Nibelungenlied(World Literature)

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Nibelungenlied(World Literature)

  1. 1. The song of the Nibelungs
  2. 2.  The Nibelungenlied is based on pre-Christian Germanic heroic motifs (the "Nibelungensaga"), which include oral traditions and reports based on historic events and individuals of the 5th and 6th centuries. Old Norse parallels of the legend survive in the Völsunga saga, the Prose Edda, the Poetic Edda, the Legend of Norna-Gest, and the Þiðrekssaga.
  3. 3.  It is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge.
  4. 4. The story begins with an introduction of the main characters. Kriemhild is described in all her beauty; she is sister to King Gunther, Gernot and Giselher, rulers of the land of Burgundy. Their home is Worms on the Rhine. The attention then switches north to Siegfried, a prince of the Netherlands, son of King Siegmund and Sieglind. He is already well renowned for his good qualities.
  5. 5. Siegfried one day comes to the realization that he wishes to have Kriemhild. He thus takes 12 warriors to Worms and threatens King Gunther, exclaiming that he plans to wrest his lands from him by force. Hagen informs Gunther that this man before him is Siegfried, a mighty warrior who slew a dragon and bathed in its blood, and who won a large hoard of treasure including a cloak of invisibility by slaying thousands of men, and that it would be foolish to challenge him. Gunther then offers to share everything with Siegfried freely; hearing this, the prince is pleased and stays with them for an extended period of time.
  6. 6. After a long episode of befriending via jousting, hunting, and feasting, the men are like brothers. It is then that messengers from Liudeger, king of Saxony, and Liudegast, king of Denmark, arrive and proclaim the impending invasion of Burgundy by a force of 30,000 Danes and Saxons. Siegfried implores Gunther to let him defend Burgundy, and Gunther agrees. Siegfried leads an army of 1,000 men and then gains great honor by singlehandedly killing 30 Danes and taking King Liudegast hostage. After a good bit of bloody battling, King Liudeger recognizes Siegfried in the mayhem and immediately surrenders. Siegfried, his remaining soldiers, and the many hostages then return to Worms. Six months later, a festival is held to celebrate victory and let the prisoners go free. It is at this festival that Siegfried finally meets Kriemhild. "Siegfried Arriving in Worms"
  7. 7. After some time, Gunther comes to desire Queen Brunhild of Iceland; she is renowned for her remarkable strength and battle-prowess. Knowing that this is a dire, dangerous idea for Gunther, considering some one thousand suitors have lost their lives up to this point, Siegfried agrees to help him win the queen in exchange for Kriemhild’s hand in marriage.
  8. 8. With this agreement, they and two others take a ship to Iceland. Upon arrival in Brunhild’s domain, Siegfried pretends to be one of Gunther’s vassals, though they are equals. Queen Brunhild’s wooingtask is as follows: the suitor, wagering his head, must best her in the throwing of the javelin, the hurling of a boulder, and leaping a great distance. It is only with Siegfried’s help, who hides under his invisible cloak, which gives the wearer the strength of 12 men, that Gunther is able to beat Brunhild.
  9. 9. Upon being beaten, Brunhild agrees to marriage, and she and thousands of her people sail back with the Burgundians and Siegfried. They are welcomed extravagantly outside of Worms, as is custom, and a huge festival is held to celebrate the marriage of Gunther and Brunhild. At this festival also, Gunther gives Kriemhild to Siegfried, and they are married as well. "Siegfried Bows Before Kriemhild" Siegfried and Kriemhild have a wonderful time, but Brunhild is upset about something and does not want to sleep with Gunther, and when Gunther tries to subdue her, she ties him up and hangs him from the ceiling.
  10. 10. Gunther confides in Siegfried the details of this embarrassing event, and Siegfried agrees once again to help Gunther by using his cloak of invisibility. So the next night, Siegfried sneaks into the royal bed chamber and wrestles Brunhild into submission so that Gunther could have her. While doing this task, Siegfried steals her girdle and ring (it is unclear whether he takes her virginity or not). After this night, Brunhild loses her strength and everyone seems to be content.
  11. 11. Siegfried and Kriemhild then return to Xanten, Siegfried’s home, and Siegmund declares his son king. The two have a son and name him Gunther, while Gunther and Brunhild have a son and name him Siegfried. Queen Sieglind dies and Kriemhild becomes queen.
  12. 12. Important digression: During these years, Brunhild is stewing over the uncertainties in her knowledge of Siegfried and Kriemhild. She believes Siegfried to be Gunther’s vassal, and therefore sees both of them as below her. She is incredibly annoyed and angered by the fact that Siegfried pays no homage to them, and that Kriemhild seems to hold herself as an equal. She is also repulsed by the fact that Kriemhild seems happier than her, though she is married to a lower man.
  13. 13. As part of her plan to know the truth, Brunhild begs Gunther to invite his sister and her husband to Worms. Since Siegfried and Kriemhild wish to see their friends and family, they agree and bring a group of 1,200 soldiers, as well as Siegmund; they are warmly received. During some festivities, the queens begin to argue about the ranks of their husbands, and Kriemhild ends up telling Brunhild that it was Siegfried that took her virginity on her wedding night, and then shows the girdle and ring, which Siegfried had given to her. Brunhild is so distraught, dishonored, indignant, and horrified that when Hagen speaks to her, he vows to avenge her. "Siegmund Crowns Siegfried King"
  14. 14. The following is Hagen’s plan, which Gunther, Gernot, and Giselher all knew about; Giselher was the only one who spoke out against the murder of such a good friend and ally. They would make it look as if Liudeger was invading again, Siegfried would opt to lead the battle, Hagen would then go to Kriemhild, feigning good intentions, and ask to know about Siegfried’s one weak spot so that he could always protect it. This plan was carried out and Hagen learned of Siegfried’s weak spot, right below his shoulder blade.
  15. 15. The next morning, the royal party went on a friendly hunt, and once many creatures had been killed, Siegfried was thirsty and went to drink from a stream. As he bent down to drink, Hagen threw a spear through the weak spot on his back, thereby cowardly murdering the great warrior. Hagen then dumped the body in front of Kriemhild’s door so that she would discover it. Her wails can be heard throughout the castle.
  16. 16. At the funeral, when Hagen approached the dead body, the wound begins to bleed anew, a sign of the guilty party. Gunther swears upon Hagen’s innocence, but Kriemhild knows that it was Hagen. Siegmund and his knights returned to Xanten dejectedly, but Kriemhild stayed with her family. Kriemhild attempts to retrieve the Nibelung treasure, but Hagen dumps it in the Rhine. "Hagen Kills Siegfried"
  17. 17. It is at this point that the story swings over to Hungary, to King Etzel who has just lost his wife Helche. He sends messengers to Worms asking for Kriemhild’s hand. Kriemhild agrees (in her head she is still planning revenge) and goes to Hungary. They marry, and after seven years she gives birth to a son, Ortlieb. After a few more years, Kriemhild urges Etzel to invite her brothers to Hungary. Both parties agree and Gunther, Giselher, Hagen, and 3,000 soldiers head to Etzelnburg.
  18. 18. Queen Uote warns them all of their impending deaths. Along the way, Hagen comes across some water-fairies who also warn that this is a trap and only the Chaplains will be spared. Upon their arrival in Hungary, Kriemhild kisses only Giselher. To befriend his new guests, Etzel holds a friendly joust. Hagen, to make Kriemhild angry, wears Siegfried’s sword Balmung, and admits that he murdered her husband.
  19. 19. Kriemhild wants to rile the warriors and start a fight between the Burgundians and Huns, so she brings her son Ortlieb out. Upon seeing the boy, Hagen goes into a rage and beheads him. Battle ensues and all of the Burgundians die, except Gunther and Hagen. Kriemhild decapitates Gunther and presents his head to Hagen; she then cuts Hagen’s head off with Balmung. Her revenge is complete. Hildebrand, horrified at seeing Hagen slain by a woman, kills Kriemhild. King Etzel mourns deeply and the saga ends.
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