Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
*Egypt. North African land to which Zadig escapes from Babylon that Voltaire uses to satirize judicial systems. Zadig, who has slain a man in self-defense while trying to help a woman, is condemned to be sold into slavery. His camels are sold, the proceeds allocated to the city, and his money is divided among the inhabitants. Nevertheless, Voltaire praises the Egyptians for their humanity and their sense of justice.
Desert of Horeb. Biblical site of uncertain location–possibly the Sinai Peninsula–that is home of the tribe of Sétoc, the Arab merchant who buys Zadig. Here, Voltaire creates a number of incidents that illustrate the precariousness of an individual’s fate. Zadig is highly respected by the tribe for his cleverness in trapping a dishonest Hebrew debtor and in abolishing the custom of widows burning themselves; however, priests who previously profited from jewels and other valuables of self-immolating widows regard Zadig as someone who should be eliminated. Though highly favored, Zadig finds himself accused of blasphemy and condemned to be burned. Destiny once again apparently decrees that good fortune and happiness are not to last for Zadig.
Balzora fair. Place where merchants from every corner of the earth are found. A discussion among the merchants at supper permits Voltaire to engage in a comparison of religious beliefs in various countries and to conclude that different beliefs that may appear to be in conflict are actually all based on belief in a Supreme Being.
*Syria. Country where Zadig’s wanderings end. There he encounters Arbogad, the fisherman who was a cheese maker near Babylon, and other characters who recount tales illustrating the unpredictability of life. Syria is also the place where Zadig is reunited with Astarté, the queen of Babylon.