringly obvious errors in his predictions: ‘forty-five degrees latitude’ isn’t anywhere near New York, in the USA it lies just under 500 miles away in Maine; steel didn’t arrive in Europe until the 17th Century, long after Nostradamus’ death aged 62 in 1566; he cites the year of the new century, not the millennium, and as for ‘Fire approaches the great new city,’ that could apply to one of dozens of events that have already occurred in world history.


Double translation

And therein lies yet another point, you can find one of thousands of quatrains to sort-of match a significant event. This could even be Nostradamus' true talent. History tends to repeat itself, so he may have been vaguely writing about events that had already taken place which he then presented as prophecies. For example, the cited quatrains have already been attributed to the eruption of Vesuvius’, the point being that Vesuvius has erupted many times and will probably do so again.

However, all of this is made somewhat irrelevant by that fact that much of Nostradamus’ writing, or rather the writing we read in books and especially online, have been dubiously translated at least twice (if you’re reading it in English) from the original. And in some instances, as we’ve shown, parts of the text have been either misread and/or tweaked to fit a pre-existing agenda. So, by means of conclusion, if Nostradamus did predict 9/11, there’s no evidence he did so in the material we have access to.