[DFT] Fw: [ChivalryToday] Noble Sip of Chivalry

Seanan seanan.dft at gmail.com
Wed Sep 7 19:37:38 PDT 2005

A Noble Sip of Chivalry

By Scott Farrell

©2005, Shining Armor Enterprises
In the middle of the 14th century, the Spanish author Gutierre Diaz
de Gamez wrote a book on the principles of chivalry called “The
Unconquered Knight.” Gamez, himself a knight and a seasoned warrior,
wanted to promote the values of honor and faith in a time he felt was
becoming increasingly savage and lawless.

In this book, Gamez relates a parable describing how the first
knights were chosen in ancient times by the Biblical warrior Gideon,
who was preparing to fight a battle against the Madianites. According
to Gamez, Gideon was told in a divine vision that his army would come
to a river before the battle, and that when they did, he should
observe the actions of his soldiers. Those who bent down and slurped
directly from the stream, Gideon understood, should be dismissed and
sent home; those who scooped up water with their hands were brave and
true, and would not falter in battle. According to Gamez, the
warriors who dipped water with their hands were selected as history’s
first knights.

Initially, this seems fairly silly, even petty. After all, who really
cares how you drink water from a river, especially when you’re
marching through the desert preparing for battle? Shouldn’t knights
be chosen for bravery, strength and ferocity rather than riverside
drinking etiquette?

Yet perhaps there’s more to Gamez’s fable than meets the eye. This
occurred to me recently when I was in the gym — a place where pretty
much everyone drops the façade of formality and gets down to the
simple task of working up a sweat. Not far from where I was, a couple
of middle-aged fellows were having a conversation during their
workout. One was loudly telling the other his latest theories about
physical fitness, and their discourse was punctuated by a liberal
sprinkling of four-letter expletives.

Ironically, after a while, their talk moved on to professional
matters and one of them began to loudly (and with plenty of
expletives) speculate why he’d been passed over for a recent
promotion. According to him, his “F-ing” supervisor didn’t appreciate
him, and one of his associates made claims that were “total B.S.”
After about five minutes of this I began to wonder if maybe the
reason this fellow didn’t get his promotion was not so much his
unappreciated talents as it was an underlying attitude of bitterness
and disrespect — an attitude that he probably thought was cleverly
concealed when he was in the office. I’ll bet it didn’t go unnoticed
by his boss, however.

Whether it’s in an overheard conversation in the gym or at an
unguarded moment at a river’s edge, our actions when we think nobody
is watching reveals a lot about who we really are. Some people merely
wear a façade of honor, courtesy and dignity; others maintain their
sense of nobility regardless of whether or not they are under

In explaining Gideon’s selection of knights on the river bank, Gamez
says: “Those who had drunk from their hands, as being men guided by
reason, went into battle and conquered (their enemies). These were
set aside to become princes and knights, who do fair and mighty
deeds, enduring great fear and knowing how to restrain it by honor …
as they had restrained their appetites even when they were athirst.”

Whether this tale is divinely inspired or simply a colorful literary
metaphor, it’s a pretty astute observation of human behavior. How we
speak, act and conduct ourselves in our most unguarded moments
reveals the values we hold at our core. As Gamez so aptly describes,
a real knight never stoops to vulgar behavior, and a true champion is
the one who is unstained when all others have sunk into the mud.

What’s New at Chivalry Today?

At the Chivalry Today website, we’re always working to bring you new
thoughts, observations and explorations of chivalry in the modern
world. Our latest updates include:

- An examination of the U.S. Army’s “11 Leadership Principles” and
what they reveal about the Code of Chivalry;

- Two guest essays exploring chivalry in Islamic and African-American

- New resources for students (and teachers) looking for reading
material and class project ideas that focus on chivalry and medieval

As always, all of the material on our website is provided free-of-
charge to all visitors, without advertising or “premium” subscription
fees. Our educational program operates strictly on the donations of
generous visitors. Please visit us today and see what’s new at



  Readers are permitted and encouraged to share this article with
others as a way of furthering the understanding of the Code of
Chivalry in the modern world. Scott Farrell’s seminars on chivalry
and the knightly virtues are available to businesses, schools and
civic organizations throughout the Southern California area; more
information can be found on our website. Please include all copyright
statements and attributions when forwarding Chivalry Today articles.
Copyright 2005 Scott Farrell and Shining Armor Enterprises. Visit our
website at www.ChivalryToday.com .

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