Book Review: The Poem of the Cid

Reading medieval romances is, for me, something like watching Western movies might be for those men of certain different tastes but the same proclivities as have persisted in the male members of the human species perennially. They are a window into a time when “men were men,” so to speak. Whether such an idealized time really existed is immaterial to the continued relevance of the idea as a powerful image and inspiration in the masculine consciousness. This particular work is a prime example.

El Cid is truly a man’s man. His long, flowing beard is a sight beheld with awe by those around him. His prowess in battle is legendary. His virtue is of the rigid principled sort that both justice and mercy, each in their own way, rely upon for existence. Even his piety, a virtue too often associated today with weakness and womanliness, is of the manly sort, with its fervent prayers and all-night vigils. And his love for his fellow-Christians, for his kingdom, his nation, and his family is unsurpassed and unquestioned. His perfection in chivalry is also exhibited by his presentation in the poem as a Christ figure, as one who embodies the virtues of Christ and whose life, in a mysterious manner, mirrors that of his Lord in many of its features.

The medieval tales of great knights are required reading for all men — and for women, too, who appreciate authentic masculinity. I recommend this book to all such readers.

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