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0144 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 144 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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740   247. GREEN HILL

of « Taidu »; Odoric also mentions this hill which he says is called « Mons Viridis » (Wy, 472), an almost too close coincidence.

According to Polo, this hill was planted all over with beautiful evergreens. Polo adds : « Et vos di que le grant sire ha fait covrir tout cel mont de roce de l'açur que est mont vers. Si que les arbores sunt tuit vers, et le mont tout vers. E n'i apert fort que couse vers. Et por ce est apelles le mont vers » (B, 76; but the reading really given in F is « de roçe delacur » [MOULE]; for the translation, cf. Vol. I, 211).

The edition of 1824 (p. 91) had printed « de roze de l'açur »; PAUTHIER's text (Pa, 270) gives a de rose et de l'azur ». YULE (Y, I, 365, 370) has translated « and he has also caused the whole hill to be covered with the ore of azure, which is very green »; we find also « with dust of lapis-lazuli » in RR, 120, and « polvere di lapislazzuli » in BI, 122. But this is absurd : the hill could not have been overstrewn with mineral powder. Certainly it is a difficult passage, in which some misspelling seems to have occurred in the archetype, and it has embarrassed copyists and translators. I owe to MOULE the following tabulation :

de roçe delacur   F   herba virenti   P

[de roce de l'açur   B]   della terra dello azurro   TA3

de Rose et dazur   FB   della terra dello azzurro   TAI

de rose de lasur   FA   de retibus açurri   L

doro edazuro   V   de roçia azuri   Li

derba   VA

The sentence, or the whole passage, is omitted in Z, VB, VL, LT, R, G.

In 1876, BRETSCHNEIDER (Recherches archéol. sur Pékin, 115) proposed to read « roc » for « roze », and « à jour » for « açur », a suggestion that was approved of by CHARIGNON (Ch, II, 53), although the second part of it is of course wrong for several reasons, one of which being that «à jour» would not account for the colour. The first part of BRETSCHNEIDER's explanation had been previously suggested to YULE by C. W. KING, who said that « roze » probably stood for « roche », and that « Roche de l'azur may have been used loosely for blue-stone, i. e. carbonate of copper, which would assume a green colour through moisture ». This becomes almost evident with the reading « roce » instead of « roze »; and I agree that the most likely solution is to read with BENEDETTO « roce de l'azur » instead of « roçe delacur D. But BENEDETTO ought to have said that he corrected the text, and above all he ought not to have translated « roce » by « dust »; already in the vocabulary inserted at the end of the edition of 1824 (p. 525) « roce » is registered as meaning « rock ». « Roce d'açur » is a term analogous to « roche d'éméraux » for instance, as quoted by LITTRÉ. Qubilai had not strewn the hill with green powder; but on that hill, planted over with evergreens, he had also placed a great number of the fancy rocks of fantastic forms of which the Chinese are so fond; only they were here all green.

It is no less clear that these green rocks were not of lapis-lazuli, were it only for the fact that lapis-lazuli is not green. Under « Azure », I have shown that, in the two other cases when Polo