Epic and Chronicle: The Poema de Mio Cid and the Craonica de Veinte Reyes

By Brian Powell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5

THE REPRESENTATION OF THE POEMA DE MIO CID IN
THE CRÓNICA DE VEINTE REYES

The purpose of this chapter is to study the accuracy of the representation of the extant PMC in the CVR; to examine how far the exact information in the CVR agrees with that in the PMC, and the extent to which the chroniclers introduced distortions of the poetic content into their prose redaction. It will be seen that the composers of the account found in the CVR were selective in what they chose to include from the PMC. Their approach and their methods involved a systematic overall reduction of the poem's content for the prose version. The chroniclers had less interest in certain categories of topics, such as descriptions of clothing and the Cid with his family, than in others, such as battles and the Cid and Alfonso VI. Every episode that was included went through a process of pruning, in which half-lines, whole lines, or groups of lines were omitted by the chronicle, while others were prosified closely; or whole episodes were reduced to summaries of their poetic content, in which individual lines are hard to identify. The result of all this is that some sections of the PMC are well reproduced in the CVR, while others are severely curtailed. 1 On the other side of the coin, when they did prosify the PMC closely, the chroniclers were often obliged to expand colloquial, elliptical, or densely expressed parts of the poem in order to convey their meaning in prose. In addition, they added comments or information on their own accounts, to clarify events, to explain the motivations of the personages, or to add rhetorical adornment, and they introduced changes to the exact content of the poem, by, for example, altering the roles of some of the persons, and reordering series of lines to improve the logic of the narrative flow. In the past, many of these additions and changes to the content of the PMC have been used to emend the PMC, on the basis that they have their origin in a more perfect form of the PMC which was known to the CVR (or to the PCG in most studies). I shall argue, however, that the vast majority of them are explicable in terms of the chroniclers' own methods. They are the result of interference with the poem's content during the prosification. Admittedly, there are a small number of cases, where differences of factual detail are involved, for which the chroniclers are unlikely to be responsible. These cases will be discussed, of course, in this chapter. 2

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