Medieval Spanish Epic

Mythic Roots and Ritual Language

By (author) Thomas Montgomery

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

27 May 2008

Length of book:

184 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271028248

This book takes a new look at the place occupied by medieval Spanish epic within European folk and literary tradition. Thomas Montgomery traces the origins of key parts of most known medieval Spanish epics to an ancient myth. He shows how the myth of the initiation of the young warrior, shown by Georges Dumézil to be fundamental to the belief systems of widely distributed Indo-European peoples, was variously adapted to shape the action of texts including the Siete Infantes de Lara, the Mocedades de Rodrigo, and the Poema de Mio Cid, in which it accounts for the peculiar behavior of the Infantes de Carrión. Montgomery also connects the same mythic tradition to works as diverse as Tristan and the Chanson de Roland.‡In a preliterate society, the oral presentation of this archetypal lore required a special language capable of re-creating the ritualized behavior of the epic characters and maintaining the ceremonial tone of the performance. Focusing on the Poema de Mio Cid, Montgomery examines the ways in which the poetic language worked to evoke a feeling of group unity that absorbed the audience and still works its spell upon today's readers.

“Montgomery’s opus represents an important point of reference for the study of Hispanic epic. Not only does it reaffirm many worthy ideas about employment of myth in epic but it serves up new insights on the linguistic expressiveness of epic in its ritual aspect, illuminating the text and the process by which its author links it to its universe of letters and himself to his listener.”

—Jesus D. Rodriguez Velasco, The Medieval Review (TMR)