Learned helplessness

“It takes patience to associate with women and whoever loves them needs to be magnanimous. They are always picking quarrels with men and annoying them, as they are proud of being the fair sex, boasting of their own superiority and despising men. This is particularly true when they see that their husbands love them, and they respond to this with pride, coquetry and misdeeds of every kind. If a man becomes angry when he sees his wife doing something that he dislikes, there can be no association between the two of them, for the only men whom women find acceptable are the magnanimous and long-suffering. If a man is not prepared to put up with his wife and to overlook her evil deeds, then he cannot successfully associate with her. It is said that were women up in the sky, men would crane their necks to look at them.” – The Arabian Nights (trans. Lyons, et al.)

With friends like that . . .

“When glory and good luck befriend a man,
Disasters and misfortunes keep away.
Friends come as uninvited parasites,
And even supposed guardians act as pimps.
He farts and people take it as a song,
While any smell he makes is sweet perfume.”

The Arabian Nights (trans. Lyons, et al.)

Such is the way of dogs

“On his way the poor man finds all things against him;
The earth itself closes its doors to him.
You find him hated, though he does no wrong;
You see hostility but not its cause.
At the sight of a rich man you find the dogs
Turning towards him, as they wag their tails,
But if it is a poor wretch whom they see
They come to bark at him and bare their teeth.”

The Arabian Nights (trans. Lyons, et al.)

As for the others . . .

“A king cannot be called a king unless he is bountiful and just, a good and generous ruler, who treats his subjects well, maintaining the laws and customs with which they are familiar. He should establish justice among them, avoiding bloodshed and protecting them from harm. He should be marked out by his constant attention to the poor; he should aid both high and low alike, giving them their rightful dues, so that they may call down blessings upon him and obey his commands. There can be no doubt that a king like this will be beloved by his subjects.” – The Arabian Nights (trans. Lyons, et al.)

Finders keepers

God has produced no finer sight than that
Which shows two lovers on a single bed,
Embracing one another in content,
Pillowing each other with their wrists and arms.
For when hearts are united in their love,
It is cold iron on which their critics strike.
You who blame the lovers for their love,
Have you the power to mend an ailing heart?
If in your lifetime you find one true friend
How good this is! Live for this friend alone.

The Arabian Nights (trans. Lyons, et al.)

Good luck

“Leave a place where there is injustice;
Abandon the house to lament its builder.
You can find another land in place of that one,
But you will never find another life.
Do not let the blows of fate concern you;
Every misfortune will reach its end.
Whoever is fated to die in a certain land
Will die in no other place than that.”

The Arabian Nights (trans. Lyons, et al.)

Same as it ever was

“A story is told that a powerful king of the Israelites was sitting one day on his royal throne when he saw a man coming in through the palace door with an appearance that was both unpleasing and awesome. The king shrank back in fear at this as the man approached, but then, jumping up in front of him, he said: ‘Man, who are you and who gave you permission to enter my palace and come into my presence?’ ‘It was the master of the house who ordered me to come,’ said the man. ‘No chamberlain can keep me out; I need no permission to come into the presence of kings; I fear the power of no ruler or the number of his guards. I am the one from whom no tyrant can find refuge, nor can any flee from my grasp. I am the destroyer of delights and the parter of friends.’ When the king heard this, he fell on his face and his whole body trembled. At first he lost consciousness, but when he recovered he said: ‘Are you the angel of death?’ ‘Yes,’ said the angel, and the king then said: ‘Allow me a single day’s delay so that I may ask pardon for my sins and seek forgiveness from my Lord, returning the wealth that is in my treasuries to its owners lest I have to endure the hardship of having to account for it and the pain of punishment for it.’ The angel said: ‘Impossible—there is no way in which you can be granted this. How can I allow you any delay when the days of your life have been counted, your breaths numbered and all your minutes set down in the book of fate?’ ‘Give me just one hour,’ the king said, but the angel replied: ‘The hour has been accounted for. It passed while you were still paying no attention and you have used up all your breaths except for one.’ ‘Who will be with me when I am carried to my grave?’ asked the king, and the angel said: ‘Nothing will be with you except for your own deeds.’

The Arabian Nights (trans. Lyons, et al.)

In the old days

“In the old days a certain king wanted to ride out one day with a number of his courtiers and officers of state in order to show off his splendid trappings to his people. He ordered his emirs and the great men of his state to prepare themselves to accompany him. He ordered the master of his wardrobe to bring out for him the most splendid robes that would suitably adorn him, and he had the best and finest of his pure-blooded horses brought out. After this had been done, he chose the clothes that he preferred and took his pick of the horses. Then he put on his clothes, mounted the horse and rode out with his cortège, wearing a collar studded with gems, pearls of all kinds and rubies. As he rode among his men, exulting in his pride and haughtiness, he swelled with pride, telling himself that there was no one like him in the world, and he started to manifest with a measure of haughtiness and vainglory that in his arrogance he would not look at anyone.

“A man wearing shabby clothes stood in front of him and greeted him, and when the king failed to return the greeting he seized his horse’s rein. ‘Take your hand away,’ said the king, ‘for you don’t know whose rein it is that you are holding.’ ‘There is something that I need from you,’ said the man. The king replied: ‘Wait until I dismount and then you can tell me what it is.’ ‘It is a secret,’ the man said, ‘and I can only whisper it into your ear.’ The king bent down to listen and the man said: ‘I am the angel of death and I intend to take your soul.’ ‘Give me time to go home and say goodbye to my family, my children, my neighbors and my wife,’ the king asked, but the angel said, ‘You are not going to go back and you will never see them again, for the span of your life is at an end.’ He then took the king’s soul and the king fell dead from the back of his horse.”

The Arabian Nights (trans. Lyons, et al.)

Keeping the citizens united

“If a rich man says something wrong, the people say:
‘You may be right, and what you say is not impossible,’
But if a poor man speaks the truth, they say:
‘You are a liar; what you say is wrong.’
Money invests a man with dignity and beauty in all lands.
Money is the tongue of those who seek eloquence,
And the weapon of whoever wants to fight.”

The Arabian Nights (trans. Lyons, et al.)

But it has cookies

“You who are seeking this vile world,
It is destruction’s net, a pit of sorrows.
It is a dwelling which may bring
Laughter one day, but will fetch tears the next.
Evil befall it! Its attacks never cease;
No price, however great, ransoms its prisoners.”

The Arabian Nights (trans. Lyons, et al.)

Try it sometime

“Visit your love; take no heed of the envious,
Who will not help you in your affairs of love.
God in His mercy creates no finer sight
Than of two lovers lying on one bed
In one another’s arms, clothed in contentment,
Pillowed on one another’s wrists and arms.
If in your lifetime you find one true friend,
How good a friend is this; live for that one alone.
When hearts are joined in love,
The envious are striking on cold iron.
You who blame lovers for their love,
Have you the power to cure the sick at heart?
God in Your mercy, let us meet
Before death comes, if only by one day.”

The Arabian Nights (trans. Lyons, et al.)