Vocabulary in Candide
Vocabulary Examples in Candide:
"behind a screen..." See in text (Chapter I)
This might seem like good cover for two furtive lovers, but, in reality, this screen is likely partially transparent, making everything they do behind it appear in silhouette to everyone at the dinner. It's no wonder, then, that they get caught.
"sufficient reason..." See in text (Chapter I)
Another element of Leibnitz's philosophy, the Principle of Sufficient Reason, demands that for every cause their must be a reason, that is, for every fact, there must be some evidence to support that fact. For Cunegonde to be a sufficient reason for Candide would mean that she was a reason for his existence, that she was made for Candide and he for her like noses are "made" for spectacles. It's a romantic but ultimately faulty form of logic.
"metaphysicotheologico-cosmolonigology..." See in text (Chapter I)
A combination of metaphysics, the philosophy of being and substance, theology, the study of religion, and cosmology, the study of the universe. This combined field of inquiry was invented by Voltaire for maximum comedic effect, suggesting that Pangloss has put on airs and claimed to know more than he really does.
"Preceptor Pangloss..." See in text (Chapter I)
A "preceptor" is a teacher or instructor. "Pangloss" is a name derived from the Greek words pan, meaning "all," and gloss, meaning "language," making Pangloss mean "all tongues." Together, these two words suggest that Pangloss has a wide range of knowledge and interests well-suited to that of a teacher.
"Cunegonde..." See in text (Chapter I)
Cunegonde, Candide's love interest, daughter of the Baron. Her name may be a pun on the Latin word "cunnus" and the French word "cul," both terms for female genitalia. This supports the reading of the character as the primary love interest in the novel.
"grand almoner..." See in text (Chapter I)
A grand almoner is an official who distributes charity for someone. A curate is a priest entrusted with the religious education of a parish flock. That the two are one in the same here suggests that the Baron has the curate (and, by extension, the Church) in his back pocket.
"only seventy-one quarterings..." See in text (Chapter I)
Quarterings are divisions on a coat of arms; they indicate the degree, or lack thereof, of a person's worth or social station. Interestingly, the maximum number of divisions was usually sixty-four, but Voltaire increased it to take a stab at the class of lords, whose values he satirizes throughout the book.
"accorded him his pardon..." See in text (Chapter II)
In this case, the King of the Bulgarians pardons Candide not for his wisdom, as a student of metaphysics, but for his ignorance, as an innocent youth incapable of understanding the depths of the philosophy he claims to espouse. Thus, we see Voltaire's contempt for the philosophers of the Enlightenment, who were viewed somewhat critically at that time.
"metaphysician..." See in text (Chapter II)
Metaphysics, or the philosophy of being, hails from Greece and early philosophers like Thales, who believed life originated from water, and Aristotle, who wrote Metaphysics. It is one of the oldest and most well-known philosophies and was very popular in the early modern period when Candide was written.
"human will is free..." See in text (Chapter II)
In Candide's philosophy, as taught to him by Pangloss, belief in free will doesn't necessarily mean that one doesn't believe in God. In fact, Liebnizian optimism, from which Pangloss' philosophy derives, states that God gave humans free will that they might choose to love Him (their punishment for not doing so being physical evil, or pain and suffering, which reflects their metaphysical evil, or imperfection).
"heroes of six feet..." See in text (Chapter II)
These four soldiers, while taller than Candide (and thus possessive of larger strides), nevertheless are considered of lower station, because they're six feet tall instead of five feet five inches. Labeling the four as "heroes" emphasizes their mindless obedience; they perform like trained machines programmed to do as their king bids. Candide, a free thinker, wouldn't fit in with them and would upset their sense of honor.
"with a cudgel..." See in text (Chapter II)
A cudgel or club was used in the military to beat enemies or trainees into submission. A "rammer" was similarly a weapon used to crush or batter by force and often referred to a battering ram wielded by two or more men. In this case, the rammer refers to the smaller blunt instrument and not the larger battering ram.
"they fettered him..." See in text (Chapter II)
The verb "to fetter" means to chain or shackle. In effect, the Bulgarians have taken Candide prisoner, forcing him into military service. Judging by the speed with which they did so, it's safe to say that this was their plan all along, and that they incited Candide to drink (but not too much) to make him easier to capture.
"Comrade..." See in text (Chapter II)
Modern readers will likely recognize the word "comrade" in its form as an identifier used by Soviets and members of the Eastern Bloc in years of Communist rule. However, Candide was written in 1759, a full century before the word began to pick up overt political connotations. Here, it's used to signify nationality, not political affiliation.
"between two furrows..." See in text (Chapter II)
A furrow is a narrow trench dug into the soil, typically with a plough, often with the purpose of planting seeds in a field. For Candide to lie between two furrows would mean lying on the raised piece of land between trenches, a curious choice given that he's trespassing on a private estate and would likely not want to be seen.
"two florins..." See in text (Chapter III)
A florin was a gold coin struck in Florence in the Middle Ages. Over time, the term was applied to a number of different coins, including the English two-shilling bob, the German Rheingulder, and the Dutch guilder, the coin most likely referred to here.
"the manufacture of Persian stuffs which they make in Holland..." See in text (Chapter III)
Here, "Persian stuffs" refers to Persian fabrics, in particular to textiles with elaborate, ornamental designs, such as brocade. Holland and Persia didn't establish trade until the 17th Century, when the Dutch East India Company began importing Persian textiles, spices, and ceramic wares. To save money, they began producing some of these items in Holland, as Voltaire mentions here.
"one of his brethren, an unfeathered biped with a rational soul..." See in text (Chapter III)
"Brethren" is a plural form of "brother" and "biped" means any creature that walks on two feet and isn't feathered. James witnessed what happened to Candide—a foul event not unlike a baptism in that he was showered in filth instead of water—and now wants to help. He disagrees with the orator both personally and philosophically and feels that the orator should've treated Candide better.
"poured over him a full..." See in text (Chapter III)
Voltaire trails off, but we can assume that this is a bucket of urine and possibly feces. Up until the modern age, chamber pots or buckets were used as toilets and dumped out of the window onto the street when they were full. Reportedly, gentlemen started walking on the outside of the street when walking with a lady to prevent her from being the victim of such an event.
"causing Te Deum to be sung each in his own camp..." See in text (Chapter III)
Te Deum, a hymn praising God (Deus), typically sung following a war victory. Notice that both kings are singing it at once, implying that the losses they've each inflicted on the other side constitute a "victory," even though neither of them have truly won or lost the war. Voltaire uses this absurd situation to underscore that there are no winners in war.
"Trumpets, fifes, hautboys, drums, and cannon..." See in text (Chapter III)
In the 18th century, warfare was a very formal and ostentatious affair, with battlefields containing not just soldiers and cannons but trumpet players and other musicians making music for the troops. "Hautboys" are double-reeded wind instruments and "fifes" are like high-pitched flutes.
"so gallant, so spruce, so brilliant..." See in text (Chapter III)
To be "gallant" means to be brave and honorable, whereas "spruce" means to be brisk and lively. Voltaire praises the armies in an over-the-top and disingenuous way, exaggerating both their skill and their appearance in order to point out the essentially ridiculous nature of war.
"no letting of blood or taking a glister..." See in text (Chapter IV)
"Glister" is an archaic term for an enema, or an injection of fluid into the rectum, generally used for cleaning purposes. In the 18th Century, glisters and blood-letting were common ways of purifying the body. This blood-letting may also refer to the practice of using leeches to suck the blood out of a patient (the logic being that the leech would filter out the infection).
"p—x—d..." See in text (Chapter IV)
P—x—d, here means poxed, or diseased. Syphilis was frequently referred to as the Great Pox and may be the specific disease Pangloss and the soldiers have contracted. However, syphilis in general acts very slowly on the body, with many sufferers experiencing no noticeable symptoms for years. Pangloss' misunderstanding of venereal disease speaks to the general confusion surrounding STDs in the 18th century.
"a learned Grey Friar..." See in text (Chapter IV)
A "friar" is a member of a religious order, in particular the Dominicans, Augustines, Carmelites, and Franciscans, who were known to wear gray robes such as the one mentioned here. Notice how Voltaire has taken great pains to trace this disease through all classes of society, implying that no one (regardless of their religion or their class) is safe.
"evidently opposed to the great end of nature..." See in text (Chapter IV)
This "great end of nature" should be understood as procreation, or the proliferation of life. Pangloss believes that his venereal diseases have contaminated his sperm, "the source of life," making it difficult to reproduce. He's both right and wrong in this: some STDs can reduce male fertility, but do not, in fact, damage the sperm itself or prevent procreation.
"we should have neither chocolate nor cochineal..." See in text (Chapter IV)
"Cochineal," a reddish dye made from the crushed bodies of female cochineal insects. Both chocolate and cochineal were brought from the Americas by Christopher Columbus and were so highly prized in Europe that Pangloss sees contracting a venereal disease as a fair trade.
"who owed it to a marchioness who took it from a page..." See in text (Chapter IV)
A "marchioness" is a noblewoman who ranks above a countess and below a duchess, while a "page" is a young servant who works for a member of a noble house. Notice the way in which Voltaire cavalierly traces the provenance of this STD, ignoring both the social hierarchy and any sense of propriety to reveal just how lascivious the upper classes could be.
"she was infected with them, she is perhaps dead of them..." See in text (Chapter IV)
His "hell torments" are, in fact, sexually transmitted diseases, which he contracted after having unprotected sex with Paquette, the young servant we saw in Chapter I. Note, however, that there are no known sexual diseases that cause the symptoms Pangloss suffers from, and that it's very unlikely that he would lose his teeth because of it. Here, we can see Voltaire exaggerating the punishment for Pangloss' sins for comedic effect.
"recalled his senses with a little bad vinegar..." See in text (Chapter IV)
Taken literally, this line means that Pangloss uses the bad vinegar as smelling salts to wake Candide back up. One could also read this line to mean that Pangloss has brought Candide back to his senses, or in other words reminded him of his education and his upbringing, which makes his fainting here very unbecoming, given that he's a man of letters.
"The spectre..." See in text (Chapter IV)
The word "spectre" typically refers to a supernatural apparition or a ghost, but is here used metaphorically to refer to the "spectre" of this beggar, who, as we soon learn, is actually Candide's former teacher, Pangloss, here presented as a ghost of his former self because he no longer commands the same respect as he did.
"whom they had succored..." See in text (Chapter V)
To "succor" means to help or to assist, often with the connotation of soothing or comforting someone. The translator of this addition may also have chosen the word "succor" because of it's a homophone of "sucker," suggesting that they help others not out of the goodness of their hearts but rather with the express purpose of gaining something in return.
"riding at anchor..." See in text (Chapter V)
Ships that have been anchored in port or were docked before the earthquake, which had an estimated magnitude of 8.5-9.0, making it one of the strongest and deadliest earthquakes in all of history. It's very unlikely that Candide and Pangloss would've survived both the shipwreck and the earthquake, just as it's very unlikely that Candide would've survived the gauntlet in Chapter II, but Voltaire has proven that he doesn't care about such trivialities.
"While he was proving this à priori..." See in text (Chapter V)
A Latin phrase meaning “from the cause to the effect,” "a priori" is a type of deductive reasoning that derives a specific conclusion from a general circumstance. Today, when arguments are referred to as "a priori," they're being criticized for working backward logically in order to create a "cause" for an effect without accounting for the fact that there are multiple possible causes for any one effect. Thus, Pangloss' reasoning is proven wrong in that it jumps to one conclusion without considering any other possibilities.
"The sheets were rent, the masts broken, the vessel gaped..." See in text (Chapter V)
"Sheets" in this context refer to sails, which are "rent" or tattered by the wind, just as the ship itself is "gaped" or cracked by the tempest, likely by being dashed against some rocks. This destruction causes the ship's crew to descend into anarchy, with some working to save the ship and others merely fending for themselves.
"all palpitating..." See in text (Chapter VI)
To "palpitate" means to quiver, throb, or pulse. In this case, Candide's palpitations are caused by the pain of his wounds, which throb with the beating of his heart as blood is pumped into them. Notice how often Candide has suffered physically in this novel: he's been whipped, survived a shipwreck, run the gauntlet, and fainted many times. His resilience is astounding and, as Voltaire suggests, somewhat deranged.
"dressed in san-benitos and their heads ornamented with paper mitres..." See in text (Chapter VI)
The san-benito was a kind of loose garment painted with flames and figures of devils that was worn by persons condemned to death by the Inquisition when they went to be burned at the stake during an auto-da-fé. Those who expressed repentance wore a garment of the same kind covered with flames directed downward, while those worn by Jews, sorcerers, and renegades bore a St. Andrew's cross on the front and back. A mitre was a kind of headdress worn by priests of the Jewish faith.
"as they were never incommoded by the sun..." See in text (Chapter VI)
Candide and Pangloss have been imprisoned in chambers that have no windows and are thus never touched by the light. "Incommoded" means inconvenienced or annoyed and should be taken in this context to mean that the sun has never affected the natural state of these prison cells, which are cold and damp.
"the other for having listened with an air of approbation..." See in text (Chapter VI)
The term "approbation" means approval or praise, Under the Spanish Inquisition, one could be persecuted for one's thoughts as well as one's actions, and one need not actually have sinned to be accused of and punished for that sin. Thus, many innocent people such as Candide were killed without any apologies from the Roman Catholic Church.
"a beautiful auto-da-fé..." See in text (Chapter VI)
From the Portuguese meaning act of faith, an auto-da-fe was a ritual of public penance ordered by the Inquisition to purify heretics before they were executed. After the Lisbon earthquake, a large auto-da-fé was held in a fruitless attempt to ward off further earthquakes. By calling this auto-da-fe "beautiful," Voltaire lampoons the Familiars of the Inquisition, who were believed to enjoy the torture they ordered.
"on a brocaded sofa..." See in text (Chapter VII)
Recall that back in Chapter III the Anabaptist James wanted to teach Candide how to make "Persian stuff" or fabrics like brocade. Voltaire uses this word to underscore the relative luxury of the apartment and emphasize the difference between it and Candide's other living situations.
"a pot of pomatum..." See in text (Chapter VII)
"Pomatum" is an ointment used to treat sores. Another word for "pomatum" is "poultice," which is a kind of healing ointment made of natural ingredients that's applied to a wound and covered with bandages to prevent infection.
"which resembled that of Pangloss..." See in text (Chapter VIII)
Note the use of the word "resembled" here. In the last chapter, Cunegonde made it clear that she didn't know that Pangloss was dead, and yet here she says that she saw it quite clearly. Voltaire may well have chosen the word "resembled" to close this plot hole and move the story along.
"tractable..." See in text (Chapter VIII)
The word "tractable" means easily managed, docile, and in this case, pliant, in the sense that she could be coerced into providing sexual favors. He plans to do this by bringing her to his country house, which is even more lavish than the castle she grew up in with Candide. It's clear from the following passage that this plan isn't successful.
"the mountains of the Sierra Morena..." See in text (Chapter IX)
The Sierra Morena is a mountain range in southern Spain that stretches some 250 miles East to West, nearly touching the Portuguese border. Thus, we know that the three travelers cross the border into Spain and are in some ways safe from prosecution, provided they don't get caught by another Inquisitor or the Holy Brotherhood.
"interred..." See in text (Chapter IX)
The word "interred" means buried in a grave. Used in particular to refer to religious officials and noble men and women who are buried within a church's crypt or tomb. As the Grand Inquisitor, he would've been entitled to a burial next to lords and kinds, unlike Don Issachar, who, as a Jew, received no burial rites at all at the hands of the Holy Brotherhood.
"the Holy Brotherhood..." See in text (Chapter IX)
The Santa Hermandad, a group of religious police offers created by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabelle of Spain in the late 15th Century. The Holy Brotherhood would not generally have had jurisdiction in Lisbon, Portugal, but, given the earthquake, they may be present to restore order to the ruined city and aid the Inquisition during the auto-da-fe.
"three Andalusian horses..." See in text (Chapter IX)
Andalusian horses, also known as Pure Spanish Horses, hail from the region of Andalusia on the Iberian Peninsula and are known for their good breeding and excellent performance both on the racetrack and in the field. Don Issachar possesses these horses because he's a wealthy nobleman; Cunegonde and Candide would never be able to afford them on their own.
"we are excommunicated..." See in text (Chapter IX)
An excommunication is a formal notice from the Church, typically the Roman Catholic Church, stating that one has been banned from the Church and will no longer be recognized as a member. Technically, none but a Church official can decree that someone has been excommunicated, which makes this statement premature.
"poniard..." See in text (Chapter IX)
A "poniard" is a lightweight sword, similar to a parrying dagger, common in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Historically, the poniard has been worn by noblemen and knight, and its presence here indicates to the reader that Don Issachar is of the former class and that his great wealth has allowed him to avoid persecution at the hands of the Inquisition.
"choleric..." See in text (Chapter IX)
The word "choleric" is a reference to the theory of Humorism, which says that a person's temperament is governed by the balance of the four "humours" in his body (phlegm, blood, yellow bile, and black bile), which in turn make you either phlegmatic, sanguine, choleric, or melancholic. If someone is choleric, they are restless, easily angered, and commandeering.
"but..." See in text (Chapter X)
This "but" should be understood to mean, "I hear what you're saying, but I totally disagree." Cunegonde, remember, has suffered far more than Candide has and has already given up on Pangloss' philosophy. When she says, "I love you with all my heart," it's as if she's saying she can't believe Candide could still believe in that after everything that has happened.
"Jesuit Fathers of Paraguay..." See in text (Chapter X)
In the 1750s, the Jesuits (members of the Society of Jesus, a male congregation of believers that take vows of poverty and chastity and commit their lives to charity work) undertook a historic mission to Paraguay, where they established a small church, which then started a rebellion against the Portuguese crown.
"a Benedictine prior..." See in text (Chapter X)
A prior is an officer of the Church, typically the official of an abbey or a small congregation. A Benedictine prior is a member and leader of a small group of monks in the Benedictine Order, a Roman Catholic group of monks and nuns dedicated to serving God through good deeds. This prior, unlike the Grey Friar, isn't depicted as corrupt, and likely pays a cheap price for the horse because his abbey isn't very rich.
"O che sciagura d'essere senza coglioni!’..." See in text (Chapter XI)
The phrase O che sciagura d'essere senza coglioni! is Italian for “Oh, what a misfortune to be a eunuch!” A eunuch is a man who has been castrated (or had his genitalia removed), typically by a religious official or owner who wanted to ensure the eunuch wouldn't be tempted by the women around them. This was especially common in harems, where eunuchs were required to protect the women in the harem but weren't allowed to engage in sexual relations with them.
"scimitar..." See in text (Chapter XI)
A "scimitar" is a short, single-edged sword with a curved blade, traditionally used in Turkey and the Middle East and thus associated with Muslims, Moors, and those of vaguely Middle Eastern descent. As a pirate, the captain pirate is unlikely to have protected the old woman over the Princess, which suggests that, though he raped her, he has grown fond of her, as implied when he thought taking her virginity showed her "a great deal of honor."
"A Moor..." See in text (Chapter XI)
Originally, the term "Moor" referred to a citizen of Morocco, but later came to mean anyone of a group of Muslim and African peoples who conquered Spain in the 8th century and built many mosques there during their reign. Eventually, the Moors were pushed down into the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, but the term Moor was still used to refer to dark-skinned people.
"tawnies, and mulattoes..." See in text (Chapter XI)
Mulattoes are people of mixed-race descent, typically with one white and one African or African-American parent. Tawnies are people of a similar mixed-raced heritage with lighter, "tawny" or tan skin, in this case, likely a light-skinned African or someone of mixed Spanish and African descent.
"Emperor Muley-Ismael..." See in text (Chapter XI)
Moulay Ismail ibn Sharif, the second ruler of the Moroccan Alaouite dynasty, known as the "Warrior King" in his country because he was an especially cruel tyrant with skill on the battlefield. He's alleged to have fathered some 800 children, over half of which were sons. After his death, his sons fought over the throne, though how many fought, and if this civil war was as bloody as the old woman suggests, remains unclear.
"the very religious knights of Malta..." See in text (Chapter XI)
The Knights of Malta was a religious military order also known as the Knights Hospitaller or the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. In 1530, after years of having no headquarters, King Charles I of Spain gave them Malta, Gozo, and Tripoli, for the price of a Maltese falcon (a hunting bird) to be paid every year on All Saints' Day. The old woman mentions the Knights in order to seem worldly and give credence to her story.
"—pipes..." See in text (Chapter XI)
Notice this abrupt use of the em-dash mid sentence. Voltaire uses it to indicate that the old woman intended to say something crass but instead chose to use the euphemism of "pipes" to indicate the male sexual organ in consideration of the innocence and youth of her companions.
"those gentry undress people..." See in text (Chapter XI)
The "gentry" was a class of nobleman and landowners often referred to as the landed gentry, or as gentlemen and ladies. In this context, the word is applied to the corsairs, who, being pirates, would not generally be considered gentry or even particularly high class. Thus, we should read "gentry" as "people," here used in a derogatory sense to mean "those people."
"in articulo mortis..." See in text (Chapter XI)
The phrase in articulo mortis is Latin for "at the point of death." Faced with almost certain death, the old woman's soldiers are praying for absolution from the corsairs, who are here referred to as a singular collective rather than as plural individuals.
"like the Pope's soldiers..." See in text (Chapter XI)
The Pope doesn't technically have an army or soldiers, but is protected within the Vatican City and on missions by the Swiss Guards, a group of Swiss soldiers that watches over the Holy See, or the capital of the Catholic world, and (less famously) over some small foreign courts. Early Swiss Guards were typically mercenaries bought to protect the Vatican City and were thus prone to surrendering at the first sign of danger, as is depicted here.
"A Sallee corsair..." See in text (Chapter XI)
Sallee is a Moroccan port that was once used as a headquarters for pirates, or "corsairs." A corsair was typically a privateer or sailor who attacked the boats of merchants or travelers. Given that Gaeta is a city in Italy not terribly far from Palestrina, the Sallee corsair would've had to be sailing unusually close to the Italian shore to board their little galley.
"the great altar of St. Peter's at Rome..." See in text (Chapter XI)
Also known as the Chair or Throne of St. Peter, this altar in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City is one of the most ostentatious altars in all of Italy: a giant, gilt bronze sculpture that towers over the priests and was once used by the Pope as a throne on which he granted people audiences.
"a bagatelle..." See in text (Chapter XI)
A "bagatelle" is a trifle, or a thing of no importance. Given how much time the old woman has spent building up to this moment, it's hard to believe that she considers it merely a bagatelle. It is, instead, relatively unimportant compared to the other horrors she's suffered, as we will see in the rest of her story.
"opéra bouffe..." See in text (Chapter XI)
Opera "bouffe" is a style of opera that was prevalent in France in the late 19th Century. Opera "buffa" is a term that generally refers to the Italian comic opera, which was popularized during the Renaissance and is mistakenly called "opera bouffe" here. This kind of comic opera is in line with the "carousals" the old woman speaks of and to the general atmosphere of merriment at her wedding.
"pomp and magnificence..." See in text (Chapter XI)
We typically see this phrase as "pomp and circumstance," referring to a showy or ostentatious display, often one of great self-importance, such as a marriage ceremony or graduation. As the daughter of the Princess, this pomp would've been expected and in no way "surprising," which calls the old woman's description into question.
"with idolatry, with transport..." See in text (Chapter XI)
In this context, "idolatry" means adoration or a kind of fierce romantic idolization between two lovers, while "transport" means emotionally resonant or powerful, a kind of love that transported the old woman and moved her in some way (likely into believing that this love would last forever). One could argue that both Cunegonde and Candide feel this kind of love.
"affianced..." See in text (Chapter XI)
The word "affianced" means engaged to be married. In the mid-18th century and in some parts of the world today, marriages were arranged by parents, and their children had little to no say in their spouses. These arranged marriages were often political in nature, functioning like treaties between two kingdoms or cities. In this case, that treaty would be between Palestrina and Massa Carara.
"the scintillation of the stars..." See in text (Chapter XI)
"Scintillation" meaning the action of sparkling or catching the eye's attention. The old woman claims that her eyes were so passionate (that "such flames darted" from them) that they were more attractive and riveting than the stars. This is an obvious use of hyperbole and should indicate to the reader that the old woman has been exaggerating throughout this entire passage.
"a Boyard..." See in text (Chapter XII)
A Boyar, a member of the Russian aristocracy. In the 17th Century and up until 1861, when serfdom was abolished, Russia was still a feudal society, and aristocratic landowners like this Boyard had many slaves like the old woman, in addition to overseeing thousands of serfs, or peasants, who worked the land for them. Tensions caused by this system contributed to the unrest that caused the Russian Revolution in 1917.
"balsam..." See in text (Chapter XII)
A "balsam" is an aromatic oil or resin, typically used in medicine to treat wounds or sores. Often, it's associated with a specific substance that has been dissolved in oil or turpentine, as in balsam of aniseed, sulphur, etc. Medieval medical sources list the balsam of Capahu or Capivi as the one used after circumcision, but it's unclear exactly what kind of balsam the old woman is referring to here.
"a very pious and humane Iman..." See in text (Chapter XII)
An Iman, or Imam, is the leader of a mosque and the one who guides Muslims in prayer. Within smaller Muslim communities, the Imam was considered the highest local authority, which would make this Imam, though lesser in military rank than the Aga, still more powerful than the Janissaries, who were obliged to listen to him.
"the Palus Meotides..." See in text (Chapter XII)
An ancient name for the Mer d'Azof or the Sea of Azof, which we now think of as a northern extension of the Black Sea. Notice how the old woman refuses to use an Eastern word (Azof) and instead falls back on the Roman name, Palus Meotides, which would've fallen out of fashion by the time of this book's writing. This is a byproduct of the colonialism that sought to Westernize Eastern cultures.
"an Aga of the Janissaries..." See in text (Chapter XII)
The Janissaries were a select group of prisoners and Christians who were forced to fight for the Ottoman Empire and convert to Islam in the 14th Century. An "aga" is a civil officer or military leader within the Muslim community, making an Aga of the Janissaries one of its many leaders. This passage traces the old woman's path from West to East, taking her to Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire.
"the whole seraglio of Algiers..." See in text (Chapter XII)
The word "seraglio" typically refers to a house or to a part of a house where Muslim women are secluded, but may also refer to a harem or a polygamous household. It's unclear from this line whether the old woman is referring to the former or the latter.
"the plague..." See in text (Chapter XII)
The Bubonic Plague, which killed off some 25 to 50 million people in Europe in the 13th and 14th Centuries. It was also known as the Black Death and can still be found in certain parts of Africa. In the 17th Century, when this book is set, there was no major outbreak of the Bubonic Plague, which makes the old woman's statements factually inaccurate.
"geld..." See in text (Chapter XII)
The word "geld" refers to castration or emasculation. During the Renaissance, young boys were "gelded" to keep their voices from cracking when they hit puberty, thus preserving their young, high voices, which were highly prized on the stage. This castration process was not typically undertaken willingly by the young boys, who regretted the loss of their genitalia, as the eunuch does here.
"an Alcalde and his alguazils..." See in text (Chapter XIII)
An Alcalde is a mayor or magistrate of a small town, particularly one in Spain or Portugal. Alguazils are officers or constables who, in this case, work for the Alcalde as soldiers and bodyguards to help him in his mission of finding the Grand Inquisitor's murderer, Candide.
"to pique yourself upon inviolable fidelity..." See in text (Chapter XIII)
To "pique" means to anger or irritate, or to incite resentment. In this case, it means that by breaking her inviolable vow to Candide and remaining faithful, she risks ruining their relationship and creating enmity between them by turning down a marriage proposal from a man who can save her from a life of poverty and misery.
"a good drubbing..." See in text (Chapter XIII)
To "drub" means to beat or to thrash, particularly with a weapon like a cudgel. Voltaire makes this Governor as insufferable as possible so that the reader, encountering him here, will align themselves with his enemies and resist any relationship he might have with the three companions.
"Don Fernando d'Ibaraa, y Figueora, y Mascarenes, y Lampourdos, y Souza..." See in text (Chapter XIII)
Voltaire uses this comically long name to make fun of Spaniards and their descendants, who often have uncommonly long names, such as Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, the birth name of famed Spanish painter Pablo Picasso.
"and I was going to fight against you..." See in text (Chapter XIV)
This line shouldn't be read as if Candide is stating a fact but rather as if he's saying, "And to think, I was going to fight against you." He can't believe the absurdity of it or his good fortune in not having fought in this war. It's almost an aside to himself, where he expresses both his surprise and his pleasure.
"my arbor..." See in text (Chapter XIV)
The arbor in this context refers to a garden alcove, typically bounded on all sides and roofed with winding plants, which are often grown on a latticed wooden framework. The Commandant's arbor would be an alcove in his personal garden outside of his living quarters, making his offer to speak to Candide there a sign of some hospitality, though not as notable a sign as if he'd invited Candide into his home.
"a spontoon..." See in text (Chapter XIV)
Also known as an espontoon or a half-pike, a "spontoon" is a kind of weapon like a pole with a double-edged blade at one end and a handle at the other. It's called a half-pike because it's shorter, with a handle almost as long as the blade. It was often carried by officers of the infantry and used as a method of signaling orders to the regiment. This entire description of the Commandant, including the clothes he wears and the weapons he carries, suggests that he's a leader and not necessarily a great warrior.
"singing-boy, sacristan, sailor, monk..." See in text (Chapter XIV)
A "sacristan" is a priest, or a sexton of a small parish church. In listing all of the valet's former occupations, Voltaire begins by alternating between religious and secular positions. Though these professions aren't necessarily listed in order, there aren't any religious positions after that of "monk," suggesting that the valet has concluded his professional relationship with the Church.
"a valet..." See in text (Chapter XIV)
The word "valet" refers to a personal man-servant or attendant, typically charged with dressing his master and preparing him for journeys. As a captain in a small army, Candide would've been entitled to at least such valet, whose primary duties would be to care for his weapons, horses, and military uniforms.
"bast the most consummate effrontery to dare to mention so presumptuous a design..." See in text (Chapter XV)
"Bast" being short for "bastard," an illegitimate child such as Candide. The Baron finds this plan ("design") presumptuous and offensive, and refers to it as a "consummate effrontery," or a complete, shameless insolence. As a bastard, Candide would never be allowed to marry Cunegonde, and her brother here takes after their father by refusing to allow it.
"levies..." See in text (Chapter XV)
In general, "levies" are duties or taxes typically collected by nobles and landowners from the general public. In this context, "levies" are men conscripted into the Church's army as into military service. The young Jesuit, Cunegonde's brother, thus becomes a leader of a troop in a holy Jesuit army without first having any real military training.
"when they knew I was not a Jesuit..." See in text (Chapter XVI)
By this logic, "pure nature" is opposed to Jesuits and, by extension, to members of any and all religious orders. Furthermore, as enemies of nature, here figured as "good," organized religion can be seen as an evil force in the world that runs contrary to nature's true design. If not for it, Voltaire implies, the Oreillons would not be particularly murderous at all.
"Oreillons..." See in text (Chapter XVI)
In French, "Oreillons" means mumps, a viral infection that children are vaccinated against at an early age to prevent widespread outbreaks of the disease. Voltaire, a Frenchman, has adopted the word for the name of his fictional tribe, suggesting that South Americans were the original spreaders of the disease.
"Centaurs, Fauns, and Satyrs..." See in text (Chapter XVI)
"Centaurs, Fauns, and Satyrs" are mythological creatures that are, respectively, half-man, half-horse; half-man, half-goat; and part man, part horse, part goat. Pangloss taught Candide that these creatures were the product of bestiality. This was of course not a practice in South America at that time, and anyone who thought as much held the colonialist view that the native people or South America were primitive.
"a filbert in a hedge..." See in text (Chapter XVI)
A "filbert" is the fruit or nut of a hazel tree. In this context, it may refer to any fruit or nut. Voltaire didn't specify how long Candide was in the military, but it appears to have been several weeks or months—long enough for him to become skilled with a gun, though most likely not this skilled.
"purling rills..." See in text (Chapter XVI)
A "rill" is a small brook or stream, which can be described as "purling" when it makes a murmuring, babbling sound as that of running water. In the late 18th Century, when this book is set, large portions of the Paraguayan rainforests were uninhabited and unexplored.
"with the greatest circumspection..." See in text (Chapter XVII)
The phrase "greatest circumspection" means with great care or hesitation. These chapmen and wagoners are working men and laborers who, by virtue of living together in a small but rich community, most likely know each other and can thus recognize Candide and Cacambo as strangers. Their caution, then, seems incredibly prudent, and speaks well of their character.
"Mogul..." See in text (Chapter XVII)
The Moguls were a Muslim dynasty of Mongol origin that ruled in the Indian subcontinent from the 16th to 19th Century. The Moguls were famously wealthy and ostentatious, and the richness of their kingdom inspired the modern word "mogul," meaning someone of wealth and means.
"tattered brocades played at quoits..." See in text (Chapter XVII)
"Quoits" refers both to a game similar to horseshoes and to the rings thrown in said game. Traditionally, these rings are made of iron, but in this chapter they're made of precious gems to emphasize the wealth and prosperity of El Dorado. These tattered brocades aren't likely to be tearing but are instead probably fringed in the manner of some traditional South American clothing.
"large red sheep..." See in text (Chapter XVII)
These "sheep" are more likely llamas or alpacas, animals native to South America. In general, llamas and alpacas aren't faster than the horses listed here, but are hardier and more evolutionarily suited to the high altitude and dense rainforests of the Andes and the forests of South America.
"let us recommend ourselves to Providence..." See in text (Chapter XVII)
The phrase "let us recommend ourselves to Providence" means let us give ourselves over to divine providence, or to the wisdom and knowledge of God, who they believed to guide them in all things. Candide has given up hope of reasoning himself out of a situation with the logic Pangloss taught him and has resorted to putting his faith in a river.
"Cayenne..." See in text (Chapter XVII)
Cayenne, the capital city of French Guiana is a department or region of France on the Atlantic coast of South America. As part of the French Empire, Cayenne was the site of much foreign trade, and it should be fairly easy for Candide and Cacambo to find passage on a ship to another part of the world.
"upon a footing with the rest..." See in text (Chapter XVIII)
The phrase "upon foot with the rest," suggests that they will be of the same standing or on the same level as all the citizens of El Dorado. They believe that they will be the wealthiest and most prosperous if they take some of the gold from El Dorado back to Europe. Considering the danger they faced in reaching El Dorado and how much they lost, it seems unlikely that they'll succeed in this plan.
"bon-mots..." See in text (Chapter XVIII)
"Bon-mots," the French term for witty remarks. As often happens when speaking in a foreign language, the wit or humor nearly gets lost in translation here, but manages to come across enough so that the King's remarks still appear to be witty to Candide.
"El Dorado..." See in text (Chapter XVIII)
El Dorado is a mythical city of gold in South America. The legends concerning El Dorado have changed over time, but most indicate that it is a city of gold that has been lost somewhere in the jungles of Peru. In the 15th and 16th Centuries, this city was believed to be on the shores of Lake Parime, and many expeditions were undertaken to find it. To this day, the city hasn't been discovered.
"the Incas..." See in text (Chapter XVIII)
The Incan Empire was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America, encompassing modern day Peru, as well as large portions of Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, and Chile. It was also one of the richest empires in South America, leaving ruins behind that, while not made of gold and silver, display an astonishing level of wealth and prosperity. The Incan Empire dissolved in the late 16th Century, well before Voltaire's time.
"a Socinian..." See in text (Chapter XIX)
A "Socinian" is a member of an Italian religious sect that denied the doctrine of the Trinity, the deity of Jesus Christ, and the existence of the Devil. This sect was born out of the ideas of the Protestant Reformation, which challenged the Catholic Church and demanded religious reform. The priests of South America were, almost without exception, Catholics, and did not take kindly to Socinians.
"bless our fetiches..." See in text (Chapter XIX)
In modern parlance, "fetiches" would be understood as an archaic variant of the word "fetishes," which often refers to one's unusual sexual proclivities. However, this woman appears to be using it to refer to a priest or a religious figure, particularly one of the Catholic faith.
"sold me for ten patagons on the coast of Guinea..." See in text (Chapter XIX)
A "patagon" was a member of a South American Indian tribe that was said to produce the tallest people in the world. Here, Voltaire uses the word as if it's a form of money or coin, suggesting that both the colonists and the indigenous peoples participated in the slave trade, selling and buying the humans that were trafficked through coastal countries like Suriname.
"one moiety of his clothes..." See in text (Chapter XIX)
"Moiety" meaning "half." This black man has evidently been stripped of his clothes and beaten, left to die in a position not only dangerous (given his wounds and blood loss) but also embarrassing. Thankfully, neither Candide nor Cacambo care much for his nudity, and they're able to help him out of this situation.
"Surinam..." See in text (Chapter XIX)
The Republic of Suriname was colonized in the 17th Century by the Dutch and the English, who cultivated coffee, sugar cane, and cotton, among other exports. It's the smallest country in South America and borders French Guiana on the East. Currently, there's no city known as Surinam, but Candide and Cacambo may be visiting the town of Paramaribo, which later became the capital of the country.
"Manichean..." See in text (Chapter XX)
Manichaeism is an Iranian religious philosophy that borrows aspects of Zoroastrian, Christian, and Gnostic philosophies and combines them into one. Manicheans maintained that there were two primary principles (one good and the other evil), each equally powerful in the governments of the world.
"To plague us to death..." See in text (Chapter XXI)
Martin puns on the word "plague," which, in its noun form, refers to a pestilence or a disease such as the Black Death, also known as the Bubonic Plague, from which the old woman suffered. Here, Martin also uses it in its verb form, meaning to plague or trouble, annoy, or hurst someone, as the world has been "plaguing" Martin all his life.
"the whole scribbling rabble, the party rabble, the fanatic rabble..." See in text (Chapter XXI)
Here, "rabble" referes to a kind of rambling, disjointed speech or an especially convoluted argument. Martin has been privy to arguments made by writers, political parties, and fanatics, and has come to the conclusion that it is all "rabble," or worthless strings of words. Today, we most often use the word "rabble" in the phrase "rabble-rouser," meaning someone who causes trouble (by stirring up a discourse).
"not such as that of 1610 in the month of May, but such as that of 1594 in the month of December..." See in text (Chapter XXII)
A reference to the two assassination attempts on Henry IV: the first by Jean Châtel in 1594, and the successful attempt by Francois Ravaillac in 1610. Atrebatum likely refers to Calleva Atrebatum, a city in what it now known as Silchester, Englan. The French have reason to fear an attack from the English, who have already made an (unsuccessful) attempt on the French King, Louis XV.
"with false maxims, with bombastic commonplaces..." See in text (Chapter XXII)
Maxims refer to ideas or propositions that have been expressed as though they're laws or general rules. A false maxim, then, is one that poses as a rule or law but is baseless, just as these "bombastic" (inflated, overwrought) commonplaces are made out to be grand when really they're just trivialities. As with the critic's earlier response to the play, readers should note these as Voltaire's own ideas about playwriting.
"in playing faro..." See in text (Chapter XXII)
Faro is a card game where players bet on the order in which the cards will appear when taken from the top of the deck one by one. Unlike other card games, faro doesn't require much in the way of skill or strategy, which often results in heavy losses, such as those Candide witnesses here.
"who was naturally curious..." See in text (Chapter XXII)
Candide is still a virgin and much of his desire to find Cunegonde is the desire to marry her and thus lose his virginity. Voltaire casually tosses off this line to suggest that he's merely intellectually curious about Parisian women, even though readers know that he's likely interested in something else.
"Fréron..." See in text (Chapter XXII)
A reference to Elie Fréron (1719 – 1776), a French critic who published Année Littéraire. Her journal attacked Enlightenment philosophies, which caused Voltaire to make her the target of his attacks in return. Voltaire often used his writing to skewer his enemies, particularly those whose ideas he disagreed with on a philosophical basis. Here, he uses her last name to refer to anyone with foolish ideals.
"a folliculaire..." See in text (Chapter XXII)
A folliculaire is a journalist, particularly one who criticizes things in needlessly harsh terms and lies in his articles in order to build up his own ego. Today, the term is used pejoratively, implying that the journalist in question is unscrupulous and unethical, providing only the worst kind of political and cultural commentary.
"Miss Monime..." See in text (Chapter XXII)
This is a reference to Adrienne Lecouvreur (1690 – 1730), a famous French actress who, because she was an actress when she died, was denied the right of a Christian burial. The name Miss Monime may be taken from the play Mithridate, written by famed French dramatist Racine, in which the character Monime falls in love with Xiphares, a young man who isn't her fiancé. The character of Monime was based on a Macedonian noblewoman married to King Mithridates.
"a little Abbé of Perigord..." See in text (Chapter XXII)
An abbot of the French region of Perigord, which was well known for its truffles. This abbot would have no real authority or position in the Church, but would work informally as a professor or tutor. As a result, the abbot has become an unpleasant busybody, insinuating himself in situations in order to gain more power and influence than he really deserves.
"what with physic and bleeding..." See in text (Chapter XXII)
In Candide's time and up until the modern era, the act of "bleeding" or blood-letting to treat illnesses was common and believed to help "purify" the blood of disease, aiding a patient's recovery. In fact, the opposite was true, and blood loss such as this contributed to many deaths by weakening the immune system. Voltaire makes fun of the practice here in an effort to prove that it shouldn't be used.
"atrabilious..." See in text (Chapter XXIII)
The word "atrabilious" means that one is much affected by black bile, one of the four "humours" in the theory of Humorism, which posits that one's temperament is dictated by the balance of one's bodily fluids or "humours." To have too much black bile means to be melancholic, or in others words despondent, serious, and acrimonious. Martin means that these people are very unpleasant to be around.
"Senator Pococurante..." See in text (Chapter XXIV)
In Spanish, "Pococurante" means "little care" or one of little care. The Senator's name characterizes him as a self-centered and insensitive person, whom we will discover to be hedonistic, corrupt, and not as happy as they say he is, in spite of all his power.
"The Doge..." See in text (Chapter XXIV)
The holder of the highest civil office in Venice, the "Doge" was typically a politician and a trader who oversaw the affairs of the city. The Doge ruled for his lifetime and was paid some modest annual stipend, which often required that he seek some outside source of income. Martin makes the comparison between the Doge and the gondolier to indicate that everyone, regardless of their status, has suffered.
"with these piastres only render them the more unhappy..." See in text (Chapter XXIV)
This was the case in Chapter XIX, when Candide and Cacambo left El Dorado and lost nearly all of their gold, gems, and "sheep." Wealth, as we see it in the book, only gives one a false sense of security, which in turn leads one to make very bad decisions, as Candide did when he gave that Dutch skipper so much money.
"Theatin..." See in text (Chapter XXIV)
A "Theatin friar" is one of an order of Italian monks, established in 1524, opposed to the Reformation. Their order was founded to raise the level of piety and respect in the Roman Catholic Church, and as such their friars held no property, begged no alms, and lived entirely on what God provided for them. Typically, they worked as preachers and teachers in order to survive.
"Levantine..." See in text (Chapter XXVII)
A Levantine captain is from Levant, a historical region including the islands of the Eastern Mediterranean and many of the countries in the Middle East. Eventually, the word was used to refer specifically to Muslims and to citizens of the Ottoman Empire. Voltaire uses it here to refer to Muslims who worked as traders in the Middle East and Mediterranean.
"plenum and materia subtilis..." See in text (Chapter XXVIII)
In general, the word "plenum" refers to all the members of a group or an assembly. In philosophy, it refers to space that is filled with matter, as opposed to "materia subtilis," which is the matter that's said to fill the "empty" space of air or the heavens. Essentially, Pangloss is saying that the world, with all its matter and dark matter, has been made in the most beautiful way, as if it were, indeed, the best of all possible worlds.
"paternosters..." See in text (Chapter XXVIII)
From the Latin meaning "Our Father," a "paternoster" is a prayer in the Christian Church (in particular, the Lord's prayer, which Jesus taught to his disciples when they asked how God wanted them to pray). In a mosque, however, the paternoster would be out of place, as Muslims do not receive the Lord's Prayer. Pangloss is using the word to mean "prayers" in general, even though the term is technically inaccurate.
"A cadi..." See in text (Chapter XXVIII)
A "cadi" is a civil judge in some Middle Eastern communities, particularly among the Turks, Arabs, and Persians. This cadi has imprisoned the Baron for bathing naked with a young Muslim man (in what we can assume is a euphemism for sex). The Baron, you'll remember, has had many close "friendships" with men in the church, as we learned in Chapter XV. These homosexual relationships were strictly forbidden and could easily have resulted in a death sentence for the Baron.
"condescending..." See in text (Chapter XXIX)
The verb "condescending" means to look down upon or to treat someone with great disdain. Here, Voltaire uses it to mean that Candide has lowered himself by offering to marry Cunegonde even though she's ugly. In this line, we can clearly see the limits of Candide's goodness: he thinks of marrying Cunegonde as an act of kindness, which paradoxically makes it very cruel.
"ut operaretur eum..." See in text (Chapter XXX)
The phrase ut operatretur eum is Latin for "so that he might work." In the Bible, Adam was a gardener who tended to all the flora and the fauna of the Garden of Eden, cultivating the plants in accordance with God's will. Though God did not make men for the express purpose of working, he made them do so in order to improve their character, so that they would not become lazy or idle (a sin in Christian theology).
"Eglon, King of Moab..." See in text (Chapter XXX)
From the Book of Judges in the Bible: Eglon, King of Moab, oppressed the Israelites, demanding excessive tribute, which led to his assassination. The rest of the people listed here are kings mentioned either in the Bible or in ancient and pre-modern history. Pangloss uses all these examples to prove his point that living modestly is sometimes for the best.
"whether the mice on board are at their ease or not..." See in text (Chapter XXX)
In this context, the "mice" may refer to actual mice or to the sailors on board, who are like mice to his highness because their social status is so low that they're insignificant to him. In either case, the Dervish is saying that "good" and "evil" are ambiguous terms, and that what might seem good to a king would feel evil to a mouse or a sailor.
"Dervish..." See in text (Chapter XXX)
A "Dervish" is a Muslim friar, like the Grey Friar in Chapter X, who has taken vows of chastity and austerity. Dervishes are known for their sometimes dramatic religious practices, such as dancing and whirling. Here, the Dervish is figured as a wise man, which should in itself suggest that he's no better than Pangloss or any of the philosophers and religious officials readers have met thus far.
"to live either in a state of distracting inquietude or of lethargic disgust..." See in text (Chapter XXX)
In other words, this phrase means to live in a state of constant disturbances or of a kind of extreme, wearied displeasure with life. "Inquietude" means the fact of being upset or disturbed from one's quiet or wellbeing. Distracting inquietude then means misery that's so all-consuming that one can scarcely think of anything else. This has been the condition of these characters for most of the book, and, as the old woman suggests, may be preferable to boredom.
"the Sublime Porte..." See in text (Chapter XXX)
The "Sublime Porte" is the name given to the government of the Ottoman Empire. This is a metonym (a figure of speech that refers to the meaning of a thing or a word without using the name of the thing itself). Here, the Sublime Porte refers to the arched gate through which citizens would have to pass to reach the central government buildings.
"Effendis, Pashas, and Cadis..." See in text (Chapter XXX)
"Effendis, Pashas, and Cadis" are titles of respect given to Turkish men. Effendi roughly equates to sir, while pasha refers to a governor or military official. Cadi, as we learned in Chapter 28, refers to a civil judge in Turkish communities, often in particular to the judge of a small town or village. These men would have to commit serious crimes to be banished from their homeland, but Voltaire doesn't go into detail about what those are.