Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Nibelung-Volsung Cycle

Poul Anderson, "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 333-465.

What Carl Farness Tells Manson Everard
Sources for Wagner's Ring operatic tetralogy:
the German Nibelungenlied;
the Icelandic Volsungasaga;
the Elder and the Younger Edda.

Sigurd the Volsung was tricked into marrying Gudrun the Gjuking instead of Brynhild the Valkyrie, leading to jealousy between them and eventually to his death.

In German:
these characters are Siegfried, Kriemhild of Burgundy and Brunhild of Isenstein;
the pagan gods are absent.

Gudrun or Kriemhild later married King Atli or Etzel, who is Attila the Hun.

Kriemhild lured her brothers to Etzel's court where she had them killed in revenge for their murder of Siegfried. Horrified, Hildebrand, a follower of Dietrich of Bern, killed Kriemhild.

Atli lured Gudrun's brothers because he wanted the Rhinegold. Despite her warning, they came and were killed when they would not yield the hoard. Gudrun served Atli his and her sons as ordinary food, killed him in his sleep, burned his hall and left with Svanhild, her daughter by Sigurd.
In Gothland, Gudrun married and had two sons, Hamther and Sorli. The Gothic king Jormunrek (really Ermanaric) had Svanhild trampled to death by horses either because he had married her and she was falsely accused of infidelity or because she had married someone else who plotted against the king and was hanged. Gudrun persuaded Hamther and Sorli to attack Jormunrek. En route, they killed their half-brother, Erp, when he offered to join them.
Invulnerable to steel, Hamther and Sorli killed many of the king's men and severely wounded him. However, Jormunrek and his surviving men learned that the brothers were vulnerable to stones either because Hamther let this slip or because Odin appeared and betrayed them. They were stoned to death.

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