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The exemplum of the eagle and the hunter ('Libro de buen amor' 270-2).

The bibliography relating to the brief exemplum of the eagle which is fatally wounded by an arrow fletched with one of its own feathers, used in the Libro de buen amor to illustrate the Deadly Sin of luxuria, is not as extensive as might be expected.(1) Although it is well documented in the Greek fable tradition, whence La Fontaine drew the inspiration for his version, according to Lecoy, mediaeval vernacular versions are not abundantly recorded.(2) A fifteenth-century reference to the story in a verse attributed to the condestable Don Alvaro de Luna seems to have been overlooked by previous commentators on the version in the Libro de buen amor, and has, not surprisingly, escaped the attention of those working on the fable tradition outside Spain. Whether this verse allusion constitutes a reminiscence of the exemplum in the Libro or derives independently from the tradition from which the earlier work drew its inspiration is not clear, though one detail may suggest a separate origin.

The reference in question is found in eight lines of verse which occur in at least three manuscripts of the Cronica de Don Alvaro de Luna, the high constable of Castile until his execution in 1453.(3) In MS A of Carriazo's catalogue, the text is as follows:

Al aguila el vallestero

con sus plumas la hirio,

assi hizo el de biuero

que en mi casa se crio,

entre nosotros mismos salio

porque entramos nos perdimos,

si bien o mal hezimos

en nos mismos se absoluio. In two other MSS (B and E in Carriazo's list), these lines are preceded by the statement |En fin deste libro estaua en el escripta vna copla que diz quel maestre don aluaro mando hazer a alonso perez de vibero, del thenor siguiente' (MS B).(4) The use of this story as a point of comparison with the role of Perez de Vivero is apt; the latter's activities as a |desleal e mal criado' are abundantly documented in the chronicle itself.(5) The orthography of the verse in MSS B and E is consistent with a fifteenth-century date for the text, the allusiveness of which suggests that the story was then well known. It is interesting that this application of the story differs from that in the Libro de buen amor in that, while the Libro uses it to show that the effects of lust may lead to the destruction of the individual from whose body it springs, the verse in the Cronica is closer to a more established interpretation in later versions of the story, which see it as illustrating the exceptionally wounding effect of treachery by a friend or dependant, as in the Italian version of Giovanni Mario Verdizotti:

Cosi colui, ch'e da l'amico offeso,

serte piu graue, assai di cio l'affanno,

che non il duol de la medesma offesa:

che quando l'huom d'altrui fauore aspetta,

se'l contrario n'auien, tanto maggiore

di quell'ingiuria ognihor sente la doglia,

quanto minor di lei fu la speranza.(6) The moral of this version is given as |L'offesa de l'amico appar piu graue.' Whilst this point is not conclusive, it is at least suggestive of a source other than the Libro de buen amor, with its very specific application of the story, for this fifteenth-century Spanish version.(7)


(1) On the version in the Libro, see Felix Lecoy, Recherches sur le |Libro de Buen Amor' de Juan Ruiz, archipretre de Hita, new edn with supplementary material by A. D. Deyermond (Farnborough, 1974), pp. 127 (no. 7), 145 (E); Ian Michael, |The function of the popular tale in the Libro de buen amor', in |Libro de buen amor' Studies, ed. by G. B. Gybbon-Monypenny (London, 1970), pp. 177-218 (pp. 197-8: tale 13). No additional information is given in any of the recent editions of the Libro up to and including that of Jacques Joset (Madrid, 1990). Lecoy notes the presence of a version of the tale in Halm's edition of AEsop's fables (see n. 2 below) and in La Fontaine; Michael records its identification as motif U.161 in Stith Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, 2nd edn, 6 vols. (Bloomington, Ind.; Copenhagen, 1955-8). (2) In fact, the only vernacular versions that I have been able to locate before the sixteenth century are the two Spanish texts with which this note is concerned, though they cannot have been alone. A general list of texts is given in Walter Wienert, Die Typen der griechisch--romis Fabel, Folklore Fellows Communications, 56 (Helsinki, 1925), pp. 154, 64 (no. 277), 117; Gerd Dicke and Klaus Grubmuller, Die Fabeln des Mittelalters und der fruhen Neuzeit, Munstersche Mittelalter-Schriften, 60 (Munich, 1987), p. 3 (no. 2); A. C. M. Robert, Fables inedites des [XII.sup.e], [XIII.sup.e] et [XIV.sup.e] siecles et fables de La Fontaine, 2 vols. (Par texts of the fable are in Carl Halm, Fabulae Aesopicae collectae (Leipzig, 1875), p. 2 (no. 4); Ben Edwin Perry, Aesopica (Urbana, Ill., 1952), p. 427 (no. 276); the text of a fragment of Aeschylus' Myrmidones is given as no. 276a in Perry, Aesopica, p. 428, and is also edited in Aeschylus, ed. and trans. by Herbert Weir Smyth, 2 vols., Loeb Classical Library (London; Cambridge, Mass., 1963), II, 425 (no. 63), and in Hans Joachim Mette, Die Fragmente der Tragodien des Aischylos, Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, Schriften der Sektion fur Altertumswissenschaft, 15 (Berlin, 1959), pp. 82-3 (no. 231). See also Babrius and Phaedrus, ed. and trans. by Ben Edwin Perry, Loeb Classical Library (London; Cambridge, Mass., 1984), p. 478 (no. 276). For Latin texts, see, amongst others, Aesopi Phrygis, et Aliorum Fabulae (Lyons: Johannes Frellonius, 1548), p. 123 (no. 89) (British Library, G.7709 [2]); Aesopi Phrygis Fabulae Graece et Latine cum aliis quibusdam Opusculis (Paris: Benedictu Praevotius, 1549), ff. [153.sup.v] -- [154.sup.r], among fables of Gabrias (British Library, G.7709[ for a French version of the sixteenth century, see Trois cent soixante et six apologues d'Esope traduicts en rithme francoise par Maistre Guillaume Haudent reproduits fidelement texte et figures d l'edition de 1547 par Ch. Lormier, Societe des Bibliophiles Normands (Rouen, 1877), no. CVII. (3) On Luna, see Nicholas Round, The Greatest Man Uncrowned: a Study of the Fall of Don Alvaro de Luna (London, 1986). For the Cronica, see Juan de Mata Carriazo, Cronica de Don Alvaro de Luna, condestable de Castilla, maestre de Santiago, Coleccion de Cronicas Espanolas, 2 (Madrid, 1940); the manuscripts in question are A (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, MS 10141; s. xvi), B (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, MS 2127; s. xvi), and E (Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, MS 9/538; s. xvii): see ibid., pp. xvi-xx for descriptions of these. The verse is here quoted from Carriazo's account of MS A; in B and E there are certain orthographic archaisms where A has a more modern form (firio 2; ansi fizo 3; nos mesmos 5; mesmos 8). (4) Carriazo, Cronica de Don Alvaro de Luna, p. xviii. Minor orthographic differences between B and E in this passage are ignored. Other manuscripts of the Cronica (e.g., my MS C-4) lack these verse lines and the introductory statement, as do the printed editions of 1546 and 1784 (ibid., p. xx). (5) See Carriazo, Cronica, pp. 344-52. (6) Cento favole morali dei piu illustri antichi & moderni autori Greci & Latini, scielte, & trattat varie maniere di versi volgari da M. Gio. Mario Verdizotti (Venice: Giordano Zileti, 1570), pp. 22-3 (British Library, 637.h.6). Orthography is that of the edition cited. (7) I am grateful to Dr Nigel Palmer for helpful bibliographical suggestions which led me, directly or indirectly, to most of the material cited in n. 2.
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Author:Hook, David
Publication:Medium Aevum
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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