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El Cid: A Time of Loyalty, Bravery, and Compassion - Essay Example

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This essay explores the values, relationships and lifestyle that the author of The Poem of El Cid see as praiseworthy, and it also examines the political, economic, social and religious conditions that these values, relationships and lifestyle reflect…
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El Cid: A Time of Loyalty, Bravery, and Compassion
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Download file to see previous pages The Poem of El Cid illustrates the life of the historical Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (c. 1045-1099), also called as Cid (Arabic word sayyid, “lord” or “master”) and Campeador (“Battler” or “Victor”). The poem starts when Rodrigo leaves his home in Vivar, after being exiled by Alfonso VI, king of Castile and Leon (1065-1109). Cid is actually exiled twice by King Alfonso, but during these times, he attacked several Muslim communities and soon, he conquered the Moorish kingdom of Valencia (1094), in a series of battles that are part of the Reconquista. The Poem of El Cid finds the values of loyalty to the king and to one’s army and community, compassion for conquered Moors and bravery, and bravery as praiseworthy, and this reflects the political conditions of monarchic authority, the economic conditions of poverty and uncertainty, the social conditions of vassalage, and the religious conditions of Christianity that shaped the ideals of The Crusades and The Reconquista. The Poem of El Cid revolves around Christian knights and it is not surprising that the poem’s author capitalized on Cid’s loyalty to the king, despite his exile. The King exiled Cid for taking gold and other riches during their last Crusade. Even when banned, however, the Campeador participated in the Reconquista, where several Christian kingdoms were successful in retaking Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula generally called as Al-Andalus. El Cid attacks and retakes Castejón, for instance: “The Campeador charged out of hiding, he plundered Castejón without fail,/Moorish men and women they had them as booty…” (The Poem of El Cid 10r). Still, Cid knows that King Alfonso will come after him and he does not want to fight his King. He evades the King’s soldiers and forwards to other territories of the Moors. This action shows his unwavering loyalty to the King. Furthermore, in Burgos, where Cid first knows of his exile, no one gives him lodging. One girl explains their predicament: “Cid, in our suffering you gain nothing,/but may God help you with all his holy powers” (01v). Cid does not insist on his people and he respects the decision of the king to ban him. Indeed, Cid is most loyal to the King, despite what the latter has done to him.
The poem also values loyalties to one’s army and community. Cid certainly looks after the welfare of his loyal men. He explains to Martín Antolínez: “I have spent the gold and all the silver,/you well see that I carry no wealth/and I would need it for all my men” (02v). Cid follows his promises of riches and glory to his men, every step of the way. It is no wonder that his men remain more loyal to him than the King and this loyalty can be perceived from this passage: “[Cid] told them all how he wanted to ride through the night,/such good vassals take it to heart,/an order from their lord they will do it all” (09v). Cid is also loyal to friends and people whom he can trust. He entrusted his vaults of riches to Rachel and Vidas, and the two respond that they are satisfied with the promise of interests for their roles in protecting Cid’s wealth: “Said Rachel and Vidas, -We are satisfied with that,/once the chests arrive, take six hundred marks” (03v). Truly, Cid provides for his loyal friends: “…now I am quitting this land, for I am banished by the king,/ as it seems to me, you'll have some of my riches,/ as long as you live you will not be in need” (04v). Loyalty is a virtue that can regain loyalty too, a virtue that the poem extols.
Compassion to non-Christians is also a praiseworthy value for the poem. Cid shows uncommon compassion to conquered Moors and he treats them like human beings, instead of seeing them as ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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