The epic poem Cantar de Mio Cid (The Song of my Cid) is the oldest Spanish literature monument preserved until today. In the world literature, “The Song of my Cid” occupies an equally important place as the English “Beowulf”, the French “The Song of Roland” or the German “The Song of the Nibelungs”. It tells about the life and feats of the 11th century Castilian knight, Cid (El Cid in Arabic – “my lord”). Cid Campeador was a historic personality, a Castilian nobleman and military leader, popular national hero Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (c. 1043–1099).
The epic poem, written in medieval Castilian, has been preserved in a single copy, as a transcript from 1320–1330 of the text dated 1207. Research shows that the manuscript is not a handwriting of a professional script, but is likely to belong to an amateur’s hand. For a long time it was doomed to oblivion and was published for the first time only in 1779. Nowadays it is held by the Spanish National Library in Madrid.
Until now the only source of information about Cid for Latvian readers has been the brochure “Spanish Hero Cid Campeador” (edited by Georges Verdal, translated from French by Alise Jurēviča). Uldis Bērziņš came accross the epic text during his school years and later has devoted many years to its translation and deep study of the text.
The Latvian translation is based on the historical publication (1908) by the outstanding researcher of Spanish folklore and language history Ramon Menendez Pidal. One of his main topics was the history and legend of El Cid. The text is compared with the exhaustive philological publication by Alberto Montanera, contemporary researcher of the legend of El Cid (2007; supplemented 2018). The book is supplemented by prefaces of the translator and the scientific editor, comments, glossary of persons, place names and realia, as well as bibliography and the appendix of images.