Zadig Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: Zadig: Ou, La Destinée, histoire orientale, 1748 (English translation, 1749)

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Social satire

Time of work: Remote antiquity

Locale: Babylon

Characters DiscussedZadig

Zadig Zadig (zah-DEEG), a wealthy young man. Educated and sensible, he rises to the position of prime minister of Babylon, only to be forced to flee after his supposed affair with Queen Astarte. Enslaved by the Egyptians, he serves Setoc and then King Nabussan. Finally, he finds Astarte and rescues her from Ogul. In a tournament of wits and arms, he wins Astarte as his bride. He rules Babylon justly and compassionately.


Astarte (ah-stahr-TAY), the queen of Babylon. After Zadig flees, she also escapes, with Cador’s aid. She is captured by the prince of Hyrcania, escapes from him, is captured by Arbogad, and is sold to Ogul. Zadig rescues her and then wins her hand.


Moabdar (moh-ahb-DAHR), the king of Babylon. Suspicious that Zadig and Astarte are lovers, he forces Zadig to flee. When Astarte also escapes, he marries Missouf. Later, he goes mad and is killed in a revolt.


Cador (kah-DOHR), Zadig’s best friend, who helps Astarte escape.


Jesrad (zhehs-RAHD), an angel who helps Zadig.


Itobad (ee-toh-BAHD), an evil lord, Zadig’s rival for Astarte’s hand.


Semire (say-MEER), Zadig’s first betrothed. He loses an eye while rescuing her from kidnappers. She then refuses to marry a one-eyed man.


Hermes (ehr-MEHS), the doctor who predicts that Zadig’s eye cannot heal.


Orcan (ohr-KAH[N]), the noble who marries Semire.


Azora (ah-zoh-RAH), Zadig’s first wife, who becomes too difficult to live with.


Arimaze (ah-ree-MAHZ), called The Envious, Zadig’s enemy.


Missouf (mee-SEWF), an Egyptian woman whose lover is killed by Zadig. She marries King Moabdar.


Setoc (say-TOHK), Zadig’s Arabian master.


Almona (ahl-moh-NAH), a widow, later Setoc’s wife.


Nabussan (nah-bews-SA[N]), the king of Serendib, who has only one faithful wife out of one hundred.


Arbogad (ahr-boh-GAHD), a happy brigand who sells Astarte to Ogul.


Ogul (oh-GEWL), a voluptuary cured by Zadig.

BibliographyAldridge, A. Owen. Voltaire and the Century of Light. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1975. A biography of Voltaire with extended discussions on his writings, including Zadig. Seeks to combine literature with the history of ideas and present Voltaire’s personality along with his philosophical framework.Gay, Peter. Voltaire’s Politics: The Poet as Realist. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1959. Places Voltaire’s political ideas in the context of his times. Includes criticism, clarification, exposition, and analysis and attempts to avoid twentieth century controversies.Sherman, Carol. Reading Voltaire’s Contes: A Semiotics of Philosophical Narration. Chapel Hill: North Carolina Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures, 1985. Systematically scrutinizes Micromégas (1753), Zadig, Candide (1759), and L’Ingénu (1767), line by line. Written in a dry, academic style. Includes charts and graphs that dissect the stories.Topazio, Virgil W. Voltaire: A Critical Study of His Major Works. New York: Random House, 1967. The essential handbook on Voltaire. Covers his poetry, dramas, and novels. Gives insight to his life and the mood of the century in which Voltaire was working. An excellent and eminently readable study on Voltaire.Wade, Ira O. The Intellectual Development of Voltaire. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1969. Traces Voltaire’s development from his early poetry through his philosopher status and devotes considerable time to his stay in England and the writing done there. Includes Voltaire’s thoughts on science and biblical criticism.
Categories: Characters