Claim: A 1654 Nostradamus prediction said World War III would begin with the fall of "two brothers," a reference to the destroyed World Trade Center towers.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2001]
"In the City of God there will be a great thunder, Two brothers torn apart by Chaos, while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb, The third big war will begin when the big city is burning"
Origins: The turmoil of recent events has us all scrambling, some to look for solace and meaning, others for the terrorists responsible, and yet others for signs that what happened could have been prevented or at least foreseen. The 11 September 2001 attack on America destroyed not only the two World Trade Center towers in New York City, a chunk of the Pentagon in Washington, and caused untold loss of life, it also shook America's sense of invulnerability. No longer do Americans presume safety in an unsafe world.
For some, that realization is an eye-opener, unsettling but necessary, in that a child's blissful unawareness has been replaced (at great cost) with an adult's more clear-eyed view of the world and its sometimes horrifying ways. For others, it spells the beginning of the end, in that they equated an illusion of safety with its reality and thus now feel their world is ending. It is the fears of that second group that are given voice in the Nostradamus prediction circulated on the Internet even before the dust had settled in New York.
The French physician and astrologer Nostradamus (1503-1566) penned numerous quatrains populated by obscure imagery that the credulous have ever after attempted to fit to the events of their times. These predictions can often ring somewhat true in that the images employed are so general they can be found in almost every event of import, but by the same token, the prophesies are never a dead-on fit because the wordings are far too general. Not that this stops anyone from believing in them; our society's need for mysticism runs far too deep to ever allow for that.
Those looking for the certainty of a Nostradamus prophesy come true have been known to sledge hammer the results to force a fit by inventing fanciful translations from the original French, bend over backwards to assert one named term is really another, and (as in this case) outright fabricate part or all of the prediction.
Nostradamus did not write the quatrain now being attributed to him. (One wonders how a guy who died in 1566 could have written an item identified as being penned in 1654 anyway.) It originated with a student at Brock University in Canada in the 1990s, appearing on a web page essay on Nostradamus. That particular quatrain was offered by the page's author, Neil Marshall, as a fabricated example to illustrate how easily an important-sounding prophecy can be crafted through the use of abstract imagery. He pointed out how the terms he used were so deliberately vague they could be interpreted to fit any number of cataclysmic events. (A dissertation on how a somewhat similar-sounding real prophesy of Nostradamus' has been interpreted in a variety of wildly different ways can be found here.)
It appears someone mistook Marshall's illustrative example for an actual Nostradamus prophecy and, not content to let well enough alone, added "The third big war will begin when the big city is burning." A fabrication was thus further fabricated.
But that wasn't the end of it. More fakery was piled on in later versions that now included all of the text quoted in the Example section above but now concluded with:
"on the 11th day of the 9 month that...two metal birds would crash into two tall statues...in the new city... and the world will end soon after"
Similarly, another enhanced version incorporates the Example text into a more detailed prophecy:
And Nostradamus predicted this (who knows how long ago):
"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..."
"In the city of york there will be a great collapse,
2 twin brothers torn apart by chaos
while the fortress falls the great leader will succumb
third big war will begin when the big city is burning"
Needless to say, these versions are as fake as the first was.
Barbara "la cosa nostradamus" Mikkelson
Last updated: 11 September 2001