The New Student's Reference Work/Tannhäuser
Tannhäuser (tän'hoi-zẽr), a famous knight of the middle ages, who, according to the German legend, goes to Venusberg and enters the cave-palace to behold the wonders of Lady Venus and her court. Conscience-smitten at the life of careless pleasure he lives here, he betakes himself to Rome to crave forgiveness of the pope. The pope, however, holding a wand in his hand tells Tannhäuser that he can as little get God's forgiveness as that dry wand can become green again. In despair the knight goes back to Lady Venus in the mountain. But three days afterwards the wand begins to sprout and bears green leaves, and the pope at once sends messengers to every country, but in vain — Tannhäuser can nowhere be found. Such is the story as told in the popular ballad once sung all over Germany. On this saga Wagner based his well-known opera of Tannhäuser.