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0032 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 32 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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628   212. DRY (LONE) TREE

Lone Tree

abbero del sole TA3 albero del sole TM; R albero solo TAI, TM alboro del solle V

alboro solo V, VA alterum solum LT arbor seul L

arbor sol L, P

arbor sola LT, Z

arbre seul F, FA, FB arbre sol F, FA

Much has been written on the Dry, or Lone, Tree; the main information is to be found in Pa, 95-96; YI, II, 103; CORDIER, Odoric de Pordenone, 21-29; and, above all, in Y, I, 128-139, and III, 31, and in GRIMAUDI, Il mito degli alberi del Sole e della Luna e dell' Albero secco nella Geografia e nella Cartografia medievale (in Atti del Vo Congresso Geografico Italiano, Naples, 1905, II, 828-842).

The first point to establish is the true form of the names. The important passages are those of B, 32 (xL8-9), « l'arbre seul que les cristiens appellent l'arbre seche », and of B, 222 (cciit3-4),

  • l'arbre sol que eu livre d'Alexandre est apellé l'arbre seche ». For « arbre seche », there is no discrepancy : all Mss., in all versions, have the equivalent of « Dry Tree ». The case is different with the first name. TA, and V, followed by GRYNAEUS and RAMUSIO, have understood it as meaning

  • Tree of the Sun »; MARSDEN (pp. 109-111) adopted this in his turn, and YULE has tried to prove ( Y, t, 129, 135, 138) that such was the correct rendering of « Arbre Sol »; he has been approved by CHARIGNON (Ch, t, 71) and PENZER (Pe, 344); Ricci-Ross (RR, 411) retain « Arbre Sol » without any comment. Fr. KAMPERS ( Vorn Werdegange der abendländischen Kaisersmystik, Leipzig, 1924) based his reasoning of p. 118 on the assumption that Polo's « Arbre Sol » was the

  • Tree of the Sun ». Yet, in BENEDETTO (B1, 437) as well as in MOULE's translation (cf. Vol. I, 128, 456), it is not « Tree of the Sun », but « Lone Tree » which has been adopted. In my opinion, there is not the slightest doubt that this is the only acceptable translation. YULE took much pains to demonstrate that sol meant « sun » in both Venetian and Provençal, and that, in mediaeval French, the prepositional sign (de, du) was not necessary to the genitive. He added that « it is the Tree of the Sun that is prominent in the legendary History of Alexander, a fact sufficient in itself to rule the reading ». But there are many flaws in his argument. To begin with the end, it is not « Arbre Sol », but « Arbre seche » which is ascribed by Polo to the Book of Alexander. A second point is that F has « Arbre sol » only once, but the second time « Arbre seul », and that LT as well as Z have rendered it « arbor sola ». Another objection which ought to have occurred to YULE and was raised by HOUTUM-SCHINDLER (,IRAS, 1909, 157) is that sol, at least in the feminine sole, occurs elsewhere in F with the meaning « alone », while the word for « sun », whatever it may be in Venetian or Provençal, is « soleil » in F (cf. B, 35 [xLIv12], 19026, 21428, 232 [ccxtx3] ; once « solei » in B, 29 Exxxvlt18]). Finally, when Polo explains that there is not a single other tree for more than a hundred miles, except in one direction where there are trees at a distance of ten miles, this is in itself a clear comment on the name of the « Arbre Sol », or « Arbre Seul », the « Lone Tree ».

Such being the case, no time need be wasted on PAUTHIER's absurd « Arbre Socque » (Pa, 95), already refuted by YULE ( Y, I, 129), nor on the joint lucubration of the orientalist REINAUD and the mediaevalist Francisque MICHEL, according to whom the plane is sometimes confused with the poplar, in Arabic ,1,. hawwar, which Polo may in his turn have confused with Pers. ;~ hôr, •~. hor,