Greetings from Salamanca, aka the Golden City of Spain! Today we had the normal 9:30-1:00pm classes at Mester, then some free time, followed by an optional lecture on Spanish art at 4:00pm. Afterwards, we went on a literary tour of Salamanca! It was very interesting! It was also pretty cold, but we walked a lot which kept us warm. The first place we stopped was near the Río Tormes near the outer side of the city. Here we witnessed a glimpse into the life of Lazarillo de Tormes, who as a young boy was apprenticed to an elderly blind man in order to gain money for his family. One day when the two were walking near the river, a statue of a bull appeared. The old man told Lazarillo that if he put his ear on the statue he would hear a weird noise. When he did this, the blind man hit Lazarillo's head against the stone statue three times. The lesson Lazarillo learned was that one must not believe everything one hears, thus the statues of Lazarillo & the blind man and the bull still stand near the river.
The next story we learned about was the tragedy of Calixto and Melibea. Contrary to popular belief, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet does indeed copy this Spanish story. In this Spanish version, Calixto and Melibea were lovers who couldn't be together due to their disparity in social class. One day Calixto climbed up the wall of Melibea's house on a ladder to see her, and ended up falling to his death. In her sadness, Melibea jumped off a tower as she couldn't possibly bear to live without her love... Sounds pretty similar to Romeo and Juliet to me! A garden was dedicated to this story.
We learned many more things about Spanish literature such as the famous author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, who wrote Don Quijote de la Mancha. We went to many more places throughout Salamanca– we read plaques with famous quotes built into the walls of building exteriors and learned about evermore important literary figures in Spanish history. The final notable person we learned about was Friar Luis de Leòn. This man was extremely influential, due largely to his many works as well as his teaching skill at the University of Salamanca. At one point in his career, he left the University for five years in order to translate the novel Cantar de los Cantares to Spanish. When he returned the school five years later, he began his first day of class with, "as we said yesterday..." which became a very famous line in Salamanca. During the rest of his time at the University of Salamanca, he translated many works of both classical and biblical literature, as well as authored numerous religious works.
To finish our day of information overload, many of us went to our favorite hang out place, Tapas de Gonzalo, and got some snacks and drinks. It was the perfect way to end the day :)