The Principles of Honor, Virtue, Leadership, and Ethics: Medieval Epics Speak Out against the Political Malaise in the Twenty-First Century

The Nibelungenlied and El Poema de Mío Cid

In: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik
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  • 1 The University of Arizona, Tucson, Vereinigte Staaten

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Abstract

One of our central challenges as medievalists consists of how to respond to the question regarding the relevance of medieval literature and other documents. This article suggests that we can easily draw from medieval heroic literature where ideal and also negative examples of successful/failed leadership are provided. The MHG Nibelungenlied, at least in the first part, illustrates dramatically the consequences of a weak, indecisive, impulsive, and manipulable ruler, whose actions ultimately trigger a whole sequence of hatred, violence, and slaughter. The Old Spanish El Poema de Mío Cid sets out almost at the same point, with the protagonist being exiled because of malignment, but in the course of events, he demonstrates convincingly what makes a true, honorable, admirable, and worthy leader. These two epic poems can serve powerfully as illustrations of failed and successful leadership, and can thus offer significant instructions for modern concerns in politics, business, administration, the church, schools, and universities.

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