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0499 Marco Polo : vol.1
Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 499 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000271
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It is written in certain chronicles that at this time (A.D. 1200) in the parts of the north one who was called the Old Man of the Mountain (uetulus de munte) found such a way of living. This Old Man of the Mountain has a place in the mountains very strong and very rich in all good things, and that region is so placed that it cannot be subdued by any living man except by those who dwell there. This Old Man is lord there, and all who follow him by inheritance are named with this name. He buys fine boys and fine and well formed girls from wherever they may be brought to him, when namely they are of one year, in their cradles. And they are all brought up together, both boys and girls, in one place where they have whatever in the world they wish of pleasures; and they mix together as they please when they are grown up. And they are told that they are in the great Paradise of the God of the Earth (in paradiso magno dei terreni). And there in that place they stay with those girls until they are of the age of thirty years. Afterwards he who is over them gives them to day secretly a drink which is called dormitive; and when they are so put asleep they are carried out to another place and there are awakened, and remember about the Paradise where they were brought up, and weep for love of the girls and the pleasures amidst which they were. And this Old Man who is lord there says to them, if you will faithfully do that which I tell you, you shall return immediately to the Paradise from which you have gone out, and shall never lose it, and shall be [63a] for ever in those delights. Then they promise him, and he sells them as they are required by different persons and they are sent about the world to assassinate (ad adsaxinandurn) persons as it pleases those who buy them. And that

i Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana MS. D 526, fol. 624, 63a, 77d-78c. This is a manuscript of the 14th century; and the same passages occur also in one dated 1428 (Trivulziano 704), extracts from which, borrowed from B., are here given in brackets preceded by the letter t:. The extracts from Marco Polo are however absent from two other MSS. of the Imago Mundi in the Bibl. Nazionale at Turin, and it is not certain that they formed part of the original work. There are altogether twenty-two paragraphs, of which the last twelve, according to B., regularly follow the text LB, while the first ten which are here translated seem to come from an independent and in some respects unique source. The first paragraph (which is found in the Turin MSS.) does not indeed profess to come from Marco Polo at all, and it differs sharply from Marco Polo in some details, but the Chronicles from which it is said to be derived have not been identified. One may guess that they were written before the destruction of the Old Man. cf. B., pp. cxciii-cxcv.