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

By Brian Powell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6

FINAL CONCLUSION

Most of the chapters of this study, with the exception of the first, have their own conclusions. Consequently, this final conclusion will be relatively brief. Its purpose is to bring together the threads of what has been said in each of the preceding chapters, so that the juxtaposition of this material may shed more light on all aspects of it.

The PMC was composed in the early years of the thirteenth century, possibly in the year 1207 and possibly by a poet named Per Abbat. Both this name and this date are found on the only extant manuscript of the poem, which is, however, a copy made in the fourteenth century. The story told in the PMC presupposes a well developed legendary tradition dealing with this period of the Cid's life. The way in which the tale is told assumes that the audience for which the poem was intended were familiar with such a tradition. Both these facts show that stories about the Cid existed, and that such stories circulated widely in the period around one hundred years after his death, and before the poem was composed. Such wide circulation means that these stories were found principally in the vernacular. Moreover, the skilful and varied linguistic, stylistic, and artistic techniques which are employed in the PMC demonstrate that there was an existing tradition of vernacular narrative poetry within which such techniques had been developed and refined to the point at which the poet of the PMC could use them with familiar ease, and probably adapt them and refine them further for the purposes of his own poetic art.

The stories about the life of the Cid other than the PMC that circulated during the century or so after the hero's death are known to us, imperfectly, in texts of the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Although most of these texts are Latin chronicles, they record a varied tradition of stories rather than one fixed legend passed on from one to another. A number of these stories must have been transmitted in poems belonging to the vernacular epic tradition, a tradition which included oral works, and which possibly spawned a written genre too. The PMC, unless it is unique, would obviously belong to the latter, whilst it certainly bears marks of the influence of the former. As far as the content of the poem is concerned, the evidence of the other texts suggests that elements of the story it tells are adopted from general Cidian tradition, but that

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