At the start of chapter 25 of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, Sancho Panza is not allowed to speak (to Don Quixote).

Don Quixote took leave of the goatherd, and once more mounting Rocinante bade Sancho follow him, which he having no ass, did very discontentedly. They proceeded slowly, making their way into the most rugged part of the mountain, Sancho all the while dying to have a talk with his master, and longing for him to begin, so that there should be no breach of the injunction laid upon him; but unable to keep silence so long he said to him:

"Senor Don Quixote, give me your worship's blessing and dismissal, for I'd like to go home at once to my wife and children with whom I can at any rate talk and converse as much as I like; for to want me to go through these solitudes day and night and not speak to you when I have a mind is burying me alive. If luck would have it that animals spoke as they did in the days of Guisopete, it would not be so bad, because I could talk to Rocinante about whatever came into my head, and so put up with my ill-fortune; but it is a hard case, and not to be borne with patience, to go seeking adventures all one's life and get nothing but kicks and blanketings, brickbats and punches, and with all this to have to sew up one's mouth without daring to say what is in one's heart, just as if one were dumb."

"I understand thee, Sancho," replied Don Quixote; "thou art dying to have the interdict I placed upon thy tongue removed; consider it removed, and say what thou wilt while we are wandering in these mountains."

When did this happen? I don't remember Don Quixote disallowing him to do so at all.

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    Thank you @Gareth, for adding the excerpt! Interestingly, in my translation, it doesn't even mention: ”which he having no ass, did very discontentedly”! It's a Dutch translation, by Barber van de Pol. Discontentness, yes, but with his ass. I'm starting to suspect my question might also be due to something lost in translation. This translation is quite highly regarded, though. Commented Feb 28, 2018 at 9:51
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    In another English translation, Sancho has his ass, so maybe not. Note that the chapter numbering is different here; the chapter in question is XI: books.google.nl/… Commented Feb 28, 2018 at 10:12
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    I used the John Ormsby translation. The original has "con su jumento" (with his ass) but this is hard to reconcile with chapter 23, in which "While Sancho slept he [Gines] stole his ass". Ormsby's "having no ass" is a (perhaps misguided) attempt to cover up this inconsistency. (Maybe the inconsistency over the ass might shed some light on the inconsistency over the Don's injunction?) Commented Feb 28, 2018 at 10:46
  • If you were trying to avoid spoilers there… 👌. In the second book of Don Quixote, Cervantes does some fourth-wall-breaking. Don Quixote learns about the first book, which apparently exists in his world as well. He learns about it from the scholar Sanson Carrasco; who also informs him that the book has had some critiques, among them, this very inconsistency regarding Sancho's ass! This implies the inconsistency is intentional and any translations that correct it are wrong. I still haven't finished the book, so I'm hoping the speaking injunction might be addressed at some point as well. Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 12:11

1 Answer 1


Note that Sancho's request in Ch 25 is not the first time he has asked for the injunction against his speaking be lifted. In Ch 21 (Mabrino's helmet) Sancho asks

As they went along, then, in this way Sancho said to his master, "Senor, would your worship give me leave to speak a little to you? For since you laid that hard injunction of silence on me several things have gone to rot in my stomach, and I have now just one on the tip of my tongue that I don't want to be spoiled."

The actual injunction comes in Ch 20. This is after the fulling hammers are revealed to be just that and Sancho has mercilessly (and "insubordinately") mocked Don Quixote. Our knight remarks:

...and one thing for the future bear in mind, that thou curb and restrain thy loquacity in my company; for in all the books of chivalry that I have read, and they are innumerable, I never met with a squire who talked so much to his lord as thou dost to thine; and in fact I feel it to be a great fault of thine and of mine: of thine, that thou hast so little respect for me; of mine, that I do not make myself more respected.

To which Sancho says:

...you may be sure I will not open my lips henceforward to make light of anything of your worship's, but only to honour you as my master and natural lord."

Quotes from Ormsby.

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    This is the most plausible answer yet, but hoo boy, something must be lost in translation here! "Curb and restrain"? "I will not open my lips henceforward to make light of anything of your worship's"? Surely this does not imply a total silence? Merely a restraint when it comes to a certain subject. Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 21:45
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    If this is indeed the Injunction of Silence, it does explain why I missed it. In my Dutch translation, your bolded section goes: "…maar let voortaan op één ding, namelijk dat je je inhoudt en niet teveel met mij praat;". Or in English: "…but from now on mind one thing, namely to restrain yourself and don't speak with me too much;" Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 13:02
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    In Spanish, this section reads: "y está advertido de aquí adelante en una cosa, para que te abstengas y reportes en el hablar demasiado conmigo;" Which Google Translate turns into: "and it is here forewarned in one thing, so that you abstain and report in talking too much with me;" Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 13:14

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