Post-classical history

§ The Value of one Good Man: The Case of Yunan of Tripoli

Thus, when men embolden their spirits to do something, they do it. Moreover, men compare differently with respect to their sense of resolve and their dignity. As my father (may God have mercy upon him) once said to me:

Every good member of a given species can always find its equivalent value in bad members of the same species. For example, a good horse is worth one hundred dinars, but five bad horses are also worth one hundred dinars. The same goes for camels, and the same for different kinds of clothing. The only exception is the son of Adam, for, truly, one thousand bad men will never be worth the same as one good man.

And he was right, may God have mercy upon him.

I once sent a mamluk of mine on an important errand to Damascus, but it happened that the atabeg Zangi (may God have mercy upon him) had captured Hama and was encamped against Homs, thereby blocking the route home for my man. So he made instead for Baalbek and from there to Tripoli, where he hired a mule from a Christian man called Yunan.134The latter transported my mamluk to the place where he hired out animals, saw him off on his journey and then returned. My man travelled out as part of a caravan, intending to get to Shayzar via the mountain forts.

But a man intercepted them and told the owners of the caravan-animals, ‘Don’t go on. On your route at such-and-such a place there is a band of robbers – sixty, seventy men – who will take you all captive.’ And so, my man told me:

We stopped, not knowing what to do. We neither relished the idea of turning back nor dared, out of fear, to proceed. And that’s the state we were in when who should appear but Chief Yunan, approaching in a hurry. ‘What brings you here, Chief?’ we asked. ‘I heard,’ he replied, ‘that there are robbers on your route, so I came to travel with you. Let’s go.’ We went with him to that location where – sure enough – a large band of [80] robbers came down the mountain intending to capture us. But Yunan intercepted them saying, ‘Boys, keep your ground! I am Yunan, and these people are under my protection. By God, there’s not a man among you could even get close to them.’ In this way, he turned them back – all of them, by God – without them so much as eating a loaf of our bread. Yunan continued on with us until we were safe, then saw us off and withdrew.

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