Cantar de Mio Cid

Cantar de Mio Cid

El Cantar de Mio Cid is the oldest preserved Spanish epic poem ("epopeya"). The Spanish medievalist Ramón Menéndez Pidal included the "Cantar de Mío Cid" in the popular tradition he termed the "mester de juglaria". "Mester de juglaria" 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 Per Abbad 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" (National Library) in Madrid, Spain. However, it is incomplete. The first page and two other pages in the middle are missing. It is written in medieval Spanish, the ancestor of modern Spanish.

Its current title is a modern invention by Ramón Menéndez Pidal; 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 of the Cid" and "The Song of the Cid". Some English translations include the verse translation of W.S. Merwin and prose translation of Rita Hamilton and Janet Perry.

The story

Based on a true story, it tells of a Spanish hero El Cid, a dialectal form of the Arabic word sayyid, 'lord' or 'master', or El Campeador, whose true name was Rodrigo (or Ruy) Díaz de Vivar during the Reconquista, or reconquest of Spain from the Moors. El Cid married the cousin of King Alfonso VI, Doña Ximena, but for certain reasons (according to the story, he made the king swear at Santa Gadea he had not ordered the fratricide of his own brother), he fell into the disfavor of the king and had to leave his home country Castile.

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 his daughters to the "infantes" (princes) of Carrión. However, when they 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. His two daughters then remarry to the "infantes" of Navarre and Aragon. Through the marriages of his daughters, the Cid began the unification of Spain.

Unlike other European medieval epics, the tone is realist [ [ El Cid del Cantar: El héroe literario y el héroe épico] , Rafael Beltrán] .There is no magic, even the apparition of archangel Gabriel ( [ 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 between the hemistiches.The rhyme is assonant.The entire work is conventionally divided into three parts:

"Cantar del Destierro"

El Cid is exiled from Castile by King Alfonso VI and fights with the Moorish king of Zaragoza to regain his honor.

"Cantar de las Bodas de las hijas del Cid"

El Cid defends the city of Valencia, defeating King Yusuf ibn Tashfin 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"

The "infantes" of Carrión abuse and abandon their wives 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.

By virtue of the analysis of numerous aspects of the conserved text, it can be demonstrated that it belongs to a cultured Dona Elvira author, with precise knowledge of the law in effect by the end of the 12th century and beginning of the 13th, and that he 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 registries, 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.


These are the first two stanzas that we have. The format has been slightly regularized.

:"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 piensan de aguiiar, alli sueltan las rriendas;:"a la 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 torneremos a Castiella.»

See also

* El Cid
* Las Mocedades de Rodrigo


External links

* [ Cantar de Mio Cid in English]
* [ Scanned copies of manuscript of Cantar de Mio Cid—Spanish]
* [ "Cantar de mío Cid"—Spanish] (free PDF)

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