As I wrote about in my recent article on Beowulf, I think that there is much we can gain from reading the works of the past. Their values should be our values; virtue, honor, glory, loyalty, bravery, martial prowess, etc. are values that our society would be far, far better off with more of rather than less of. Because we’ve lost them, we’ve become a nation of feminized, weak men that don’t behave as men should and certainly can’t stand up for themselves or fight as men should. Well, I’ve found another story men today need to read: The Song of Roland.
I’ll admit, The Song of Roland is a good bit different than Beowulf. For one, it’s about Charlemagne and his crusade into Spain rather than a fictional story of a demigod-like Norse warrior slaying trolls and dragons. And, because of that difference, there is more of a focus on religion and the glory of waging war against infidels (as opposed to evil that only exists in fantasy). Additionally, the values of French knights at the time of The Song of Roland are built into the nature of the story, rather than expressly described and elaborated upon. A final major difference is that the battles of the story, which take up most of its pages, are described in intimate detail, whereas they are not in Beowulf.
But, beyond those few differences (and the stories themselves being completely different), there is much in common between the two stories. Both are about how warriors should act, the value of bravery and fighting for one’s hearth and kin, how bad leadership can lead to disaster, and much more are values conveyed by both stories.
And that is why I think The Song of Roland is a story that far more people should read. Until a couple of weeks ago, I’d never heard of it. But it’s magnificent; at only about 4000 lines it manages to teach the reader so much about martial culture and why men should act like lions.
That lesson needs to be relearned. The story of The Song of Roland, which is based in truth but mostly fictional, teaches men how to behave. It shows the glory inherent in standing up for one’s own against foreign barbarians, the value of being loyal and surrounding yourself with those loyal to you, what one should care about, and how to handle certain death.
How many people today would be better if they could face death like men rather than whimpering women? The economy would never have collapsed, the government wouldn’t have used fear to seize control over our daily lives, and the government wouldn’t have had to spend like a profligate sailor to make the lives of those whimpering at home easier.
Similarly, would our nation not be better if more men knew how to stand up to the foreign barbarians at the gate as Charlemagne and his army stand up to the Moors in The Song of Roland? We’d be better able to fight the illegal immigration problem, certainly wouldn’t be letting foreign jihadists into our nation, and would never contemplate sacrificing the lives or lifestyles of our countrymen for the benefit of foreigners. We’d be brave and proud rather than a nation of cuckolds to those that hate us.
There’s more, of course. It’s a fun story, relatively easy to read (especially for a story that’s been around for 1000 years), and full of vivid descriptions that paint an interesting picture of the world at the time.
But the most important aspect of The Song of Roland, the reason you need to read it just as you must read Beowulf, is that it communicates the values you must live by to be a real man. Fight for and defend your home, your family, and your countrymen. Never surrender. Mercilessly hunt down those that wrong you and repay them for their heinous actions. Be a man, not a soyboy! Read The Song of Roland!