Cantar de Mio Cid

Cantar de Mio Cid

Overview
El Cantar de Myo Çid also known in English as The Lay of the Cid and The Poem of the Cid is the oldest preserved Spanish epic poem
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 (epopeya). Based on a true story, it tells of the Spanish hero El Cid
El Cid
Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar , known as El Cid Campeador , was a Castilian nobleman, military leader, and diplomat...

, and takes place during the Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

, or reconquest of Spain from the Moors.

The Spanish medievalist
Medieval studies
-Development:The term 'medieval studies' began to be adopted by academics in the opening decades of the twentieth century, initially in the titles of books like G. G. Coulton's Ten Medieval Studies , to emphasize a greater interdisciplinary approach to a historical subject...

 Ramón Menéndez Pidal
Ramón Menéndez Pidal
Ramón Menéndez Pidal was a Spanish philologist and historian. He worked extensively on the history of the Spanish language and Spanish folklore and folk poetry. One of his main topics was the history and legend of The Cid....

 included the "Cantar de Mío Cid" in the popular tradition he termed the mester de juglaría.
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Encyclopedia
El Cantar de Myo Çid also known in English as The Lay of the Cid and The Poem of the Cid is the oldest preserved Spanish epic poem
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 (epopeya). Based on a true story, it tells of the Spanish hero El Cid
El Cid
Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar , known as El Cid Campeador , was a Castilian nobleman, military leader, and diplomat...

, and takes place during the Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

, or reconquest of Spain from the Moors.

The Spanish medievalist
Medieval studies
-Development:The term 'medieval studies' began to be adopted by academics in the opening decades of the twentieth century, initially in the titles of books like G. G. Coulton's Ten Medieval Studies , to emphasize a greater interdisciplinary approach to a historical subject...

 Ramón Menéndez Pidal
Ramón Menéndez Pidal
Ramón Menéndez Pidal was a Spanish philologist and historian. He worked extensively on the history of the Spanish language and Spanish folklore and folk poetry. One of his main topics was the history and legend of The Cid....

 included the "Cantar de Mío Cid" in the popular tradition he termed the mester de juglaría. Mester de juglaría refers to the medieval tradition according to which popular poems were passed down from generation to generation, being changed in the process. These poems were meant to be performed in public by minstrels (or juglares), who each performed the traditional composition differently according to the performance context—sometimes adding their own twists to the epic poems they told, or abbreviating it according to the situation.

On the other hand, some critics (known as individualists) believe "El Cantar del Mio Cid" was composed by one Per Abbad (in English, Abbot
Abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

 Peter) who signed the only existing manuscript copy, and as such is an example of the learned poetry that was cultivated in the monasteries and other centers of erudition. Per Abbad puts the date 1207 after his name, but the existing copy forms part of a 14th century codex in the Biblioteca Nacional de España
Biblioteca Nacional de España
The Biblioteca Nacional de España is a major public library, the largest in Spain.It is located in Madrid, on the Paseo de Recoletos.-History:...

(National Library) in Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, Spain. It is, however, incomplete, missing the first page and two others in the middle, and is written in medieval Spanish
Old Spanish language
Old Spanish, also known as Old Castilian or Mediaeval Spanish , is an early form of the Spanish language that was spoken on the Iberian Peninsula from the tenth century until roughly the beginning of the fifteenth century, before a consonantic readjustment gave rise to the evolution of modern...

, the ancestor of the modern language
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

.

Its current title is a 19th century proposal by Ramón Menéndez Pidal
Ramón Menéndez Pidal
Ramón Menéndez Pidal was a Spanish philologist and historian. He worked extensively on the history of the Spanish language and Spanish folklore and folk poetry. One of his main topics was the history and legend of The Cid....

; its original title is unknown. Some call it El Poema del Cid on the grounds that it is not a cantar but a poem made up of three cantares. The title has been translated into English as The Lay
Lai
A lai is a lyrical, narrative poem written in octosyllabic couplets that often deals with tales of adventure and romance.Lais were mainly composed in France and Germany, during the 13th and 14th centuries. A Provençal term for a similar kind of poem is descort.The English term lay is a...

 of the Cid
and The Song of the Cid. Mio Cid is literally "My Cid", a term of endearment used by the narrator and by characters in the work. The word Cid is from Arabic origin, sidi
Sidi
Sidi is a masculine title of respect, meaning "my master" in Western Arabic language and Egyptian Arabic equivalent to modern popular usage of the English Mr....

or sayyid
Sayyid
Sayyid is an honorific title, it denotes males accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husain ibn Ali, sons of the prophet's daughter Fatima Zahra and his son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib.Daughters of sayyids are given the titles Sayyida,...

(سيد‎), an honorific title similar to English Sir (in the medieval, courtly sense).

The story


El Cid married the cousin of King Alfonso VI
Alfonso VI of Castile
Alfonso VI , nicknamed the Brave or the Valiant, was King of León from 1065, King of Castile and de facto King of Galicia from 1072, and self-proclaimed "Emperor of all Spain". After the conquest of Toledo he was also self-proclaimed victoriosissimo rege in Toleto, et in Hispania et Gallecia...

, Doña Ximena, but for certain reasons (according to the story, he made the king swear by Santa Gadea that he had not ordered the fratricide
Fratricide
Fratricide is the act of a person killing his or her brother....

 of his own brother
Sancho II of Castile
Sancho II , called the Strong, or in Spanish, el Fuerte, was King of Castile and León .He was the eldest son of Ferdinand I of Castile and Sancha of León, the eventual heiress to the Leonese crown...

), he fell into the disfavor of the king and had to leave his home country
Exile
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

 of Castile
Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile was one of the medieval kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. It emerged as a political autonomous entity in the 9th century. It was called County of Castile and was held in vassalage from the Kingdom of León. Its name comes from the host of castles constructed in the region...

.

The story begins with the exile of El Cid, whose enemies had unjustly accused him of stealing money from the king, Alfonso VI of Castilla and Leon, leading to his exile. To regain his honor, he participated in the battles against the Moorish armies and conquered Valencia. By these heroic acts he regained the confidence of the king and his honor was restored. The king personally marries El Cid's daughters to the infantes (princes) of Carrión
Carrión de los Condes
Carrión de los Condes is a municipality in the province of Palencia, part of the Autonomous Community of Castile and León, Spain.It is 40 kilometers from Palencia, on the Way of Saint James.-History:...

. However, when the princes are humiliated by El Cid's men for their cowardice, the infantes swear revenge. They beat their new wives and leave them for dead. When El Cid learns of this he pleads to the king for justice. The infantes are forced to return El Cid's dowry and are defeated in a duel, stripping them of all honor. El Cid's two daughters then remarry to the infantes of Navarre
Navarre
Navarre , officially the Chartered Community of Navarre is an autonomous community in northern Spain, bordering the Basque Country, La Rioja, and Aragon in Spain and Aquitaine in France...

 and Aragon
Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

. Through the marriages of his daughters, El Cid began the unification of Spain.

Unlike other European medieval epics, the tone is realist.
There is no magic, even the apparition of archangel Gabriel
Gabriel
In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel is an Archangel who typically serves as a messenger to humans from God.He first appears in the Book of Daniel, delivering explanations of Daniel's visions. In the Gospel of Luke Gabriel foretells the births of both John the Baptist and of Jesus...

 (verses 404–410) happens in a dream.
However, it also departs from historic truth: for example, there is no mention of his son, his daughters were not named Elvira and Sol and they did not become queens.

It consists of more than 3700 verses of usually 14 through 16 syllables, each with a caesura
Caesura
thumb|100px|An example of a caesura in modern western music notation.In meter, a caesura is a complete pause in a line of poetry or in a musical composition. The plural form of caesura is caesuras or caesurae...

 between the hemistich
Hemistich
A hemistich is a half-line of verse, followed and preceded by a caesura, that makes up a single overall prosodic or verse unit. In Classical poetry, the hemistich is generally confined to drama. In Greek tragedy, characters exchanging clipped dialogue to suggest rapidity and drama would speak in...

es.
The rhyme is assonant
Assonance
Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building blocks of verse. For example, in the phrase "Do you like blue?", the is repeated within the sentence and is...

.
Since 1913, and following the work of Ramón Menéndez Pidal, the entire work is conventionally divided into three parts:

Cantar del Destierro (verses 1–1086)



El Cid is exiled from Castile by King Alfonso VI and fights with the Moors to regain his honor.

Cantar de las bodas de las hijas del Cid (verses 1087–2277)


El Cid defends the city of Valencia, defeating King Yusuf ibn Tashfin
Yusuf ibn Tashfin
Yusef ibn Tashfin also, Tashafin, or Teshufin; or Yusuf; was a king of the Almoravid empire, he founded the city of Marrakech and led the Muslim forces in the Battle of Zallaqa....

 of the Almoravids. King Alfonso VI restores his honor and grants his daughters permission to marry the infantes of Carrión.

Cantar de la Afrenta de Corpes (verses 2278–3730)


The infantes of Carrión abuse and abandon their wives
Repudiation
Repudiation may refer to:* Repudiation, the formal act by which a husband forcibly renounces his wife in certain cultures and religions*Disownment, the formal act by which a parent forcibly renounces his child...

 at the roadside, tied to trees. Once more, El Cid has to gain his honor back, so he asks the court of Toledo for justice. The infantes are defeated in a duel by El Cid's men, and his daughters remarry to the infantes of Navarre and Aragon.

Authorship and composition date


The whole work is anonymous. There was a theory to which few subscribe that it was composed by two people. That theory is no longer supported.

The linguistic analysis allows the reconstruction of a 12th century previous text, which Ramón Menéndez Pidal
Ramón Menéndez Pidal
Ramón Menéndez Pidal was a Spanish philologist and historian. He worked extensively on the history of the Spanish language and Spanish folklore and folk poetry. One of his main topics was the history and legend of The Cid....

 dated circa 1140. Date and authorship are still open to debate ).Certain aspects of the conserved text belong to a well-informed author, with precise knowledge of the law in effect by the end of the 12th century and beginning of the 13th, who knew the zone bordering with Burgos.

The language used is that of a cultured author, a lawyer who worked for some chancellery or at least as a notary of some nobleman or monastery, since he knows accurately the legal and administrative language with technical precision, and he dominates several registers, among them, the proper style of the medieval cantares de gesta.

Only one copy is conserved from Cantar de Mio Cid that was made in the 14th century (deduced from the date of the manuscript), from another copy that was made by a copyist named Per Abbat. The copy made by Per Abbat is dated 1207 «MCC XLV» (for the Hispanic period, that is in the actual date system, from which must be subtracted 38 years). In the medieval forms, the copyist would sign and date at the end of the document after finishing writing the document.

Extract


These are the first two known stanzas. The format has been somewhat regularized (e.g., "mio" for "myo", "rr" for "R", "ñ" for "nn", "llorando" for "lorando", "v" for "u", adding modern punctuation and capitalization):
De los sos oios tan fuertemientre llorando,
Tornava la cabeça e estavalos catando;
Vio puertas abiertas e uços sin cañados,
alcandaras vazias, sin pielles e sin mantos,
e sin falcones e sin adtores mudados.
Sospiro Mio Cid, ca mucho avie grandes cuidados.
Fablo mio Cid bien e tan mesurado:
«¡grado a ti, Señor Padre, que estas en alto!
»Esto me an buelto mios enemigos malos.»

Alli pienssan de aguiiar, alli sueltan las rriendas;
ala exida de Bivar ovieron la corneia diestra
e entrando a Burgos ovieronla siniestra.
Meçio Mio Cid los ombros e engrameo la tiesta:
«¡Albricia, Albar Fañez, ca echados somos de tierra!»
[»Mas a grand ondra tornaremos a Castiella.»]


(The last verse is not in the original transcript by Per Abbat, but it was inserted by Menéndez Pidal because it appears in later chronicles, e.g., "Veinte Reyes de Castilla (1344)".)

Translations into English

  • Robert Southey
    Robert Southey
    Robert Southey was an English poet of the Romantic school, one of the so-called "Lake Poets", and Poet Laureate for 30 years from 1813 to his death in 1843...

    , Chronicle of the Cid, 1808, prose translation with other matter from chronicles and ballads, with an appendix including a partial verse translation by John Hookham Frere
    John Hookham Frere
    John Hookham Frere PC was an English diplomat and author.Frere was born in London. His father, John Frere, the member of a Suffolk family, had been educated at Caius College, Cambridge, and would have been senior wrangler in 1763 but for the competition of William Paley; his mother, Jane,...

    .
  • John Ormsby
    John Ormsby
    John Ormsby was a nineteenth-century British translator. He is most famous for his 1885 English translation of Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote de la Mancha, perhaps the most scholarly and accurate English translation of the novel up to that time...

    , The Poem of Cid, 1879, with introduction and notes.
  • Archer Milton Huntington, Poem of the Cid, (1897–1903), reprinted from the unique manuscript at Madrid, with translation and notes.
  • Lesley Byrd Simpson, The Poem of the Cid, 1957.
  • W.S. Merwin, The Poem of the Cid, 1959.
  • Paul Blackburn
    Paul Blackburn
    Paul Blackburn may refer to:* Paul Blackburn * Paul Blackburn with English group, Gomez* Paul Blackburn , youth convicted of attempted murder in 1978, cleared and released in 2005...

    , Poem of the Cid: a modern translation with notes, 1966.

External links