Marco Polo An Exploratory Essay

1396 words - 6 pages

Many children, including myself, have once played the game Marco Polo. Although, I have always been curious, who exactly is Marco Polo? My fascination of Marco Polo warped into a fixation of his travels. Marco Polo was born in Venice in the year 1254. His father, Nicolo, and his uncle, Maffeo, were merchants who had seats in the great nobleman council of Venice (Polo IV). According to his records, he had traveled thousands of miles with his father and uncle.
Marco, Nicolo and Maffeo (known as the Polos) left Venice, and did not return for twenty-six years. Upon their return, they were not welcomed in Venice. The Polos were long thought to have been dead. When they arrived in Venice, their clothes were old and worn-out; the things that they carried were from the east and their faces showed of great hardship (Hart 2). The travels of the Marco and the Polos were so foreign, extravagant and impacting, that upon their return to Venice their own people could not even recognize them. The Polos returned from the east, “Back from the Deserts of Persia, back from the lofty steeps of Pamir, from mysterious Tibet, from the dazzling court of Kublai Khan, from China, Mongolia, Burma, Siam, Sumatra, Java; back from the Ceylon, and back from India, the land of myth and marvels” (Polo lV). Marco was exposed to whole other cultures and things that had never been seen before by his own people. At the beginning of his journey, he had to idea as to where he was heading; hence the game that many children of my generation once played (Waugh llV). Marco encountered oil near the Caspian Sea, a foreign commodity to him at that time, “This oil is not good to eat [Like olive oil]. People come from long distances to fetch it and put it to its multiple uses” (Freedman 15). Marco saw the largest and most beautiful cities that he had ever witnessed. The largest city he encountered was the capitol of the Sung dynasty (in southern China). He called this city the “City of Heaven” (Freedman 41); Marcos wrote, “It is without a doubt the finest and most splendid city in the world” (Freedman 41). However, Marco Polo’s last stop was in China, a place so different and interesting compared to his own; he spent the majority of his time there.
After about a three and a half year journey, Marco noted that the Polos arrived in the court of Kublai Khan, the conqueror of China. The Great Khan ruled a vast empire of prosperous cities that had richer goods, services, and technology than any place in Europe that Marco had ever seen (Freedman 6). Kublai Khan was the grandson of the infamous Genghis Khan, the fearless Mongol who swept across Asia and the Middle East generations earlier. When the Polos arrived in Shangdu (the capitol of Kublai Khan’s empire), the Mongol empire stretched from China, to Russia and Iraq; the empire was at the pinnacle of its existence (Polo 26). Marco stated that he soon rose to a position of power in Kublai Khan’s court, because Mublai Khan was pleased by Marco’s...

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