Vathek is the ninth Caliph of the Abassides, crowned (= incoronato) at an early age. He is a handsome man, who loves all sorts of pleasures and wants to get a great knowledge (= conoscenza) One day a horrible merchant comes to town and Vathek buys some swords from him. On the swords there are some mysterious letters. Vathek asks the merchant the meaning (= signoificato), but the man does not answer and Vathek imprisons him. The following day the prison is empty, and the guards are dead. His mother, Carathis, tells him that the merchant was the man of the prophecy. Vathek establishes a reward (= ricompensa) for the one who can decipher the words on the sword. Only one old man succeeds: the words mean that the sword is in a place where there are wonders (= meraviglie). But the next morning, the message is different, it is a curse (= maledizione) against the one who wants to know what he can’t know.
Vathek then becomes very thirsty (= assetato) and always goes to a fountain where one day he meets the merchant who sold him the swords, Giaour. Giaour cures his thirst with a potion and the two men return to Samarah. One morning Vathek mother reads a message in the stars: a great evil will strike (= colpirà) Vathek. Vathek asks Giaour explanation but he only laughs, Vathek gets angry and turns Giaur into a ball that everybody must kick (= prendere a calci) till a remote valley. But Giaour’s voice tells him that if he believes him, and renounce the teachings (= insegnamenti) of Islam, he will bring Vathek to “the palace of the subterrain fire” where Soliman Ben Daoud controls the talismans that rule (= governa) over the world.
Vathek agrees (= è d’accordo), and Giaour asks him first to sacrifice fifty of the city’s children, then many people of his reign. At last Vatek starts his journey to Istakhar. On his way he meets carnivorous animals, then he reaches (= raggiunge) a mountain where Islamic dwarves (= nani) dwell. There he stops and falls in love with the Emir’s beautiful daughter Nouronihar. As she is already promised, he plans to kidnap (= progetta di rapirla) her. The Emir hides Nouronihar and her lover in a secret valley by a lake, but Vathek finds the girl and she elopes (= fugge) with him. Carathis, worried about his son, appears in front Vathek, and tells him that, as he has already broken the laws (= leggi) of hospitality by ‘seducing’ the Emir’s daughter after sharing (= aver condiviso) his bread, with one more crime along the way he will be able to enter Soliman’s gates triumphant.
A Genie (= genio) asks Mohammed for permission to try to save Vathek from his eternal damnation. He takes the form of a shepherd who plays the flute and asks Vathek to return home, and preach (= predicare) Islam. Vathek refuses. Finally, Vathek reaches Istakhar, where he finds more swords. The words on them say that he can enter the gate (= cancello) of the palace where he can ask whatever (= qualunque) he wants. Vathek asks to be taken to the talismans that govern the world. Soliman warns (= mette in guarda) Vathek that if he receives the power to command the world he is destined to suffer in hell for all eternity: Vathek asks Giaour to release him, but Giaour refuses. He tells Vathek to enjoy his omnipotence while it lasts (= finché dura), for in a few days he will be tormented.
Vathek calls for Carathis and when she arrives, he warns her of what his suffering among the flames but Carathis takes the talismans of earthly (= terreno) power regardless. From that moment on Carathis, Vathek, Nouronihar, and the other people living in the hell (= inferno) lose their most precious gift (= dono) , hope and begin to feel eternal remorse for their crimes.