The New Student's Reference Work/Nibelungenlied

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Nibelungenlied (nē′ bĕ-lo͝ong′ ĕn-lēt), a German epic, ranking as one of the greatest poems of the world.  The oldest elements of the work must have been long current in the form of popular songs; but the incidents of the story seem to have been fused into one narrative before the 12th century, though by whom it was done is unknown.  The story of the poem is as follows: Siegfried, the son of the king of the Netherlands, becomes possessor of the fabled wealth of the Nibelungs, which carries with it evil to its possessor.  He marries Kriemhild, sister of Gunther, king of Worms, and helps Gunther to win Brunhilde of Iceland.  Then there is a dispute as to whether Siegfried or Gunther be the greater, and Brunhilde induces Hagen to murder Siegfried.  Kriemhild after some years marries Etzel (Attila), king of the Huns.  After Kriemhild became possessor of the Niebelungen wealth, Hagen took it from her and sank it in the Rhine.  After several years Kriemhild, still mourning for Siegfried and desiring to be revenged for his death, asked her brother to visit her at her court.  This he did, with 11,000 armed Burgundians, and the remainder of the poem is devoted to the wars and sufferings of the Burgundians.  See English translations by Lettsom, Foster, Barham and Birch.  See also Carlyle’s Miscellanies, Vol. III.