Deeper Into Jeopardy! XX: Pin the Tale on the Donkey – $600

Jeopardy! category: PIN THE TALE ON THE DONKEY (28-05-2014)

$600 clue: Not quite Rocinante, the mount used by this character is a brown donkey

Correct response

The gist: Not Rocinante in stature, no, but not too far off alphabetically – the donkey is just Rucio. Although Sancho Panza‘s donkey and Don Quixote’s horse have similar names, they convey very different meanings in Spanish. “Rucio” means simply “gray,” and is a standard name and descriptor for a run-of-the-mill donkey. “Rocinante” is a more highfalutin name, from “Rocin,” workhorse (or slang for a stupid man) and the suffix “ante,” which can mean “before” or “in front of;” Don Quixote supposedly named him after what he had been before proclaiming himself a knight.

Panza was Quixote’s uneducated farmer neighbour, who had not much to his name – a small plot of land and an uninspiring family to go with his own uninspiring countenance (“Panza” means “gut,” cognate with English “paunch”). He decides to set off with Quixote as his squire on a promise of the governorship of an island, but having never heard the word before Panza assumes it to be some sort of material prize and, really, what was keeping him on the farm, anyway?

Panza shows himself to be not much more witted than his master, but at least less delusional. He frequently castigates Quixote during the Don’s frequent lapses into chivalric fantasy. As the representative of the down-to-earth everySpaniard, Panzais somewhat streetsmart and speaks simply and in rustic proverbs. When he is eventually given a (pretend) governorship, he “rules” well enough just by employing common sense, in spite of the lofty advice Quixote has tried to instill in him. Panza both a parallel to and a foil of the protagonist. He is necessarily unable to get lost in his imagination, yet is drawn to adventure by the promise of an “island” as illusory as Quixote’s high values. The donkey is the perfect animal for Panza: stocky, dependable, and trustworthy, but not smart enough to put those traits to any practical use.

Statue of Panza atop Rucio in Madrid, erected in 1930

The clue: This isn’t the usual Sancho Panza clue (that boils down to “what’s Don Quixote’s sidekick’s name”). It gets to the subject matter more obliquely by giving the clearly Spanish name of the main equestrian character in the story. Spanish lit plus a horse will inevitably equal Cervantes’ masterpeice, and from there it’s a matter of either knowing the sidekick or not. Still, not the easiest character to know (I, as I have done many times before, mixed him up with Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa – hopefully this post will mend that once and for all), and the added step makes this not such an easy $600 clue, but still one I’d expect at least one contestant to know in a given game.

In Jeopardy!: Panza appears in 23 clues in the J!Archive. Unsurprisingly, 19 of those mention Don Quixote either in the clue or the as the correct response. Either the title of the work or the title character (or his derivative adjective “quixotic“) is in the correct response in 11 clues, and Panza is response in seven (one has them both together). Rucio the donkey appears in three clues, none mentioning him by name, all by species. Simply, know that Sancho Panza is Don Quixote’s sidekick. There’s nothing else to him as far as Jeopardy! is concerned.

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