Daniel Halliday
Oct 29 · Last update 6 mo. ago.
How authentic were the stories of Marco Polo?
The Travels of Marco Polo is a travelogue covering the journey made by Polo through Asia in the 13th Century. This work had a large influence on Christopher Columbus’s effort to sail across the Atlantic; however there has been a large amount of debate over the authenticity of Marco Polo’s story in recent times.
Stats of Viewpoints
Exaggerations of Rustichello da Pisa
0 agrees
0 disagrees
There are certain details that are too accurate to be false
0 agrees
0 disagrees
There are many obvious absences that are hard to overlook
0 agrees
0 disagrees
Viewpoints
Add New Viewpoint
Exaggerations of Rustichello da Pisa

When Marco Polo returned to Venice following his travels in the Far East, the Republic of Genoa had declared war on Venice and Polo was subsequently captured and imprisoned. It was during this time that he met and told his story to Rustichello da Pisa, a contemporary romance writer, and the two began authoring The Travels of Marco Polo together as a collection of Polo’s story, stories by Rustichello and anecdotes and news from China. As a result, and due to the exaggerated nature of romance writers of the time, the work cannot be looked at as purely factual, which can go some way to explain the apparent discrepancies contained in the work. More telling and illusive however are Polo’s reported final words on his death bed, “I have not told half of what I saw”.

Agree
Disagree
There are certain details that are too accurate to be false

Although there are many inaccuracies and disputes surrounding the Travels of Marco Polo, some of the accuracies are so unique and detailed they also cannot be overlooked. Sinologist historian Hans Ulrich Vogel of the University of Tübingen has published a very detailed analysis of the Travels of Marco Polo, comparing them to ancient Yuan records. He found that the details that Polo recorded regarding salt production, variations of currencies, the details of paper, and use of seals, match Chinese records and go far beyond his Western, Arab or Persian contemporaries, leading Vogel to conclude that Polo's accounts are essentially authentic.

Agree
Disagree
There are many obvious absences that are hard to overlook

Since the time of the publication of The Travels of Marco Polo there have been many questions over it authenticity. While Polo’s story goes far beyond his contemporaries in rich and accurate detail, he failed to mention some quintessential Chinese practices that would have been common at the time, such as the use of chopsticks, foot binding, tea drinking, Chinese characters, and the Great Wall of China. Even as far back as the Middle Ages some thought of the book as a fable, but these stunning omissions have caused many modern scholars to wonder if Polo’s accounts were completely based on second hand information.

Agree
Disagree
Translate