Nathan the Wise



  • A verse play by G. E. Lessing, first performed inBerlin in 1783. It won high praise in Goethe's 1801 production at the Court Theatre in Weimar. The work, a plea for religious freedomand the brotherhood of man, was written as a tribute to Lessing'sfriend the Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn.

    In the play Nathan, a Jewish merchant, visits Muslim-heldJerusalem to seek his adopted daughter, Recha, who has been savedfrom a fire by a German crusader, Conrade. When Nathan is accused by aChristian of kidnapping Recha in her infancy, he is able to disprovethe allegation. Finally he establishes harmony between the contendingfaiths by revealing that Recha and Conrade are siblings and that their father is the Sultan's brother.