The Alchemist (Coelho)

The Alchemist – Study Guide

4. The old man, whose name is Melchizedek, tells the boy he is from Salem. (Note that there is a character in the

Bible named Melchizedek who was king of Jerusalem, also called Salem.) He tells Santiago that when people are

young, they all know their reasons for being, but they give up too soon. He has sensed that Santiago is on the verge

of trying to realize his Personal Legend. According to the old king, what is a Personal Legend?

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Upon leaving the Gypsy's house, Santiago sits in the Plaza to read a book, where he meets an old man who is eager to strike up a conversation. It turns out that the old man not only knows how to read but has read the book that Santiago is struggling through. The man reveals himself to be Melchizedek, the King of Salem, and he introduces Santiago to what he calls "the world's greatest lie." The World's Greatest Lie states that fate prevents one from achieving his/her Personal Legend. Everyone has a Personal Legend, or something which he/she has wanted to achieve his/her entire life. Personal Legends come from the Soul of the World and this Soul of the World conspires to help everyone achieve them.