The Song of the Nibelungs is a German epic from the knight era and it is based on German history. It was even named the German Iliad and the cause of that is that the song contains myths and history.
It was discovered by J.H. Obereit in 1775 in the castle Hohenems where he found some scriptures. The scientific researches on this epic started in 1816 and even Karl Lachmann was a part of it. He studied a series of scriptures and tried to prove if they were authentic. The original text has been left unchanged since then.
The scientist say that the occurrence of the song can be divided into two or three parts and that two different sources collided in 1150.
The author was never discovered and the epic is thought to be written between 1190 and 1204. It is considered to be a part of German medieval literature. The German songs after this epic were not saved and there aren’t many facts about them but they are considered to be written about heroes and knights.
This song is specific because it differs from other epics written at that time because this one is about family.
The German epics were mostly written in between 4th and 6th century.
The Nibelungs are demonic dwarfs and their king Nibelung owns a great treasure. A Burgundy trial was named to be the Nibelungs because they stole the treasure, to be more exact Siegfried stole it.
Firstly the epic was made out of two unlinked stories. The first one was based on the death of Siegfried and it was mythical. The second one was based on a historic event, the ruination of the Burgundy country in 437.
The small introduction leads us into the plot. A quote tells us that we will be reading about heroes, arguments, happiness, sadness and prisoners.
The hero Siegfried who seemed invincible came to Worms to the Gunther castle. He brought the treasure he stole from the Nibelungs and his wish was to propose to Kriemhild.
He decided to get his way by helping Gunther win over Brünhild. She was incredibly beautiful and powerful. She used to kill the man who lost in a fight with her.
Siegfried decided to help Gunther with an invisibility cape. He won that way and decided to let Siegfried marry Kriemhild.
The problem was that Brünhild found out about the fraud and decided to get her revenge. She told Hagen to kill Siegfried and she decided to kill herself after that.
Kriemhild decided to get revenge for the death of Siegfried so she married Etzel the Saxon king and convinced him to ask the Nibelungs to hand him over the treasure. They said no and all died next to Kriemhild in a fight.
The story is written as a introduction to a tragic end. Kriemhild dreamt a dream that told her the future. She dreamed that her relatives killed her husband and that she tried to get revenge.
The second part of the epic is about the Burgundy failure because of Kriemhild’s revenge. It is different from the first part because it has many historic events in it.
Into the main story the author put many fantastic and fairytales elements. In the second part we see a big influence from knight novels and all of it makes an impression that the author was an educated man.
It is hard to differ the Christian from the pagan elements. The Christian characteristic are mainly based on the characters and are superficial.
This epic had a great influence on Europe. Richard Wagner even made a music adaptation of the work named “The ring of the Nibelungs”
Characters: Kriemhild, Brünhild, Siegfried, Gunther, Hagen
Gunther and Kriemhild are siblings, Kriemhild and Siegfried are spouses same as Brünhild and Gunther.
Siegfried and Gunther are friends and role models in the knight world. Both of them want to win the women they care about and their mutual characteristic is courage. Their virtues are above all other so they can be considered half Gods.
Brünhild is a lovely women and a lot of man fight for her. Her strength is huge and only supernatural forces could beat her.
Kriemhild is a character that changes with the plot. She is very important for the plot.
Hagen is Siegfried’s killer. His character represents loyalty and faithfulness.