Don Juan Manuel was a writer of the Middle Ages who is considered the first representative of medieval prose fiction. Therefore, in this article we wanted to collect some of the most important phrases of Don Juan Manuel that reveal their way of thinking.
However, before entering fully into this, it is important to note that Don Juan Manuel was the tutor of King Alfonso XI himself. Also, although he is the author of several works, there is one that stands out above all Count Lucanor to which we can approach, briefly, thanks to the article Introduction to “Count Lucanor”.
The phrases of Don Juan Manuel that we are going to discover next are adapted to the current Spanish. However, we will discover that the syntax or lexicon used is “medieval”. This is because this writer was born and lived during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
1. The benefit of some friendships
«By sayings and by works of some liars, do not break your friendship with profitable men».
This first of Don Juan Manuel’s phrases is a clear and direct criticism towards people who lie. Well, those who use the lie in a systematic way do so because they want to hurt or because they feel a great envy towards others. For example, as this author calls them, towards profitable men.
The consequences of this are that, often, “truths” are transmitted that are not really so and that damage the reputation or the perspective that we could have towards some people that we consider as friends. For this reason, Don Juan Manuel intends that attention be paid to this aspect and that great care be taken.
2. Get away from fantasies
“In certain realities you can trust, more than the fantasies you must move away.”
Something we tend to fall into with some frequency is what Don Juan Manuel mentions as fantasies. This can also be defined as daydreaming or being carried away by “romantic” daydreams. The result of this is usually a complete disconnection with reality.
However, we may wonder how to know what realities are true? This was not contemplated by Don Juan Manuel, since each of us has a completely different perception of reality based on our experiences and all of them are valid.
3. Do what you want without fear
«For fear of criticism, as long as you do not do wrong, do not stop doing what in each case you think is more convenient».
We could say, without fear of making mistakes, that fear is one of the great evils of the era in which we live today. However, this paralyzing emotion was already present in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. A fear of what they will say and the criticism that makes us stop doing what we want. This is a maladaptive fear, as the article Anxiety and fear correctly points out: its adaptive value and maladaptations.
This third of Don Juan Manuel’s phrases is a reminder that we do not have to look so much at what others say or point out about our actions. If we are not doing something wrong, let’s move on. Otherwise, we will end up regretting in the future if we were not more assertive.
4. Beware of misuse of alcohol
«Wine is very virtuous, badly used is harmful».
This other of the phrases of Don Juan Manuel is very curious. Well we are aware that, consumed moderately, wine is not harmful to our health. However, here lies the crux of the matter and is that this writer warns of its misuse or uncontrolled use.
This can be extrapolated to other areas of our life. Because everything in excess can end up causing us more harm than good. Actually, it is not wine, following the example set forth in the phrase, the one that is “bad”, but it is our actions that make it so.
5. Eulogies can hide deceptions
«Who praises you more than what is in you, beware of him that deceit loves you».
We finish with one of the last words of Don Juan Manuel that alerts us to pay attention to those compliments that some close people can give us. Well, although we all like to receive them, in some cases they may be hiding deceptions, as this author points out.
What Don Juan Manuel means by these deceptions is that the praises of other people may have other kinds of intentions.
Did you know Don Juan Manuel? Had you read El Conde Lucanor? These phrases have allowed you to get closer, a little more, to the way in which this important writer of the Middle Ages thought. Also, surely they have also helped you to reflect on some issues. Which one did you like the most?