Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Teaching El Cid

Today I'm teaching Spain's only surviving epic poem about the Medieval hero named el Cid. There is this touching passage where el Cid is saying good-bye to his beloved wife and two little daughters. I'm still kind of weak from my sickness, so I found it hard not to cry in class while I was reading the following passage to the students:
The Cid, the nobly bearded, reached down unto the twain,

And in his arms his daughters has lifted up again,
And to his heart he pressed them, so great his love was grown,
And his tears fell fast and bitter, and sorely did he moan:
"Ximena as mine own spirit I loved thee, gentle wife;
But o'er well dost thou behold it, we must sunder in our life.
I must flee and thou behind me here in the land must stay.
Please God and sweet Saint Mary that yet upon a day
I shall give my girls in marriage with mine own hand rich and well,
And thereafter in good fortune be suffered yet to dwell,
May they grant me, wife, much honored, to serve thee then once more."
I still have another section of this course to teach later today. So we'll see how it goes. I don't want to scare students with a highly emotional response to readings so early in the semester.


KT said...

I believe there's a movie about this character. I didn't manage to see it. It was in Spanish :(

Clarissa said...

Of course, as usual, I had no idea a movie existed.

Richard said...

Actually the late actor Charlton Heston stared in a Hollywood production titled “El Cid” that I think came out in the 70’s or 80’s. I didn’t see the movie, but suspect Heston couldn’t come anywhere close to expressing the depth of emotion expressed by this poem.
It is unfortunate that the legend of El Cid has tended to over shadow the 400 years of border wars and crusading campaigns that fall under the rubric of “La Rconquista” and that ended with the conquest of Grenada. Spain began the period as a collection principalities and fiefdoms and ended as a strong unified kingdom. How this came about is an interesting story in its own right. Of course there was a dark side to all this. The reunification of Spain was followed by a terrible religious persecution of converted Muslims and Spanish Jews not to mention the horrific exploitation of Native Americans in the Spanish new world empire.

No es oro todo lo que reluce

Anonymous said...

Last year, I almost burst into tears analyzing FRAY BARTOLOME DE LAS CASA and SOR JUANA INES DE LA CRUZ in class! What is wrong with me???


Last semester, El Cid was the literary text my students liked the less in my Spanish lit. course. It is not the Cid's fault but mine. I should try to make this literary text more appealing next time. Perhaps using this particular passage.

But it is so hard to teach a literary text you do not really get. (Yes... El Cid is not my thing:)


Izgad said...

Charlton did not do a bad job if you like that classical Hollywood heroic style of actig.
The important lesson of El Cid; Muslims are at least honorable, but Jews can be robbed with impunity. :p

KT said...

I have to attempt to see the movie again. We had it at home for several years and I remember always getting out of it after the first few minutes because it was in Spanish.