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Essay/Term paper: Mythic heros: sinbad the sailor

Essay, term paper, research paper:  World Literature

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Mythic Heros: Sinbad the Sailor

When I think about mythic heroes, for many years the first name that
came to mind was Sinbad: Sinbad the sailor. In his days as an adventurer, he
went on seven fantastic voyages which earned him fame for the rest of his life.
Yet, now in retrospect, I no longer consider him to be the great adventurer that
I saw him as in my childhood.
On his seven voyages, Sinbad encountered every obstacle one could
possibly think of. He and his crew met up with: a fish so large, many mistook
it for an island, an island where rocs (enormous birds (their eggs were often
mistaken for buildings)) still lived, cannibals, giants, and even herds of angry
elephants. On each and everyone one of his famed voyages, he was shipwrecked,
alone, and faced with some hideous danger. On each and everyone, he overcame
the odds, destroyed his foes, and returned home with riches beyond the
As a child, the stories of Sinbad's voyages were wildly entertaining.
In each one, there was adventure, danger, money, and the hero always came home
in one piece. Now that I look back at the stories, there are some parts of
Sinbad's fantastic tales that bother me.
First of all, Sinbad never set out in search of adventure. These
amazing things just seemed to always happen to him. He normally set out as a
merchant, carrying goods from one exotic land to another. Yet, on each of these
trips, something incredible happened to him and his crew, resulting in a dead
crew and a fantastic story for Sinbad the sailor.
Secondly, all of Sinbad's great adventures occurred sequentially. In
other words, he went immediately from one adventure to another without so much
as a nap in between. This man never had a quiet boat ride in the entire span of
time in which his adventures took place.
Another interesting point is the manner in which Sinbad always left and
returned to his home port in Baghdad. All seven times, he left with a full crew
and carrying the goods of a local merchant. Yet all seven times he returned, he
was alone, the crew having died in the early part of the respective adventure.
All seven times, he returned without the goods that he was to take to market,
but he often returned with new riches from the island where he was stranded (and
of course, kept them for himself). This leads me to believe that maybe his crew
didn't die in the shipwrecks or some other accident after all.
Sinbad was a mythic hero; a hero for everyone with a love for adventure.
But now, I tend to think that Sinbad the sailor may not have been the great
adventure that he has been made out to be. Maybe there is more to the tale of
Sinbad than we know. Maybe something was lost in the translation from Arabic.
Maybe parts of the story vanished over the years. Who knows? Either way, I
don't think we are getting the whole story of Sinbad the sailor.


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