Take a visual journey through Voltaire's Candide

Glossary

 

 



Abbé of Périgord: a cleric from the district of Périgord in southwestern France; this "ever alert, officious, forward, fawning, and complaisant" busybody takes it upon himself to show Candide the town.

Aga of the Janissaries: The Janissaries were infantry units that formed the Ottoman sultan’s household troops and bodyguards; the Aga was the commander of the unit.

Anabaptist: a member of a Protestant Reformation sect that arose in Switzerland in the 16th century. Anabaptists believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible, rejected infant baptism, and supported the separation of church and state. Anabaptists were persecuted into the 17th century by other Protestants and by Roman Catholics.

auto-da-fé: the burning at the stake of a heretic; in Candide, a torture ritual conducted in Lisbon to fend off (unsuccessfully) another earthquake.

bagatelle: a trifle; something not worth mentioning.

bleeding: also known as bloodletting; the withdrawal of often considerable quantities of blood from a patient, long — but incorrectly — thought to cure or prevent illness and disease. Bloodletting was the most common medical practice performed by doctors from antiquity up to the late 19th century.

Cacambo: Candide's faithful servant.

cadi: a civil judge in Islamic countries.

Cadiz: a city in Spain, the home of the Spanish Navy since the 18th century.

Cicero: a Roman orator, philosopher, and man of letters of the first century B.C.E. who became known as a lawyer of uncommon ability.

Cluentius: Accused in 66 B.C.E. of poisoning his stepfather, Aulus Cluentius Habitus was successfully defended by Cicero in his speech Pro Cluentio, regarded as a model of oratory and Latin prose.

Dey: the ruler of Tunis or Algiers during the Ottoman Empire, 1671–1830.

Don Issachar: a Jewish merchant who keeps Cunegonde as his sexual slave. Voltaire’s depiction of him is an example of anti-Semitism in the tale.

faro: a card game in which players gamble on the order in which specific cards will appear from the top of the deck.

florins: gold coins once commonly used throughout Europe.

Holy Inquisition: an ecclesiastical tribunal that investigated heresy and punished — and often executed — heretics.

Homer: Ionian poet (8th century B.C.E.) recognized as the earliest and greatest of the Greek epic poets, and traditionally credited with composing both the Iliad and the Odyssey. The reference is to the Iliad, which focuses on the final year of the ten-year Trojan War, fought by ancient Greece and Troy and precipitated by the abduction by Paris, son of the King of Troy, of Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta.

Imam: a Muslim spiritual and temporal leader; a Muslim scholar.

kaimak: a creamy dairy product somewhat similar to crème fraîche; common in the cuisines of the Balkans, Turkey, and the Middle East.

Levantine: a native or inhabitant of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Lima: In the Lima earthquake of October 1746 (the deadliest in Peru before 1970), at least 5,000 persons were killed; today, an annual festival of the Miracle Christ takes place in Peru, and purple is worn during October to commemorate the disaster.

Lord Inquisitor: a high officer of the Holy Inquisition.

Los Padres: the Jesuits.

Manichaean: a follower of the 3rd-century Persian sage Mani, who maintained that there are two principles, the one good and the other evil, each equally powerful in the governance of the world.

miter: the distinctive hat worn by a bishop.

Mogul: a member of the Muslim dynasty that ruled India from 1526 until 1857.

Mount Atlas: The Atlas Mountains are a mountain system in northwest Africa, stretching from the Atlantic coast of Morocco to the Gulf of Gabes, Tunisia; the highest peak is Mount Toubkal.

mufti: a Muslim scholar who interprets Islamic law.

Oreillons: a "savage" tribe inhabiting an "unknown country" near Paraguay. The Oreillons represent the state of "pure nature," uncorrupted by Western civilization.

Palus Méotides: the Sea of Azov, an arm of the Black Sea.

physic: a medicinal preparation, often a purgative.

piastres: a unit of currency formerly common in many countries; here, a Spanish or Spanish-American silver dollar equal to eight reals.

pistoles: gold coins used in a number of European countries through the 19th century.

pizzle: the penis of an animal, especially a bull; often made into a whip.

Propontis: the ancient name of the Sea of Marmara, an inland sea separating the European and Asian parts of Turkey and connecting the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea.

quarterings: indicating multiple coats of arms; i.e., Cunegonde, unlike Candide, is of a venerable and noble family.

quoits: a traditional game, similar to horseshoes, in which metal, rope, or rubber rings are pitched from a distance at a metal spike.

Rabirius: a Roman senator who was accused by Julius Caesar of involvement in the death of Lucius Appuleius Saturninus. Cicero offered a defense of him in Pro Rabirio reo perduellionis.

sanbenito: an ankle-length garment decorated with flames and devils, worn by heretics condemned to the auto-da-fé.

Seraglio: the wives and concubines of one man in a Muslim household; also, a sultan's palace.

subdeacon: a cleric or layperson who assists the deacon in the celebration of communion (the Eucharist).

Sublime Porte: a term referring to the government of the Ottoman Empire.

sufficient reason: the philosophical principle that there is an explanation for everything that happens.

Theatine: an order of priests founded in Rome by St. Cajetan and the future Pope Paul IV in 1524.

throws them into the public sewer: In France, actors were at one time looked upon as excommunicated persons, not worthy of burial in holy ground or with Christian rites.

vizier: a high-ranking government official in the Ottoman Empire.