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The Song of Roland by Anonymous
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The Song of Roland

by Anonymous, Turoldus (?)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Roland (1)

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» See also 89 mentions

English (23)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Illustrative of the mechanism of blame, responsibility, tragedy, and agency of the divine in the Carolingian Empire. ( )
  alexanme | Dec 9, 2018 |
Yes, I am on a semi classical literature binge at present.

The Song of Roland is the story of Ganelon's treachery against Charlemagne's right-hand man, Count Roland. Whereas Beowulf offered a good look into the medieval and pre-medieval ideas of what made one a hero, The Song of Roland offers a brilliant picture of what compels one to follow their king. The praise of Charlemagne and the reasoning behind Roland's refusal to blow the oliphant in the midst of battle are both beautiful things to read.

I read the Harris translation, and am quite happy I did. The non-rhyming poetry still offers a sense of both rhythm and importance, and the introduction was very in depth. I left the text with a deep appreciation of the dignity that was so prized in earlier times, and a small wish that it was more apparent today. Chivalry, in theory, was a very beautiful virtue. ( )
1 vote Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Christian good. All others bad. God say Charles win. He win. Pagans die.
I mainly gave this three stars because the translation was done in such a way that I didn't need an English dictionary to understand what was going on. ( )
  Moore31 | Feb 25, 2018 |
Christian good. All others bad. God say Charles win. He win. Pagans die.
I mainly gave this three stars because the translation was done in such a way that I didn't need an English dictionary to understand what was going on. ( )
  Moore31 | Feb 25, 2018 |
The Song of Roland is a classic of Western literature, part of the mythology surrounding Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire. Probably composed in this form sometime in the 11th century, the Song of Roland was hugely popular for a very long time, and it informed what it meant to be a Christian knight during the High Middle Ages.

While the Song of Roland contains the fanciful embellishments common to all epic poetry [the superhero movie of medieval Europeans], the core of the story seems to have been transmitted substantially intact: the rearguard of Charlemagne's army, led by Hruodland, captain of the Breton Marches, was ambushed and killed to a man in Roncesvalles Pass in 778. The only things resembling a historical record of this come from a brief passage in a revised edition of the Life of Charles the Great, and a coin bearing the names "Carlus" and "Rodlan".

However, something noteworthy seems to have happened in that mountain pass, given that the story appears to have been already popular by the time it was written down. With the evidence thin on the ground, barring the discovery of any heretofore unknown manuscripts, a heroic folk memory is likely to be all we have.

My own interest in the Song of Roland has been developing slowly for fifteen years. I had heard of the book before then, but it was the game Halo that really sparked my interest. There is a tradition in science fiction and videogames of drawing upon the deep wells of classical literature and mythology. Probably because both are popular art forms that speak to our souls, and anything old enough to truly be classical usually has to also be popular, or to have been popular for a long enough time to survive accidents of history.

Roland and the other paladins of Charlemagne carried named swords, weapons of unusual power granted as boons to worthy warriors. These swords, among them Durendal, Joyeuse, and Curtana, all featured in the epics that grew up around the character of Roland. Real swords that still exist are known by these names, usually used as part of the mythology of legitimacy that surrounds kings of ancient lineage. It is at least possible that some of these objects might actually date to the periods in question, although many of them lack the supernatural qualities the epics describe.

The statue that appears in the sidebar of my own website, Ogier the Dane, or Holger Danske, came out this same milieu. It is conceivable that Ogier actually lived in the eighth century, and that he was a servant or vassal of Charlemagne, although it is also possible that he is simply a figment of our collective imagination. In the epics, Ogier carried Curtana, a sword with the tip broken off, to symbolize mercy. Since it is the tip of a European style sword that is truly dangerous, this random bit of chivalric legend has appealed to me for a long time.

The more I learn about the myths and legends like the Song of Roland, the better I like them. Random bits of history, technology, and theology I learn tend to accrete to them in ways that make them more plausible as bits and pieces of real events passed down over many generations. Stories are never just stories. ( )
1 vote bespen | Nov 1, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (44 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anonymousprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Turoldus (?)main authorall editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, AnnaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, ElenaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bedier, JosephTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bengtsson, Frans GTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bensi, MarioEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burgess, Glyn S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burgess, Glyn S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlstedt, GunnarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duprez, LeifTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gautier, LéonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, DickForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jylhä, YrjöTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Luquiens, Frederick BlissTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nordenhök, JensTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robertson, Howard S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sayers, Dorothy L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sayers, Dorothy L.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott Moncrieff, C. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott-Moncrieff, C. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Segre, CesareEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smyth, Nathan A.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Terry, Patricia AnnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Way, Arthur S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Carlon the King, our emperor Charlemayn,
Full seven years long has been abroad in Spain...
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140440755, Paperback)

Presents the classical epic, glorifying the heroism of Charlemagne in the 778 battle between the Franks and the Moors. Bibliogs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:47 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Presents the classical epic, glorifying the heroism of Charlemagne in the 778 battle between the Franks and the Moors.

» see all 4 descriptions

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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