Song of Roland Notes

Roland essay notes Citation: Prompt: In what ways did Ganelon’s character as a feudal warrior conflict with his role in Christian feudal society? What can those conflicts tell us about the writer’s ideal view of society? Thesis: Ganelon’s traitorous actions against Roland, Charlemagne, and ultimately God reveal the writer’s ideas of the perfect Christian feudal society. While Roland and Charlemagne serve as archetypes of perfect servants of God, Ganelon plays the part of the bad, which accentuates the good. Misc notes:
Rear guard sacrifice necessary to bring Charles back into picture Roland sacrificed himself to edify Charles Ganelon was after his own selfish interests, while his loyalty should have lied with Charles, who represented the will of god. Ganelon = Judas, Roland = Jesus Quotations: //“No crusading intent can be detected in this enterprise, though there were attempts… to give it such a //coloring, as though Charles had entered Spain to protect the Christians from the cruel yoke of Saracen //oppression – an oppression that in face did not exist. ” (SOR, 4) The poem… has retained little of the historic event… This non-event has been enlarged into a great epic of treachery and loyalty, and this humiliating defeat at the hands of unknown brigands transformed into a holy crusade, a glorious martyrdom, a great apocalyptic victory ordained by God. ” (SOR, 4) “It was looked upon as the time when the great dream of Christendom had come true, when a worldwide Christian community was established under a pious and crusading Emperor, and all men were bound in ascending loyalty to each other and to the Lord of all.
The Carolingian Empire was seen as the fulfillment of a divine intention. ” (SOR, 5). “We see in the Charlemagne of the epic, not the historical king and emperor, but the true and accurate representation of an ideal ardently praised at the time the poem was cast into its present form… all men were in their right places… when all Christian powers oriented themselves in homage to this great man, wise with the wisdom of 200 years of God’s grace. ” (SOR, 6) “The past [The Song of Roland] revealed to its earliest audiences was really a vision of the future.

Those who shared that past were to give their support to the King’s great struggle, as struggle that aimed not to progress from that auspicious time when angles came down from heaven and the sun stood still to help the Emperor defend all Christendom, but to return to it, to regain what had been lost: a perfect state pleasing to God. ” (SOR, 7) “The lord that Roland serves is depicted as the Emperor of Christendom; Charlemagne, in turn, is in the service of the supreme Lord of heaven… the life of the feudal vassal can have no value unless it is sanctified by service to God. (SOR, 9) “The pagan vassals are exact doubles of Christian vassals… the one radical difference between the two sides in this poem is exactly what Roland says it is, the fact that Christians are right and pagans are wrong… Roland’s famous utterance… means exactly the opposite of what it is often taken to mean. It is the warrior’s expression of humility, his understanding that… without the grace of God his great qualities would lead him to perdition. ” (SOR, 9) Every formal conflict in the poem is defined as a judicial battle whose outcome is God’s verdict… In each case the miraculous victory of the smaller side reveals the will of God, for only He could have caused the astonishing outcome. ” (SOR, 10) “We know – and our knowledge precedes every event, every cause, every motive – that Roland will refuse to sound the Oliphant: therefore, his refusal is necessary, for it is accomplished… We must regard his great spirit, his proud motives, and his famous act as praiseworthy, exemplary, pleasing to God, because they are necessary, foreseen, exactly as they occurred. ” (SOR, 14) In the world that this poem celebrates, [Roland] cannot be right by accident: not only his decisions but his entire attitude is right – his militant response to the pagans, his whole sense of what a Christian knight must do is nearest to what pleases God, for it comes from God. ” (SOR, 19) “The concerns that led [Roland] to refuse to summon help – honor, lineage, sweet France – are named and praised by Charles… Only if there is a victory of the few against the many can the outcome of the battle reveal the will of God… he is the agent of God’s will, the supreme vassal, and God has sanctified his calling, endowed it with a mission. (SOR, 21) “Each man in this feudal community finds his place in a hierarchical structure of loyalties that ends in Charlemagne, to whom all are bound, as he is bound to them in the obligation to protect them. ” (SOR, 22) “When Ganelon, at the height of his rage, shouts at Roland… ‘I do not love you,’… It means: the bonds of loyalty are cut, we are enemies. ” (SOR, 22) “Here we see as well the true Ganelon, the essential Ganelon – the man who, in his whole-hearted obedience to the law, subverts its intention and works the destruction of his community.
For the effect of his brave departure is to sow the seeds of discord and to endanger the life of Charles’s greatest vassal. ” (SOR, 22) City of man vs city of god “A new state is brought into being by the treason of Ganelon, which appears as a shadow-act of the great treason that inaugurated the salvation of the human race, and by the trial in which he is condemned. ” (SOR, 25) Appearance of the state within the frame of the poem’s action comes about for this reason: when something can be betrayed, that is proof that it exists… it can be betrayed because it is real and has the right to demand loyalty. ” (SOR, 25) “France takes on a native character and reveals exactly what it is that pleases God: it is a state in which all men are bound in loyalty through their ultimate obligation to the King, a state whose unity and well-being drive from the subordination of all privileges, rights, and interests to the King chosen by God. (SOR, 27) “Since God foresaw all things and, hence, that man would sin, our conception of the supernatural City of God must be based what God foreknew and forewilled, and not o human fancies that could never come true, because it was not in God’s plan that they should. Not even by his sin could man change the counsels of God, in the sense of compelling Him to alter what He had once decided.
The truth is that, by His omniscience, God could foresee two future realities: how bad man whom God had created good was to become, and how much good God was to make out of this very evil. (CD, 14. 11)” “Whoever seeks to be more than he is becomes less, and while he aspires to be self-sufficing he retires from Him who is truly sufficient for him… there is a wickedness by which a man who is self-satisfied as if he were the light turns himself away from that true Light which, had man loved it, would have made him a sharer in the light. CD, 14. 11 p. 311)” “Two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, the heavenly by love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, ‘Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. ’ (CD, 14. 20)”

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