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Cervantes’s El Cerco de Numancia: An Argument on Blood-Based Determination of Hispanidad

Cervantes’s El Cerco de Numancia: An Argument on Blood-Based Determination of Hispanidad

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Published by alephjournal
By Diane Bani-Esraili
By Diane Bani-Esraili

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: alephjournal on May 07, 2013
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09/11/2014

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Cervantes‟s
El cerco de Numancia:An Argument on Blood-Based Determination of HispanidadSpanish 199/History 199Professor RuizMarch 15, 2013
 
Bani-Esraili 1Table of ContentsI.
 Introduction and Statement of Purpose
……………………………………………........2
 II.
 Historical Context and Discourses of Blood 
…………………………………………...3
 a) Vertical Hierarchy
……………………………………………………………...
3 b)
 Alta sangre
……………………………………………………………………
...3
 
c) Horizontal Hierarchy of the Middle Ages and its Obliteration
…………….
......4d)
Limpieza de sangre
…………………………………………………………......5
 e) Contestation of the Doctrine of Purity of Blood
……………………………......7
 f) The Religious Discourse of Blood
……………………………………………...8
 g) The Correlation Between Sacrifice and Bloodshed
……………………….........9
 III.
What Numancia is All About and its Conduciveness to Cervantes’s Argument 
……..10
 a)
 
Acts I-II
…………………………………………………………………………..10
  b)
 
Acts III-IV and the Introduction of the Theme of Self-Sacrifice
………………...11
 c)
 
Life Through Death
………………………………………………………………12
 d)
 
The Vice of Disunity and the Sole Remedy of Self-Sacrifice
…………………...13
 e)
 
Invalidating the Genealogical Link to Numantine „Forefathers‟…………….......15
 IV.
 Blood Rites in Numancia, the Eucharist, and Defining Spanish Nationhood 
……….16
 a)
 
The Sacrifice to Jupiter 
…………………………………………………………..17
  b)
 
Marandro‟s Sacrifice: Blood, Bread, and Body…………………………….........18
 c)
 
Abstention from Food
………………………………………………………........20
 d)
 
Consumption and Incorporation
……………………………………………........21
 e)
 
Christ‟s Blood and the Community……………………………………………...22
 V.
Cervantes’s Argument’s Erasmian
Christian Humanist Streak 
………………….......22
 VI.
Conclusion
…………………………………………………………………………...24
 VII.
 Bibliography
…………………………………………………………………….......25
 
 
Bani-Esraili 2
I. Introduction and Statement of Purpose
As is typical of neo-
Senecan drama, Miguel de Cervantes‟s
 El cerco de Numancia
(1582)is marked by mass brutality, bloodshed, and death. Cervantes portrays bodily sufferingthroughout the work 
 —from the image of a baby suckling blood from his mother‟s gaunt
breast,to the scene of a father killing his helplessly compliant wife and children before going on to kill
himself, to the play‟s climax when the victorious Roman troops penetrate Numantia‟s walls only
to see every last Numantine enemy already dead and t
he city engulfed in “un rojo lago”
1
of  blood.Blood pervades
 Numancia
; indeed, it is the principal
trope. In Cervantes‟s Spain blood
held multiple meanings and associations. This paper will discuss those different meanings andassociations and, thereby, establish the centrality of the role of blood in early modern Spanishsociety.Based on that foundation, this paper will go on to explain how Cervantes uses thelegendary point of origin of the Spanish nation
 — 
the siege of Numantia during the Romanconquest of the Iberian Peninsula in the second century BCE
 — 
to reevaluate the relationship between blood and
hispanidad 
.Through his play Cervantes discredits the prevalent notion of his time that
limpieza de sangre
(purity of blood) is the determinant of 
hispanidad 
. This paper will demonstrate that whilehe discredits
limpieza de sangre
as the determinant of 
hispanidad 
, he still maintains that on
e‟s“Spanishness” is a quality „of the blood.‟
This paper will
illuminate Cervantes‟s embedded
 proposition that it is Holy Blood or sacramental embodiment of the Eucharist that is the true, andonly true, link Spaniards can claim to their Numantine forefathers. The intent is to expound on
1
Robert Marrast, ed.,
 Numancia
, (Madrid: Ed. Catédra, 1990), 2218-9.

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