Aladdin, a character from the folktales of Persia*, appears in the collection of stories known as the Thousand and One Nights (or the Arabian Nights). Legends from Europe to China often contained characters like Aladdin—ordinary people who came into possession of magical devices and through them acquired wealth and power. Aladdin's magical tools were a ring and a lamp that controlled supernatural beings known as genies.
Aladdin was the lazy, irresponsible son of a poor tailor. A sorcerer tricked him into entering a treasure-filled cave to seize a magical lamp and gave him a ring that would protect against evil. Aladdin found the lamp, but he refused to give it to the sorcerer until he was outside the cave. The sorcerer blocked the entry to the cave, imprisoning Aladdin within.
Through a series of accidents, Aladdin discovered that rubbing the ring brought forth powerful genies, who released him from the cave. He also discovered he could summon the spirits by rubbing the lamp. The genies offered to fulfill Aladdin's every wish. He asked for and received a magnificent palace and the hand of the sultan's daughter in marriage.
supernatural related to forces beyond the normal world; magical or miraculous
genie spirit that serves the person who summons it
sorcerer magician or wizard
sultan ruler of a Persian or an Arabic state
The sorcerer, meanwhile, was determined to gain control of the magic lamp. He tricked Aladdin's wife into exchanging the lamp for a new one and then commanded the genie of the lamp to move Aladdin's palace to Africa. In time, Aladdin and his wife defeated the sorcerer and recovered the lamp. Then they had to prevent the sorcerer's wicked younger brother from seizing it. After
* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.
various adventures, the couple returned home, where Aladdin became sultan and lived a long and happy life.