The Arabian Nights: One Thousand and One Nights

Sindbad’s Character Traits: On Contradicting and Sympathizing with Homo Economicus College

The story of Sindbad the Sailor, found in “The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments” and filled with countless economic transactions, can be understood through the application of different economic models to reveal the motives and driving forces of the principal character. By evaluating the actions of Sindbad in this 10th century collection of tales through an economic lens, and by applying the models of Homo Economicus (economic or self-interested man), Homo Reciprocans (reciprocating or cooperative man), and Homo Islamicus (Islamic man), we are able to infer why characters make certain choices and take certain risks. This allows us to gain a plethora of essential information we would otherwise neglect. The suggestion that Sindbad is the “ perfect embodiment” of Homo Economicus is an interesting, although ultimately unsupported statement. By focusing on three main theoretical models, Homo Economicus, Homo Islamicus, and Homo Reciprocans, we can work to characterize the actions of Sindbad, ultimately realizing that he seems to not conform to one specific economic model, but fits criteria of each.

Although Sindbad’s self-centeredness and greed fits with the traditional definitions of Homo Economicus, his charitable actions and...

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