Cervantes tells us on Chapter VIII of the first part of Don Quixote , among other things, the story of the sheep, attacked by D. Quixote, who saw them in his madness as two powerful armies of enemies. The dust raised by the meek quadrupeds was the trigger for his madness.

Homer describe us how armies in their movements raise clouds of dust clearly visible in the distance, on Iliad III 8-17:

But the Achaeans came on in silence, breathing fury, eager at heart to bear aid each man to his fellow.

Even as when the South Wind sheddeth a mist over the peaks of a mountain, a mist that the shepherd loveth not, but that to the robber is better than night, and a man can see only so far as he casteth a stone; even in such wise rose the dense dust-cloud from beneath their feet as they went; and full swiftly did they speed across the plain.

Now  when they were come near, as they advanced one host against the other, among the Trojans there stood forth as champion godlike Alexander, bearing upon his shoulders a panther skin and his curved bow, and his sword; and brandishing two spears tipped with bronze he challenged all the best of Argives to fight with him face to face in dread combat.
(Translated by A.T. Murray, Ph.D. London: William Heinemannn LTD. New York: G.P.Putnam’s sons. 1928)

Already Seneca in a letter to his friend Lucilius (they are preserved 124) notes this possible  cause of confusion. Perhaps the source for the transformation of the dust of the sheep in dust of hosts is here.

Seneca, Epistle to Lucilius, 13.8:

“This certain, Lucilius, we lie open to impression, without duly, weighing the things that strike us with sudden fear; we will not give ourselves time to examine them; we tremble; and then turn our backs, like those soldiers, whom the dust raised by a flock of sheep have drove from the camp; or whom some false story, without knowledge of the author, hath terrified and put to flight. (Translation by Thomas Morrell, 1786)

Ita est,mihi Lucili, cito accedimus opinioni; non coarguimus illa quae nos in metum adducunt, nec excutimus, sed trepidamus et sic vertimus terga,quemadmodum illi quos pulvis motus fuga pecorum exuit castris aut quos aliqua fabula sine auctore sparsa conterruit.

Many years earlier, around 447 BC, the great Greek tragedian Sophocles wrote a tragedy (the first of only seven conserved; tradition ascribes him some 123 pieces, including tragedies and satirical dramas) that he named  “Ajax” in which he dramatizes the madness and death of the leader Ajax, notable for his courage, his strength and his stubbornness and persistence.

On the death of Achilles, he thinks the weapons of Achilles are his reward for services rendered in the fight against the Trojans; Heritage also seeks but the wily Odysseus or Ulysses aims also the heritage; Odysseus is who finally gets  them. Ajax angry as only a great heroes and with uncontrollable rage, launches decided to end the life of the Achaean or Greeks chiefs themselves, Odysseus, Agamemnon, Menelaus … The goddess Athena, ever vigilant, channeled the anger of Ajax  toward the flocks of sheep and other animals taken as booty from  the Trojans, which in the eyes and mind of Ajax are presented as the Greeks themselves who have taken away the spoils; Ajax, in his madness, takes them and makes an enormous carnage and chains many others to be beaten. But his madness is temporary.

When they told what really happened, his anger is appeased, as if the death of the animals was a ritual sacrifice, but he feels a great shame because his military fellows,   have not recognized their collaboration in the cause and he must return to their homeland without trophies. He takes a last tragic decision: he will use precisely the sword snatched from the Trojan Hector to end his life. Like a ritual sacrifice is involved, the death of the sheep had appeased the wrath of Ajax.

Sophocles tells us in Ajax, 228 et seq.

In what way did the plague first swoop down on him? Tell us who share your pain how it happened.


You will hear all that took place, since you are involved.  In the dead of night when the evening lamps were no longer aflame, he seized a two-edged sword and wanted to leave on an aimless foray. Then I admonished him and said, “What are you doing, Ajax? Why do you set out unsummoned on this expedition,  neither called by messenger, nor warned by trumpet? In fact the whole army is sleeping now.” But he answered me curtly with that trite jingle: “Woman, silence graces woman.” And I, taking his meaning, desisted, but he rushed out alone.

What happened out there, I cannot tell. But he came in with his captives hobbled together—bulls, herding dogs, and his fleecy quarry. Some he beheaded; of some he cut the twisted throat or broke the spine; others  he abused in their bonds as though they were men, though falling only upon cattle. At last he darted out through the door, and dragged up words to speak to some shadow—now against the Atreidae, now about Odysseus—with many a mocking boast of all the abuse that in vengeance he had fully repaid them during his raid.  After that he rushed back again into the house, and somehow by slow, painful steps he regained his reason. And as he scanned the room full of his disastrous madness, he struck his head and howled; he fell down, a wreck amid the wrecked corpses of the slaughtered sheep, and there he sat  with clenched nails tightly clutching his hair. At first, and for a long while, he sat without a sound. But then he threatened me with those dreadful threats, if I did not declare all that had happened, and he demanded to know what on earth was the business he found himself in.  And in my fear, friends, I told him all that had been done, as far as I knew it for certain. But he immediately groaned mournful groans, such as I had never heard from him before. For he had always taught that such wailing  was for cowardly and low-hearted men. He used to grieve quietly without the sound of loud weeping, but instead moaned low like a bull.
And now, prostrate in such miserable fortune, tasting no food, no drink,  the man sits idly where he has fallen in the middle of the iron-slain cattle. And plainly he plans to do something terrible. Somehow his words and his laments say as much. Ah, my friends—for it was my errand to ask you this—come in and help him, if in any way you can.  Men of his kind can be won over by the words of friends.
  (Sophocles. The Ajax of Sophocles. Edited with introduction and notes by Sir Richard Jebb. Sir Richard Jebb. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. 1893.)

The episode of Don Quixote which Cervantes tells us on chapter XVIII of the first part may not have to do with Ajax anything beyond the basic fact of both accounts: two angry soldiers in their  madness confuse  meek lamb and animals with fierce contending armies, with the important difference that the madness of Ajax, produced by the gods, is fleeting but with  fatal consequences; that one of Don Quixote seems persistent and confirmed, because when  the episode is finished,  Quixote insists they are charmers  who have changed his soldiers in sheep to deprive him of victory:

“and this malignant being who persecutes me, envious of the glory he knew I was to win in this battle, has turned the squadrons of the enemy into droves of sheep”.

So Cervantes and Don Quixote with collaboration of  evil spirits, make a fantasy from reality and  reality from fantasy. Don Quixote, crazy at times, places, where it is possible, the vision of "knight", according to his readings, to the vision of his physical senses. The truth, which is in the alternative dynamic between fantasy and reality, serves to Cervantes repeatedly to place us in what unknown place, real or imagined,  because in their view the two are equally plausible.

That is, Don Quixote, and incidentally all of us, were locked in a vicious circle end: are the herds of sheep armies or are the armies herds of sheep by Art enchantments? What is real?

Note: Cervantes, Don Quixote, makes a numerous  list of the "alleged" contenders. What Don Quixote makes is an imitation of the enumerations which traditionally is done in battles from the Iliad itself, and as Francisco Rico, accurate commentator of Don Quixote of Cervantes, it is a piece for the literary brilliance from Homer.

Cervantes says on I, XVI:

Thus talking, Don Quixote and his squire were going along, when, on the road they were following, Don Quixote perceived approaching them a large and thick cloud of dust, on seeing which he turned to Sancho and said:

"This is the day, Sancho, on which will be seen the boon my fortune is reserving for me; this, I say, is the day on which as much as on any other shall be displayed the might of my arm, and on which I shall do deeds that shall remain written in the book of fame for all ages to come. Seest thou that cloud of dust which rises yonder? Well, then, all that is churned up by a vast army composed of various and countless nations that comes marching there."

"According to that there must be two," said Sancho, "for on this opposite side also there rises just such another cloud of dust."

Don Quixote turned to look and found that it was true, and rejoicing exceedingly, he concluded that they were two armies about to engage and encounter in the midst of that broad plain; for at all times and seasons his fancy was full of the battles, enchantments, adventures, crazy feats, loves, and defiances that are recorded in the books of chivalry, and everything he said, thought, or did had reference to such things. Now the cloud of dust he had seen was raised by two great droves of sheep coming along the same road in opposite directions, which, because of the dust, did not become visible until they drew near, but Don Quixote asserted so positively that they were armies that Sancho was led to believe it and say, "Well, and what are we to do, senor?"

"What?" said Don Quixote: "give aid and assistance to the weak and those who need it; and thou must know, Sancho, that this which comes opposite to us is conducted and led by the mighty emperor Alifanfaron, lord of the great isle of Trapobana; this other that marches behind me is that of his enemy the king of the Garamantas, Pentapolin of the Bare Arm, for he always goes into battle with his right arm bare."

"But why are these two lords such enemies?"

"They are at enmity," replied Don Quixote, "because this Alifanfaron is a furious pagan and is in love with the daughter of Pentapolin, who is a very beautiful and moreover gracious lady, and a Christian, and her father is unwilling to bestow her upon the pagan king unless he first abandons the religion of his false prophet Mahomet, and adopts his own."

"By my beard," said Sancho, "but Pentapolin does quite right, and I will help him as much as I can."
"In that thou wilt do what is thy duty, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "for to engage in battles of this sort it is not requisite to be a dubbed knight."

"That I can well understand," answered Sancho; "but where shall we put this ass where we may be sure to find him after the fray is over? for I believe it has not been the custom so far to go into battle on a beast of this kind."

"That is true," said Don Quixote, "and what you had best do with him is to leave him to take his chance whether he be lost or not, for the horses we shall have when we come out victors will be so many that even Rocinante will run a risk of being changed for another. But attend to me and observe, for I wish to give thee some account of the chief knights who accompany these two armies; and that thou mayest the better see and mark, let us withdraw to that hillock which rises yonder, whence both armies may be seen."

They did so, and placed themselves on a rising ground from which the two droves that Don Quixote made armies of might have been plainly seen if the clouds of dust they raised had not obscured them and blinded the sight; nevertheless, seeing in his imagination what he did not see and what did not exist, he began thus in a loud voice:

"That knight whom thou seest yonder in yellow armour, who bears upon his shield a lion crowned crouching at the feet of a damsel, is the valiant Laurcalco, lord of the Silver Bridge; that one in armour with flowers of gold, who bears on his shield three crowns argent on an azure field, is the dreaded Micocolembo, grand duke of Quirocia; that other of gigantic frame, on his right hand, is the ever dauntless Brandabarbaran de Boliche, lord of the three Arabias, who for armour wears that serpent skin, and has for shield a gate which, according to tradition, is one of those of the temple that Samson brought to the ground when by his death he revenged himself upon his enemies. But turn thine eyes to the other side, and thou shalt see in front and in the van of this other army the ever victorious and never vanquished Timonel of Carcajona, prince of New Biscay, who comes in armour with arms quartered azure, vert, white, and yellow, and bears on his shield a cat or on a field tawny with a motto which says Miau, which is the beginning of the name of his lady, who according to report is the peerless Miaulina, daughter of the duke Alfeniquen of the Algarve; the other, who burdens and presses the loins of that powerful charger and bears arms white as snow and a shield blank and without any device, is a novice knight, a Frenchman by birth, Pierres Papin by name, lord of the baronies of Utrique; that other, who with iron-shod heels strikes the flanks of that nimble parti-coloured zebra, and for arms bears azure vair, is the mighty duke of Nerbia, Espartafilardo del Bosque, who bears for device on his shield an asparagus plant with a motto in Castilian that says, Rastrea mi suerte." And so he went on naming a number of knights of one squadron or the other out of his imagination, and to all he assigned off-hand their arms, colours, devices, and mottoes, carried away by the illusions of his unheard-of craze; and without a pause, he continued, "People of divers nations compose this squadron in front; here are those that drink of the sweet waters of the famous Xanthus, those that scour the woody Massilian plains, those that sift the pure fine gold of Arabia Felix, those that enjoy the famed cool banks of the crystal Thermodon, those that in many and various ways divert the streams of the golden Pactolus, the Numidians, faithless in their promises, the Persians renowned in archery, the Parthians and the Medes that fight as they fly, the Arabs that ever shift their dwellings, the Scythians as cruel as they are fair, the Ethiopians with pierced lips, and an infinity of other nations whose features I recognise and descry, though I cannot recall their names. In this other squadron there come those that drink of the crystal streams of the olive-bearing Betis, those that make smooth their countenances with the water of the ever rich and golden Tagus, those that rejoice in the fertilising flow of the divine Genil, those that roam the Tartesian plains abounding in pasture, those that take their pleasure in the Elysian meadows of Jerez, the rich Manchegans crowned with ruddy ears of corn, the wearers of iron, old relics of the Gothic race, those that bathe in the Pisuerga renowned for its gentle current, those that feed their herds along the spreading pastures of the winding Guadiana famed for its hidden course, those that tremble with the cold of the pineclad Pyrenees or the dazzling snows of the lofty Apennine; in a word, as many as all Europe includes and contains."

Good God! what a number of countries and nations he named! giving to each its proper attributes with marvellous readiness; brimful and saturated with what he had read in his lying books! Sancho Panza hung upon his words without speaking, and from time to time turned to try if he could see the knights and giants his master was describing, and as he could not make out one of them he said to him:

"Senor, devil take it if there's a sign of any man you talk of, knight or giant, in the whole thing; maybe it's all enchantment, like the phantoms last night."

"How canst thou say that!" answered Don Quixote; "dost thou not hear the neighing of the steeds, the braying of the trumpets, the roll of the drums?"

"I hear nothing but a great bleating of ewes and sheep," said Sancho; which was true, for by this time the two flocks had come close.

"The fear thou art in, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "prevents thee from seeing or hearing correctly, for one of the effects of fear is to derange the senses and make things appear different from what they are; if thou art in such fear, withdraw to one side and leave me to myself, for alone I suffice to bring victory to that side to which I shall give my aid;" and so saying he gave Rocinante the spur, and putting the lance in rest, shot down the slope like a thunderbolt. Sancho shouted after him, crying, "Come back, Senor Don Quixote; I vow to God they are sheep and ewes you are charging! Come back! Unlucky the father that begot me! what madness is this! Look, there is no giant, nor knight, nor cats, nor arms, nor shields quartered or whole, nor vair azure or bedevilled. What are you about? Sinner that I am before God!" But not for all these entreaties did Don Quixote turn back; on the contrary he went on shouting out, "Ho, knights, ye who follow and fight under the banners of the valiant emperor Pentapolin of the Bare Arm, follow me all; ye shall see how easily I shall give him his revenge over his enemy Alifanfaron of the Trapobana."

So saying, he dashed into the midst of the squadron of ewes, and began spearing them with as much spirit and intrepidity as if he were transfixing mortal enemies in earnest. The shepherds and drovers accompanying the flock shouted to him to desist; seeing it was no use, they ungirt their slings and began to salute his ears with stones as big as one's fist. Don Quixote gave no heed to the stones, but, letting drive right and left kept saying:

"Where art thou, proud Alifanfaron? Come before me; I am a single knight who would fain prove thy prowess hand to hand, and make thee yield thy life a penalty for the wrong thou dost to the valiant Pentapolin Garamanta." Here came a sugar-plum from the brook that struck him on the side and buried a couple of ribs in his body. Feeling himself so smitten, he imagined himself slain or badly wounded for certain, and recollecting his liquor he drew out his flask, and putting it to his mouth began to pour the contents into his stomach; but ere he had succeeded in swallowing what seemed to him enough, there came another almond which struck him on the hand and on the flask so fairly that it smashed it to pieces, knocking three or four teeth and grinders out of his mouth in its course, and sorely crushing two fingers of his hand. Such was the force of the first blow and of the second, that the poor knight in spite of himself came down backwards off his horse. The shepherds came up, and felt sure they had killed him; so in all haste they collected their flock together, took up the dead beasts, of which there were more than seven, and made off without waiting to ascertain anything further.

All this time Sancho stood on the hill watching the crazy feats his master was performing, and tearing his beard and cursing the hour and the occasion when fortune had made him acquainted with him. Seeing him, then, brought to the ground, and that the shepherds had taken themselves off, he ran to him and found him in very bad case, though not unconscious; and said he:

"Did I not tell you to come back, Senor Don Quixote; and that what you were going to attack were not armies but droves of sheep?"

"That's how that thief of a sage, my enemy, can alter and falsify things," answered Don Quixote; "thou must know, Sancho, that it is a very easy matter for those of his sort to make us believe what they choose; and this malignant being who persecutes me, envious of the glory he knew I was to win in this battle, has turned the squadrons of the enemy into droves of sheep. At any rate, do this much, I beg of thee, Sancho, to undeceive thyself, and see that what I say is true; mount thy ass and follow them quietly, and thou shalt see that when they have gone some little distance from this they will return to their original shape and, ceasing to be sheep, become men in all respects as I described them to thee at first. But go not just yet, for I want thy help and assistance; come hither, and see how many of my teeth and grinders are missing, for I feel as if there was not one left in my mouth."

Sancho came so close that he almost put his eyes into his mouth; now just at that moment the balsam had acted on the stomach of Don Quixote, so, at the very instant when Sancho came to examine his mouth, he discharged all its contents with more force than a musket, and full into the beard of the compassionate squire.

"Holy Mary!" cried Sancho, "what is this that has happened me? Clearly this sinner is mortally wounded, as he vomits blood from the mouth;" but considering the matter a little more closely he perceived by the colour, taste, and smell, that it was not blood but the balsam from the flask which he had seen him drink; and he was taken with such a loathing that his stomach turned, and he vomited up his inside over his very master, and both were left in a precious state. Sancho ran to his ass to get something wherewith to clean himself, and relieve his master, out of his alforjas; but not finding them, he well-nigh took leave of his senses, and cursed himself anew, and in his heart resolved to quit his master and return home, even though he forfeited the wages of his service and all hopes of the promised island.

Don Quixote now rose, and putting his left hand to his mouth to keep his teeth from falling out altogether, with the other he laid hold of the bridle of Rocinante, who had never stirred from his master's side-so loyal and well-behaved was he==and betook himself to where the squire stood leaning over his ass with his hand to his cheek, like one in deep dejection. Seeing him in this mood, looking so sad, Don Quixote said to him:

"Bear in mind, Sancho, that one man is no more than another, unless he does more than another; all these tempests that fall upon us are signs that fair weather is coming shortly, and that things will go well with us, for it is impossible for good or evil to last for ever; and hence it follows that the evil having lasted long, the good must be now nigh at hand; so thou must not distress thyself at the misfortunes which happen to me, since thou hast no share in them."

"How have I not?" replied Sancho; "was he whom they blanketed yesterday perchance any other than my father's son? and the alforjas that are missing to-day with all my treasures, did they belong to any other but myself?"

"What! are the alforjas missing, Sancho?" said Don Quixote.

"Yes, they are missing," answered Sancho.

"In that case we have nothing to eat to-day," replied Don Quixote.

"It would be so," answered Sancho, "if there were none of the herbs your worship says you know in these meadows, those with which knights-errant as unlucky as your worship are wont to supply such-like shortcomings."

"For all that," answered Don Quixote, "I would rather have just now a quarter of bread, or a loaf and a couple of pilchards' heads, than all the herbs described by Dioscorides, even with Doctor Laguna's notes. Nevertheless, Sancho the Good, mount thy beast and come along with me, for God, who provides for all things, will not fail us (more especially when we are so active in his service as we are), since he fails not the midges of the air, nor the grubs of the earth, nor the tadpoles of the water, and is so merciful that he maketh his sun to rise on the good and on the evil, and sendeth rain on the unjust and on the just."

"Your worship would make a better preacher than knight-errant," said Sancho.

"Knights-errant knew and ought to know everything, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "for there were knights-errant in former times as well qualified to deliver a sermon or discourse in the middle of an encampment, as if they had graduated in the University of Paris; whereby we may see that the lance has never blunted the pen, nor the pen the lance."

"Well, be it as your worship says," replied Sancho; "let us be off now and find some place of shelter for the night, and God grant it may be somewhere where there are no blankets, nor blanketeers, nor phantoms, nor enchanted Moors; for if there are, may the devil take the whole concern."
"Ask that of God, my son," said Don Quixote; and do thou lead on where thou wilt, for this time I leave our lodging to thy choice; but reach me here thy hand, and feel with thy finger, and find out how many of my teeth and grinders are missing from this right side of the upper jaw, for it is there I feel the pain."

Sancho put in his fingers, and feeling about asked him, "How many grinders used your worship have on this side?"

"Four," replied Don Quixote, "besides the back-tooth, all whole and quite sound."

"Mind what you are saying, senor."

"I say four, if not five," answered Don Quixote, "for never in my life have I had tooth or grinder drawn, nor has any fallen out or been destroyed by any decay or rheum."

"Well, then," said Sancho, "in this lower side your worship has no more than two grinders and a half, and in the upper neither a half nor any at all, for it is all as smooth as the palm of my hand."

"Luckless that I am!" said Don Quixote, hearing the sad news his squire gave him; "I had rather they despoiled me of an arm, so it were not the sword-arm; for I tell thee, Sancho, a mouth without teeth is like a mill without a millstone, and a tooth is much more to be prized than a diamond; but we who profess the austere order of chivalry are liable to all this. Mount, friend, and lead the way, and I will follow thee at whatever pace thou wilt."

Sancho did as he bade him, and proceeded in the direction in which he thought he might find refuge without quitting the high road, which was there very much frequented. As they went along, then, at a slow pace-for the pain in Don Quixote's jaws kept him uneasy and ill-disposed for speed-Sancho thought it well to amuse and divert him by talk of some kind, and among the things he said to him was that which will be told in the following chapter. (Translated by John Ormsby)

En estos coloquios iban Don Quijote y su escudero, cuando vio Don Quijote que por el camino que iban venía hacia ellos una grande y espesa polvareda, y en viéndola se volvió a Sancho, y le dijo:

-Este es el día, oh Sancho, en el cual se ha de ver el bien que me tiene guardado mi suerte; este es el día, digo, en que se ha de mostrar tanto como en otro alguno el valor de mi brazo, y en que tengo de hacer obras que queden escritas en el libro de la fama por todos los venideros siglos. ¿Ves aquella polvareda que allí se levanta, Sancho? Pues toda es cuajada de un copiosísimo ejército que de diversas e innumerables gentes compuesto, por allí viene marchando.

-A esa cuenta, dos deben de ser- dijo Sancho, porque desta parte contraria se levanta asimesmo otra semejante polvareda.

Volvió a mirarla Don Quijote, y vió que así era la verdad; y alegrándose sobremanera, pensó sin dudaalguna que eran dos ejércitos que venían a embestirse y a encontrarse en mitad de aquella espaciosa llanura, porque tenía a todas horas y momentos llena la fantasía de aquellas batallas, encantamientos, sucesos, desatinos, amores, desafíos, que en los libros de caballería se cuentan; y todo cuanto hablaba, pensaba o hacía, era encaminado a cosas semejantes, y a la polvareda que había visto la levantaban dos grandes manadas de ovejas y carneros, que por el mismo camino de dos diferentes partes venían, las cuales con el polvo no se echaron de ver hasta que llegaron cerca; y con tanto ahínco afirmaba Don Quijote que eran ejército, que Sancho le vino a creer, y a decirle:

-Señor, ¿pues qué hemos de hacer nosotros?

-¿Qué? dijo Don Quijote. Favorecer y ayudar a los menesterosos y desvalidos; y has de saber, Sancho, que este que viene por nuestra frente lo conduce y guía el gran emperador Alifanfaron, señor de la grande isla Trapobana; este otro, que a mis espaldas marcha, es el de su enemigo el rey de los Garamantas, Pentapolin del arremangado brazo, porque siempre entra en las batallas con el brazo derecho desnudo.

-Pues ¿por qué se quieren tan mal estos dos señores? preguntó Sancho.

– Quiérense mal- respondió Don Quijote, porque este Alifanfaron es un
furibundo pagano, y está enamorado de la hija de Pentapolin, que es una muy hermosa y además agraciada señora, y es cristiana, y su padre no se la quiere entregar al rey pagano si no deja primero la ley de su falso profeta Mahoma, y se vuelve a la suya.

– ¡Para mis barbas- dijo Sancho, si no hace muy bien Pentapolin, y que le tengo de ayudar en cuanto pudiere!.

– En eso harás lo que debes, Sancho– dijo Don Quijote, porque para entrar en batallas semejantes no se requiere ser armado caballero.

-Bien se me alcanza eso -respondió Sancho-; pero ¿dónde pondremos a este asno, que estemos ciertos de hallarle después de pasada la refriega, porque al entrar en ella en semejante caballería no creo que está en uso hasta agora?

-Así es verdad, -dijo Don Quijote-; lo que puedes hacer dél es dejarle a sus aventuras, ahora se pierda o no, porque serán tanto los caballos que tendremos después que salgamos vencedores, que aún corre peligro Rocinante no le trueque por otro ; pero estáme atento y mira, que te quiero dar cuenta de los caballeros más principales que en estos dos ejércitos vienen, y para que mejor los veas y los notes, retirémonos a aquel altillo que allí se hace, de donde se deben descubrir los dos ejércitos.

Hiciéronlo así y pusiéronse sobre una loma , desde la cual se veían bien las dos manadas que a Don Quijote se le hicieron ejército, si las nubes del polvo que levantaban no les turbara y cegara la vista; pero con todo esto, viendo en su imaginación lo que no veía ni había, con voz levantada comenzó a decir:

-Aquel caballero que allí ves de las armas jaldes, que trae en el escudo un león coronado rendido a los pies de una doncella, es el valeroso Laurcalco, señor de la Puente de Plata. El otro de las armas de las flores de oro, que trae en el escudo tres coronas de plata en campo azul, es el temido Micocolembo, gran duque de Quirocia. El otro de los miembros gigantes que está a su derecha mano, es el nunca medroso Brandabarbar an de Boliche, señor de las tres Arabias, que viene armado de aquel cuero de serpiente, y tiene por escudo una puerta, que según es fama, es una de las del templo que derribó Sanson cuando con su muerte se vengó de sus enemigos. Pero vuelve los ojos a estotra parte, y verás delante y en la frente de estotro ejército al siempre vencedor y jamás vencido Timonel de Carcajona, príncipe de la Nueva Vizcaya, que viene armado con las armas partidas a cuarteles azules, verdes, blancos y amarillos, y trae en el escudo un gato de oro en campo leonado con una letra que dice "Miau", que es el principio del nombre de su dama, que según se dice es la sin par Miaulina, hija del duque de Alfeñiquen del Algarbe. El otro, que carga y oprime los lomos de aquella poderosa alfana, que trae las armas como nieve blancas, y el escudo blanco y sin empresa alguna, es un caballero novel, de nación francés, llamado Pierres Papin, señor de las baronías de Utrique. El otro, que bate las hijadas con los herrados carcaños a aquella pintada y lijera cebra, y trae las armas de los veros azules, es el poderoso duque de Nervia, Espartafilardo del Bosque, que trae por empresa en el escudo una esparraguera con una letra en castellano, que dice así: "Rastrea mi suerte".

Y desta manera fué nombrando muchos caballeros del uno y del otro escuadrón que él se imaginaba, y a todo s les dió sus armas, colores, empresas y motes de improviso, llevado de la imaginación de su nunca vista locura, y sin parar prosiguió diciendo:

-A este escuadrón frontero forman y hacen gentes de diversas naciones; aquí están los que beben las dulces aguas del famoso Janto, los montuosos que pisan los masilíscos campos, los que criban el finísimo y menudo oro en la felice Arabia, los que gozan las famosas y frescas riberas del claro Termodonte, los que sangran por muchas y diversas vías al dorado Pactolo, los mumidas dudosos ensus promesas, los persas en arcos y flechas famosos, los partos, los medos, que pelean huyendo, los árabes de mudables casas, los citas tan crueles como blancos, los etíopes de horadados labios, y otras infinitas naciones cuyos rostros conozco y veo, aunque de los nombres no me acuerdo. En estotro escuadrón vienen los que beben las corrientes cristalinas del olivífero Betis, los que tersan y pulen con el licor del siempre rico y dorado Tajo, los que gozan las provechosas aguas del divino Genil, los que pisan los tartesios campos de pastos abundantes, los que se alegran en elíseos jerezanos prados, los manchegos ricos y coronados de rubias espigas, los de hierro vestidos, reliquias antiguas de la sangre goda, los que en Pisuerga se bañan, famoso por la mansedumbre de su corriente, los que su ganado apacientan en las extendidas dehesas del tortuoso Guadiana, celebrado por su escondido curso, los que tiemblan con el frío del silboso Pirineo y con los blancos copos del levantado Apenino; finalmente, cuantos toda la Europa en sí contiene y encierra.

¡Válame Dios, y cuántas provincias dijo , cuántas naciones nombró, dándole a cada una con maravillosa presteza los atributos que le pertenecían, todo absorto y empapado en lo que había leído en sus libros mentirosos!

Estaba Sancho Panza colgado de sus palabras sin hablar ninguna, y de cuando en cuando volvía la cabeza a ver si veía los caballeros y gigantes que su amo nombraba, y como no descubría a ninguno le dijo:

-Señor, encomiendo al diablo, si hombre, ni gigante, ni caballero de cuantos vuestra merced dice parece por todo esto, a lo menos yo no los veo; quizá todo esto debe ser
encantamiento como las fantasmas de anoche.

¿Cómo dices eso? –respondió Don Quijote, no oyes el relinchar de los caballos, el tocar de los clarines, el ruido de los atambores?

-No oigo otra cosa, -respondió Sancho- sino muchos balidos de ovejas y carneros,

Y así era la verdad, porque ya llegaban cerca los dos rebaños.

-El miedo que tienes, -dijo Don Quijote- te hace, Sancho, que ni veas ni oyas a derechas, porque uno de los efectos del miedo es turbar los sentidos, y hacer que las cosas no parezcan lo que son; y si es que tanto temes, retírate a una parte y déjame solo, que solo basto a dar la victoria a la parte a quien yo diere mi ayuda.

Y diciendo ésto puso las espuelas a Rocinante, y puesta la lanza en el ristre bajó de la costezuela como un rayo.

Diole voces Sancho, diciéndole:

-Vuélvase vuestra merced, señor Don Quijote, que voto a Dios que son carneros y ovejas las que va a embestir: vuélvase, desdichado del padre que me engendró: ¡qué locura es ésta! Mire que no hay gigante ni caballero alguno, ni gatos, ni armas, ni escudos partidos ni enteros, ni veros azules ni endiablados. ¿Qué es lo que hace? Pecador soy yo a Dios.

Ni por esasvolvió Don Quijote, antes en altas voces iba diciendo:

-¡Ea, caballeros, los que seguís y militais debajo de las banderas del poderoso emperador Pentapolin del arremangado brazo, seguidme todos! ¡Vereis cuán facilmente le doy venganza de su enemigo Alifanfaron de la Trapobana!

Esto diciendo, se entró por medio del escuadrón de las ovejas, y comenzó de alanceallas con tanto con coraje y denuedo, como si de veras alanceara a sus mortales enemigos. Los pastores y ganaderos que con la manada venían, dábanle voces que no hiciese aquello; pero viendo que no aprovechaban, desciñéronse las ondas, y comenzaron a saludarle los oídos con piedras como el puño. Don Quijote no se curaba de las piedras; antes discurriendo a todas partes, decía:

– ¿Adónde estás, soberbio Alifanfaron? Vente a mí, que un caballero solo soy, que desea de solo a solo probar tus fuerzas y quitarte la vida en pena de la que das al valeroso Pentapolin Garamanta.

Llegó en ésto una peladilla de arroyo, y dándole en un lado, le sepultó dos costillas en el cuerpo. Viéndose tan maltrecho, creyó sin duda que estaba muerto o mal ferido, y cordándose de su licor, sacó su alcuza, y púsosela a la boca, y comenzó a echar licor en el estomago; mas antes que acabase de envasar lo que a él le parecía que era bastante llegó otra almendra, y dióle en la mano y en la alcuza tan de lleno, que se la hizo pedazo s, llevándole de camino tres o cuatro dientes y muelas de la boca, y machucándole malamente dos dedos de la mano.

Tal fue el golpe primero, y tal el segundo o, que le fue forzoso al pobre caballero dar consigo del caballo abajo. Llegáronse a él los pastores, y creyendo que le habían muerto, y así con mucha priesa recogieron su ganado, y cargaron de las reses muertas, que pasaban de siete, y sin averiguar otra cosa se fueron.

Estábase todo este tiempo Sancho sobre la cuesta, mirando las locuras que su amo hacía, y arrancábase las barbas, maldiciendo la hora y el punto en que la fortuna se le había dado a conocer. Viéndole, pues, caído en el suelo, y que ya los pastores se habían ido, bajó de la cuesta y llegóse a él, y hallándole de muy mal arte, aunque no había perdido el sentido, y díjole:

-¿No le decía yo, señor Don Quijote, que se volviese, que los que iba a acometer no eran ejércitos, sino manadas de carneros?

-Como éso puede desaparecer y contra hacer aquel ladrón del sabio mi enemigo, respondió Don Quijote: sábete, Sancho, que es muy fácil cosa a los tales hacernos parecer lo que quieren, y este maligno que me persigue, envidioso de la gloria que vío que yo había de alcanzar desta batalla, ha vuelto los escuadrones de enemigos en manadas de ovejas. Si no haz una cosa, Sancho, por mi vida, porque te desengañes y veas ser verdad lo que te digo: sube en tu asno y síguelos bonitamente, y verás cómo, en alejándose de aquí algún poco, se vuelven en su ser primero, y dejando de ser carneros, son hombres hechos y derechos, como te los pinté primero, pero no vayas ahora, que he menester tu favor y ayuda; llégate a mí, y mira cuántas muelas y dientes me faltan, que me parece que no me ha quedado ninguno en la boca.

Llegóse Sancho tan cerca, que casi le metía los ojos en la boca, y fue a tiempo que ya había obrado el bálsamo en el estómago de Don Quijote, y al tiempo que Sancho llegó a mirarle la boca, arrojó de sí, más recio que una escopeta, cuanto dentro tenía, y le dió con todo ello en las barbas del compasivo escudero.

– ¡Santa María!-dijo Sancho-. ¿Y qué es ésto que me ha sucedido? Sin duda este pecador está herido de muerte, pues vomita sangre por la boca.

Pero reparando un poco más en ello, echó de ver en la color, sabor y olor, que no era sangre, sino el bálsamo de la alcuza que él le había visto beber; y fué tanto el asco que tomó, que revolviéndosele el estómago, vomitó las tripas sobre su mismo señor, y quedaron entrambos como de perlas. Acudió Sancho a su asno para sacar de las alforjas con qué limpiarse y con qué curar a su amo, y como no las halló, estuvo a punto de perder el juicio; maldíjose de nuevo; y propuso en su corazón de dejar a su amo y volverse a su tierra, aunque perdiese el salario de lo servido y las speranzas del gobierno de la prometida ínsula.

Levántose en esto Don Quijote, y puesta la mano izquierda en la boca, porque no se le acabasen de salir los dientes, asió con la otra las riendas de Rocinante, que nunca se había movido de junto a su amo (tal era de leal y bien acondicionado), y fuese a donde su escudero estaba, de pechos sobre su asno, con la mano en la mejilla en guisa de hombre pensativo, además, y viéndole Don Quijote de aquella manera, con muestras de tanta tristeza, le dijo:

-Sábete, Sancho, que no es un hombre más que otro si no hace más que otro: todas esta borrascas que nos suceden son señales de que presto ha de serenar el tiempo, y han de sucedernos bien las cosas, porque no es posible que el mal ni el bien sean durables, y de aquí se sigue que, habiendo durado mucho el mal, el bien está ya cerca, así que no debes congojarte por las desgracias que a mí me suceden, pues a ti no te cabe parte de ellas.

-¿Cómo no? -respondió Sancho-; ¿Por ventura el que ayer mantearon era otro que el hijo de mi padre? ¿y las alforjas que hoy me faltan son de otro que del mismo?

-¿Qué, te faltan las alforjas, Sancho? -dijo Don Quijote.

-Sí que me faltan, -respondió Sancho.

-¿De ese modo, no tenemos que comer hoy? -replicó Don Quijote.

-Eso fuera, -respondió Sancho- cuando faltaran por estos prados las yerbas que vuestra merced dice que conoce, con que suelen suplir semejantes faltas los tan mal aventurados caballeros andantes, como vuestra merced es.

-Con todo eso, -respondió Don Quijote- tomara yo más aina un cuartel de pan, o una hogaza y dos cabezas de sardinas arenques, que cuantas yerbas describe Dioscórides, aunque fuera el ilustrado doctor Laguna; mas con todo ésto, sube en tu jumento, Sancho el bueno, y vente tras mi, que Dios, que es proveedor de todas las cosas, no nos ha de faltar, y más andando tan en su servicio como andamos, pues no falta a los mosquitos del aire, ni a los gusanillos de la tierra, ni a los renacuajos del agua, y es tan piadoso, que hace salir su sol sobre los buenos y malos, y llueve sobre los injustos y justos.

-Más bueno era vuestra merced, -dijo Sancho-, para predicador que para caballero andante.

De todo sabían y han de saber los caballeros andantes, Sancho, -dijo Don Quijote-, porque caballero andante hubo en los pasados siglos, que así se paraba a hacer un sermón o plática en un camino real, como si fuera graduado por la universidad de París, de donde se infiere, que nunca la lanza embotó la pluma, ni la pluma la lanza.

-Ahora bien, sea así como vuestra merced dice, -respondió Sancho-; vamos ahora de aquí y procuremos donde alojar esta noche, y quiera Dios que sea en parte donde no haya mantas, ni manteadores, ni fantasmas, ni moros encantados, que si los hay, daré al diablo el hato y el garabato.

-Pídeselo tú a Dios, -dijo Don Quijote-, y guía tú por donde quisieres, que esta vez quiero dejar a tu elección el alojarnos; pero dame acá la mano, y atiéntame con el dedo, y mira bien cuántos dientes y muelas me faltan deste lado derecho de la quijada alta, que allí siento el dolor.

Metió Sancho los dedos, y estándole atentándo le dijo:

-¿Cuántas muelas solía vuestra merced tener en esta parte?

– Cuatro -respondió Don Quijote- fuera de la cordal todas enteras y muy sanas.
-Mire vuestra merced bien lo que dice, señor, -respondió Sancho.

– Digo cuatro, si no eran cinco, -respondió Don Quijote-, porque en toda mi vida me han sacado diente ni muela de la boca, ni se me ha caído, ni comido de neguijon, ni de reuma alguna.

-Pues en esta parte de abajo, -dijo Sancho-, no tiene vuestra merced más de dos muelas y media, y en la de arriba, ni media ni ninguna, que toda está rasa como la palma de la mano.

¡Sin ventura yo! -dijo Don Quijote-, oyendo las tristes nuevas que su escudero le daba, que más quisiera que me hubieran derribado un brazo, como no fuera el de la espada; porque te hago saber, Sancho, que la boca sin muelas es como el molino sin piedra, y en mucho más se ha de estimar un diente que un diamante; mas a todo esto estamos sujetos los que profesamos la estrecha orden de la caballería. Sube, amigo, y guía, que yo te seguiré al paso que quisieres.

Hízolo así Sancho, y encaminose hacia donde le pareció que podía hallar acogimiento, sin salir del camino real, que por allí iba muy seguido.

Yéndose, pues, poco a poco, porque el dolor de las quijadas de Don Quijote no le dejaba sosegar, ni atender a darse priesa, quiso Sancho entretenelle y divertirle diciéndole alguna cosa, y entre otras que le dijo, fue lo que se dirá en el siguiente capítulo.

The episode of Ajax of The Iliad inspired Cervantes

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