Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves Told in the Voice of the Iliad

Hassan Sayed ’15


Tell me of the richness of poor Ali Baba, brother of wealthy Cassim,

which sent many to death and others

to a life of wealth. The Fates would have it

 that Ali Baba would marry a poor woman,

and Cassim a wealthy woman. Cassim would

grow to be wealthy, and

Ali Baba poor.

Start at the point where toiling Ali Baba, cutting trees to make

money, spotted hordes of horsemen beating towards him

Through fear, Ali Baba, leapt into a tree, out of sight.

Dismounting his steed, the captain of the

band moved  towards a brush-covered cliff face

and spoke out loud—his words had wings.

Open Sesame! And suddenly, like stones

crashing down the mountainside,

wreaking their path and instilling fear into

passersbythats how a door grated open out of the

rock face behind those


Gazing into the opened edifice, poor Ali Baba saw riches.

Chests overflowing with gold pieces, leather purses,

precious silks, and silvers. Soon, the thieves left,

and closed the door behind them with the

words “Shut Sesame.”

Seizing the opportunity given to him by Fate,

crafty Ali Baba snuck down to the cliff face, and opened

the door with the words “Open Sesame.”

And then he bound as much gold

to his donkeys as they could

carry and left, closing the door with

the words “Shut Sesame.”

Coming home, lucky Ali Baba’s wife was

excited by the prospect of Gold. She ran

to the wife of Cassim, asking for a scale

to weigh it. Suspicious of her

request, the wife of Cassim placed wax

at the bottom of the scale, pondering what

sort of grain poor Ali Baba

would weigh.

And so, Ali Baba’s wife weighed the gold and

returned the scale. But after weighing, one small gold

piece had stuck to the wax. And then, like a hawk eyes

prey as it swoops through the sky, with its eyes

 keen and peeledthats how wealthy Cassims wife spied

the piece. Afterwards, she informed her spouse that his

brother was richer, for he measured his wealth; he did

not count it.

Then spiteful Cassim spoke to his brother, incited

by curiosity of his newfound richness. By pressure

Ali Baba revealed the location of the secret door.

 Greedy Cassim travelled to the location of the gold,

and used the words “Open Sesame” as Ali Baba, brother of

Cassim, had told him.

And then he went in, but without

knowing how to close the door, for Ali Baba

had not told him. Like a stupified faun Cassim sat

inside, praying to Zeus for hope

of salvation. He faced deadly fate.


But Fate had it

 that the thieves from returned, and seeing

this man trapped within, disemboweled

him and strew his body parts

on stakes throughout

 the cave.

Dishonored Cassim’s wife, fearing for her husband

who did not return, sent noble Ali Baba

to seek him out. Ali Baba came to the cave,

and then, like the seekh kababs at a kabab

house, sizzling on the skewers, clean cut and cubic,

sizzling upon the firethats how

Ali Baba saw the body parts of Cassim,

with the light of gold reflecting onto

the carnage. Blood flowed like a fountain

of dark water. They were motivated

by Ares, who makes men dishonor each other

for the sake of honor.

In his deception, Ali Baba sought a

maid of destroyed Cassim, Morgiana

who bought medicines and created

the illusion that Cassim had died

of sicknesses.

Then Ali Baba

sought a sewer, and paid him

with his newfound wealth to stitch

together the body of his deceased Brother.

And then dishonored Cassim was buried, like any other man,

who dies of sickness

and age.

But the thieves returned

to their hideout, and seeing the

body of dishonored Cassim missing, realized another

had discovered their deep secret.

Travelling into town, they came upon the

sewer, who mentioned Ali Baba’s name and

the work that was

given to him.

Then the thieves set into motion their plan

to rid themselves of pestilent Ali Baba. First, they marked

the house of Ali Baba so they could come later

in the dead of night to

end his life.

But crafty Morgiana, perceiving these things,

marked every house in the city, so the

thieves could not kill Ali Baba; they would not know

which house to go to. And the next

day, a chip was made on persistent Ali Baba’s stone doorstep.

And again, crafty Morgiana chipped all

the doorsteps in the city

so the thieves could not

kill perceptive Ali Baba.

Then the leader of the thieves came

to wealthy Ali Baba as an oil merchant

with 38 barrels of oil to do business. Yet one

barrelwas filled with oil, the other 37 with thieves.

Then crafty Morgiana,

perceiving these things, poured boiling

oil into the 37 barrels, killing the

thieves inside. The thieves could not

kill perceptive Ali Baba.

And discovering that the false

oil merchant was the leader of the

thieves, goddess-like Morgiana murdered the man

with a dagger as he feasted.

And so, noble Ali Baba gave her freedom

for her great favor and

he was given freedom

from fear of death.

Afterwards, noble Ali Baba continued to

steal the riches he had found within

the cave. And he passed the secret

of the cave to his sons and they

to their sons. So forever his family lived a life

of great prosperity

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