Here is Part I of “Saladin in Western Literature”
“Saladin(1138-1193) in Western literature,Part I”
Here is another article:
“Proof the Idea Saladin(1138-1193),the Muslim Conqueror of Jerusalem,was the Incarnation of Chivalry is a Myth Worth Nothing”
Saladin (1138-1193) in the eyes of Juan Manuel
Don Juan Manuel (1282-1348)
He was a Spanish writer, nephew of Alfonso X the Wise of Castile and was one of the richest and most powerful men of his time.He wrote “Count Lucanor” where a count asks his servant Patronio about a problem and Patronio answers with a story that has the solution.In all there are 50 stories.Two of the stories a very famous:
1.Story 44 by Patronio, “Of what happened to a young Man on his Wedding Day”,which inspired Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”
2.Story 7, “Of that which happened to a King and three Impostors”tells the story that Hans Christian Andersen made popular as “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.
A brilliant literary family
Besides Juan Manuel two other were writers and patrons of learning,his uncle Alfonso,king of Castile and the grandson of Alfonso,King Dinis of Portugal.
Alfonso X (1221-1284), called the Wise,King of Castile, León and Galicia.
1,He established Castilian as a language of higher learning and wrote in Portuguese some of the poems of the Cantigas de Santa Maria/Songs of St.Mary,a collection of 420 poems. Alfonso was also the cousin of the brilliant and skeptical Frederick II,the Holy Roman Emperor.
2.He sponsored the astronomical Alfonsine tables,based on the calculations of Muslim scientist of Spain Al-Zarqali, “Arzachel” (1029–1087), and created the first vernacular law code in Spain, the Siete Partidas.
3.Alfonso employed Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars for the purpose of translating books from Arabic and Hebrew into Latin and Castilian.
4.He began the General Chronicle, a history of Castille.
King Dinis(Denis ) of Portugal(1261-1325)
He was the grandson of Alfonso the Wise of Castile and is called the Troubadour-king because he wrote a cancioneiro or collection of 137 love poems.Dinis was a great king who also founded the first university of Portugal,in Coimbra,and made Portuguese the official language of the country in 1290.
Saladin in Juan Manuel
Story 6:”Of that which happened to the Count of Provence and Saladin the Sultan of Babylon”
The count is captured by Saladin while on a pilgrimage to the East and treated well.He later asks Saladin advice on how to chose the best husband for his daughter.Saladin receives evalutations of the various suitors and based on them chooses a candidate who was rich but not of high nobility.That young man marries and goes East,captures Saladin using a trick and obtains the freedom of his father-in-law.
Story 50: “Concerning that which happened to Saladin and a Lady, wife of a Knight in his service”
Saladin wants to sleep with a married woman who says she would do as he asks if he finds out what was the best quality of a man.He asks a wise man who says it is shame,so Saladin stops trying to sleep with her.
To read “Count Lucanor”:
Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) was an Italian poet,the greatest Italian writer and one of the greatest writers in all history.
He is known for The Divine Comedy.He is also famous for his collection of poems called La Vita Nuova/The New Life,which is written in a new love style called the “dolce stile novo/sweet new style”,a term he himself invented.
The Divine Comedy,the Greatest Work in Italian(written between 1308-1321)
The summary of the poem is:
1.It describes Dante’s journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso).
2.He is guided by the Roman poet Virgil (70 BC-19 AD),the greatest writer of Latin literature,who wrote the Eneid,the adventures of Eneas,the Trojan who escaped from Troy when it was taken by the Greeks because of Helen and Paris,and who goes to Carthage and later to Italy.Virgil takes Dante on a visit through Hell and Purgatory,where he meets famous people.
3.Later Virgil leaves Dante and he is guided through heaven by Beatrice,where he meets Thomas Aquinas,the greatest philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages,plus St. Bonaventure, Saint Peter, and St. John.In the end Dante has a vision of God.
4.In the poem he goes through the 9 circles of hell,which are underground,under Jerusalem, and then sees Lucifer at the bottom of hell.
Then he climbs up the 9 rings of Mount Purgatory,which is on an island far away, followed by the Garden of Eden at its summit; and then the 9 celestial levels of heaven, followed by another place containing the very essence of God.
Saladin in the Divine Comedy
Now in his poem Dante and Virgil go to the First Circle of Hell which is called Limbo.It is a place of happiness even though you are in hell.It contains the virtuous non-Christians who were not sinful but were ignorant of Christ.They do not suffer and there Dante sees:
1.Socrates and Plato and Aristotle.
2.He also sees Seneca,Galen,Heraclitus,Democritus,Zeno,Anaxagoras,etc.He even saw Ceaser.
3.He also sees 3 famous Muslims:
Avicenna (980-1037),the great Muslim physician, who wrote an encyclopedia of medical knowledge called the Canon,and Averroes (1126-1198) and Saladin(1138-1193),the Muslim conqueror of Jerusalem
Idealization and more Idealization
Saladin had and has an idealized reputation in Europe he does not deserve,and Dante had an idealized view of Ceaser.In fact Ceaser killed 1 million Gauls and Germans in his 9 year was in France and Germany and enslaved 1 million.As I said before Saladin was no saint and one day he will be no more idealized than Alexander the Great,Ceaser and Napolen.
It is all in Canto IV of the Inferno
“I saw Electra with companions many,who I knew both Hector and Aeneas,Caesar in armour with gerfalcon eyes;
I saw Camilla and Penthesilea on the other side, and saw the King Latinus,who with Lavinia his daughter sat;
I saw that Brutus who drove Tarquin forth,Lucretia, Julia, Marcia, and Cornelia,. And saw alone, apart, the Saladin.
When I had lifted up my brows a little,the Master I beheld (Note:the Master here is Aristotle) of those who know,sit with his philosophic family.All gaze upon him, and all do him honour.There I beheld both Socrates and Plato,who nearer him before the others stand;
Democritus, who puts the world on chance,Diogenes, Anaxagoras, and Thales,Zeno, Empedocles, and Heraclitus;of qualities I saw the good collector,hight Dioscorides; and Orpheus saw I,Tully and Livy, and moral Seneca,
Euclid, geometrician, and Ptolemy,Galen, Hippocrates, and Avicenna,Averroes, who the great Commentary made.”