Kate Milner Rabb
Part 5 out of 8
Ganelon rose, wrathful, casting off his fur robe. His eyes were gray, his
face fierce, his form noble.
"This is Roland's work. I shall hate him forever, and Olivier, and the
twelve peers, because they love him. Ne'er shall I return; full well I
know it. If e'er I do, it will be to wreak vengeance on my enemy."
"Go!" said the king. "You have said enough!"
As Ganelon went forward, full of rage, to receive the king's glove, it
fell ere he touched it. "A bad omen!" exclaimed the French.
"Sirs, ye shall hear of this!" said Ganelon.
On his way to Saragossa with the legates of Marsile, Ganelon laid the
impious plot that was to result in the destruction of Roland and the
peers. It saved his life at Saragossa, where Marsile threatened to kill
him on reading Charlemagne's message. He explained carefully to the
Saracens how the rear guard, left at Roncesvalles under the command of
Roland and the twelve peers, could be destroyed by the pagan forces before
the knowledge of the battle could reach Charlemagne, and that, with these
props of his kingdom gone, the king's power would be so diminished that
Marsile could easily hold out against him. Then the traitor hastened back
to Cordova, laden with rich gifts.
When Ganelon rode back, the emperor was preparing to return to sweet
France. "Barons," said Carle, "whom shall I leave in charge of these deep
defiles and narrow passes?"
"My step-son Roland is well able to take the command," said Ganelon; "he
your nephew, whom you prize most of all your knights."
Rage filled the hearts of both Roland and Carle; but the word was spoken,
and Roland must remain. With him remained the twelve peers, his friends,
Olivier, his devoted comrade, the gallant Archbishop Turpin, and twenty
thousand valiant knights.
While Charlemagne's army toiled over the terrible gorges and high
mountains into Gascony, the emperor, ever grieving over the untimely death
his nephew might meet in the defiles of Spain, down came the pagans, who
had been gathering on the high mountains and in the murky valleys,--emirs,
sons of noble counts were they, brave as the followers of Charlemagne.
When Olivier descried the pagan horde he at once exclaimed,--
"This is the work of Ganelon!"
"Hush!" replied Roland. "He is my step-father. Say no more."
Then Olivier, when from the hill he saw the one hundred thousand Saracens,
their helmets bedecked with gold, their shields shining in the sun,
besought his friend to sound his horn, the olifant, and summon the king to
"Never will I so disgrace myself!" exclaimed Roland. "Never shall sweet
France be so dishonored. One hundred thousand blows shall I give with my
sword, my Durendal, and the Moors will fall and die!"
When Olivier found his pleading vain, he mounted his steed and rode with
Roland to the front of the lines.
Long was the fight and terrible. If gallantry and strength sat with the
twelve peers and their followers, they were with their opponents as well.
No sooner had Roland, or Olivier, or Turpin, or Engelier cleft the body of
a Moorish knight down to the saddle, than down fell a Christian, his
helmet broken, his hauberk torn by the lance of his dreaded foe. The
nephew of Marsile fell by the hand of Roland, who taunted him as he lay in
death; Olivier struck down Marsile's brother. "A noble stroke!" cried
"A baron's stroke!" exclaimed the archbishop, as Samsun pierced the
Almazour with his lance and he fell dead. Olivier spurred over the field,
crushing the pagans and beating them down with his broken lance.
"Comrade, where is thy sword, thy Halteclere?" called Roland to his
"Here, but I lack time to draw it," replied the doughty Olivier.
More than a thousand blows struck Turpin; the pagans fell by hundreds and
by thousands, and over the field lay scattered those who would nevermore
see sweet France.
Meanwhile, in France, hail fell and rain; the sky was vivid with lightning
bolts. The earth shook, and the land lay in darkness at noonday. None
understood the portent. Alas! it was Nature's grief at the death of Count
When Roland perceived that in spite of their mighty efforts the passes
were still filled with heathen knights, and the French ranks were fast
thinning, he said to Olivier, "What think you if we call the king?"
"Never!" exclaimed Olivier. "Better death now than shame!"
"If I blow, Carle will hear it now and return. I shall blow my olifant,"
"When I begged you to blow it," said Olivier, "you refused, when you could
have saved the lives of all of us. You will show no valor if you blow it
"Great is the strife," said Roland. "I will blow that Carle may come."
"Then," said Olivier, "if I return to France, I pledge you my word my
sister Aude shall never be your wife. Your rashness has been the cause of
our destruction. Now you shall die here, and here ends our friendship."
Across the field the archbishop spurred to reconcile the friends. "Carle
will come too late to save our lives," said he, "but he will reach the
field in time to preserve our mangled bodies and wreak vengeance on our
Roland put his horn to his lips and blew with such force that his temples
burst and the crimson blood poured forth from his mouth. Three times he
sounded his horn, and each time the sound brought anguish to the heart of
Carle, who heard it, riding thirty leagues away. "Our men make battle!"
cried he; but this Ganelon hastened to deny, insisting that Roland was but
hunting and blowing the horn, taking sport among the peers. But Duke
Naimes exclaimed, "Your nephew is in sore distress. He who would deceive
you is a traitor. Haste! Shout your war-cry, and let us return to the
battle-field. You yourself hear plainly his call for help!"
Commanding Ganelon to be seized and given to the scullions of his house to
be kept for punishment until his return, Carle ordered his men to arm and
return to Roncesvalles, that they might, if possible, save the lives of
the noble peers. All the army wept aloud as they thought of the doom of
Roland. High were the mountains, deep the valleys, swift the rushing
streams. The French rode on, answering the sound of the olifant; the
emperor rode, filled with grief and rage; the barons spurred their horses,
but in vain.
After Roland had sounded the horn he again grasped Durendal, and, mounted
on his horse Veillantif, scoured the battle-field, cutting down the
heathen. But still their troops pressed him, and when he saw the Ethiopian
band led by the uncle of Marsile, he knew his doom had come. Olivier,
riding forth to meet the accursed band, received his death-wound from the
Kalif, but lived to cut his enemy down, and call Roland to him. Alas!
sight had forsaken his eyes, and as he sat on his steed he lifted his
bright sword Halteclere, and struck Roland a fearful blow that clove his
crest but did not touch his head. "Was the blow meant for me, my comrade?"
asked Roland softly. "Nay, I can see no more. God pity me! Pardon me, my
friend!" and as the two embraced each other, Olivier fell dead.
Then, in the agony of his grief, Roland fainted, sitting firm in his
saddle, and again recovering consciousness, became aware of the terrible
losses of the French. Only himself, the archbishop, and the gallant
Gaultier de l'Hum were left to defend the honor of the French. After
Gaultier fell, Roland, unassisted save by Turpin, who fought transfixed by
four spear shafts, put the enemy to flight. Feeling his death wounds,
Roland besought Turpin to let him bring together the bodies of his fallen
comrades that they might receive the blessing of the archbishop. Weak and
trembling from loss of blood, Roland passed to and fro over the
corpse-bestrewn field, and gathered together his comrades: here, Gerin and
Gerier, Berengier and Otun; there, Anseis, Samsun, and Gerard de
Roussillon, and last of all, his beloved Olivier, and placing them before
the knees of Turpin, he saw them receive his blessing.
In his great grief at the sight of the dead Olivier, Roland again fainted,
and Turpin hastened to a little brook near by for water to revive him. But
the strain was too great for his already weakened body, and, when Roland
revived, it was to find the archbishop dead.
Then Roland, realizing that his hour, too, had come, sought out a place in
which to die. Upon a hill between two lofty trees, where was a marble
terrace, he placed himself with his head towards the enemy's country; and
there a Saracen, who had feigned death to escape it, tried to wrest from
him his beloved Durendal.
Roland crushed the pagan's head with his olifant, but now he was troubled,
for he feared that his sword would fall into other than Christian hands.
Ill could he bear to be parted from his beloved sword. Its golden hilt
contained rare relics,--a tooth of Saint Peter, blood, hair, and bones of
other saints, and by the strength of these holy relics it had conquered
vast realms. Ten and more mighty blows he struck with Durendal upon the
hard rock of the terrace, in the endeavor to break it; but it neither
broke nor blunted. Then, counting over his great victories, he placed it
and the olifant beneath him, and committed his soul to the Father, who
sent down his angels to bear it to Paradise.
When the French army, led by Charlemagne, found the passes heaped high
with the bodies of the dead and no living soul to tell the story of the
slaughter, they wept, and many fell swooning to the earth. But the enraged
Charlemagne, unwilling then to give time for mourning, spurred on his
soldiers, overtook the fleeing enemy, and drove them into the Ebro, so
that those who survived the sword, perished by the wave. Then, returning
to the field of Roncesvalles, he wept over his beloved Roland and the
Great was his grief; handfuls of hair he tore from his head, and many
times wished that his soul were in Paradise, and his body beside that of
Roland. He commanded that the hearts of Roland, Olivier, and Turpin be
taken from their bodies, wrapped, and inurned, and the bodies borne home
in chariots. The bodies of the others were gathered together in one tomb,
and assoiled and blessed by the priests who accompanied the army.
As Charlemagne prepared to start for France, he saw a new army
approaching. The aged Emir Baligant, from Babylon, who had long ago been
summoned by Marsile, had just arrived in Saragossa, and hastened forth to
meet Charlemagne. The emir's army was countless, and Charlemagne's was
weakened by its great loss. But the thought of the slaughtered peers
spurred on the French, and with great Carle for their leader, they quickly
put the pagans to flight.
The Franks pursued the enemy to Saragossa, where the wounded Marsile
expired on hearing of his defeat. The city was taken, its inhabitants
either slain, or converted and baptized, and Queen Bramimunde taken to
France to be won to the true faith by gentler means.
When Charlemagne entered his stately palace at Aix, he was met by the fair
"Where is Roland, my betrothed?"
Carle wept, tearing his white beard.
"Thou askest of one who is no more. But in his place I will give thee my
son. I can do no better."
"Nay, God forbid that I should live if Roland is dead;" and so saying,
Aude, the beautiful, fell dead at the feet of the emperor.
From all his lands Carle summoned men to Aix for the trial of Ganelon.
"Judge him according to the law, my barons," said the king. "He lost me
twenty thousand of my Franks. My nephew Roland, Olivier, my twelve peers,
"My king," pleaded Ganelon, "call it not treason. I was ever loyal to you.
I thought not of gain, but of revenge against my rebellious and haughty
The sentiment of many was with Ganelon, and Pinabel offered to fight for
him against Thierri, the champion of the king. Thirty knights of his kin
gave themselves as legal sureties of his pledge, and the combat began.
Pinabel was conquered and slain, and Ganelon was condemned to be torn to
pieces by wild horses. His thirty sureties were also compelled to suffer
Ganelon was punished; Bramimunde was made a Christian, and the emperor
thought at last to have peace. But as night fell and he sought rest in his
lofty room, Gabriel appeared to him.
"Summon thy hosts and march into Bire to succor King Vivien. The
Christians look to thee for help."
The king wept and tore his beard. "So troubled is my life!" said he.
SELECTIONS FROM THE SONG OF ROLAND.
The Rear Guard of the French army, left behind at Roncesvalles, under
Roland, was attacked by a great host of Moors. In the beginning of the
battle Olivier besought Roland to recall the emperor by blowing the
olifant, whose sound could be heard for many leagues, but Roland refused.
But when he saw the overwhelming forces of the Moors, and the field strewn
with the corpses of the French, he resolved to blow the horn.
Seeing so many warriors fall'n around,
Rolland unto his comrade Olivier
Spoke thus: "Companion fair and dear, for God
Whose blessing rests on you, those vassals true
And brave lie corses on the battle-field:
Look! We must mourn for France so sweet and fair,
From henceforth widowed of such valiant knights.
Carle, 'would you were amongst us, King and friend!
What can we do, say, brother Olivier,
To bring him news of this sore strait of ours!"
Olivier answers: "I know not; but this
I know; for us is better death than shame."
Rolland says: "I will blow mine olifant,
And Carle will hear it from the pass. I pledge
My word the French at once retrace their steps."
Said Olivier: "This a great shame would be,
One which to all your kindred would bequeathe
A lifetime's stain. When this I asked of you,
You answered nay, and would do naught. Well, now
With my consent you shall not;--if you blow
Your horn, of valor true you show no proof.
Already, both your arms are drenched with blood."
Responds the count: "These arms have nobly struck."
"The strife is rude," Rolland says; "I will blow
My horn, that Carle may hear."--Said Olivier:
"This would not courage be. What I desired,
Companion, you disdained. Were the king here,
Safe would we be, but yon brave men are not
To blame."--"By this my beard," said Olivier,
"I swear, if ever I see again sweet Aude,
My sister, in her arms you ne'er shall lie."
Rolland asked Olivier--"Why show to me
Your anger, friend?"--"Companion, yours the fault;
True courage means not folly. Better far
Is prudence than your valiant rage. Our French
Their lives have lost, your rashness is the cause.
And now our arms can never more give Carle
Their service good. Had you believed your friend,
Amongst us would he be, and ours the field,
The King Marsile, a captive or a corse.
Rolland, your valor brought ill fortune, nor
Shall Carle the great e'er more our help receive,
A man unequalled till God's judgment-day.
Here shall you die, and dying, humble France, . . .
This day our loyal friendship ends--ere falls
The Vesper-eve, dolorously we part!"
The archbishop heard their strife. In haste he drives
Into his horse his spurs of purest gold,
And quick beside them rides. Then chiding them,
Says: "Sire Rolland, and you, Sire Olivier,
In God's name be no feud between you two;
No more your horn shall save us; nathless't were
Far better Carle should come and soon avenge
Our deaths. So joyous then these Spanish foes
Would not return. But as our Franks alight,
Find us, or slain or mangled on the field,
They will our bodies on their chargers' backs
Lift in their shrouds with grief and pity, all
In tears, and bury us in holy ground:
And neither wolves, nor swine, nor curs shall feed
On us--" Replied Rolland: "Well have you said."
Rolland raised to his lips the olifant,
Drew a deep breath, and blew with all his force.
High are the mountains, and from peak to peak
The sound re-echoes; thirty leagues away
'T was heard by Carle and all his brave compeers.
Cried the king: "Our men make battle!" Ganelon
Retorts in haste: "If thus another dared
To speak, we should denounce it as a lie."
The Count Rolland in his great anguish blows
His olifant so mightily, with such
Despairing agony, his mouth pours forth
The crimson blood, and his swol'n temples burst.
Yea, but so far the ringing blast resounds;
Carle hears it, marching through the pass, Naimes harks,
The French all listen with attentive ear.
"That is Rolland's horn!" Carle cried, "which ne'er yet
Was, save in battle, blown!" But Ganelon
Replies: "No fight is there! you, sire, are old,
Your hair and beard are all bestrewn with gray,
And as a child your speech. Well do you know
Rolland's great pride. 'Tis marvellous God bears
With him so long. Already took he Noble
Without your leave. The pagans left their walls
And fought Rolland, your brave knight, in the field;
With his good blade he slew them all, and then
Washed all the plain with water, that no trace
Of blood was left--yea, oftentimes he runs
After a hare all day and blows his horn.
Doubtless he takes his sport now with his peers;
And who 'neath Heav'n would dare attack Rolland?
None, as I deem. Nay, sire, ride on apace;
Why do you halt? Still far is the Great Land."
Rolland with bleeding mouth and temples burst,
Still, in his anguish, blows his olifant;
Carle hears it, and his Franks. The king exclaims:
"That horn has a long breath!" Duke Naimes replies:
"Rolland it is, and in a sore distress,
Upon my faith a battle rages there!
A traitor he who would deceive you now.
To arms! Your war-cry shout, your kinsman save!
Plainly enough you hear his call for help."
Carle orders all the trumpeters to sound
The march. The French alight. They arm themselves
With helmets, hauberks and gold-hilted swords,
Bright bucklers, long sharp spears, with pennons white
And red and blue. The barons of the host
Leap on their steeds, all spurring on; while through
The pass they march, each to the other says:
"Could we but reach Rolland before he dies,
What deadly blows, with his, our swords would strike!"
But what avails? Too late they will arrive.
The ev'n is clear, the sun its radiant beams
Reflects upon the marching legions, spears,
Hauberks and helms, shields painted with bright flowers,
Gold pennons all ablaze with glitt'ring hues.
Burning with wrath the emperor rides on;
The French with sad and angered looks. None there
But weeps aloud. All tremble for Rolland.
* * * * *
The king commands Count Ganelon be seized
And given to the scullions of his house.
Their chief, named Begue, he calls and bids: "Guard well
This man as one who all my kin betrayed."
Him Begue received, and set upon the count
One hundred of his kitchen comrades--best
And worst; they pluck his beard on lip and cheek;
Each deals him with his fist four blows, and falls
On him with lash and stick; they chain his neck
As they would chain a bear, and he is thrown
For more dishonor on a sumpter mule,
There guarded so until to Carle brought back.
High are the mountains, gloomy, terrible,
The valleys deep, and swift the rushing streams.
In van, in rear, the brazen trumpets blow,
Answering the olifant. With angry look
Rides on the emp'ror; filled with wrath and grief,
Follow the French, each sobbing, each in tears,
Praying that God may guard Rolland, until
They reach the battle-field. With him what blows
Will they not strike! Alas? what boots it now?
Too late they are and cannot come in time.
Carle in great anger rides--his snow-white beard
O'erspreads his breast-plate. Hard the barons spur,
For never one but inwardly doth rage
That he is far from their great chief, Rolland,
Who combats now the Saracens of Spain:
If wounded he, will one of his survive?
O God! What knights those sixty left by him!
Nor king nor captain better ever had....
When all the French lay dead upon the field except Roland and the
Archbishop Turpin, Roland gathered together the bodies of his dead
comrades, the peers, that they might receive the archbishop's blessing. He
then fell fainting from grief, and aroused himself to find the archbishop
Rolland now feels his death is drawing nigh:
From both his ears the brain is oozing fast.
For all his peers he prays that God may call
Their souls to him; to the Angel Gabriel
He recommends his spirit. In one hand
He takes the olifant, that no reproach
May rest upon him; in the other grasps
Durendal, his good sword. Forward he goes,
Far as an arblast sends a shaft, across
A new-tilled ground and toward the land of Spain.
Upon a hill, beneath two lofty trees,
Four terraces of marble spread;--he falls
Prone fainting on the green, for death draws near.
High are the mounts, and lofty are the trees.
Four terraces are there, of marble bright:
There Count Rolland lies senseless on the grass.
Him at this moment spies a Saracen
Who lies among the corpses, feigning death,
His face and body all besmeared with blood.
Sudden he rises to his feet, and bounds
Upon the baron. Handsome, brave, and strong
He was, but from his pride sprang mortal rage.
He seized the body of Rolland, and grasped
His arms, exclaiming thus: "Here vanquished Carle's
Great nephew lies! This sword to Araby
I'll bear." He drew it; this aroused the count.
Rolland perceived an alien hand would rob
Him of his sword; his eyes he oped; one word
He spoke: "I trow, not one of us art thou!"
Then with his olifant from which he parts
Never, he smites the golden studded helm,
Crushing the steel, the head, the bones; both eyes
Are from their sockets beaten out--o'erthrown
Dead at the baron's feet he falls;--"O wretch,"
He cries, "how durst thou, or for good or ill,
Lay hands upon Rolland? Who hears of this
Will call thee fool. Mine olifant is cleft,
Its gems and gold all scattered by the blow."
Now feels Rolland that death is near at hand
And struggles up with all his force; his face
Grows livid; Durendal, his naked sword,
He holds; beside him rises a gray rock
On which he strikes ten mighty blows through grief
And rage. The steel but grinds; it breaks not, nor
Is notched; then cried the count: "Saint Mary, help!
O Durendal! Good sword! ill starred art thou!
Though we two part, I care not less for thee.
What victories together thou and I
Have gained, what kingdoms conquered, which now holds
White-bearded Carle! No coward's hand shall grasp
Thy hilt: a valiant knight has borne thee long,
Such as none shall e'er bear in France the Free!"
Rolland smites hard the rock of Sardonix;
The steel but grinds, it breaks not, nor grows blunt;
Then seeing that he cannot break his sword,
Thus to himself he mourns for Durendal:
"O good my sword, how bright and pure! Against
The sun what flashing light thy blade reflects!
When Carle passed through the valley of Moriane,
The God of Heaven by his Angel sent
Command that he should give thee to a count,
A valiant captain; it was then the great
And gentle king did gird thee to my side.
With thee I won for him Anjou--Bretaigne;
For him with thee I won Poitou, le Maine
And Normandie the free; I won Provence
And Aquitaine, and Lumbardie, and all
The Romanie; I won for him Baviere,
All Flandre--Buguerie--all Puillanie,
Costentinnoble which allegiance paid,
And Saxonie submitted to his power;
For him I won Escoce and Galle, Irlande,
And Engleterre he made his royal seat;
With thee I conquered all the lands and realms
Which Carle, the hoary-bearded monarch, rules.
Now for this sword I mourn. . . . Far better die
Than in the hands of pagans let it fall!
May God, Our Father, save sweet France this shame!"
Upon the gray rock mightily he smites,
Shattering it more than I can tell; the sword
But grinds. It breaks not--nor receives a notch,
And upward springs more dazzling in the air.
When sees the Count Rolland his sword can never break,
Softly within himself its fate he mourns:
"O Durendal, how fair and holy thou!
In thy gold-hilt are relics rare; a tooth
Of great Saint Pierre--some blood of Saint Basile,
A lock of hair of Monseigneur Saint Denis,
A fragment of the robe of Sainte-Marie.
It is not right that pagans should own thee;
By Christian hand alone be held. Vast realms
I shall have conquered once that now are ruled
By Carle, the king with beard all blossom-white,
And by them made great emperor and lord.
May thou ne'er fall into a cowardly hand."
The Count Rolland feels through his limbs the grasp
Of death, and from his head ev'n to his heart
A mortal chill descends. Unto a pine
He hastens, and falls stretched upon the grass.
Beneath him lie his sword and olifant,
And toward the Heathen land he turns his head,
That Carle and all his knightly host may say:
"The gentle count a conqueror has died. . . ."
Then asking pardon for his sins, or great
Or small, he offers up his glove to God.
The Count Rolland feels now his end approach.
Against a pointed rock, and facing Spain,
He lies. Three times he beats his breast, and says:
"Mea culpa! Oh, my God, may through thy grace,
Be pardoned all my sins, or great or small,
Until this hour committed since my birth!"
Then his right glove he offers up to God,
And toward him angels from high Heav'n descend.
Beneath a pine Rolland doth lie, and looks
Toward Spain. He broods on many things of yore:
On all the lands he conquered, on sweet France,
On all his kinsmen, on great Carle his lord
Who nurtured him;--he sighs, nor can restrain
His tears, but cannot yet himself forget;
Recalls his sins, and for the grace of God
He prays: "Our Father, never yet untrue,
Who Saint-Lazare raised from the dead, and saved
Thy Daniel from the lions' claws,--oh, free
My soul from peril, from my whole life's sins!"
His right hand glove he offered up to God;
Saint Gabriel took the glove.--With head reclined
Upon his arm, with hands devoutly joined
He breathed his last. God sent his cherubim,
Saint-Raphael, _Saint Michiel del Peril_.
Together with them Gabriel came. All bring
The soul of Count Rolland to Paradise.
The monarchs of ancient Persia made several attempts to collect the
historic annals of their country, but both people and traditions were
scattered by the Arabian conquest. The manuscript annals were carried to
Abyssinia, thence to India, and were taken back to Persia just when the
weakness of the conquerors was beginning to show itself. The various
members of the Persian line, who had declared themselves independent of
their conquerors, determined to rouse the patriotism of their countrymen
by the recital of the stirring deeds of the warriors of old Persia.
The fame of Abul Kasin Mansur, born at Thus, in Khorasan, A. D. 920,
reached Mahmoud of Ghaznin, who was searching for a poet to re-cast the
annals of Persia. He called the poet to his court, and, on hearing him
improvise, called him Firdusi (the paradisiacal). The poet was intrusted
with the preparation of the Shah-Nameh, or Epic of Kings, for every one
thousand distichs of which he was to receive a thousand pieces of gold. It
had been the dream of the poet's life to build a bridge and otherwise
improve his native town. He therefore asked that the payment be deferred
until the completion of his work, that he might apply the entire sum to
these improvements. But when the poem was completed, after thirty years'
labor, the king, instigated by the slanders of the jealous prime minister,
sent to the poet sixty thousand silver instead of gold dirhems. The
enraged poet threw the silver to his attendants and fled from the country,
leaving behind him an insulting poem to the sultan. He spent the remainder
of his life at Mazinderan and Bagdad, where he was received with honor,
and in his old age returned to Thus to die. Tradition relates that Mahmoud
at last discovered the villainy of his minister, and sent the gold to
Thus. But the old poet was dead, and his daughter indignantly refused the
money. Mahmoud then applied the sum to the improvements of the town so
long desired by Firdusi.
The Shah-Nameh is written in the pure old Persian, that Mohammed declared
would be the language of Paradise. In its sixty thousand couplets are
related the deeds of the Persian kings from the foundation of the world to
the invasion by the Mohammedans; but it is of very little value as a
historical record, the facts it purports to relate being almost lost among
the Oriental exaggerations of the deeds of its heroes.
The only complete translation in a foreign language is the elaborate
French translation of Julius Mohl.
The Shah-Nameh is still popular in Persia, where it is said that even the
camel drivers are able to repeat long portions of it. Firdusi is sometimes
called the Homer of the East, because he describes rude heroic times and
men, as did Homer; but he is also compared to Ariosto, because of his
wealth of imagery. His heroes are very different from those to whom we
have been wont to pay our allegiance; but they fight for the same
principles and worship as lovely maids, to judge from the hyperbole
employed in their description. The condensation of the Shah-Nameh reads
like a dry chronicle; but in its entirety it reminds one of nothing so
much as a gorgeous Persian web, so light and varied, so brightened is it
by its wealth of episode.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM, THE SHAH-NAMEH.
Samuel Johnson's The Shah-Nameh, or Book of Kings (in his Oriental
Religion, Persia, 1885, pp. 711-782);
E. B. Cowell's Persian Literature, Firdusi (in Oxford Essays, 1885, pp.
Elizabeth A. Reed's Persian Literature, Ancient and Modern, 1893, pp.
STANDARD ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS, THE SHAH-NAMEH.
The Shah-Nameh, Tr. and abridged in prose and verse with notes and
illustrations, by James Atkinson, 1832;
Abbreviated version taken from a Persian abridgment, half prose, half
verse; The Epic of Kings, Stories re-told from Firdusi, by Helen
THE STORY OF THE SHAH-NAMEH.
Kaiumers was the first King of Persia, and against him Ahriman, the evil,
through jealousy of his greatness, sent forth a mighty Deev to conquer
him. By this Deev, Saiamuk, the son of Kaiumers, was slain, and the king
himself died of grief at the loss of his son.
Husheng, his grandson, who succeeded Kaiumers, was a great and wise king,
who gave fire to his people, taught them irrigation, instructed them how
to till and sow, and gave names to the beasts. His son and successor,
Tahumers, taught his people the arts of spinning, weaving, and writing,
and when he died left his throne to his son Jemschid.
Jemschid was a mighty monarch, who divided men into classes, and the years
into periods, and builded mighty walls and cities; but his heart grew
proud at the thought of his power, and he was driven away from his land by
his people, who called Zohak to the throne of Iran.
Zohak, who came from the deserts of Arabia, was a good and wise young man
who had fallen into the power of a Deev. This Deev, in the guise of a
skillful servant, asked permission one day to kiss his monarch between the
shoulders, as a reward for an unusually fine bit of cookery. From the spot
he kissed sprang two black serpents, whose only nourishment was the brains
of the king's subjects.
The serpent king, as Zohak was now called, was much feared by his
subjects, who saw their numbers daily lessen by the demands of the
serpents. But when the children of the blacksmith Kawah were demanded as
food for the serpents, the blacksmith defied Zohak, and raising his
leathern apron as a standard,--a banner ever since honored in Persia,--he
called the people to him, and set off in search of Feridoun, an heir of
Jemschid. Under the young leader the oppressed people defeated the tyrant,
and placed Feridoun on the throne.
Feridoun had three sons, Irij, Tur, and Silim. Having tested their
bravery, he divided the kingdom among them, giving to Irij the kingdom of
Iran. Although the other brothers had received equal shares of the
kingdom, they were enraged because Iran was not their portion, and when
their complaints to their father were not heeded, they slew their brother.
Irij left a son, a babe named Minuchihr, who was reared carefully by
Feridoun. In time he avenged his father, by defeating the armies of his
uncles and slaying them both. Soon after this, Feridoun died, intrusting
his grandson to Saum, his favorite pehliva, or vassal, who ruled over
Saum was a childless monarch, and when at last a son was born to him he
was very happy until he learned that while the child was perfect in every
other way, it had the silver hair of an old man. Fearing the talk of his
enemies, Saum exposed the child on a mountain top to die. There it was
found by the Simurgh, a remarkable animal, part bird, part human, that,
touched by the cries of the helpless infant, carried him to her great nest
of aloes and sandal-wood, and reared him with her little ones.
Saum, who had lived to regret his foolish and wicked act, was told in a
dream that his son still lived, and was being cared for by the Simurgh. He
accordingly sought the nest, and carried his son away with great
thanksgiving. The Simurgh parted tenderly with the little Zal, and
presented him with a feather from her wing, telling him that whenever he
was in danger, he had only to throw it on the fire and she would instantly
come to his aid.
Saum first presented his son at the court of Minuchihr, and then took him
home to Zaboulistan, where he was carefully instructed in every art and
At one time, while his father was invading a neighboring province, Zal
travelled over the kingdom and stopped at the court of Mihrab, a tributary
of Saum, who ruled at Kabul. Though a descendant of the serpent king,
Mihrab was good, just, and wise, and he received the young warrior with
hospitality. Zal had not been long in Kabul before he heard of the
beauties of Rudabeh, the daughter of Mihrab, and she, in turn, of the
great exploits of Zal. By an artifice of the princess they met and vowed
to love one another forever, though they knew their love would meet with
opposition. Saum and Zal both pleaded Zal's cause before Minuchihr, who
relented when he heard from the astrologers that a good and mighty warrior
would come of the union. Rudabeh's mother won the consent of Mihrab, so
that the young people were soon married with great pomp. To them a son was
born named Rustem, who, when one day old, was as large as a year-old
child. When three years old he could ride a horse, and at eight years was
as powerful as any hero of the time.
Nauder succeeded the good Minuchihr, and under him Persia was defeated by
the Turanians, and Afrasiyab occupied the Persian throne. But Zal, whose
father, Saum, had died, overthrew him and placed Zew upon the throne.
Zew's reign was short, and Garshasp, his son, succeeded him. When he was
threatened by the Turanians, his people went for aid to Zal, who, because
he was growing old, referred them to Rustem, yet of tender age. Rustem
responded gladly, and his father commanded that all the horses from
Zaboulistan to Kabul be brought forth that his son might select a steed
therefrom. Every horse bent beneath his grasp until he came to the colt
Rakush, which responded to Rustem's voice, and suffered him to mount it.
From that day to his death, this steed was his faithful companion and
Garshasp was too weak to rule over the kingdom, and Zal despatched Rustem
to Mt. Alberz, where he had been told in a dream a youth dwelt called
Kai-Kobad, descended from Feridoun. Kai-Kobad welcomed Rustem, and the
two, with the noblest of the kingdom, defeated the power of Turan.
After a reign of a hundred years, the wise Kai-Kobad died, and was
succeeded by his son, the foolish Kai-Kaus, who, not satisfied with the
wealth and extent of his kingdom, determined to conquer the kingdom of
Mazinderan, ruled by the Deevs. Zal's remonstrances were of no avail: the
headstrong Kai-Kaus marched into Mazinderan, and, together with his whole
army, was conquered, imprisoned, and blinded by the power of the White
When the news of the monarch's misfortune came to Iran, Rustem immediately
saddled Rakush, and, choosing the shortest and most peril-beset route, set
forth, unaccompanied, for Mazinderan. If he survived the dangers that
lurked by the way, he would reach Mazinderan in seven days.
While sleeping in a forest, after his first day's journey, he was saved
from a fierce lion by Rakush, who stood at his head.
On the second day, just as he believed himself perishing of thirst, he was
saved by a sheep that he followed to a fountain of water; on the third
night, Rakush, whom he had angrily forbidden to attack any animal without
waking him, twice warned him of the approach of a dragon. The first time
the dragon disappeared when Rustem awoke, and he spoke severely to his
faithful horse. The second time he slew the dragon, and morning having
dawned, proceeded through a desert, where he was offered food and wine by
a sorceress. Not recognizing her, and grateful for the food, he offered
her a cup of wine in the name of God, and she was immediately converted
into a black fiend, whom he slew.
He was next opposed by Aulad, whom he defeated, and promised to make ruler
of Mazinderan if he would guide him to the caves of the White Deev. A
stony desert and a wide stream lay between him and the demon; but the
undaunted Rustem passed over them, and choosing the middle of the day, at
which time Aulad told him the Deevs slept, he slew the guards, entered the
cavern, and after a terrible struggle, overcame and slew the great Deev.
He then released Kai-Kaus and his army, and restored their sight by
touching their eyes with the blood from the Deev's heart.
Kai-Kaus, not satisfied with this adventure, committed many other follies,
from which it taxed his warrior sorely to rescue him.
Once he was imprisoned by the King of Hamaveran after he had espoused his
daughter; again he followed the advice of a wicked Deev, and tried to
search the heavens in a flying-machine, that descended and left him in a
desert waste. It was only after this last humiliation that he humbled
himself, lay in the dust many days, and at last became worthy of the
throne of his fathers.
At one time Rustem was hunting near the borders of Turan, and, falling
asleep, left Rakush to graze in the forest, where he was espied by the men
of Turan and at once captured. When Rustem awoke he followed his steed by
the traces of its hoofs, until he came to the city of Samengan. The king
received him kindly, and promised to restore the horse if it could be
found. While his messengers went in search of it, he feasted his guest,
and led him for the night to a perfumed couch.
In the middle of the night Rustem awoke, to see a beautiful young woman
enter the room, accompanied by a maid. She proved to be the princess, who
had fallen in love with Rustem. She pleaded with him to return her love,
promising, if he did so, to restore his cherished horse. Rustem longed for
his steed; moreover, the maiden was irresistibly beautiful. He accordingly
yielded to her proposals, and the two were wedded the next day, the king
having given his consent.
After tarrying some time in Samengan, Rustem was forced to return to Iran.
Bidding his bride an affectionate farewell, he presented her with a
"If thou art given a daughter, place this amulet in her hair to guard her
from harm. If a son, bind it on his arm, that he may possess the valor of
In the course of time, the princess bore a boy, who was like his father in
beauty and boldness, whom she christened Sohrab. But for fear that she
would be deprived of him, she wrote to Rustem that a daughter had been
born to her. To her son she declared the secret of his birth, and urged
him to be like his father in all things; but she warned him not to
disclose the secret, for she feared that if it came to the ears of
Afrasiyab, he would destroy him because of his hatred of Rustem.
Sohrab, who had already cherished dreams of conquest, was elated at the
knowledge of his parentage. "Mother," exclaimed he, "I shall gather an
army of Turks, conquer Iran, dethrone Kai-Kaus, and place my father on the
throne; then both of us will conquer Afrasiyab, and I will mount the
throne of Turan."
The mother, pleased with her son's valor, gave him for a horse a foal
sprung from Rakush, and fondly watched his preparations for war.
The wicked Afrasiyab well knew that Sohrab was the son of Rustem. He was
also aware that it was very dangerous to have two such mighty warriors
alive, since if they became known to each other, they would form an
alliance. He planned, therefore, to aid Sohrab in the war, keeping him in
ignorance of his father, and to manage in some way to have the two meet in
battle, that one or both might be slain.
The armies met and the great battle began. Sohrab asked to have Rustem
pointed out to him, but the soldiers on his side were all instructed to
keep him in ignorance. By some strange mischance the two men whom his
mother had sent to enlighten him, were both slain. Rustem was moved at the
sight of the brave young warrior, but remembering that Tahmineh's
offspring was a daughter, thought nothing more of the thrill he felt at
sight of him. At last Sohrab and Rustem met in single combat. Sohrab was
moved with tenderness for his unknown opponent, and besought him to tell
him if he was Rustem, but Rustem declared that he was only a servant of
that chief. For three days they fought bitterly, and on the fourth day
Rustem overthrew his son. When Sohrab felt that the end had come he
threatened his unknown opponent. "Whoever thou art, know that I came not
out for empty glory but to find my father, and that though I have found
him not, when he hears that thou hast slain his son he will search thee
out and avenge me, no matter where thou hidest thyself. For my father is
the great Rustem."
Rustem fell down in agony when he heard his son's words, and realized that
his guile had prevented him from being made known the day before. He
examined the onyx bracelet on Sohrab's arm; it was the same he had given
Tahmineh. Bethinking himself of a magic ointment possessed by Kai-Kaus, he
sent for it that he might heal his dying son; but the foolish king,
jealous of his prowess, refused to send it, and Sohrab expired in the arms
of his father.
Rustem's heart was broken. He heaped up his armor, his tent, his
trappings, his treasures, and flung them into a great fire. The house of
Zal was filled with mourning, and when the news was conveyed to Samengan,
he tore his garments, and his daughter grieved herself to death before a
year had passed away.
To Kai-Kaus and a wife of the race of Feridoun was born a son called
Saiawush, who was beautiful, noble, and virtuous. But his foolish father
allowed himself to be prejudiced against the youth by slanderous tongues,
so that Saiawush fled from the court and sought shelter with Afrasiyab in
Turan. There he speedily became popular, and took unto himself for a wife
the daughter of Afrasiyab. But when he and Ferandis his wife built a
beautiful city, the hatred and jealousy of Gersiwaz was aroused, so that
he lied to Afrasiyab and said that Saiawush was puffed up with pride, and
at last induced Afrasiyab to slay his son-in-law.
Saiawush had a son, Kai-Khosrau, who was saved by Piran, a kind-hearted
nobleman, and given into the care of a goatherd. When Afrasiyab learned of
his existence he summoned him to his presence, but the youth, instructed
by Piran, assumed the manners of an imbecile, and was accordingly freed by
Afrasiyab, who feared no harm from him.
When the news of the death of Saiawush was conveyed to Iran there was
great mourning, and war was immediately declared against Turan. For seven
years the contest was carried on, always without success, and at the end
of that time Gudarz dreamed that a son of Saiawush was living called
Kai-Khosrau, and that until he was sought out and placed at the head of
the army, deliverance could not come to Iran. Kai-Khosrau was discovered,
and led the armies on to victory; and when Kai-Kaus found that his
grandson was not only a great warrior, skilled in magic, but also
possessed wisdom beyond his years, he resigned the throne and made
Kai-Khosrau ruler over Iran.
Kai-Khosrau ruled many long years, in which time he brought peace and
happiness to his kingdom, avenged the murder of his father, and compassed
the death of the wicked Afrasiyab. Then, fearing that he might become
puffed up with pride like Jemschid, he longed to depart from this world,
and prayed Ormuzd to take him to his bosom.
The king; after many prayers to Ormuzd, dreamed that his wish would be
granted if he set the affairs of his kingdom in order and appointed his
successor. Rejoiced, he called his nobles together, divided his treasure
among them, and appointed his successor, Lohurasp, whom he commanded to be
the woof and warp of justice. Accompanied by a few of his faithful
friends, he set out on the long journey to the crest of the mountains. At
his entreaties, some of his friends turned back; those who stayed over
night, in spite of his warnings, found on waking that they were covered by
a heavy fall of snow, and were soon frozen. Afterwards their bodies were
found and received a royal burial.
Lohurasp had a son Gushtasp who greatly desired to rule, and was a just
monarch, when he succeeded to the throne. Gushtasp, however, was jealous
of his son, Isfendiyar, who was a great warrior. When Gushtasp was about
to be overcome by the forces of Turan, he promised Isfendiyar the throne,
if he would destroy the enemy; but when the hosts were scattered, and
Isfendiyar reminded his father of his promise, he was cast into a dungeon,
there to remain until his services were again needed. When he had again
gained a victory, he was told that the throne should be his when he had
rescued his sisters from the brazen fortress of Arjasp, where they had
been carried and imprisoned.
On his way to this tower Isfendiyar met with as many terrible foes as
Rustem had encountered on his way to the White Deev, and as successfully
overcame them. Wolves, lions, enchantresses, and dragons barred the way to
the impregnable fortress, which rose three farsangs high and forty wide,
and was constructed entirely of brass and iron. But Isfendiyar, assuming
the guise of a merchant and concealing his warriors in chests, won his way
into the castle, gained the favor of its inmates, and made them drunk with
wine. This done, he freed his sisters, slew the guards, and struck down
Instead of keeping his promise, Gushtasp hastened to set his son another
task. Rustem was his Pehliva, but it pleased him to send forth Isfendiyar
against him, commanding him to bring home the mighty warrior in chains.
Isfendiyar pleaded in vain with his father. Then he explained the
situation to Rustem, and begged that he would accompany him home in peace
to gratify his father. Rustem refused to go in chains, so the two heroes
reluctantly began the hardest battle of their lives.
At the end of the first day, Rustem and Rakush were severely wounded, and
on his return home Rustem happened to think of the Simurgh. Called by the
burning of the feather, the kind bird healed the wounds of the hero and of
Rakush, and instructed Rustem how to slay his foe. "Seek thou the tamarisk
tree, and make thereof an arrow. Aim at his eye, and there thou canst
blind and slay him."
Rustem followed the directions, and laid low the gallant youth. Isfendiyar
died exclaiming, "My father has slain me, not thou, Rustem. I die, the
victim of my father's hate; do thou keep for me and rear my son!"
Rustem, who had lived so long and accomplished such great deeds, died at
last by the hand of his half-brother. This brother, Shugdad, stirred up
the king of Kabul, in whose court he was reared, to slay Rustem because he
exacted tribute from Kabul.
Rustem was called into Kabul by Shugdad, who claimed that the king
mistreated him. When he arrived, the matter was settled amicably, and the
brothers set out for a hunt with the king. The hunters were led to a spot
where the false king had caused pits to be dug lined with sharp weapons.
Rustem, pleased with his kind reception and suspecting no harm, beat
Rakush severely when he paused and would go no further. Stung by the
blows, the gallant horse sprang forward, and fell into the pit. As he rose
from this, he fell into another, until, clambering from the seventh pit,
he and Rustem fell swooning with pain.
"False brother!" cried Rustem; "what hast thou done? Was it for thee to
slay thy father's son? Exult now; but thou wilt yet suffer for this
crime!" Then altering his tone, he said gently: "But give me, I pray thee,
my bow and arrows, that I may have it by my side to slay any wild beast
that may try to devour me."
Shugdad gave him the bow; and when he saw the gleam in Rustem's eyes,
concealed himself behind a tree. But the angry Rustem, grasping the bow
with something of his former strength, sent the arrow through tree and
man, transfixing both. Then thanking his Creator that he had been given
the opportunity to slay his murderer, he breathed his last.
SELECTIONS FROM THE SHAH-NAMEH.
THE RAJA OF INDIA SENDS A CHESSBOARD TO NUSHIRVAN.
"This account of the game of chess, written by Ferdusi more than eight
hundred years ago, is curious as showing the antiquity of the game, its
resemblance to it as now played, and the tradition that it was invented in
India, and came originally from that country."
A Mubid related, how one day the king
Suspended his crown over the ivory throne,
All aloes-wood and ivory, and all ivory and aloes;
Every pavilion a court, and every court a royal one;
All the Hall of Audience crowned with soldiers;
Every pavilion filled with Mubids and Wardens of the Marches,
From Balkh, and Bokhara, and from every frontier--
For the King of the world had received advices
From his vigilant and active emissaries,
That an Ambassador had arrived from a King of India,
With the parasol, and elephants, and cavalry of Sind,
And, accompanied by a thousand laden camels,
Was on his way to visit the Great King.
When the circumspect Monarch heard this news,
Immediately he despatched an escort to receive him.
And when the illustrious and dignified Ambassador
Came into the presence of the Great King,
According to the manner of the great, he pronounced a benediction,
And uttered the praise of the Creator of the world.
Then he scattered before him abundance of jewels,
And presented the parasol, the elephants, and the ear-rings;
The Indian parasol embroidered with gold,
And inwoven with all kinds of precious stones.
Then he opened the packages in the midst of the court,
And displayed each one, article by article, before the King.
Within the chest was much silver, and gold,
And musk, and amber, and fresh wood of aloes,
Of rubies, and diamonds, and Indian swords.
Each Indian sword was beautifully damascened;
Everything which is produced in Kanuj and Mai
Hand and foot were busy to put in its place.
They placed the whole together in front of the throne,
And the Chief, the favored of wakeful Fortune,
Surveyed all that the Raja had painstakingly collected,
And then commanded that it should be sent to his treasury.
Then the Ambassador presented, written on silk,
The letter which the Raja had addressed to Nushirvan;
And a chessboard, wrought with such exceeding labor,
That the pains bestowed upon it might have emptied a treasury.
And the Indian delivered a message from the Raja:
"So long as the heavens revolve, may thou be established in thy place!
All who have taken pains to excel in knowledge,
Command to place this chessboard before them,
And to exert their utmost ingenuity
To discover the secret of this noble game.
Let them learn the name of every piece.
Its proper position, and what is its movement.
Let them make out the foot-soldier of the army,
The elephant, the rook, and the horseman,
The march of the vizier and the procession of the King.
If they discover the science of this noble game,
They will have surpassed the most able in science.
Then the tribute and taxes which the King hath demanded
I will cheerfully send all to his court.
But if the congregated sages, men of Iran,
Should prove themselves completely at fault in this science,
Then, since they are not strong enough to compete with us in knowledge,
Neither should they desire taxes or tribute from this land and country:
Rather ought we to receive tribute from you,
Since knowledge hath a title beyond all else."
Khosru gave heart and ear to the speaker,
And impressed on his memory the words which he heard.
They placed the chessboard before the King,
Who gazed attentively at the pieces a considerable time.
Half the pieces on the board were of brilliant ivory,
The other half of finely imaged teak-wood.
The nicely-observant King questioned him much
About the figures of the pieces and the beautiful board.
The Indian said in answer: "O thou great Monarch,
All the modes and customs of war thou wilt see,
When thou shalt have found out the way to the game;
The plans, the marches, the array of the battle-field."
He replied: "I shall require the space of seven days;
On the eighth we will encounter thee with a glad mind."
They furnished forthwith a pleasant apartment,
And assigned it to the Ambassador as his dwelling.
Then the Mubid and the skilful to point out the way
Repaired with one purpose to the presence of the King.
They placed the chessboard before them,
And observed it attentively, time without measure.
They sought out and tried every method,
And played against one another in all possible ways.
One spoke and questioned, and another listened,
But no one succeeded in making out the game.
They departed, each one with wrinkles on his brow;
And Buzarchamahar went forthwith to the king.
He perceived that he was ruffled and stern about this matter,
And in its beginning foresaw an evil ending.
Then he said to Khosru: "O Sovereign,
Master of the world, vigilant, and worthy to command,
I will reduce to practice this noble game;
All my intelligence will I exert to point out the way."
Then the king said: "This affair is thine affair;
Go thou about it with a clear mind and a sound body,
Otherwise the Raja of Kanuj would say,
'He hath not one man who can search out the road,'
And this would bring foul disgrace on my Mubids,
On my court, on my throne, and on all my wise men."
Then Buzarchmahar made them place the chessboard before him,
And seated himself, full of thought, and expanded his countenance.
He sought out various ways, and moved the pieces to the right hand and
to the left,
In order that he might discover the position of every piece.
When after a whole day and a whole night, he had found out the game,
He hurried from his own pavilion to that of the King,
And exclaimed: "O King, whom Fortune crowneth with victory,
At last I have made out these figures and this chessboard,
By a happy chance, and by the favor of the Ruler of the world,
The mystery of this game hath found its solution.
Call before thee the Ambassador and all who care about it;
But the King of kings ought to be the first to behold it.
You would say at once without hesitation,
It is the exact image of a battle-field."
The King was right glad to hear the news;
He pronounced him the Fortunate, and the bearer of good tidings.
He commanded that the Mubids, and other counsellors,
And all who were renowned for their wisdom should be assembled;
And ordered that the Ambassador should be summoned to the Presence,
And that he should be placed on a splendid throne.
Then Buzarchamahar, addressing him, said:
"O Mubid, bright in council as the sun,
Tell us, what said the King about these pieces,
So may intelligence be coupled with thee forever!"
And this was his answer: "My Master, prosperous in his undertakings,
When I was summoned and appeared before him,
Said to me: 'These pieces of teak and ivory
Place before the throne of him who weareth the crown,
And say to him: Assemble thy Mubids and counsellors,
And seat them, and place the pieces before them.
If they succeed in making out the noble game,
They will win applause and augment enjoyment:
Then slaves and money and tribute and taxes,
I will send to him as far as I have the means;
For a monarch is to be esteemed for his wisdom,
Not for his treasure, or his men, or his lofty throne.
But if the King and his counsellors are not able to do all this
And their minds are not bright enough to comprehend it,
He ought not to desire from us tribute or treasure,
And his wise soul, alas! must come to grief;
And when he seeth our minds and genius to be subtler than theirs.
Rather will he send them to us in greater abundance.'"
Then Buzarchamahar brought the chess-men and board,
And placed them before the throne of the watchful King,
And said to the Mubids and counsellors:
"O ye illustrious and pure-hearted sages,
Give ear all of you to the words he hath uttered,
And to the observations of his prudent chief."
Then the knowing-man arranged a battle-field,
Giving to the King the place in the centre;
Right and left he drew up the army,
Placing the foot-soldiers in front of the battle.
A prudent vizier he stationed beside the King,
To give him advice on the plan of the engagement;
On each side he set the elephants of war [our bishops],
To support one another in the midst of the combat.
Further on he assigned their position to the war-steeds [our knights],
Placing upon each a horseman eager for battle.
Lastly, right and left, at the extremities of the field,
He stationed the heroes [the rooks] as rivals to each other.
When Buzarchamahar had thus drawn up the army,
The whole assembly was lost in astonishment;
But the Indian Ambassador was exceedingly grieved,
And stood motionless at the sagacity of that Fortune-favored man;
Stupefied with amazement, he looked upon him as a magician,
And his whole soul was absorbed in his reflections.
"For never hath he seen," he said, "a chessboard before,
Nor ever hath he heard about it from the experienced men of India.
I have told him nothing of the action of these pieces,
Not a word have I said about this arrangement and purpose.
How then hath the revelation come down upon him?
No one in the world will ever take his place!"
And Khosru was so proud of Buzarchamahar,
Thou mightest say that he was looking Fortune in the face.
He was gladdened at his heart, and loaded him with caresses,
And ordered him a more than ordinary dress of honor,
And commanded him to be given a royal cup
Filled to the brim with princely jewels,
And a quantity of money, and a charger and a saddle,
And dismissed him from the Presence overwhelmed with praises.
ZAL AND RUDABEH.
"Zal, recovered from the care of the Simurgh and arrived at manhood, is
sent to govern the frontier province of Zabul; the adjoining province of
Kabul, though tributary to the Persian emperor, being governed by its own
king, called Mihrab. This episode commences with a visit which Mihrab pays
to Zal, who receives him with distinguished honor, entertains him at a
sumptuous banquet, and they separate with mutual respect."
Then a chief of the great ones around him
Said: "O thou, the hero of the world,
This Mihrab hath a daughter behind the veil,
Whose face is more resplendent than the sun;
From head to foot pure as ivory,
With a cheek like the spring, and in stature like the teak-tree.
Upon her silver shoulders descend two musky tresses,
Which, like nooses, fetter the captive;
Her lip is like the pomegranate, and her cheek like its flower;
Her eyes resemble the narcissus in the garden;
Her eyelashes have borrowed the blackness of the raven;
Her eyebrows are arched like a fringed bow.
Wouldst thou behold the mild radiance of the moon? Look upon her
Wouldst thou inhale delightful odors? She is all fragrance!
She is altogether a paradise of sweets,
Decked with all grace, all music, all thou canst desire!
She would be fitting for thee, O warrior of the world;
She is as the heavens above to such as we are."
When Zal heard this description,
His love leaped to the lovely maiden:
His heart boiled over with the heat of passion,
So that understanding and rest departed from him.
Night came, but he sat groaning, and buried in thought,
And a prey to sorrow for the not-yet-seen.
_On returning from a second visit, Mihrab describes Zal to his wife and
his daughter Rudabeh._
"O beautiful silver-bosomed cypress,
In the wide world not one of the heroes
Will come up to the measure of Zal!
In the pictured palace men will never behold the image
Of a warrior so strong, or so firm in the saddle.
He hath the heart of a lion, the power of an elephant,
And the strength of his arm is as the rush of the Nile.
When he sitteth on the throne, he scattereth gold before him;
In the battle, the heads of his enemies.
His cheek is as ruddy as the flower of the arghavan;
Young in years, all alive, and the favorite of fortune;
And though his hair is white as though with age,
Yet in his bravery he could tear to pieces the water-serpent.
"He rageth in the conflict with the fury of the crocodile,
He fighteth in the saddle like a sharp-fanged dragon.
In his wrath he staineth the earth with blood,
As he wieldeth his bright scimitar around him.
And though his hair is as white as is a fawn's,
In vain would the fault-finder seek another defect!
Nay, the whiteness of his hair even becometh him;
Thou wouldst say that he is born to beguile all hearts!"
When Rudabeh heard this description,
Her heart was set on fire, and her cheek crimsoned like the pomegranate.
Her whole soul was filled with the love of Zal,
And food, and peace, and quietude were driven far from her.
_After a time Rudabeh resolves to reveal her passion to her attendants._
Then she said to her prudent slaves:
"I will discover what I have hitherto concealed;
Ye are each of you the depositaries of my secrets,
My attendants, and the partners of my griefs.
I am agitated with love like the raging ocean,
Whose billows are heaved to the sky.
My once bright heart is filled with the love of Zal;
My sleep is broken with thoughts of him.
My soul is perpetually filled with my passion;
Night and day my thoughts dwell upon his countenance.
"Not one except yourselves knoweth my secret;
Ye, my affectionate and faithful servants,
What remedy can ye now devise for my ease?
What will ye do for me? What promise will ye give me?
Some remedy ye must devise,
To free my heart and soul from this unhappiness."
Astonishment seized the slaves,
That dishonor should come nigh the daughter of kings.
In the anxiety of their hearts they started from their seats,
And all gave answer with one voice:
"O crown of the ladies of the earth!
Maiden pre-eminent amongst the pre-eminent!
Whose praise is spread abroad from Hindustan to China;
The resplendent ring in the circle of the harem;
Whose stature surpasseth every cypress in the garden;
Whose cheek rivalleth the lustre of the Pleiades;
Whose picture is sent by the ruler of Kanuj
Even to the distant monarchs of the West--
Have you ceased to be modest in your own eyes?
Have you lost all reverence for your father,
That whom his own parent cast from his bosom,
Him will you receive into yours?
A man who was nurtured by a bird in the mountains!
A man who was a by-word amongst the people!
You--with your roseate countenance and musky tresses--
Seek a man whose hair is already white with age!
You--who have filled the world with admiration,
Whose portrait hangeth in every palace,
And whose beauty, and ringlets, and stature are such
That you might draw down a husband from the skies!"
_To this remonstrance she makes the following indignant answer:_
When Rudabeh heard their reply,
Her heart blazed up like fire before the wind.
She raised her voice in anger against them,
Her face flushed, but she cast down her eyes.
After a time, grief and anger mingled in her countenance,
And knitting her brows with passion, she exclaimed:
"O unadvised and worthless counsellors,
It was not becoming in me to ask your advice!
Were my eye dazzled by a star,
How could it rejoice to gaze even upon the moon?
He who is formed of worthless clay will not regard the rose,
Although the rose is in nature more estimable than clay!
I wish not for Caesar, nor Emperor of China,
Nor for any one of the tiara-crowned monarchs of Iran;
The son of Saum, Zal, alone is my equal,
With his lion-like limbs, and arms, and shoulders.
You may call him, as you please, an old man, or a young;
To me, he is in the room of heart and of soul.
Except him never shall any one have a place in my heart;
Mention not to me any one except him.
Him hath my love chosen unseen,
Yea, hath chosen him only from description.
For him is my affection, not for face or hair;
And I have sought his love in the way of honor."
_The slaves speak_.
"May hundreds of thousands such as we are be a sacrifice for thee;
May the wisdom of the creation be thy worthy portion;
May thy dark narcissus-eye be ever full of modesty;
May thy cheek be ever tinged with bashfulness!
If it be necessary to learn the art of the magician,
To sew up the eyes with the bands of enchantment,
We will fly till we surpass the enchanter's bird,
We will run like the deer in search of a remedy.
Perchance we may draw the King nigh unto his moon,
And place him securely at thy side."
The vermil lip of Rudabeh was filled with smiles;
She turned her saffron-tinted countenance toward the slave, and said:
"If thou shalt bring this matter to a happy issue,
Thou hast planted for thyself a stately and fruitful tree,
Which every day shall bear rubies for its fruit,
And shall pour that fruit into thy lap."
_The slaves arrange an interview between the lovers_.
Then said the elegant cypress-formed lady to her maidens:
"Other than this were once your words and your counsel!
Is this then the Zal, the nursling of a bird?
This the old man, white-haired and withered?
Now his cheek is ruddy as the flower of the arghavan;
His stature is tall, his face beautiful, his presence lordly!
Ye have exalted my charms before him;
Ye have spoken and made me a bargain!"
She said, and her lips were full of smiles,
But her cheek crimsoned like the bloom of pomegranate.
_The interview takes place in a private pavilion of the princess._
When from a distance the son of the valiant Saum
Became visible to the illustrious maiden,
She opened her gem-like lips, and exclaimed:
"Welcome, thou brave and happy youth!
The blessing of the Creator of the world be upon thee;
On him who is the father of a son like thee!
May destiny ever favor thy wishes!
May the vault of heaven be the ground thou walkest on!
The dark night is turned into day by thy countenance;
The world is soul-enlivened by the fragrance of thy presence!
Thou hast travelled hither on foot from thy palace;
Thou hast pained, to behold me, thy royal footsteps!"
When the hero heard the voice from the battlement,
He looked up and beheld a face resplendent as the sun,
Irradiating the terrace like a flashing jewel,
And brightening the ground like a naming ruby.
Then he replied: "O thou who sheddest the mild radiance of the moon,
The blessing of Heaven, and mine, be upon thee!
How many nights hath cold Arcturus beholden me,
Uttering my cry to God, the Pure,
And beseeching the Lord of the universe,
That he would vouchsafe to unveil thy countenance before me!
Now I am made joyful in hearing thy voice,
In listening to thy rich and gracious accents.
But seek, I pray thee, some way to thy presence;
For what converse can we hold, I on the ground, and thou on the
The Peri-faced maiden heard the words of the hero;
Quickly she unbound her auburn locks,
Coil upon coil, and serpent upon serpent;
And she stooped and dropped down the tresses from the battlement,
And cried: "O hero, child of heroes,
Take now these tresses, they belong to thee,
And I have cherished them that they might prove an aid to my beloved."
And Zal gazed upward at the lovely maiden,
And stood amazed at the beauty of her hair and of her countenance;
He covered the musky ringlets with his kisses,
And his bride heard the kisses from above.
Then he exclaimed: "That would not be right--
May the bright sun never shine on such a day!
It were to lay my hand on the life of one already distracted;
It were to plunge the arrow-point into my own wounded bosom."
Then he took his noose from his boy, and made a running knot,
And threw it, and caught it on the battlement,
And held his breath, and at one bound
Sprang from the ground, and reached the summit.
As soon as the hero stood upon the terrace,
The Peri-faced maiden ran to greet him,
And took the hand of the hero in her own,
And they went like those who are overcome with wine.
Then he descended from the lofty gallery,
His hand in the hand of the tall princess,
And came to the door of the gold-painted pavilion,
And entered that royal assembly,
Which blazed with light like the bowers of Paradise;
And the slaves stood like houris before them:
And Zal gazed in astonishment
On her face, and her hair, and her stately form, and on all that
And Zal was seated in royal pomp
Opposite that mildly-radiant beauty;
And Rudabeh could not rest from looking towards him,
And gazing upon him with all her eyes;
On that arm, and shoulder, and that splendid figure,
On the brightness of that soul-enlightening countenance;
So that the more and more she looked
The more and more was her heart inflamed.
Then he kissed and embraced her, renewing his vows--
Can the lion help pursuing the wild ass?--
And said: "O sweet and graceful silver-bosomed maiden,
It may not be, that, both of noble lineage,
We should do aught unbecoming our birth;
For from Saum Nariman I received an admonition.
To do no unworthy deed, lest evil should come of it;
For better is the seemly than the unseemly,
That which is lawful than that which is forbidden.
And I fear that Manuchahar, when he shall hear of this affair,
Will not be inclined to give it his approval;
I fear, too, that Saum will exclaim against it,
And will boil over with passion, and lay his hand upon me.
Yet, though soul and body are precious to all men,
Life will I resign, and clothe myself with a shroud--
And this I swear by the righteous God--
Ere I will break the faith which I have pledged thee.
I will bow myself before Him, and offer my adoration,
And supplicate Him as those who worship Him in truth,
That He will cleanse the heart of Saum, king of the earth,
From opposition, and rage, and rancor.
Perhaps the Creator of the world may listen to my prayer,
And thou mayest yet be publicly proclaimed my wife."
And Rudabeh said: "And I also, in the presence of the righteous God,
Take the same pledge, and swear to thee my faith;
And He who created the world be witness to my words,
That no one but the hero of the world,
The throned, the crowned, the far-famed Zal,
Will I ever permit to be sovereign over me."
So their love every moment became greater;
Prudence was afar, and passion was predominant,
Till the gray dawn began to show itself,
And the drum to be heard from the royal pavilion.
Then Zal bade adieu to the fair one;
His soul was darkened, and his bosom on fire,
And the eyes of both were filled with tears;
And they lifted up their voices against the sun:
"O glory of the universe, why come so quick?
Couldst thou not wait one little moment"
Then Zal cast his noose on a pinnacle,
And descended from those happy battlements,
As the sun was rising redly above the mountains,
And the bands of warriors were gathering in their ranks.
THE POEM OF THE CID.
Rodrigo Ruy Diaz, El Cid Campeador, was born near Burgos, in Spain, about
1040. The name Cid was given him by the Moors, and means lord. Campeador
Ruy Diaz was the trusty lord of Sancho, King of Castile, who at his death
divided his kingdom among his children. He then espoused the cause of the
eldest son, Sancho, and assisted him in wresting their portion of the
kingdom from his brothers Garcia and Alfonso. Sancho having been
treacherously slain while besieging his sister Urraca's town of Zamora,
the Cid attached himself to Alfonso, humiliating him, however, by making
him and his chief lords swear that they had had no hand in Sancho's death.
For this, Alfonso revenged himself by exiling the Cid on the slightest
pretexts, recalling him only when his services were needed in the defence
of the country.
This much, and the Cid's victories over the Moors, his occupation of
Valencia, and his army's departure therefrom in 1102, led by his corpse
seated on horseback, "clothed in his habit as he lived", are historical
A great mass of romances, among them the story of his slaying Count Don
Gomez because he had insulted his father, Diego Laynez; of Don Gomez's
daughter Ximena wooing and wedding him; of his assisting the leper and
having his future success foretold by him, and of his embalmed body
sitting many years in the cathedral at Toledo, are related in the
"Chronicle of the Cid" and the "Ballads."
The Poem of the Cid narrates only a portion of his career, and "if it had
been named," says Ormsby, "would have been called 'The Triumph of the
The Poem of the Cid was written about 1200 A. D. Its authorship is
It contains three thousand seven hundred and forty-five lines, and is
divided into two cantares. The versification is careless; when rhyme
hampered the poet he dropped it, and used instead the assonant rhyme.
The Poem of the Cid is of peculiar interest because it belongs to the very
dawn of our modern literature, and because its hero was evidently a real
personage, a portion of whose history was recorded in this epic not long
after the events took place. The Cid is one of the most simple and natural
of the epic heroes; he has all a man's weaknesses, and it is difficult to
repress a smile at the perfectly natural manner in which, while he
slaughters enough Moors to secure himself a place in the heavenly kingdom,
he takes good care to lay up gold for the enjoyment of life on earth. The
poem is told with the greatest simplicity, naturalness, and directness, as
well as with much poetic fire.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM, THE CID.
Robert Southey's Chronicle of the Cid. . . . Appendix contains Poetry of
the Cid by J. H. Frere, 1808, new ed., 1845;
Matthew Arnold's Poem of the Cid, MacMillan, 1871, vol. xxiv., pp.
George Dennio's The Cid: A short Chronicle founded on the early Poetry of
Butler Clarke's The Cid (in his Spanish Literature, 1893, pp. 46-53);
E. E. Hale and Susan Hale's The Cid (in their Story of Spain, 1893, pp.
Stanley Lane Poole's The Cid (in his Story of the Moors in Spain, 1891,
Sismondi's Poem of the Cid (in his Literature of the South of Europe,
1884, vol. ii., pp. 95-140);
George Ticknor's Poem of the Cid (in his History of Spanish Literature,
ed. 6, 1893, vol. i., pp. 12-26);
W. T. Dobson's Classic Poets, (1879, pp. 35-138);
J. G. von Herder's Der Cid, nach spanischen Romanzen besungen (in his
works, 1852, vol. xiv.), translated.
STANDARD ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS, THE POEM OF THE CID.
The Poem of the Cid, Tr. by John Ormsby, 1879;
Translations from the Poem of the Cid by John Hookam Frere (in his works,
1872, vol. ii., p. 409);
Ballads of the Cid, Tr. by Lewis Gerard, 1883;
Ancient Spanish Ballads, Tr. by John Gibson Lockhart, 1823.
THE STORY OF THE POEM OF THE CID.
Tears stood in the eyes of the Cid as he looked at his pillaged castle.
The coffers were empty, even the falcons were gone from their perches.
"Cruel wrong do I suffer from mine enemy!" he exclaimed as they rode into
Burgos. "Alvar Fanez, of a truth we are banished men."
From the windows of Burgos town the burghers and their dames looked down
with tearful eyes upon the Cid and his sixty lances. "Would that his lord
were worthy of him," said they.
He rode up to the gates of his house in Burgos; the king's seal was upon
them. "My lord," cried a damsel from an upper casement, "thy goods are
forfeited to the king, and he has forbidden that we open door or shelter
thee upon pain of forfeiture of our goods, yea, even of our sight!"
Little hope then had the Cid of mercy from King Alfonso; and sooner than
bring suffering on his beloved people of Burgos he betook himself without
the city and sat him down to think of what to do. "Martin Antolinez," said
he, "I have no money with which to pay my troops. Thou must help me to get
it, and if I live I will repay thee double."
Then the two together fashioned two stout chests covered with red leather
and studded with gilt nails, and these they filled with sand. Then Martin
Antolinez without delay sought out the money lenders, Rachel and Vidas,
and bargained with them to lend the Cid six hundred marks, and take in
pawn for them the two chests filled with treasure that he dared not at
that time take away with him. For a year they were to keep the chests and
pledge themselves not to look in them. Glad were the hearts of the money
lenders as they lifted the heavy chests, and happy was the Cid when he saw
the six hundred marks counted out before him.
Seeking the monastery of San Pedro de Cardena, the Cid embraced his wife
Ximena and his two daughters, and left them in the protection of the
abbot, to whom he promised recompense. Hard was the pain of parting as
when the finger nail is torn away from the flesh, but a banished man has
no choice. And as they passed the night at Higeruela a sweet vision
promising success comforted the Cid in his slumbers; and many from
Castile, who heard of the departure of the hero, sought his banners to
better their fortune.
Next day the Cid and his men took Castejon and sold the spoil to the Moors
of Hita and Guadalajara, and then my Cid passed on and planted himself
upon a lofty and strong hill opposite Alcocer, and levied tribute upon the
neighboring peoples. When he had so besieged Alcocer for fifteen weeks he
took it by stratagem, and Pero Bermuez, the slow of speech, planted his
standard on the highest part. When the King of Valencia heard of this, he
determined to capture my Cid, and accordingly sent three thousand Moors to
lay siege to Alcocer.
When the water was cut off and bread became scarce, the six hundred
Spanish men, acting upon the advice of Minaya, took the field against the
three thousand Moors; and such was the valor of him that in a good hour
was born, and of his standard bearer, Pero Bermuez, and of the good
Minaya, that the Moors fell to the ground three hundred at a time, their
shields shivered, their mail riven, their white pennons red with blood.
"Thanks be to God for victory!" said the Cid. In the Moorish king's camp
was found great spoil,--shields, arms, and horses. Greatly the Christians
rejoiced, for to them fell much spoil, and but fifteen of their men were
missing. Even to the Moors my Cid gave some of his spoil, and from his
share of one hundred horses he sent by Minaya thirty, saddled and bridled,
with as many swords hung at the saddle bows, to King Alfonso. Also he sent
by him a wallet of gold and silver for his wife and daughters, and to pay
for a thousand Masses at Burgos.
Alfonso was well pleased to receive this token. "It is too soon to take
him into favor, but I will accept his present, and I am glad he won the
victory. Minaya, I pardon thee; go to the Cid and say that I will permit
any valiant man who so desires to follow him."
Upon the hill now called the hill of the Cid, he who girt on the sword in
a good hour, took up his abode and levied tribute on the people for
fifteen weeks. But when he saw that Minaya's return was delayed, he went
even unto Saragossa, levying tribute and doing much damage, insomuch that
the Count of Barcelona, Raymond de Berenger, was provoked into making an
assault upon him in the Pine Wood of Bivar, where he was ingloriously
defeated and taken prisoner. The count was the more shamed at this because
my Cid had sent him a friendly message, saying that he did not want to
fight him, since he owed him no grudge. When Count Raymond had given up
his precious sword, the great Colada, the good one of Bivar endeavored to
make friends with his prisoner, but to no avail. The count refused meat
and drink, and was determined to die, until the Cid assured him that as
soon as he ate a hearty meal he should go free. Then he departed joyfully
from the camp, fearing even to the last lest the Cid should change his
mind, a thing the perfect one never would have done.
Cheered by this conquest, the Cid turned to Valencia, and met a great
Moorish army, which was speedily defeated, the Cid's numbers having been
greatly increased by men who flocked to him from Spain. Two Moorish kings
were slain, and the survivors were pursued even to Valencia. Then my Cid
sat down before the city for nine months, and in the tenth month Valencia
surrendered. The spoil--who could count it? All were rich who accompanied
the Cid, and his fifth was thirty thousand marks in money, besides much
other spoil. And my Cid's renown spread throughout Spain. Wonderful was he
to look upon, for his beard had grown very long. For the love of King
Alfonso, who had banished him, he said it should never be cut, nor a hair
of it be plucked, and it should be famous among Moors and Christians. Then
he again called Minaya to him, and to King Alfonso sent a hundred horses,
with the request that his wife and daughters might be allowed to join him.
Also he sent him word that he had been joined by a good bishop, Don
Jerome, and had created for him a bishopric.
Now were the enemies of the good one of Bivar incensed in proportion as
the king was pleased with this noble gift. And when the king silenced the
envious ones, and ordered an escort for Ximena and her daughters, and
treated Minaya with consideration, the Infantes of Carrion talked
together, commenting on the growing importance of my Cid. "It would better
our fortunes to marry his daughters, but they are below us in rank." And
so saying they sent their salutations to the Cid.
The Cid met his wife and daughters on his new horse, Babieca, the wonder
of all Spain, and great was his joy to clasp them again in his arms. And
he took them up in the highest part of Valencia, and their bright eyes
looked over the city and the sea, and they all thanked God for giving them
so fair a prize.
When winter was past and spring had come, the King of Morocco crossed the
sea to Valencia with fifty thousand men, and pitched his tents before the
city. Then the Cid took his wife and daughters up in the Alcazar, and
showed them the vast army. "They bring a gift for us, a dowry against the
marriage of our daughters. Because ye are here, with God's help, I shall
win the battle."
He went forth on the good Babieca; four thousand less thirty followed him
to attack the fifty thousand Moors. The Cid's arms dripped with blood to
the elbow; the Moors he slew could not be counted. King Yucef himself he
smote three times, and only the swiftness of the horse he rode saved the
king from death. All fled who were not slain, leaving the spoil behind.
Three thousand marks of gold and silver were found there, and the other
spoil was countless. Then my Cid ordered Minaya and Pero Bermuez to take
to Alfonso the great tent of the King of Morocco, and two hundred horses.
And the king was greatly pleased, and the Infantes of Carrion, counselling
together, said, "The fame of the Cid grows greater; let us ask his
daughters in marriage." And the king gave their request to Minaya and
Bermuez, who were to bear it to the Cid.
Said my Cid, when he heard the proposal: "The Infantes of Carrion are
haughty, and have a faction in court. I have no taste for the match; but
since my king desires it, I will be silent."
When the king heard his answer, he appointed a meeting, and when he that
in a good hour was born saw his king, he fell at his feet to pay him
homage. But the king said: "Here do I pardon you, and grant you my love
from this day forth."
The next day when the king presented to the Cid the offer of the Infantes,
my Cid replied: "My daughters are not of marriageable age, but I and they
are in your hands. Give them as it pleases you." Then the king
commissioned Alvar Fanez to act for him and give the daughters of my Cid
to the Infantes.
The Cid hastened home to prepare for the wedding. The palace was
beautifully decorated with hangings of purple and samite. Rich were the
garments of the Infantes, and meek their behavior in the presence of my
Cid. The couples were wedded by the Bishop Don Jerome, and the wedding
festivities lasted for fifteen days. And for wellnigh two years the Cid
and his sons-in-law abode happily in Valencia.
One day while my Cid was lying asleep in his palace, a lion broke loose
from its cage, and all the court were sore afraid. The Cid's followers
gathered around his couch to protect him; but Ferran Gonzalez crept
beneath the couch, crying from fear, and Diego ran into the court and
threw himself across a wine-press beam, so that he soiled his mantle. The
Cid, awakened by the noise, arose, took the lion by the mane, and dragged
him to his cage, to the astonishment of all present. Then my Cid asked for
his sons-in-law, and when they were found, pale and frightened, the whole
court laughed at them until my Cid bade them cease. And the Infantes were
While they were still sulking over their injuries, King Bucar of Morocco
beleagured Valencia with fifty thousand tents. The Cid and his barons
rejoiced at the thought of battle; but the Infantes were sore afraid, for
they were cowards, and feared to be slain in battle. The Cid told them to
remain in Valencia; but stung by shame they went forth with Bermuez, who
reported that both had fleshed their swords in battle with the Moor.
Great was the slaughter of the Moors on that field. Alvar Fanez, Minaya,
and the fighting bishop came back dripping with gore, and as for my Cid,
he slew King Bucar himself, and brought home the famous sword, Tizon,
worth full a thousand marks in gold.
The Infantes, still wrathful at their humiliation, talked apart: "Let us
take our wealth and our wives and return to Carrion. Once away from the
Campeador, we will punish his daughters, so that we shall hear no more of
the affair of the lion. With the wealth we have gained from the Cid we can
now wed whom we please."
Sore was the heart of the Cid when he heard of their determination; but he
gave them rich gifts, and also the priceless swords Colada and Tizon. "I
won them in knightly fashion," said he, "and I give them to you, for ye
are my sons, since I gave you my daughters; in them ye take the core of my
heart." He ordered Feliz Munoz, his nephew, to accompany them as an
escort, and sent them by way of Molina to salute his friend, Abengalvon
The Moor received them in great state, and escorted them as far as the
Salon; but when he overheard the Infantes plotting to destroy him, and
seize his substance, he left them in anger. At night the Infantes pitched
their tents in an oak forest full of tall trees, among which roamed fierce
beasts. During the night they made a great show of love to their wives,
and the next morning ordered the escort to go on, saying that they would
follow alone. As soon as they were alone they stripped the daughters of
the Cid of their garments, beat them with their saddle-girths and spurs,
and left them for dead in the wild forest. "Now we are avenged for the
dishonor of the lion," said they, as they departed for Carrion. But Feliz
Munoz, who had suspected the Infantes, had gone forward but a little way,
and then crept back, so that from a thicket he perceived the sufferings of
his cousins. Straightway he went to their rescue, found them clothes, and
helped them home again.
When the Cid heard of this insult to himself and his daughters, he grasped
his beard and swore a mighty oath that the Infantes would rue the day when
they had thus offended him. All of the Cid's friends strove to comfort the
ladies Elvira and Sol, and Abengalvon the Moor made them a rich supper for
love of the Cid.
At the request of my Cid, King Alfonso summoned a Cortes at Toledo, to try
the cause of the Cid and the Infantes. Thither went the Cid, richly clad,
so that all men wondered at his rich garments, his long hair in a scarlet
and gold coif, and his uncut beard bound up with cords. He and his hundred
men wore bright hauberks under their ermines, and trenchant swords under
their mantles, for they feared treachery.
The king appointed some of his counts as judges, and announced that he
held this, the third Cortes of his reign, for the love of the Cid. Then my
Cid stood forth.
"I am not dishonored because the Infantes deserted my daughters," said the
Cid, "for the king gave them away, not I; but I demand my swords, Colada
and Tizon. When my lords of Carrion gave up my daughters they relinquished
all claims to my property."
The Infantes, well pleased that he demanded no more, returned the swords;
and when the blades were unsheathed and placed in the hands of the king,
the eyes of the court were dazzled by their brightness.
The Cid presented Tizon to his nephew and Colada to Martin Antolinez.
"Now, my king, I have another grievance. I now demand that the Infantes
restore the three thousand marks in gold and silver they carried from
Valencia. When they ceased to be my sons-in-law they ceased to own my
gold." Then the Infantes were troubled, for they had spent the money; but
the judges gave them no relief, and they were forced to pay it out of
their heritage of Carrion.
"So please your grace," said the Cid, "still another grievance, the
greatest of all, I have yet to state. I hold myself dishonored by the
Infantes. Redress by combat they must yield, for I will take no other."
The Count Garcia ridiculed the Cid's claim. "The noble lords of Carrion
are of princely birth; your daughters are not fitting mates for them."
Then, while his enemies were taunting him and the court broke into an
uproar, the Cid called on Pero Bermuez, "Dumb Peter," to speak.
When Pero spoke he made himself clear. For the first time he told how like
a craven Ferrando had demeaned himself in battle, and how he himself had
slain the Moor on whom the prince had turned his back. He also reminded
Ferrando of the affair of the lion. When Diego attempted to speak, he was
silenced by Martin Antolinez, who told of the figure he cut when he clung
to the wine-press beam in an agony of fear, on the day the lion came forth
from its cage. Then the king, commanding silence, gave them permission to
fight. Martin Antolinez engaged to meet Diego, Pero Bermuez was to combat
with Ferrando, and Muno Gustioz challenged the brawler, Assur Gonzalez. It
was agreed that the combat should be held at the end of three weeks in the
vega of Carrion.
When all had been arranged to his satisfaction, the Cid took off his coif,
and released his beard, and all the court wondered at him. Then he offered
some of his wealth to all present, and, kissing the king's hand, besought
him to take Babieca. But this the king refused to do: "Babieca is for the
like of you to keep the Moors off with. If I took him he would not have so
good a lord."
When the day for the combat arrived, the king himself went to Carrion to
see that no treachery was used, and he said to the Infantes: "Ye have need
to fight like men. If ye come out successful, ye will receive great honor.
If ye are vanquished, the fault will be on your own heads. Seek to do no
wrong; woe betide him who attempts it!"
Then the marshals placed the contestants in the lists and left them face
to face. Each with his gaze fixed on the other, they rushed together and
met midway of the lists.
At the thrust of Pero's Lance, Ferrando fell from his horse and yielded,
as he saw the dread Tizon held over him. At the same time Diego fled from
the sword of Martin Antolinez, and Muno Gustioz's lance pierced Assur
Gonzalez, who begged him to hold his hand, since the Infantes were
Thus the battle was won, and Don Roderick's champions gained the victory.
Great was the sorrow in the house of Carrion; but he who wrongs a noble
lady deserves such suffering.
Rejoiced were they of Valencia when the champions brought home these
tidings, and ere long, favored by Alfonso himself, the princes of Navarre
and Aragon wooed my Cid's daughters, and were married to them with the
most splendid nuptials. Now was the Cid happy, and happier still he grew
as his honor increased, until upon the feast of Pentecost he passed away.
The grace of Christ be upon him!
SELECTIONS FROM THE POEM OF THE CID.
COUNT RAYMOND AND MY CID.
After one of the victories over the Moors won by the Cid after his
banishment by King Alfonso, he despatched a messenger to the king with a
gift of thirty horses, and while awaiting his return, encamped in the
Pine-wood of Tebar and levied tribute on the surrounding country. This
information was conveyed to the Count of Barcelona, Raymond Berenger, who
prepared to march against the intruder.
Great mustering there is of Moors and Christians through the land,
A mighty host of men-at-arms he hath at his command.
Two days, three nights, they march to seek the Good One of Bivar,
To snare him where he harbors in the Pine-wood of Tebar;
And such the speed of their advance, that, cumbered with his spoils,
And unaware, my Cid wellnigh was taken in the toils.
The tidings reached my Cid as down the sierra side he went,
Then straightway to Count Raymond be a friendly message sent:
"Say to the count that he, meseems, to me no grudge doth owe:
Of him I take no spoil, with him in peace I fain would go."
"Nay," said the count, "for all his deeds he hath to make amends:
This outlaw must be made to know whose honor he offends."
With utmost speed the messenger Count Raymond's answer brought;
Then of a surety knew my Cid a battle must be fought.
"Now, cavaliers," quoth he, "make safe the booty we have won.
Look to your weapons, gentlemen; with speed your armor don.
On battle bent Count Raymond comes; a mighty host hath he
Of Moors and Christians; fight we must if hence we would go free.
Here let us fight our battle out, since fight we must perforce.
On with your harness, cavaliers, quick saddle, and to horse!
Yonder they come, the linen breeks, all down the mountain side,
For saddles they have Moorish pads, with slackened girths they ride:
Our saddles are Galician make, our leggings tough and stout:
A hundred of us gentlemen should scatter such a rout.
Before they gain the level plain, home with the lance charge we,
And then, for every blow we strike, we empty saddles three.
Count Raymond Berenger shall know with whom he has to do;
And dearly in Tebar to-day his raid on me shall rue."
In serried squadron while he speaks they form around my Cid.
Each grasps his lance, and firm and square each sits upon his steed.
Over against them down the hill they watch the Franks descend,
On to the level ground below, where plain and mountain blend.
Then gives my Cid the word to charge--with a good will they go:
Fast ply the lances; some they pierce, and some they overthrow.
And he that in a good hour was born soon hath he won the field;
And the Count Raymond Berenger he hath compelled to yield;
And reaping honor for his beard a noble prize hath made:
A thousand marks of silver worth, the great Colada blade.
Unto his quarters under guard the captive count he sent,
While his men haste to gather in their spoils in high content.
Then for my Cid Don Roderick a banquet they prepare;
But little doth Count Raymond now for feast or banquet care.
They bring him meat and drink, but he repels them with disdain.
"No morsel will I touch," said he, "for all the wealth of Spain.
Let soul and body perish now; life why should I prolong,
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