Song of Roland

The Purposes of Symmetry and Asymmetry in the Song of Roland College

Lines from the first laisse of the epic, The Song of Roland express the focus of the poem: the demise of paganism and the victory of the superior, Christianity through the will of God. “Saragossa . . .held by King Marsiliun who does not love God. Marsiliun serves Mohamed and prays to Appolin. But he cannot prevent harm from overtaking him” (3). Here, in the very first lines of the epic, the poet has already clarified the outcome of one who does not love God – harm will overtake him. In The Song of Roland, the poet uses the symmetries and asymmetries of those who are good and those who are evil to illustrate the God’s justice and the superiority of Christianity.

In order to show the power of God and superiority of Christianity, the poet first presents the pagans and Christians as parallel. The only difference between the two groups is that the Christians are depicted as good and the pagans as evil. The parallels between the Christians and pagans are first illustrated prior to the first battle. The Saracen society is portrayed as mirroring the types of knightly virtues the Christians have. For example, Blancandrin is described as, “well endowed with the kind of courage that befits a knight, and he had shrewdness and judgment to...

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