6.11.08

The Heart of Roland

Mark Amesse has a look at Roland...

By M.D. Amesse

The mean state is everywhere laudable, but we ought to incline towards the excess and at another towards the deficiency; for this will be our easiest manner of hitting the mean, or in other words of attaining excellence. –Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics II.IX

While reading The Royal Book of Horsemenship, Jousting andKnightly Combat[1] I found myself seeing a different side of Roland. It is said that Roland is fierce while Count Oliver is wise, and while Oliver is certainly prudent, I began to doubt Roland’s role as the foolhardy sanguine character.[2] Count Oliver himself describes Roland as being “high of heart”[3] and after reading Dom Duarte I believe I understand what Oliver is saying.“

It is written that a man with that virtue (Highness of Heart), has the right self-esteem and self-confidence necessary for always acting the way all good men…should act” Duarte continues, “The Philosopher [Aristotle, see epigraph above] said that he was very doubtful about the possibility of anyone to know the exact measure of his own value; that being true, anyone with the greatness of the heart would be most probably presume for himself a value a little bigger than the reality and not the contrary."[4]

King Duarte says that it is better for the good man to error in excess, through highness of heart, than for him to think less than he is able, and fail to accomplish what he should. In this light, we can see why Roland desires to go to the court of King Marsilion, but Charlemagne refuses to send him, for it is known, as Oliver testifies, that Roland is in a stubborn mood and likely to cause a feud with the sons of Mahomet. more...

Thanks and a tip of the beret to Mark Amesse...

Dieu le Roy
de Brantigny

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