The Song of Roland, an epic poem based on the Battle of Roncevaux in 778, during the reign of Charlemagne, portrays a hero named Roland. To call him an epic hero would be a stretch for he did not hold any extraordinary ability. However, something could be said of his bravery, valor, and pride on the battlefield. His constant thirst for a fight is one of the many attributes that made him such an incredible warrior. And although his talents on the battlefield were surely exceptional, his inner hunger for battle may have also been his undoing. It was his greatest strength, as it was also his greatest weakness, and for this, its sufficient justification to call him a tragic character.
A tragic character as defined by Aristotle is a "literary character who makes a judgment error that inevitably leads to his/her own destruction." Throughout the reading we see Roland's appetite for a fight constantly. It is even noticed by his friendly companion, Oliver, in the beginning of the read where he warns the King to not send Roland, .
"No, no, not you!" said Oliver the Count, "that heart in you is wild, spoils for a fight, how I would worry-you'd fight with them, I know" (255-257). With this statement he merely reminds the King of Roland's particular eagerness for combat and suggests that maybe he isn't the best man for the job for he would end up fighting the Muslims rather than reasoning with them. Even Roland, with his hubris still intact certainly knows he is a great warrior with his reply to Ganelon:.
"Every man knows that threats don't worry me. But we need a wise man to bring the message: if the King wills, I'll gladly go in your place." (293-295).
With those words he conveys a sort of sense of arrogance and pride for his capabilities. But at the same time his statement acknowledges the fact that someone must do the Kings bidding and he is more than happy to volunteer, portraying another personal quality of his which is his eternal need to satisfy his King.