THE famous soldier, Diègue, had served King Fernand of Castile faithfully and well. In his old age he was rewarded with the coveted position of tutor to the young Prince. Since Gomez, Count of Gormaz, although considerably younger, had been scarcely less conspicuous for personal bravery and crafty generalship, he had believed that he would be chosen for this mark of honor. In his bitter disappointment he not only refuses to sanction the marriage of Diègue's son, Roderick, to his daughter, Chimène, but offered deadly insult to Diègue by a blow to the face.
Since Diègue was too infirm to wield a sword in defense of his honor, it fell to Roderick's lot to avenge his father in a duel from which he emerged victorious. Knowing that by killing Chimène's father, he had sacrificed all hope of winning her, Roderick begged the girl to kill him. Although filial love and duty had impelled her to demand vengeance from the King, she could not kill the man she loved for obeying the dictates of honor. Meanwhile, since Roderick had made himself subject to arrest by a duel which the King had forbidden, Diègue persuaded his son secretly to head a band of trusty followers and to ambush the Moors who even at the moment were about to attempt a surprise attack. So well did Roderick acquit himself that even the two Sultans, captives of his prowess, acclaimed him Cid, the highest honor they could conceive. After this additional proof of loyalty and bravery, the King could do no less than forgive his young subject.
Chimène, however, still insisted on revenge. At length the King permitted her to name her other suitor, Sancho, to avenge her father in single combat with Roderick, naming her hand as the winner's reward.
Roderick's assurance that he would offer no resistance to death at the hands of her chosen champion, finally forced from Chimène the reluctant admission that only a sense of filial duty had impelled her to insist on vengeance. She begged him to rescue her from a hateful marriage.
When the duel was over and Sancho appeared, sword in hand, Chimène jumped to the conclusion that Roderick was dead. Falling on her knees before the King, she begged that she be released from the promise of marriage to enter a convent, bestowing her fortune on Sancho in reparation. As it turned out, Sancho had merely come to report that he was alive because Roderick had generously refused to take the life of one who loved Chimène. Thus both honor and love were satisfied.