The Nature of Hero In The Song of Roland
Heroes of our great epics and legends of great artistic flavors were not ordinary human beings, but were the gifts of divine powers to redeem thirsty and bloody earth from our sins. Morton W.
Bloomfield rightly said, “The original hero in early literature was probably based on the king who died for his people, the warrior who defeated the tribe’s enemies …. These men … were celebrated in song and story and..
.. presented again to the people so that they could participate in their magic” (Bloomfield, 30).As superhuman and semi divine were born onto this Earth as our helpers and saviors but the legends also gave birth to the individuals of heroic stature who had subordinated themselves into the earthly life so that common people could live in peace. They are as said by Morrman, “ Epic literature is a stately, solemn celebration of national life in the heroic age.
Its heroes are simple men, versed in the activities of common life.. .they are leaders not through class status or wealth or even birth, but through the excellencies of heart and mind and hands.Their motives are linked with the practical necessities of life.
” (Moorman, 27-8) In other words, epic heroes engraved the social, cultural, political and economic structure of the society of the era and their legends and their activities and values were enshrined in the loyal roles that they had to abide and which they so cherished. Charles the Great, the legendry King of Franks, and known all over the world as Charlemagne, got recognition as a legendry King and undaunted hero gaining victories for France and Church.He captured the world’s imagination, yet his romantic endeavors appeared less than the fame acquired by his nephew and vassal, Roland, who was honored as an Epic hero in the Song of Roland. He was as brave as knight should be and had his own weaknesses, as he was hot tempered also.
With his battling spree, he annexed several lands for his lord and gave several defeats to his enemies especially pagans. From the beginning only, he had refused to enter into any negotiations with Saracens. Roland followed the tenants of knighthood to the full.Even though he found he would loose the war at Rencesvals, he did not call for help, and said, “May it never please God that any man alive should come to say that pagans–pagans! –once made me sound this horn: no kin of mine will ever bear that shame.
” (Laisse 85) He proved himself to be greatest military leader and was able to encourage his soldiers to give enamoring resistance to enemies giving them a good morale support, but on the other hand this most adorable of his speech also became a sign of his prudence and rashness. His decision not to blow the olifant to call more soldiers in their war at Rencesvals was very unwise.The decision though brought him glory but caused death of twenty thousand of his men, among who were his friends and himself too. Besides the traits of boldness, inclination towards duty and cockiness is displayed.
Also the traits of anger and pride are most willfully displayed towards enemies and these traits only became the root cause of successes or the failures of hero and Roland too often showed the same. Ronald too felt his pride shattered when his suggestion for the refusal of his enemy’s peace proposal was ignored. In the incense of pride, Ronald nominated his stepfather, Ganelon as their messenger to accept the proposal.Ganelon in turn showed his anger and threw off his fur mental. As said by Le Gentil, “There is certainly more then a suggestion here that fierce pride is indeed involved, tinged no doubt, too, with anger, and, perhaps, ostentation.
” (Pg. 137, Laisse, 17-27, verses, 244-365) Throwing cloak to the ground is a sure sign of rebelliousness. But by nominating Ganelon, Roland was showing his true diplomacy. On one hand he showed his decision of sending Ganelon was very sound as there was none as brave and intelligent as Ganelon, on the other hand he threw a challenge on him.