January 03, 2022

#08-173: The Seven Voyages of Sinbad, Part I

The man-eating giant

Note: The adventures of Sinbad were probably drawn from many sources, including Homer's Odyssey. In any case, they're great fun to read!

Get Ready: In the pre-modern age, people could tell fantastic tales of far-off lands and many would believe them. Have we lost something by "conquering" the world? That is, is the world a less exciting place now that it has been thoroughly explored, mapped, and described?

As told in the One Thousand and One Nights, on seven voyages through the seas between Africa and south Asia Sinbad the Sailor enters magical realms, meets monsters, and witnesses supernatural wonders. He ends up a rich merchant living in Baghdad.

On his first voyage, Sinbad sets out to recover the inheritance he lost by loose living. (The stories, then, are also about how he became a better person). He lands on an island--actually a sleeping whale--and is stranded when the whale dives and Sinbad's companions escape without him. He washes ashore on another island, and saves a mare belonging to the king of that land when it is attacked by a supernatural horse that lives underwater. He becomes a trusted counselor to the king, and when Sinbad's lost ship--with his goods still in it--luckily lands on the very island where he dwells, he exchanges the goods with the king, and sells what he has gained at a great profit.

Back home again, Sinbad grows restless and sets out again on a second voyage. Again left behind by his shipmates, he finds the nest of a giant bird called a roc. Attaching himself to one bird with his turban, he flies to a valley of snakes big enough to swallow elephants. The valley's floor is covered with diamonds; Sinbad manages to get a bagful and escape on another roc. Once again he returns to Baghdad a wealthy man.

Again leaving home, Sinbad is captured by a monstrous one-eyed creature, much like the cyclops, and escapes by blinding him. After further adventures he returns from this third voyage wealthier than before.

The fourth voyage also includes a shipwreck, and Sinbad lives among "savages" that feed the men a plant that robs them of their reason--and then eat them. But Sinbad refuses to eat it, and escapes to another island, where the king marries him to a rich and beautiful woman. To his horror, when she dies he learns that the custom of the land requires him to be buried with her! As more couples--one spouse dead, the other alive--are dropped into the cave where he is trapped, he kills the living partner and takes what few rations they have brought with them. He also collects the gold and gems from the corpses. At last he follows a wild beast out of the cave and returns to Baghdad--wealthy again.

We'll continue Sinbad's story in the next lesson.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinbad_the_Sailor

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. corpses
  2. inheritance
  3. mare
  4. merchant
  5. rations
  6. realms
  7. savages
  8. stranded
  9. turban
  10. voyage

  1. kingdoms; lands
  2. allotments of food and water
  3. money left to another by a dead person
  4. a female horse
  5. a trip; a journey
  6. wild people
  7. a hat made by wrapping a cloth around the head
  8. left behind
  9. a trader; one who travels to buy and sell goods
  10. dead bodies

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for January 3, 2022

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. j; 2. c; 3. d; 4. i; 5. b; 6. a; 7. f; 8. h; 9. g; 10. e