Robert Langdon is the main character in the Robert Langdon series, which consists of Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, Inferno and Origin. In the film adaptations, Langdon is portrayed by Tom Hanks. In an upcoming action-adventure television series based on The Lost Symbol, he was portraying by Ashley Zukerman.
At the age of seven, Langdon fell into a well and was trapped there at night. This led to him developing claustrophobia, which is continually believed to succeed in the following years. His father died when he was 12 years. At preparatory school, he played water polo and a diver was requested.
Langdon became a professor at Harvard, teaching religious Symbology and Art History. Even as he got older, he would retain his “morning ritual” of swimming laps in the college's pool; his campus nickname “The Dolphin” was both because of his affable personality and his diving skills. By 2003, he had published numerous texts on symbols and was working on the manuscript of his next book, Symbols of the Lost Sacred Feminine, which won him recognition by Jacques Saunière and involved him in the events of The Da Vinci Code. This renown as a symbologist caught the attention of CERN in 2000, which led him to The Vatican (Angels & Demons), and of the WHO in 2013, which led him to Florence (Inferno). After his father died, Peter Solomon became a father figure to him and when Solomon was kidnapped in Washington D.C. in 2009, Langdon became involved in the events of The Lost Symbol. Throughout his adventures, Langdon displayed a brilliant problem-solving mind and an Eidetic Memory. He was super smart!!!
The character was created by Dan Brown as a fictional alter ego of himself or “the man he wishes he could be.” Brown himself was born on June 22, 1964 in Exeter, New Hampshire, and the fictional Langdon is described as having been born on the same date, also in Exeter, and attending the same school as Brown did, Phillips Exeter Academy.
Langdon is said to be a tough teacher and strict disciplinarian, but he was also a lover of fun. Throughout the books and the lessons he recalls, it is clear that he is not the ordinary professor, he knows how to entertain the crowd and keep the attention on him, even if sometimes the students have a different opinion. Robert is rather open-minded, he can be seen at the campus discussing themes that go from informatics to ancient religion, but he is also known to believe that old myths are no more than just that.
Robert Langdon (born June 22, 1964 in Exeter, New Hampshire, United States) is described as looking like “Harrison Ford in Harris tweed,” with his standard attire being a turtleneck, Harris Tweed jacket, khakis, and collegiate cordovan loafers, which he wears to all events, from lectures to social events. A frequently referred to accessory is his Walt Disney Mickey Mouse watch, a gift from his parents on his ninth birthday. He drives an automatic Saab 900S.Langdon was a diver at Phillips Exeter Academy in prep school and played water polo at Princeton University where he went for college. He suffers from claustrophobia, the fear of enclosed spaces, as he fell into a well when he was 7 years old. His father died when he was 12, and his new mentor father-figure became Peter Solomon, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.
Known for a brilliant problem-solving mind and his genius, Langdon has an eidetic memory and an understanding of semiotics. As a professor at Harvard University, he teaches Religious Iconology and the fictional field of Symbology. Langdon also mentions he was raised a Catholic but that he will never understand God and also said that faith is a gift he has yet to receive.
Angels & Demons
Robert Langdon is called to CERN headquarters in Switzerland to find out about the religious symbological implications of the death of CERN's finest and best-known physicist, Leonardo Vetra. When he starts to investigate the murder, his obsession for the subject history comes into play. Langdon is later joined in the investigation by Vittoria Vetra (Leonardo's daughter) and they start their journey to the Vatican to unlock the mystery behind the Illuminati, an anti-Catholic secret society which, according to the plot, has deeply infiltrated many global institutions, political, economical and religious. Langdon and Vetra solve the mystery of the Illuminati by following the Path of Illumination in Rome and in so doing explain the disappearances of four Cardinals during a papal conclave, the murder of Leonardo Vetra, and the theft of antimatter (a substance that can be used for mass destruction). At the end of the novel Langdon ends up having a relationship with Vittoria Vetra. In the last few sentences of Angels & Demons, Vittoria Vetra asks him if he has ever had a divine experience. When he replies in the negative, Vittoria strips and quips, “You've never been to bed with a yoga master, have you?” Their relationship, however, is only mentioned briefly in The Da Vinci Code, mentioning the fact that Langdon had last seen Vittoria a year previously.
The Da Vinci Code
In the beginning of 2003's The Da Vinci Code, Robert Langdon is in Paris to give a lecture on his work. Having made an appointment to meet with Jacques Saunière, the curator of the Louvre, he is startled to find the French police at his hotel room door. They inform him that Saunière has been murdered and they would like his immediate assistance at the Louvre to help them solve the crime. Unknown to Langdon, he is in fact the prime suspect in the murder and has been summoned to the scene of the crime so that the police may extract a confession from him. While he is in the Louvre, he meets Sophie Neveu, a young Cryptologist from the DCPJ. When Langdon and Neveu get the chance to talk in private, he finds out that Jacques Saunière is her grandfather. Saunière instructs Sophie to “Find Robert Langdon,” according to the message he left for her in the floor, therefore, Sophie believes he is innocent of her grandfather's murder.
He spends the rest of the novel dodging the police and trying to solve the mystery of a secret ancient society which was led by Leonardo da Vinci himself, the Priory of Sion. At the end of the novel, Langdon uncovers the mystery behind Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail also called Sang real. He agrees to meet with Sophie at the end of month again at the end.
The Lost Symbol
In The Lost Symbol, Robert Langdon has an adventure in Washington DC. with the concepts of Freemasonry. Tricked into visiting the nation's capitol, Robert Langdon spends twelve hours racing through the monuments and buildings of the forefathers, searching for the truth in the secret society of the Masons. Behind new doors lies secrets that threaten to change the way people view science and politics, with Robert Langdon acting as the last line of defense.
InfernoIn Inferno, Langdon woke up in an Italian hospital with no memory of the events that led him to be in Italy. He kept hallucinating about a silver-haired woman, saying that she was life and telling him to “seek and find,” and a tall, green-eyed figure wearing a beaked mask claiming to be death. Dr. Marconi is the physician tending to him, but he soon calls his colleague, Dr. Sienna Brooks, to help him since he doesn't speak much English. An assassin entered and killed Dr. Marconi in cold blood, so Sienna helped Langdon escape and took him to her apartment. They contacted the American Embassy, but instead of helping him, Embassy sent the same killer after him. Thankfully, he had given the address of Pensione la Fiorentina, a hotel accross the street, and not her apartment's.
Langdon realized that he was on his own and Sienna showed him an object that he had been carrying which could explain why they were after him. It was a cylinder with the biohazard symbol. Inside the cylinder, there was a pointer with a modified version of Sandro Botticelli's La Mappa dell'Inferno. However, when Langdon accessed his Harvard e-mail account, the authorities were able to locate him and sent a van full of armed men after him. Sienna helped him escape once more, this time they took her Trike and zigzagged through the streets of Florence to lose them.
They ditched the Trike and accompanied a group of students to the Art Institute where they reached the Boboli Gardens, went to the Palazzo Pitti and used the Vasari Corridor to cross the Arno river and arrive at the Palazzo Vecchio. There, he learned through Marta Alvarez that he had been there the night before with Ignazio Busoni and that the two of them had stolen Dante Alighieri's death mask, which belonged to Bertrand Zobrist, a man who had jumped down the Badia Tower the week before. They got separated afterwards, but Ignazio left a clue as to where he had hidden the mask: “Paradise 25” which referred to Canto XXV from The Divine Comedy. After escaping the police once again and borrowing an iPhone from a tourist, he learned where Ignazio had hidden the mask.
Langdon took Sienna to the Baptistry of San Giovanni; there they discovered that the mask had a poem in its back and that it led them to Venice. Before they could leave, however, a man named Jonathan Ferris entered and confronted him, saying that he worked for the World Health Organization (WHO) and it had been him to fly Langdon from Boston to Florence in Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey's behalf, so he needed to know what he was doing. Sienna explained that he had amnesia, but that they were working on the clues, and the three of them traveled to Venice.
They first went to St. Mark's Basilica where Sienna tried to warn Langdon about Ferris not being an ally, but he didn't catch what she was trying to say. Soon after, some agents arrived causing her to downright accuse Ferris of calling them, convincing Langdon to ditch him and flee with her. Meanwhile, Robert realized that they were in the wrong museum, where they needed to be was in fact not in Venice but in a whole different country. They tried to escape through a shaft that connected the subterraneous of the church with St. Mark's square, but there was only time for Sienna to climb up and the soldiers caught him.
Langdon woke up on board a ship where the silver-haired woman from his hallucinations also was. She introduced herself as Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey, the director of the WHO and the one who had recruited him to help her find a plague created by Zobrist. She explained that an organization called The Consortium had erased his memories to gain Langdon's trust and that was exactly what Sienna Brooks (while working for the Consortium) had been trying to do; both organizations were now on the same side, but Sienna had fooled them all for she had been Zobrist's lover and was trying to release the plague instead.
They hurried to Istanbul for that was where the last clue sent Langdon to; at the Basilica Cistern, Inferno had been hidden. However, Sienna had outrun them and she was already there; the bag with the plague had disappeared. When Langdon saw her, she fled and he started chasing her; they passed by the Spice Bazaar and reached the docks of the Golden Horn where she got a boat and thus had access to the sea. Robert lost hope of catching her, but a moment later Sienna stopped and willingly returned to him.
Sienna explained that she had been actually trying to stop Zobrist's plague, but it had been released a week before. Zobrist had sent her a letter explaining exactly what he had done and she went to Florence to beg him to destroy it, but she was too late. Inferno was a viral vector that altered human DNA so one third of the population would became sterile; the virus would also be passed on to the next generation so that the problem of Earth's overpopulation would be solved. The reason Sienna acted against the WHO was because she didn't trust governments and powerful organizations with a sample of Inferno for she was sure they would use it to make weapons.
Fearing imprisionment, Sienna was ready to leave right after she delivered the explanation, but Robert stopped her and asked her to trust him that since she was the only one with knowledge on Inferno, the world needed her. Making a herculean effort, Sienna agreed. Langdon took her to the Swiss Consulate where Sienna spoke to Dr. Sinskey, letting her know of everything she knew about Inferno. After hearing everything, Dr. Sinskey was sure that Sienna would be crucial at a meeting in Geneva in a few hours' time due to her different line of thought. They were going to discuss the crisis and prepare an action plan so Sienna agreed to go with her, and she and Langdon parted ways.
While saying goodbye to her at a private terminal, Sienna told him that she wished he was coming with them and asked if Robert thought that he was too old for her, showing that she was in love with him. Langdon said that he thought that he was definitely too old for her, but also said that he would like to see her again. Still, Sienna kissed him on the lips and told him that she would miss him, Robert replied that he would also miss her, then told her of an ancient saying often attributed to Dante Alighieri: “Remember tonight for it's the beginning of forever.”
- Robert has German origins and comes from the name Hrodebert, meaning of the name is “bright fame” (hrod being “fame” and beraht, “bright”).
- It is most likely related to his fame as a professor of symbology and art history which led him to the events of all his books thus far.
- Langdon is a place name meaning “long hill.”
- Dan Brown chose this surname to his protagonist because of John Langdon, a professor of typography at Drexel University who is known for his creation of ambigrams, typographical designs that can be read in multiple ways; for example, both right side up and upside down. An example of Langdon's ambigrams appeared on the cover of the first edition of Brown’s novel Angels & Demons, and other ambigrams featured throughout that novel were also designed by Langdon. On the acknowledgments page, Brown calls Langdon “one of the most ingenious and gifted artists alive … who rose brilliantly to my impossible challenge and created the ambigrams for this novel.” John Langdon also created the logo for the fictional Depository Bank of Zurich, which appears in The Da Vinci Code film.
- The Symbology of Secret Sects
- The Art of the Illuminati: Part 1
- The Lost Language of Ideograms
- Religious Iconology
- Symbols of the Lost Sacred Feminine
- Christian Symbols in the Muslim World
- DVC, p. 8
- Robert Langdon Biography (Fictional Adventurer) Infoplease.com (January 10, 2013)
- TLS, p. 8
- TLS, p. 25
- A&D, p. 26
- DVC, p. 227
- TLS, p. 7
- TLS, p. 15
- A&D, film
- Dan Brown sprinkles statement with clues about next book Philippe Naughton, Times Online (March 13, 2008)