The Apostolic poverty is a doctrine that emphasizes Christ's and the Apostles' absolute lack of possession and was strongly supported by the Franciscan religious order. The Dominicans opposed this doctrine and their views were upheld by the Pope John XXII who considered the poverty doctrine as subverting his authority (Harvey, 2004). At the same time, there was a great conflict between the Pope and the Bavarian Emperor Louis regarding the boundaries between religious and lay power and the Pope's claim to intervene on lay issues such as the Emperor's Coronation (Eco, 1983). This is, in brief, the historical setting of the film. According to the plot, the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville arrived in the Benedictine Abbey to participate in a meeting between the Pope's and the Emperor's delegates in an attempt to bring together the two opposite sides. His mission was to convey the views of the Emperor's theologists on the issue of Apostolic poverty and to ensure that there would be arrangements for a second meeting in Avignon, the Pope's court, where the Emperor's delegates would have the opportunity to express their views directly to the Pope. In my opinion, there is a twofold meaning hidden behind the deaths of the monks. First, all dead monks but Severinus worked in the library and their duty was to preserve and protect its content. However, their wish for knowledge became their death sentence. Adelmo killed himself out of shame after he had succumbed to Berengar's an ethical proposal with the exchange to have unlimited access to the library. Venantius, Berengar, and Malachi were poisoned because of their curiosity to read the secret book. Seeking for truth can be a dangerous path with dreadful consequences. Their lust for knowledge, their quest for truth in the writings of secular philosophers was a hubris, an insult to God, a doubt of Genesis, that yielded a fatal punishment. Man uses his intellect and skills to give meaning to his universe, to produce civilization, to obtain and convey knowledge and finally, in his quest for the ultimate cause of things, he is eliminated by the limitations of his own mortal, disposable nature. Death terminated the monks' curiosity and fire destroyed the library thus depriving humanity of a thesaurus of knowledge. What a great irony! It was the light that Adso held that caused the fire and eventually led to cultural and philosophical darkness.
Second, William of Baskerville was particularly interested in Logic and based all his conclusions on deductive reasoning. However, he eventually realized that his investigation comprised of a series of false deductions that accidentally led to the right final conclusion.