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0020 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 20 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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(adjarentium vero regionum Apoctronum Roxanes patruum uxoris meae rectorem constitui placet). This is confirmed to some extent by the Ethiopian version of Pseudo-Callisthenes. There, too, Roxana is said to be the daughter of Darius. Yet, on his death-bed, Alexander, dividing the world between his generals, says : « And I declare unto you publicly, 0 men of Macedonia..., and Lelâs, governor of Bactria, that [all the country] from Babylon to the country of Bactria, shall be given to Roxana, who is a Bactrian woman » (E. A. Wallis BUDGE, The Alexander Book in Ethiopia, London, 1933, 800, 211). The « uncle » (patruus) of the early Latin version may be an attempt to escape the contradiction with the rest of the romance, where Roxane is said to be the daughter of Darius. But it may also be due to another cause. One Oxyartes was a brother of Darius and entered Alexander's service (cf. F. JUSTI, Iranisches Namenbuch, 232) ; perhaps the two Oxyartes were confused at an early date, and the Latin version, which was not made from our present text of Pseudo-Callisthenes, may retain what may have been the original version. The passage from a pseudo-niece to a pseudo-daughter, easy in the Oriental way of expressing family relationship, would be a secondary development, which was not carried into effect throughout the romance. This would account for the discrepancy between the testament and the rest of the romance in the present Greek Pseudo-Callisthenes and in the Ethiopic version, but not for the local tradition in Balkh, as reported by Polo. Polo's text shows that, in Balkh, Roxana remained somehow connected with the former satrapy of her true father Oxyartes; the place mentioned for the wedding is even in surprising agreement with the view taken by Western scholars (PAUTHIER, Pa, 96, says that, according to Plutarch's Life of Alexander, ch. 47, the wedding of Alexander with Roxana took place in Bactria; but there is no such precision in the said chapter; TARN, The Greeks in Bactria and in India, 449, has no hesitation in stating that Alexander married Roxana «at Bactra»). It seems excluded that this agreement should be due to direct historical tradition, and it must be of literary origin. But in all the Iranian versions of the legend of Alexander, I have failed to discover any passage in which Rôsanak is not said to be the true daughter of Darius; no mention is made of Oxyartes. If I am right in my interpretation of Polo's passage, it would imply that there has been some Iranian (Pahlavi?) account of the legend of Alexander in which Roxana retained her Bactrian origin. This original feature, forgotten in all later Iranian versions, might well have survived in the local tradition of Balkh because it connected the great conqueror with the city.


ciscurte Ft   oschurita TM, VA   schurita VL

hoschuritade, schuritade V   oscurità R   tenebre Pr; R

ischurita TAl   oscurite F, Fr   ualle oschura, valle hoschura TA3

obscuritas L, LT, P, Z

The « Province of Darkness » corresponds in principle to the subarctic regions of northern Russia and western Siberia (not only « Siberia », as supposed in BI, 446), lying further north than the dominions of the king Qoni6i (see « Conci »). But already in part of QoniVs territory, there