POLO, Marco. Venice 1254 (or 1250?) — Venice 1324. Famous Italian (Venetian) Traveller in the Middle Ages, spent many years in China. Born in a wealthy family of nobility, he left Venice in 1271 together with his father Niccolò and uncle Maffeo, who had returned from their earlier commercial visit to China in 1269. The route went via the Near East, Iran and Central Asia to the court of Kubilai, where the three served long under the Great Chan. Returning by sea they visited Sri Lanka and India, arrived at Iran and continued via Armenia to the Black Sea and by ship to Venice.
The travel account of Marco Polo is known in three versions: the French version dictated in 1298 to Rusticello of Pisa in a Genuese prison, another French version given by Marco himself in 1307 to a French knight, and a Latin version from Venice. His contemporaries received his narrations with scepticism giving him the nickname “Il Milione”, and recently an attempt has been made to put the very existence of his travels under suspicion, but perhaps with insufficient arguments.
Publications: Latin version published in Ramusio’s collection 1553; among numerous editions and translations the most important are perhaps:
– W. Marsden: The Travels of Marco Polo. Translated from the Italian with notes. L. 1818 and several editions (from Ramusio).
– G. Pauthier: Le livre de Marco Polo, citoyen de Venise. Avec introduction et notes. 1-2. 156+832 p. P. 1865.
– H. Yule: The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian, Concerning the Kingdoms and Marvels of the East. L. 1871, enl. 2nd ed. 1-2. L. 1875; much rev. 3rd ed. by Henri Cordier. 1-2. L. 1903-20.
– A. C. Moule & P. Pelliot: Marco Polo. Description of the World. Transl. and annotated. 1. Introduction, translation, notes. 2. Transcription of the Toledo Latin codex. 595+131 p. L. 1938.
Sources: A full bibliography would take several pages and is not feasible here. See e.g. A. Vattier, D.O.L.F. 770f.; Wikipedia with illustrations
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