Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Marco! Polo!

The aged fellow above is one, Marco Polo, born this day "around" 1254, in Venice, Italy. Known through out the world as the fellow while languishing in a Genoese jail cell that told his fantastic tales of his journey to China to a fellow inmate. That story, and those tales published as The Adventure of Marco Polo made him a star. His travels, with his uncle and his father, started in 1271 when he was seventeen, and ended 24 years later when he returned to Venice for good. We all know the story about how he met Kublai Khan, and brought back all those tales of the exotic east. Of course, Marco wasn't really the first western traveller to make it to China, he just had the best publicist. Which, of course, is half the battle on the way to stardom. You don't have to be first, you just need to convince the majority of people you were first. The truth should not get in the way of a good story should it? All in all him and his companions traveled about 15,000 miles, a pretty far piece in the latter 1200's. He returned to Venice in 1299, and was promptly taken prisoner by Genoa, and tossed into the jail cell from which he dictated his story. He was released, and returned to Venice in 1300, and never traveled again. I guess by then his frequent horse riding miles had expired. Or maybe China was too crowded. So for showing that getting there first isn't a barrier to fame, and for being the source of an excellent swimming pool game, Marco Polo (September 15th around 1254-January 8th, 1324 at the age of about 70), you are my hero of the day.

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