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Epic hero as the central image of epic poems (2)

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INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………………..3

  1. EPIC HERO AS THE CENTRAL IMAGE OF EPIC POEMS………..5

    1. Epic as a genre of literature……………………………………………5

    2. Historical background of English, Spanish and Kazakh epics………..10

    3. Similarities and Differences of epic heroes…………………………...

  2. LITERARY ANALYSIS OF EPIC HEROES………………………...19

2.1. Birth and Youth…………………………...………………………19

2.2. Heroic deeds……………………..……………………………......

2.3. DEATH)))))

CONCLUSION………………………………………………………………….

BIBLIOGRAPHY……………………………………………………………….21

APPENDIX……………………………………………………………………..22

INTRODUCTION

Heroic Epic goes back to the time when the primitive communal order decomposed. Epic appears when there is a demand in expressing different kinds of new thoughts, feelings, themes, and images. The social life of human being makes different ideologies and kinds of literature to appear which reflects the comprehension of reality.

Different types and kinds of folklore and literature preceded the epic in history. It’s accepted that the development and evolution of heroic epic was under the tradition of mythological epic and heroic tale, as they were first linked to ritual religious and syncretic actions. Later on epic went along with historical legends, traditions and works of oral and written folklore.

Epic poems go back to the far earlier period in comparison with the first works which we have in written form. Old German poetry living in oral form only in the past is unknown to us because it was not written but its themes and images are partially known to us from saved ancient written works.

The theme of the research work is “Comparison of heroes of English, Spanish and Kazakh epics”.

The actuality:

The analysis of literature shows us that many of scholars and foreign literature researches were interested in heroic epic poems. In principal epics are like ancient roots of world literature, they play an important role nowadays and this is accompanied by the interest to the study of heroic epics in different epochs and languages, written or transmitted orally, compared with each other to find the common and different in the way of people’s development.

The aim of our work is the comparison of epic heroes in three different languages.

And to achieve this aim we set the following objectives:

  1. to describe and characterize the epic as a genre of literature;

  2. to follow the development of epic in the historical way;

  3. to define the similarities and differences of heroes in all three epic poems;

  4. to make the classification of heroic features in three epics;

The object of the work is heroic epic poems.

The subject is the images of heroes in heroic epic poems.

The methods of investigation:

While working at this research work we used the following methods: descriptive analysis dividing the object of the work into several elements; synthesis of facts; induction (making general conclusion after describing several questions); philological analysis, comparative-historical analysis.

The scientific novelty:

There were described the three epics works of three different languages from different time periods.

We developed and analyzed similarities and differences in the depiction of three epic heroes.

The hypothesis of the investigation:

Comparison of Kazakh, English and Spanish heroes will be successfully revealed and described if:

  • Each epic work will be considered in detail;

  • Similarities and differences of epic heroes and epics’ elements will be characterized widely.

The theoretical significance

Description of epic poems, researches in epic as a genre of literature and analysis of epics and epic heroes were highlightened in the works of scientists as Orlov A.C., Zhirmunskiy V.M., Meletinskiy E.M., Peter Toohey, Gurevich A.

It is of great importance to us to present the information about Zhirmunskiy V.M., Meletinskiy E.M. whose works appeared to be the basic ones for many other scientists and researchers. Zhirmunskiy originally trained in German Romanticism, started to research epic poems of the Asian people of the Soviet Union after he was settled in Tashkent following the evacuation of Leningrad. In particular, he studied the akyn poetry of Kazakh and Kyrgyz culture. This research created a foundation that allowed Eleazar M. Meletinskiy to make his considerations on the relation between myth and epic.

Professor Gurevich A. worked on history of Scandinavia, Scandinavia in Middle ages, studied the questions of European culture and religion.

Peter Toohey is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Armidale, New South Wales. He wrote a book “Reading epic” which is based on the theory of epic works from ancient times.

The practical significance:

All of three epics may be applied at the practical course of literature and also in the course of lectures and seminars on history and even for the purposes of comparative study methods’ learning.

The structure of the work

Our research work consists of the introduction, two chapters, conclusion, bibliography and appendix.

In introduction we have set the aim of the work, its objectives, marked the methods of investigation, and defined the theoretical and practical significance of our work.

In theoretical part we tried to give a common image of epic as a literary genre, an image of epic hero. We also characterized the historical period in which the action of described epic takes place. There were defined the similarities and differences of each hero’s features.

In practical part we have analyzed and compared three epic poems on the basis of classification made in theoretical part.

  1. EPIC HERO AS THE CENTRAL IMAGE OF EPIC POEMS

1.1. EPIC AS A GENRE OF LITERATURE

Анализ специальной литературы показывает, что к изучению стихотворных героических поэм обращались многие исследователи зарубежной литературы. Поэтому термин "эпос" оказался насыщен различными смыслами и сейчас используется для обозначения разных типов литературных произведений.

Термин "эпос" в русском языке может выступать в качестве как существительного (эпос), так и прилагательного (эпический). В качестве прилагательного он служит для обозначения повествовательных жанров, противопоставленных лирическим и драматическим жанрам.

Существительное "эпос" обозначает определенный вид литературных произведений, т. е. литературный жанр. Произведения обозначаемые как эпос очень разнообразны, и пока еще не было представлено определения, которое соответствовало бы всем типам. Но существует несколько частичных определений. Например:

  • эпос – это длинное повествование в стихах;

  • это длинное героическое повествование в стихах;

  • это длинное повествовательное стихотворение в возвышенном стиле, рассказывающее о традиционных или исторических героях, и т. п.

Ни одно из них не может быть использовано для определения жанра. Длинное повествование, героическое или нет, может быть изложено также в прозе или посредством комбинаций прозаического и стихотворного текста. [1]

Let us see the definitions of “epic”, its meaning and the main characteristics:

  • An Epic (from Greek: έπος or επικό "word, story, poem") is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. [2]

  • 1) a long poem describing the deeds of heroic or legendary figures or the past history of a nation; 2) a long film, book, etc. portraying heroic deeds or covering an extended period of time. [3]

  • 1) Повествовательный - в отличие от драмы и лирики - род литературы. 2) Совокупность произведений народного творчества: народные песни, сказания, поэмы и т.п., объединенные единой темой или общей национальной принадлежностью. 3) перен. Ряд связанных между собою исторических событий, отличающихся значительностью, величием.[4]

  • 1) Повествовательный род литературы (в отличие от драмы и лирики) (спец.). 2) Произведения народного творчества - героические сказания, песни. Народный героический э. Богатырский э. м прил. эпический, -ая, -ое. Э. жанр. Э. стиль.[5]

  • Эпос, эпопея – греческая поэма степенного важного содержанья. Эпическое стихотворенье, героическое или вообще повествовательное, сказательное, противоположное - драматическое и лирическое.[6]

  • For Greece and Rome this is the simplest explanation: it is a long narrative written in hexameters (or a comparable vernacular measure) which concentrates either on the fortunes of a great hero or perhaps a great civilization and the interactions of this hero and his civilization with the gods. A little more thought suggests a contrast between the type of epic which was passed from generation to generation by word of mouth (‘oral’ or ‘primary’ epic such as Homer’s Odyssey) and the epic which was composed with a pen (‘secondary’ or ‘written’ or ‘literate’ epic such as Virgil’s Aeneid). But such distinctions are very crude. Lucan (AD 39–65) wrote an epic poem entitled The Civil War. It is long, it is narrative, and it is in hexameters, but it has no hero, no gods, and its regard for ‘civilization’ is scant. Hesiod (c.700 BC) may have written an epic poem entitled The Shield of Herades. It certainly has a hero, gods, and a narrative, and it is, in its way, about civilization. Yet it is extremely short. [7]

The simplest definition for the epic is a long, heroic, narrative poem. However, the epic means much more than this, for the very word connotes a special status—a profound national or even universal relevance as well as greatness, not merely in the scope and breadth of the narrative but in its poetic merit. The problem, however, with describing the epic in terms of its special status is that this easily becomes a prescription rather than description, a demand that poems (or, later, novels, or even films) must be good enough to be epic. It does not account for works that aspire to epic status yet apparently lack excellence. More importantly, the vagueness of these terms fails also to explain the complexity of the epic tradition, which consists of a variety of texts that sometimes challenge expectations of what is epic and do not, as a body, possess any significant coherent attributes.

In other words, the epic as a genre demonstrates the complexity implicit in the concept of genre itself, and in the materials with which the concept attempts to deal. Modern genre theory has, fortunately, evolved from the relatively simple idea of a genre as determining a list of fixed criteria. For example, structuralist critics such as Tsvetan Todorov posit that genre provides over-riding rules of discourse, in much the same way that language possesses a context (langue) in which utterances (parole) can have meaning. Meanwhile, the reception theorist Hans Robert Jauss has suggested that genre is shaped over time by changes in writers’ and readers’ expectations: genre in this sense is a contract between author and reader, a set of procedures by means of which sense is made, and, on occasion, violated. These two models are useful in showing us how the epic genre works, for epic offers a set of ideas and contexts for writers to work with as they communicate with their readers. As writers both imitate and innovate with previous epic texts, the epic tradition becomes a collection of diverse, albeit related, texts. Thus the idea of epic evolves over time, with various attributes accruing to it, some maintained and others abandoned.

To define and discuss the epic, then, is to describe its long history. Lengthy narratives of heroic action have emerged in many cultures over time, from the Hindu Ramayana and Mahabharata of about 200 BC, to the eighth-century Beowulf, to the epics of the Ainu islands off Japan, whose exact date is unknown but which were written down in the eighteenth century. The earliest known epic is the Babylonian-Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, which was first written down in about 2000 BC but was being performed as early as 2200 BC. [8]

Epic characteristics

The epic was ranked by Aristotle (in his Poetics) as second only to tragedy, and by Renaissance critics as the highest genre of all. The literary epic is certainly the most ambitious of poetic types, making immense demands on a poet’s knowledge, invention, and skill to sustain the scope, grandeur, and variety of a poem that tends to encompass the world of its day and a large portion of its learning. Despite numerous attempts over nearly three-thousand years, we possess no more than a half dozen epic poems of indubitable greatness. Literary epics are highly conventional poems which commonly share the following features, derived ultimately from the traditional epics of Homer.

The hero is a figure of great national or even cosmic importance, and represents a culture’s heroic ideal. In the Iliad, he is the Greek warrior Achilles, who is the son of a Neried, Thetis; and Virgil’s Aeneas is the son of the goddess Venus. In Paradise Lost, Adam represents the entire human race, or if we regard Christ as the hero, he is both God and man. Blake’s primal figure is the “universal man” Albion who incorporates, before his fall, man and god and the cosmos as well.

The setting of the poem is ample in scale, and may be worldwide, or even larger. Odysseus wanders over the Mediterranean basin (the whole of the world known to the author), and in Book 9 of the Odyssey, he descends into the underworld (as does Virgil’s Aeneas). The scope of Paradise Lost is cosmic, for it takes place on earth, heaven, and in hell.

The action involves superhuman deeds in battle, such as Achilles’ feats in the Trojan War, or a long and arduous journey intrepidly accomplished, such as the wanderings of Odysseus on his way back to his homeland, despite the opposition of some of the gods. Paradise Lost includes the war in heaven, the journey of Satan through chaos to discover the newly created world, and his desperately audacious attempt to outwit God by corrupting humanity, in which his success is ultimately frustrated by the sacrificial enterprise of Christ. And Gilgamesh portrays the eponymous hero’s search for a fountain of youth after the death of his friend, Enkidu.

In these great actions, the gods and other supernatural beings take an interest or an active part — the Olympian gods in Homer, and Jehovah, Christ, and the angels in Paradise Lost. These supernatural agents were in the neoclassic age called the machinery, in the sense that they were a part of the literary contrivances of the epic.

An epic poem is a ceremonial performance and is narrated in a ceremonial style which is deliberately distanced from ordinary speech and proportioned to the grandeur and formality of the heroic subject matter and the epic architecture. Hence Milton’s “grand style” — his Latinate diction and stylized syntax, his sonorous lists of names and wide-ranging allusions, and his imitation of Homer’s epic similes and epithets. Also the great catalogs of heroes, weaponry, spoils, etc.

Heroic epics have enthralled two entirely separate audiences, one of listeners at the time of their oral performance and, much later, one of readers in modern European languages.

Primary Epic

The primary epic comes from an oral literary tradition as a possible accumulation of lays or episodes. They are shaped by a literary artist from historical and legendary materials which had developed in the oral traditions of his nation during a period of expansion and warfare. These epics were composed without the aid of writing, sung or chanted to a musical accompaniment. Thus the composition of the oral epics is looser because it was composed for recitation. They are also more episodic in structure — the episodes can be detached from the whole and may be enjoyed as separate poems or stories. The heroic ideal suggests that the epic heroes in the oral epic are more concerned with their own personal self-fulfillment. The work focuses on the personal concept of heroism, and the self-fulfillment and identity of the individual hero. The national concept is secondary. The language in the oral epics is formulaic: repetitious use of stock phrases and descriptions to aid in oral recitation. Tends toward pleasing the ear rather than the eye. Focus on the spoken word. The movement tends to be cyclical, the theme of the return. The primary epics were developed in cultures that have not yet attained a national identity or unity. Greek city-states, etc. Examples of the primary epic include: the Iliad, the Odyssey, Beowulf, Gilgamesh.

Secondary Epic

Secondary epics are also called literary epics and were composed by sophisticated craftsmen in a deliberate imitation of the traditional form. Their efforts is attempt to use again in new circumstances what has already been a complete and satisfactory form of literature. The literary epics are composed more for readers in their structure and language. The concern is with the perfection of the word; sentences are carefully fashioned; words and phrases are more carefully chosen. There is less use of formulaic repetition. The heroic ideal: the hero is more concerned with national or universal duty than with personal happiness or self-fulfillment (e.g., Aeneas leaves Dido to continue his nation's destiny). In a highly organized society, the unfettered individual has no place. The hero is inspired by service to his nation, world, or cosmos, not by individual process. Social ideal replaces personal identity. The hero becomes a symbol for the nation or world as a whole. The language suggests a written ceremony — a deliberate distancing from ordinary speech and proportioned to the grandeur and formality of the heroic subject matter and epic architecture. The "grand," "ornate," and "elevated" style. The epic’s movement is toward rebirth. Aeneas leaves old Troy to found new Troy (Rome). The secondary epic is a product of highly structured cultures and societies, like Rome. Examples: the Aineid,Paradise Lost, The Divine comedy.[9]

Epic work is not homogeneous in itself. There is an early oral folk art and later the period when the works are becoming written. This transition from oral art to a written one made the change in the structure and content of epic poems. For example, oral epic works existed in the pagan period and evolved into epic poems. Nevertheless, they were written down after the process of Christianization centuries later. Pagan and Christian element coexist in them but there is no Christian domination. This can be perfectly seen while comparing the old epics with the Latin literature of middle ages, which is as a rule pierced with the church ideology.

More than that, England was Christianized from two sides: Irishmen from the North and the Mission of Pope Gregory from the South. Irish Christianity was a mixture of pagan and Christian traditions. That is why the southern Mission suffered a defeat while the northern one influenced the epic poetry and later was rewritten by Saxons. And there was no mass destruction of works and texts in England, but took place in other countries.

Therefore the Early Oral Epics differ from the later appeared not only by the time of creation but also by so many other features, one of which is Ideology.

The appearance of epic was a natural process. Epic – is not a primitive communal syncretic action. On the one hand it doesn’t have any magical function, that was previously seen in many incantations, spells, and on the other hand it is a predecessor of belles-lettres style of modern sense that goes along with historical function.

It is accepted that a heroic epic made up in the Middle ages beginning from a feudal structure with its ideology. Middle ages is an epoch of the rise (VI-X), evolution (XI-XV) and decay (XVI-XVII) of Feudalism. [10]

Each epic has its own hero. Let us see what the “Hero” term means.

A Hero (from Greek ἥρως hērōs) 1), in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod; 2), the offspring of a mortal and a deity,3) their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion. Later, hero (male) and heroine (female) came to refer to characters (fictional or historical) that, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice – that is, heroism – for some greater good, originally of martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence. [11]

The hero participates in a cyclical journey or quest, faces adversaries that try to defeat him in his journey, gathers allies along his journey, and returns home significantly transformed by his journey. The epic hero illustrates traits, performs deeds, and exemplifies certain morals that are valued by the society from which the epic originates. They usually embody cultural and religious beliefs of the people. Many epic heroes are recurring characters in the legends of their native culture. Epic heroes have no superpowers but they're smart, brave, & have fears but overcome them to protect their friends, families, and countries. An epic hero can also be a warrior of some sort who performs extraordinary tasks that most find difficult. This hero is loyal, smart, and brave. [12]

An epic hero is normally of superior social station, often a king or leader in his own right. He is usually tall, handsome, and muscular. He must be preeminent, or nearly so, in athletic and fighting skills. This latter ability implies not just physical skill, but also the courage to utilize it. The epic hero is sometimes outstanding in intelligence. Yet there seems to be more to the heroic character than is conveyed by such simple prescriptions. To display his heroic abilities the epic hero needs some form of a crisis or war or quest. The nature of this crisis and the hero’s response are at the heart of the matter. [7]

1.2. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF ENGLISH,

SPANISH AND KAZAKH EPICS

Beowulf (eighth–10th century)

The best-known and most admired text in Old English literature, Beowulf is an epic poem in 3,182 lines of Alliterative Verse recreating the heroic age of Germanic culture, an age in which the lord—“ring-giver” or gold-friend”—distributed treasure to his retainers from his gift-stool in a mead hall, and the retainers pledged their loyalty and their support in the lord’s wars, even to the point of dying with him on the battlefield. It was also a world in which vengeance for the death of one’s kinsman or lord was a sacred obligation. And it was a world that the Christian poet responsible for the poem seems both to value and to criticize. The poem survives in a single manuscript in the British Library (Cotton Vitellius A.XV), and presents its protagonist in three great battles against monstrous foes, separated by some 50 years. This first great English poem has no scenes set in England. It begins with a genealogy of Danish kings, going back to Scyld Scefing, a good king who subjugated the Danes’ neighbors and left a good treasure for his heirs. His descendent Hrothgar builds Heorot, the greatest mead hall ever seen. Here the order of civilization reigns, and the scop or bard, sings a song of creation. But in the outer darkness, Grendel, a monster of the dark and the chaos, is maddened by the song of the scop. Grendel attacks Heorot at night. He kills 30 of Hrothgar’s warriors, and makes the mead hall a place of fear for the Danes. After 12 years Beowulf, a young warrior of the Geatish nation in southern Sweden, hears of Hrothgar’s troubles and comes with a band of warriors o win fame by ridding Heorot of the monster.Over the drinking of mead, his credentials are challenged by the Danish retainer Unferth, but Beowulf makes is beot (his boast or vow) to destroy Grendel. That night, Beowulf and his men sleep in Heorot. The monster skulks in and devours one of the sleeping Geats, after which Beowulf, scorning to use armor against a monster that has no knowledge of such things, battles Grendel hand-to-hand. Ultimately Beowulf overpowers the monster and tears off his arm. Grendel slinks home to die, and the Danes make a great celebration of Beowulf ’s victory. The Danish scop composes a song in praise of Beowulf, and Grendel’s arm is hung up in Heorot as a sign. But the Geatish hero has little time to rest. Grendel’s mother, seeking to avenge her son, attacks Heorot that night and kills one of the Danes. Beowulf must seek the new monster in the dark mere where she lives. He swims under the surface in full battle gear, tracking her to her home in an underwater cave. His sword proves useless against her, and he is nearly killed as she pins him to the ground and brandishes a knife, but he finds a magic sword hanging in the cave and kills the monster. He also finds the body of Grendel, and cuts offer the monster’s head to bring back to Heorot. Beowulf bids farewell to Hrothgar, who gives him many gifts and much advice, and Beowulf sails back to Geatland and reports on his activities to his own king,Hygelac. Beowulf ’s final battle occurs 50 years later. Hygelac and his heirs having been killed, Beowulf has become the Geatish king. His own people are being threatened by a fire-breathing dragon, who has been stirred to vengeance after sleeping for hundreds of years when a luckless intruder steals part of the dragon’s cursed treasure. Beowulf, taking 11 retainers, says he will fight the dragon alone and enters the lair while all his men except a certain Wiglaf run off to the woods. In the ensuing battle, Beowulf, aided by his young kinsman, is able to defeat the dragon, but is mortally wounded himself, burned by the dragon’s fire. He dies of his wounds, and Wiglaf chastises the Geats for leaving their king, predicting that they will now be destroyed by neighboring tribes because of their failure to support their gold-friend. The poem ends with Beowulf ’s burial. [13]

The events described in the poem take place in the late 5th century, after the Anglo-Saxons had begun migration and settlement in England, and before the beginning of the 7th century, a time when the Saxons were either newly arrived or in close contact with their fellow Germanic kinsmen in Scandinavia and Northern Germany. The poem could have been transmitted in England by people of Geatish origins. t has been suggested that Beowulf was first composed in the 7th century at Rendlesham in East Anglia, as Sutton Hoo also shows close connections with Scandinavia, and also that the East Anglian royal dynasty, the Wuffings, were descendants of the Geatish Wulfings. Others have associated this poem with the court of King Alfred, or with the court of King Canute.

An approximation of the central regions of the tribes mentioned in Beowulf. The red area is Västergötland (the core region of Geatland), the yellow area is the territory ruled by the Wulfings, the pink area is the Danish territory. The green area is the land of the Swedes. The blue area represents the land of Jutes, while the orange area belongs to Frisians. For a more detailed discussion on the fragmented political situation of Scandinavia during the 6th century, see Scandza.

The poem deals with legends, i.e., it was composed for entertainment and does not separate between fictional elements and real historic events, such as the raid by King Hygelac into Frisia, ca. 516. Scholars generally agree that many of the personalities of Beowulf also appear in Scandinavian sources, but this does not only concern people (e.g., Healfdene, Hroðgar, Halga, Hroðulf, Eadgils and Ohthere), but also clans (e.g., Scyldings, Scylfings and Wulfings) and some of the events (e.g., the Battle on the Ice of Lake Vänern). The Scandinavian sources are notably Ynglinga saga, Gesta Danorum, Hrólfr Kraki's saga and the Latin summary of the lost Skjöldunga saga. As far as Sweden is concerned, the dating of the events in the poem has been confirmed by archaeological excavations of the barrows indicated by Snorri Sturluson and by Swedish tradition as the graves of Ohthere (dated to c. 530) and his son Eadgils (dated to c. 575) in Uppland, Sweden. In Denmark, recent archaeological excavations at Lejre, where Scandinavian tradition located the seat of the Scyldings, i.e., Heorot, have revealed that a hall was built in the mid-6th century, exactly the time period of Beowulf. Three halls, each about 50 metres long, were found during the excavation.

The majority view appears to be that people such as King Hroðgar and the Scyldings in Beowulf are based on real people in 6th century Scandinavia. Like the Finnsburg Fragment and several shorter surviving poems, Beowulf has consequently been used as a source of information about Scandinavian personalities such as Eadgils and Hygelac, and about continental Germanic personalities such as Offa, king of the continental Angles.

Eadgils was buried at Uppsala, according to Snorri Sturluson. When Eadgils' mound (to the left) was excavated, in 1874, the finds supported Beowulf and the sagas.

Nineteenth-century archeological evidence may confirm elements of the Beowulf story. Eadgils was buried at Uppsala, according to Snorri Sturluson. When Eadgils' mound (to the left in the photo) was excavated in 1874, the finds supported Beowulf and the sagas. They showed that a powerful man was buried in a large barrow, c 575, on a bear skin with two dogs and rich grave offerings. These remains include a Frankish sword adorned with gold and garnets and a tafl game with Roman pawns of ivory. He was dressed in a costly suit made of Frankish cloth with golden threads, and he wore a belt with a costly buckle. There were four cameos from the Middle East which were probably part of a casket. This would have been a burial fitting a king who was famous for his wealth in Old Norse sources. Ongenþeow's barrow (to the right in the photo) has not been excavated. [14]

The branch of the Teutonic peoples to whom Beowulf, a poem of the migrations, belongs, came to England in the fifth century. The early Angles and Saxons knew nothing of any civilization existing in Britain; they discovered it for themselves in the fourth century, and the sea-rovers pronounced it a good land, rich in booty. By the fifth Rome had withdrawn her protecting legions, and the invaders, at first mere freebooters, who raided and sailed away, began to make winter settlements on the coasts they had pillaged, and to press inland when driven by necessity. Soon little kingdoms grew up, first Kent, then Essex and East Anglia and Northumbria. The pirates, changing their modes of life, turned settlers and farmers, and for six hundred years our literature is Anglo-Saxon. What did they carry with them into England, these newcomers? What poetry or history in which no mention is made of England, but which preserved the earlier traditions of the race? Many an old lay and ballad, many a hymn, many a battle-song no doubt, but little remains. The only indisputable specimens of that literature are Widsith, The Lament of Deor, Brunanburh, Waldhere, Finnsburh, and the incomparable Beowulf. From these the rest must be conjectured, yet from these it is not impossible to frame a conception of the races from which they emanated.

When our ancestors came to these shores they were polytheists, whose gods, not omnipotent, though powerful deities, dwelt in Asgard, where Odin, chief of the twelve mighty ones, had his Valhalla, whither he summoned all warriors who fell in battle. The constitution of the Saxons was a species of free monarchy, in which kingship is of the patriarchal type, and the monarch the friend and shepherd of his people. The chief or earl had his followers, the comitatus described by Tacitus, but his own distinguished descent or prowess monuments. Of their architecture and metal work, their music or drawing, we can only judge from pieces of armour recovered from burial mound or earthwork, or from the scanty remains of some ancient burgh. And though for epic, his heroes boast in the same strain; the dead Homeric hero, like Beowulf, is placed upon a funeral pyre and the ashes when the body is consumed placed in a like burial mound or barrow. [15]

Cantar de mio Cid (1140–1207)

The Cantar de Mío Cid, or Poema de Mío Cid as it is also known, serves as the only remaining literary manifestation of an essentially complete epic poem

in Castilian. Like classical epic poems such as The Odyssey or The Iliad, the Cantar de Mío Cid is a narrative poem that recounts the challenges, successes,

and failures of Rodrigo de Vivar—the epic hero. Rodrigo, also known as the Cid—meaning lord in Arabic—lived from 1043–99 and gained the epithet campeador, or “great warrior,” for his bravery in establishing the border between Navarre and Castile in the early 1060s. The epic story of Rodrigo was immortalized by Hollywood in 1961 with El Cid, starring Charlton Heston as Rodrigo and Sophia

Loren as his wife, Jimena. Unlike many cinematic adaptations, El Cid substantially relies on the epic poem for its plot, characters, and themes.

The poem itself сonsists of 3,730 poetic lines and is divided in three parts or cantares. Rodrigo’s epic struggle has two aspects: the Cid’s political estrangement from King Alfonso; and the personal crisis related to the dishonor of his daughters by their husbands—the Infantes de Carrión. One of the many artistic achievements of the Cantar de Mío Cid is the manner in which the poem intertwines such different plot lines, creating a tapestry in which Rodrigo reveals himself both as a brave soldier and military strategist as well as a father and husband. The first cantar centers on King Alfonso’s decision to give credence to those members of the court who are jealous of Rodrigo and have accused him, in his absence, of having stolen much of the Moorish tribute that he was charged with collecting. Accepting the king’s order for his exile from Castile and León, Rodrigo visits his wife, Jimena, and his two young daughters, Elvira and Sol, to say good-bye. Rodrigo cries openly (v. 277) and appeals to God to allow him successfully to marry his daughters. The remainder of the first cantar centers on Rodrigo’s need to survive and provide for his entourage of vassals. He achieves this by conquering Moorish lands and finally capturing the count of Barcelona, whom he frees after three days of imprisonment.

In the second cantar, the Cid’s military victories continue with the conquest of Mediterranean lands, including the city of Valencia. Additionally, Rodrigo gains considerable wealth through the defeat of the king of Seville and King Yucef of Morocco. In each case, he sends a portion of this new wealth to Alfonso to whom he continues to remain faithful even in exile. At Alfonso’s court, jealousy of the Cid and his success grows to the point that the noble but cowardly Infantes de Carrión offer to marry the Cid’s daughters in order to enrich themselves. Unaware of their true motives, the king agrees to the marriages and pardons the Cid. The second cantar concludes with the marriage of Elvira and Sol—the Cid’s daughters—in Valencia.

The final cantar brilliantly interweaves the Cid’s heroism in battle with his love and concern for his family. The Cid’s sons-in-law repeatedly reveal their cowardice both in the Cid’s household in Valencia and in battle against King Búcar. Confronted with the Cid’s growing wealth and power as well as the mockery of their behavior, the Infantes decide to take revenge on the Cid through their marriages to Elvira and Sol. They request to take their leave of Valencia in order to show Elvira and Sol their homeland in Carrión. Upon arriving in Corpes, they spend the night and make love to their wives. But the following morning, they instruct their entourage to go ahead while they brutally beat Elvira and Sol, leaving them for dead. The Cid’s reaction to this dishonor is significant in that he does not immediately take revenge. Rather, he demands justice of King Alfonso, who calls all the parties to court in Toledo. At court, the Cid requests the return of his prized swords—given as gifts to the Infantes—as well as the dowry that he had bestowed on them. In addition, he demands an explanation from the Infantes as to why they dishonored his daughters. When they boast of their behavior, the Cid requests that his family’s honor be restored through battle. At this moment, two messengers arrive at court asking for the marriage of the Cid’s daughters to the princes of Aragon and Navarre, of which they will be queens.

This proposal will bring much additional power, wealth, and honor to the Cid, and King Alfonso accedes to the proposal. As scheduled, three weeks later, the representatives of the Cid not surprisingly defeat the Infantes de Carrión.

The poem closes with the remarriage of Elvira and Sol, a symbolic act that genetically connects all future kings of Spain to the Cid—the national epic hero.

This connection between the Cid and the kings of Spain has contributed to the nationalist interpretation of the Cantar advocated by the great Hispanist Ramón Menéndez Pidal (1869–1968). In His “traditionalist” conception of the origins of the Cantar, Menéndez Pidal sought to free the poem from any foreign influence—especially the French epic tradition—and he asserted that the poem emerged from a process of collective authorship around 1140. This theory has been countered by

the British Hispanist Colin Smith, who has proposed an “individualistic” interpretation of the poem’s origins. He has suggested that a man named Per Abad wrote the poem around the year 1207—the date with which the poem closes. For

Menéndez Pidal, Abad is not the author but the scribe, or copyist, and the date is not the date of the poem’s original composition but rather of the creation of the sole existing manuscript.

Aside from its nationalist implications and the competing theories of authorship, the Cantar de Mío Cid is distinguished by its realism. The Cid is not a superhuman figure but a man who does heroic deeds as he loves and cares for his family. He does not seek conflict with King Alfonso or the Moors but harmony on both a political and personal level. At the same time, the Cantar contains moments of humor and irony. Just as a nine-year-old girl can show bravery when the people of Burgos hide in their homes, the Infantes can show their cowardice when a lion escapes its cage in the Cid’s household. [13]

The Moorish or Arabic-speaking presence in Spain was tremendously influential in the country's history, and is fundamental to the poem. The "moros" dominated Spain after their invasion from North Africa beginning in 711, but by the eleventh century the Christian kingdom of León, toward the northwest of the Peninsula, had become the greatest power, and was exacting yearly tribute from the Moorish kingdoms to the south and east, fragmented but prosperous compared to the north. The Cid of history (c. 1045-1099) was a native of Castile, a sometimes rebellious part of the kingdom of León. According to the poem, the Cid was sent by the king to collect tribute money from the Moorish king of Seville. Leonese nobles close to the king convinced him that the Cid had kept much of the money for himself. They are the "enemigos malos" of the poem, and their false accusation led to his exile. [16]

The action of epic takes place in the vast historical period of feudal Spain named as Reconquista (a Spanish and Portuguese word for "Reconquest"; Arabic: الاسترداد al-ʼIstirdād, "Recapturing").

It was a period of 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula succeeded in retaking the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims. The Islamic conquest of the Christian Visigothic kingdom in the eighth century (begun 710–12) extended over almost the entire peninsula (except major parts of Galicia, the Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country). By the thirteenth century all that remained was the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, to be conquered in 1492, bringing the entire peninsula under Christian leadership.

The Reconquista began in the immediate aftermath of the Islamic conquest and passed through major phases before its completion. The formation of the Kingdom of Asturias under Pelagius and the Battle of Covadonga in 722 were major formative events. Charlemagne (768–814) reconquered the western Pyrenees and Septimania and formed a Marca Hispanica to defend the border between Francia and the Muslims. After the advent of the Crusades, much of the ideology of Reconquista was subsumed within the wider context of Crusading. Even before the Crusades, however, soldiers from elsewhere in Europe had been travelling to Iberia to participate in the Reconquista as an act of Christian penitence.

Throughout this period the situation in Iberia was more nuanced and complicated than any ideology would allow. Christian and Muslim rulers commonly fought amongst themselves and interfaith alliances were not unusual. The fighting along the Christian-Muslim frontier was punctuated by periods of prolonged peace and truces. The Muslims did not cease to start offensives aimed at reconquering their lost territories. Blurring the sides even further were mercenaries who simply fought for whoever paid more.

The Reconquista came to an end on January 2, 1492 with the conquest of Granada. The last Muslim ruler of Granada, Muhammad XII, better known as Boabdil, surrendered his kingdom to Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, the Catholic Monarchs (los Reyes Católicos). This event marked the end of Muslim rule in Iberia. [17]

Alpamys



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