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Subject: Re: the Tarnhelm
From: Jane Ennis <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jane Ennis <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 26 Nov 2008 11:48:35 -0500

text/plain (83 lines)

On Wed, 19 Nov 2008 02:16:54 EST, [log in to unmask] wrote:

>    All of which gets me to a question of my own.   Two characteristics of
>the Rhinemaidens' gold are clearly stated in "The  Ring":  1) making a helmet 
>the gold will allow one to transform and  transport himself at will; and 2)
>making a ring of the gold will allow one to  rule the world.  HOW did these two
>properties get attached to the gold  in the first place?  How did the gold
>become endowed with that power?
>    Cheers,
>    Dennis Ryan

I would like to help, but....I just received a very nasty mailing from someone 
on Parlour of Opera Lovers for recommending something that I had - er - 
written myself. In fact I think most of you have seen it, as I was in the first 
instance ASKED (by members of OPERA-L) to put it on the Web.....

It's the chapter that examines the sources of the RING. 
here's an extract from it, if you can't be bothered to read the whole thing, it 
does answer Dennis Ryan's question....

Extract begins

In the Prose Edda, the theft of the gold and the curse on the ring have 
nothing to do with the building of a fortress for the gods; it was Wagner's 
innovation to connect these two legends, for his own dramatic purposes. In 
Snorri's version, the giant is tricked into not fulfilling his contract, and is 
immediately killed by Thor; it seems that his purpose was in any case a hostile 
one. In DAS RHEINGOLD, the problem arises because the giants have fulfilled 
their part of the bargain, and Wotan has no intention of keeping his. Fasolt is 
concerned with the honourable keeping of bargains, but Fafner reminds him 
that there is also considerable advantage to the giants - and disadvantage to 
the gods - in getting Freia away from them, not for herself, but for the golden 

Goldne Aepfel wachsen in ihrem Garten; 
sie allein weiss die Aepfel zu pflegen; 
der Frucht Genuss frommt ihren Sippen 
zu ewig nie alternder Jugend; 
siech und bleich doch sinkt ihre Bluete, 
alt und schwach schwinden sie hin, 
muessen Freia sie missen - 
ihrer Mitte d'rum sei sie entfernt! 

The condition under which the gold can be obtained - the forswearing of love -
 is original to Wagner. It is also original to Wagner that the gold comes from 
the Rhine in the first place. In NL it ends up there - Hagen has it sunk in the 
Rhine so that Kriemhild (Siegfried's widow - bear with me! I will explain this in 
due course!) cannot use it to gain adherents to her cause - but it is not 
suggested that the gold originally came from the Rhine. In PE, Sigurd is killed 
in a location vaguely connected with the Rhine, and there is a reference in 
ATLAKVITHA to the gold in the Rhine - but only in Wagner does the gold 
originally come from the Rhine. Andvari's gold does come from a river, but the 
river isn't identified. In the Norse lit. and in Morris's poem, the gold that Sigurd 
gains is the gold that once belonged to the dwarf Andvari. But only in Wagner 
do the gods obtain it from the dwarf (Alberich) in order to hand it over to the 
giants, with whom they have made a fraudulent bargain. 

(Extract ends)

Dr. Jane Susanna ENNIS

"Nature abhors a vacuum - but not as much as cats do"

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