Monday, December 21, 2009

For those who worry that kids will think video games reflect reality....

Ezra found this quote about would-be swashbucklers who couldn't tell the difference between the written word and reality on the ground:

There can be little doubt that the young men of Renaissance Spain, impatiently awaiting summonses to serve in their Emperor's armies or eagerly volunteering for the expeditions to the New World, felt themselves stimulated to heroic action by exhilarating romances which glorified the warrior as the prototype of their culture.

It is reported that the extraordinary feats of one of Charles V's celebrated captains, Don Fernando de Avalos, Marqués de Pescara, were attributed to the noble ardor and desire for glory awakened in his heart by the habitual reading of chivalric novels in his youthful years.

In a Portuguese work of the early seventeenth century there is an amusing anecdote which bears witness to a similar influence exerted by these books upon a simple soldier in the ranks. Since it is particularly apt and brief, it is worth quoting in full. It reads as follows:

While a Portuguese commander had an enemy city under siege during the fighting in India, a number of his soldiers who camped together as comrades carried in their outfit a novel of chivalry with which they passed the time.

One of these men who knew this literature less than the others regarded everything that he heard read as true (for there are guileless people who think that there can be no lies in print).

His companions, playing on his gullibility, kept telling him that such was really the case.

When the time came for an attack this good fellow, stirred by what he had heard read and eager to emulate the heroes of the book, burned with a desire to demonstrate his valor and to perform a deed of knighthood which would be remembered.

And so he leaped wildly into the fray and began to strike right and left with his sword among the enemy so furiously that only by great effort and much peril his comrades and numerous other soldiers together were able to save his life by picking him up covered with glory and not a few wounds.

When his friends scolded him for his rashness, he answered: 'Aw, leave me alone! I didn't do the half of what any of the knights did in the book that you fellows read to me every night.' And from that time on he was exceedingly valorous.


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