"Studio" edition

Ego Marcus Paulo volo et ordino

The Secrets of Marco Polo’s Will

Cod. Lat. V, 58 (=2437), N. 33

Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice

An important new work of great interest to scholars and scientists

After extensive research on and analysis of the original fourteenth-century document, Venice’s Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana and Scrinium present the first complete and correct diplomatic edition of Marco Polo’s will [Cod. Lat. V, 58 (=2437), no. 33]. This incredibly fascinating and unique document, handwritten on parchment in 1324 and now preserved at the Marciana Library, is of extraordinary historical importance.
In this publication, the whole Latin text of the great Venetian traveler’s will is transcribed, translated and interpreted for the first time ever.

The first wide-ranging set of new studies of the document is published together with an exhaustive description of the historical and social context in which it was produced, giving us a portrayal of Marco Polo that includes a wealth of personal details, some of them previously unknown.
The official release of Ego Marcus Paulo Volo et Ordino: The Secrets of Marco Polo’s Will was announced on 13 April 2018 at an international press conference. The “Studio Edition” presented here in advance was designed specifically for libraries, academic institutions and historical-research facilities all over the world as a tool for study and. consultation.

Cod. Lat. V, 58 (=2437), N. 33

Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice

An important new work of great interest to scholars and scientists

The Project

Since the first half of the nineteenth century, Venice’s Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana has preserved in its collections an especially fascinating document of extraordinary historical importance: a sheet of parchment – still in good condition today – on which Marco Polo’s last wishes were set down as the great Venetian traveler (1254-1324) dictated them from his deathbed.

Marco Polo’s will was drawn up by a priest-notary named Giovanni Giustiniani, and is dated January 9, 1323. Since Venice at the time still used the pre-Julian Roman calendar, in which the year started on March first, the Venetian January 1323 corresponds to January 1324. This invaluable parchment is the most famous document contained in the Marciana Library’s Codex Latinus V, 58-59, which includes many other parchment documents, among them the wills of Niccolò and Matteo Polo, Marco’s father and uncle, with whom he made the long journey to the court of Kublai Khan in 1271.

In 2016, in light of the academic world’s growing interest in Marco Polo’s will, and in response to the great number of loan requests received from museums and libraries all over the world, the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities│Marciana National Library and Scrinium embarked on a joint project to conduct studies of and research on the document, with the aim of producing a clone that would be perfectly identical to the original down to the tiniest detail and could be consulted at the Library and used to meet requests for international loans.

An intense new program of bio-chemical and physical investigation of the parchment was hosted at the Marciana Library’s Conservation Department. At the same time, Professor Attilio Bartoli Langeli, an internationally renowned paleographer, was asked to produce the first full and exact diplomatic edition and a new translation into Italian of Marco Polo’s will. Prof. Bartoli Langeli’s work at last filled in all the gaps and corrected the serious mistakes present in earlier transcriptions and translations.

When the will underwent conservation work at the Ministry’s Central Institute for Conservation and Preservation of Archival and Book Heritage, in Rome, the delicate examination and subsequent high-resolution scanning operations were performed by Scrinium, which then produced and delivered to the Marciana Library the first perfect replica of the document. This replica, in lieu of the original parchment, was on display at the show titled “From the Ancient to the New Silk Road,” held at Turin’s Museum of Oriental Art in 2017.

To promote at the international level the results of this important and successful project, Scrinium and the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana have jointly published Ego Marcus Paulo Volo et Ordino: The Secrets of Marco Polo’s Will, a work which comprises the exact replica of the will, the full diplomatic transcription and translation of the Latin text, and a book of historical and scientific studies written by leading experts. To facilitate maximum circulation of these hitherto unpublished studies of Marco Polo’s precious and fascinating will, of the historical and social contest in which it was produced, and of certain interesting details of the great traveler’s life that until now had not been investigated in depth, a “Studio” edition of the work was also designed.

The document’s astounding vitality and interest lie in its ability to provide a vivid portrait of Marco Polo, a key figure and model for us even today: a man with a knack for establishing relations with worlds and cultures very different from his own, maintaining a critical but unbiased spirit: a cultural ambassador, a disseminator of knowledge, a man of peace.
This publication also enables readers, on an exclusive basis, to access the historical document physically, in the form of a replica that is exactly the same as the original in every detail, hence research centers and academic institutions will find it an important tool for teaching, research and study.

Terms of purchase

Publication plan

Technical features of the “Studio” edition

Elegant folded book-cover case binding, 26 x 34 x 7 cm, designed specifically for easy consultation and shelving. The two overlapping front covers fold over the book of essays (which is firmly attached to the middle section of the binding) and are held shut by a hidden magnetic fastening. The replica of the original parchment is lodged in a pocket on the inside of the right-hand front cover.

The gold lettering on the front, the back and the inside of the binding was hot-stamped.

Each copy is numbered.

The document

Original:

Marco Polo’s will - Cod. Lat. V, 58 (=2437), no. 33
Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana.
Sheep parchment, 24.5 x 67.5 cm

Date:

January 9, 1324 (1323 according to the Venetian calendar)

Exact replica of the original document, in the same format and dimensions, printed by means of the stochastic screening process on synthetic parchment, a support which remains unaltered over time and withstands handling.

The collection of essays and studies

 

Summary

Introduction
  • Tiziana Plebani – When a document becomes a monument
  • Data of the document
I. The author of the document: Marco Polo
  • Marco Polo’s family tree
  • Tiziana Plebani – Major events in the life of Marco Polo
  • Vito Bianchi – Marco Polo: A traveler between two revolutions
  • Alvise Zorzi – The Venice that Marco Polo found when he came home
  • Zhang Xiping – Marco Polo’s book: A primary source for knowledge of the China of his day
II. The will and its historical and cultural background
  • Attilio Bartoli Langeli – Marco Polo’s Will - Interpretative Edition
  • Attilio Bartoli Langeli – Italian traslation of the text
  • Attilio Bartoli Langeli – Reading a will
  • Tiziana Plebani –The journey of Marco Polo’s will through history
  • Paola Benussi – Between formulary and individuality: Giovanni Giustinian, the notary who drew up Marco Polo’s will
  • Luca Molà – Marco Polo and trade with the Orient: A traveler’s inventory
  • Stefania Coccato – Marco Polo. A particular house, a Venetian house
III. Analysis
  • Claudia Benvestito – Between the lines of the Will: Its preservation over time
  • Silvia Pugliese – The conservation of Cod. Lat. V, 58-59 (= 2437-2438)
  • Elena Badea and Cristina Carşote – The secrets of the parchment containing Marco Polo’s will
  • Stephen J. Milner, Sarah Fiddyment, Chiara Frigatti, Matthew Collins - Interrogating the parchment substrate: Bioarcheological analysis of the Polo family testaments using non-invasive ZooMS peptide mass fingerprinting

Appendices
English translation by Sir Henry Hule
The authors
Index of names

Format: 25 x 33 x 5 cm
295 pages
Printed on Ferigoni Corolla Damasco paper
ISBN 978-88-96364-04-8

Edited by T. Plebani, former head of the Marciana Library’s History and Education Department

Bilingual edition (English and Italian on facing pages)

 

The book is divided into three sections:

  • The first section provides historical background on the figure of Marco Polo, describes Venice as it was when he returned from his journey, and outlines his travels and his work from an international perspective. Prof. Zhang Xiping’s essay is an invaluable source of knowledge about China in Marco Polo’s day.
     
  • The second section presents for the first time the diplomatic transcription of the text of the will, correcting the mistakes made in the earlier transcriptions on which all previous translations were based. This section also describes the historical and social context in which the document was produced, and on how it was handed down through the centuries.
     
  • The third section is devoted to physical analyses of the document and to certain aspects related to its conservation over time. It contains the most detailed analysis ever made of the parchment on which the will was written, and the findings of a bio-archaeological investigation made by a team of experts.

 

Diplomatic edition

The publication includes the first and only complete and correct diplomatic edition of the text of Marco Polo’s will [Cod. Lat. V, 58 (=2437), no. 33]. It was prepared by Prof. Attilio Bartoli Langeli and is printed on a separate sheet of paper, so that it can be easily consulted and compared with the original handwritten text.

The book containing the collection of essays and studies includes the interpretative edition of the will.

Ego Marcus Paulo volo et ordino

The Secrets of Marco Polo’s Will

Special price: €480,00 including Value-Added Tax
Reserved for university entities, libraries and registered organizations.

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