On Apr 9, 2013, at 8:56 PM, Steve Hayes wrote:
That, I suspect, reflects the pagan notion of heroic virtue, or virtuous
heroism, untempered by any Christian notions of mercy.
In effect, it is a glorification of armed robbery, which, in the eyes of the
narrator of the poem at least, is virtuous.
It's useful to be reminded of that poem, which I have always found loathsome since I first heard any of it beyond the first two lines, with their clever, jolly-rogue quality. ("What? The guy is SERIOUS?" Sheeesh!" IMHO.)
But there seems to be another thread to this matter, which hasn't been touched on. It's an account that I picked up a number of years ago, from a couple of sources, though I can't recall which, and it also seems to be just in the air to some extent.
In this account the whole Chivalric Ideal is a more or less conscious attempt to get at the ruffians, bold in battle and highly skilled, who dominated Europe in the early Middle Ages, and civilize them by imbuing them with Christian virtue. If this is accurate, the effort certainly succeeded on a literary level, and probably on a practical one as well. As to at least the part of the ideal that constituted romanic love, I recall something of the sort from C. S. Lewis; but I don't remember whether he said much of the matter of valor, which concerns us here.
Am I missing the obvious, or stating the too obvious, or maybe both?