“Nathan the Wise” Lessing in brief summary

During the Crusades at the end of the XII century. The crusaders are defeated in their third campaign and are compelled to conclude a truce with the Arab sultan Saladin, the ruling Jerusalem. Twenty captive knights were brought to the city, and all but one of them were executed on the orders of Saladin. The surviving young knight-templar walks freely around the city in a white cloak. During the fire that occurred in the house of the wealthy Jew Nathan, a young man with a risk for his own life is rescued by his daughter Rahu.

Nathan returns from a business trip and brings from Babylon on twenty camels a rich cargo. Mutual believers honor him, “like a prince,” and nicknamed “Nathan the Sage,” not “Nathan the rich man,” as many people have noted. Nathan meets a friend of his daughter, Christian Daya, who has lived in the house for a long time. She tells the owner about what happened, and he immediately wants to see a noble young man-rescuer, to

generously reward him. Daya explains that the Templar does not want to communicate with him, and the invitation she made to visit their house responds with bitter ridicule.

Modest Raha believes that God “created a miracle” and sent her to save the “real angel” with white wings. Nathan teaches her daughter that it is much easier to dream devoutly than to act in conscience and duty, devotion to God should be expressed by deeds. Their common task is to find a Templar and help a Christian, lonely, without friends and money in a strange city. Nathan thinks it’s a miracle that the daughter remained alive thanks to a man who himself was saved by a “no small miracle.” Never before had Saladin shown mercy to the captive knights. There are rumors that in this Templar the Sultan finds a great similarity with his beloved brother, who died twenty years ago. In the absence of Nathan, his friend and chess partner, the dervish Al-Gafi, becomes the treasurer of the Sultan. This is very surprising to Nathan, who knows his friend as a “dervish of the heart.” Al-Gafi informs Nathan

that Saladin’s treasury has become impoverished, a truce because of the Crusaders is coming to an end, and the Sultan needs a lot of money for the war. If Nathan “opens his trunk” for Saladin, then by this he will help fulfill the official duty of Al-Gafi. Nathan is ready to give Al-Gafi money as his friend, but not as the treasurer of the Sultan. Al-Gafee acknowledges that Nathan is kind as well as clever, he wants to give Nathan his treasurer post to become a free dervish again.

To the Templar walking near the Sultan’s Palace, a novice comes from the monastery, sent by the patriarch, who wants to find out the cause of Saladin’s mercy. The Templar knows nothing but rumors, and the novice gives him the opinion of the patriarch: the Almighty must have kept the Templar for “great things.” The Templar, with irony, observes that the salvation of the Jewess from the fire is, undoubtedly, one such thing. However, the patriarch has an important task for him – to transfer Saladin’s military calculations to the Sultan’s camp – the crusaders. The young man refuses, because he owes his life to Saladin, and his duty as the Templar of the Order is to fight, not to serve “in spies.” The novice approves of the Templar’s decision not to become an “ungrateful rascal.”

Saladin plays chess with his sister Zitta. Both understand that a war that they do not want is inevitable. Zitta is indignant at Christians who extol their Christian pride instead of honoring and following common human virtues. Saladin defends Christians, he believes that all evil is in the order of the Templars, that is, in the organization, and not in the faith. In the interests of chivalry, they turned themselves into “stupid monks” and in blind calculation for luck break the truce.

Al-Gafi comes, and Saladin reminds him of the money. He invites the treasurer to address a friend Nathan, of whom he heard that he is wise and rich. But Al-Gafi is disingenuous and assures that Nathan never lent anyone and money, but, like Saladin himself, he gives only to the poor, whether it be a Jew, a Christian or a Muslim. In monetary matters, Nathan behaves like an “ordinary Jew”. Later, Al-Gafi explains to Nathan his lies with sympathy for a friend, reluctance to see him as the treasurer of the Sultan, who “will take off his last shirt.”

Daia persuades Nathan himself to turn to the Templar, who first “does not go to the Jew.” Nathan does this and encounters a contemptuous reluctance to say “with the Jew,” even with the rich. But Nathan’s perseverance and sincere desire to express gratitude for his daughter act on the Templar, and he enters into a conversation. Nathan’s words about the fact that a Jew and a Christian should first of all manifest themselves as people and only then – as representatives of their faith, find a response to his heart. The Templar wants to become Nathan’s friend and get to know Rhaha. Nathan invites him to his house and learns the name of the young man – it’s of German origin. Nathan recalls that many representatives of this genus have visited this region and the bones of many of them are rotting here in the earth. The Templar confirms this, and they part.

Nathan is summoned to Saladin, and the Templar, not knowing this, comes to his house to him. Rhaha wants to rush to the feet of her savior, but the Templar keeps her and admires the beautiful girl. Almost immediately, in embarrassment, he runs after Nathan. Reja admits to Daya, that for reasons unknown to her, she “finds her peace” in the “uneasiness” of the knight that caught her eye. The girl’s heart began to beat smoothly. “

To Nathan’s surprise, who was awaiting the question of money from the Sultan, he impatiently demands from the wise Jew a direct and frank answer to a completely different question – which faith is better. One of them is a Jew, another is a Muslim, and a Templar is a Christian. Saladin argues that only one faith can be true. In response, Nathan tells a fairy tale about three rings. One father, who by inheritance had a ring with miraculous power, had three sons who were equally loved. He ordered two more rings, completely similar to the first, and before his death he gave each son a ring. Then none of them could prove that it was his ring that was wonderful and makes him the head of the family. Just as it was impossible to know who has the real ring, it is also not possible to give preference to one faith over another.

Saladin admits Nathan is right, admires his wisdom and asks to become a friend. He does not talk about his financial difficulties. Nathan himself offers him his help.

The Templar lies in wait for Nathan, who is returning from Saladin in a good mood, and asks for Rahi’s hands. During the fire, he did not consider the girl, and now fell in love at first sight. The young man does not doubt the consent of Father Rahi. But Nathan needs to understand the genealogy of the Templar, he does not give him an answer, which, unwittingly, offends the young man. From Daiya, the Templar learns that Rhaha is Nathan’s adopted daughter, she is a Christian. The Templar searches for the patriarch and, without naming names, asks whether the Jew has the right to educate a Christian in the Jewish faith. The Patriarch severely condemns the “Jew” – he must be burned. The patriarch does not believe that the question of the Templar is abstract, and tells the novice to find a real “criminal.”

The Templar trustfully comes to Saladin and tells about everything. He already regrets his actions and is afraid for Nathan. Saladin calms a hot-tempered youth and invites him to live in his palace – as a Christian or as a Muslim, anyway. Templar gladly accepts the invitation.

Nathan learns from the novice that it was that eighteen years ago that he handed him a baby girl who was left without parents. Her father was a friend of Nathan, he repeatedly saved him from the sword. Not long before, in the places where Nathan lived, Christians killed all Jews, while Nathan lost his wife and sons. The novice gives Nathan a prayer book in which the pedigree of the child and all the relatives is written by the hand of the owner – the father of the girl.

Now Nathan knows the origin of the Templar, who repents before him in his involuntary denunciation to the patriarch. Nathan, under the patronage of Saladin, is not afraid of the patriarch. The Templar again asks Nathan for Rahi’s hand, but can not get an answer.

In the palace of the Sultan of Rech, upon learning that she was Nathan’s adopted daughter, she begged Saladin not to separate her from her father on her knees. Saladin does not have this in mind, he jokingly suggests to himself as a “third father”. At this time, Nathan and the Templar come.

Nathan declares that the Templar is the brother of Rahi; their father, a friend of Nathan, was not German, but was married to a German woman and lived for some time in Germany. Rahi’s father and Templar was not European and preferred all Persian languages. Here Saladin guesses that he is talking about his beloved brother. This is confirmed by the record on the prayer book, made by his hand. Saladin and Zitt enthusiastically embrace their nephews, and the moved Nathan hopes that the Templar, like his adopted daughter’s brother, does not. refuses to become his son.

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“Nathan the Wise” Lessing in brief summary