Sigurdsristningens kristna innebörd
Inledning av Nanna Hermansson
På konferensen om ballader i Tórshavn i juli 2015 nämnde Peter Andersen ristningen på Ramsundsberget i Sörmland, den så kallade Sigurdsristningen. Han antydde att det fanns andra tolkningar av den än den gängse och därför bad jag honom skriva om den kristna innebörden av ristningen för oss i Samfundet Sverige-Island.
En svensk sammanfattning kan du läsa under artikeln här
The Christian Signification of the Ramsund Carving
By Professor Peter Andersen (Strasbourg)
The Ramsund Carving
The silent iconography carved on a flat rock at Ramsund 83 km west of Stockholm is considered to be a testimony of ancient cultural connections between Sweden and Iceland. It is also used as evidence for a largely admitted, but uncertain theory about the most famous legend ever attested north of the Alpine line: the story about the dragon slayer called Siegfried in the German speaking countries, Sigurd in Scandinavia. According to this theory, the carving depicts scenes from pagan mythology although it was most certainly realized on behalf of a Christian woman. Her name is mentioned in the runic inscription inserted in the body of the snake or dragon surrounding the scenery. The 75 runes run thus in Latin transliteration:
siriþr kiarþi bur þosi muþiR alriks tutiR urms fur salu hulmkirs faþur sukruþar buata sis
Norse transcription: Sigriðr gærði bro þasi, moðir Alriks, dottir Orms, for salu Holmgæirs, faður Sigrøðar, boanda sins
English translation: “Sigrid, Alrik’s mother, Orm’s daughter, made this bridge for the soul of Holmgeir, father of Sigrød, her husband”
If Sigrid had worshipped pagan gods, she would not have bothered about her father-in-law’s soul. The inscription was carved about the year 1030. At that time, some of Sigrid’s fellow-citizens may still have been pagans, but she was unquestionably herself an adept of the new religion. That is the reason why she would never have ordered pagan iconography next to her bridge. The following article presents an entirely Christian interpretation of the carving, but first it will be necessary to have a closer look on the texts related to the pictures.
The Dragon Legend
In the medieval period, the legend about the dragon fight is told in six main written sources: the German Song of the Nibelungs written about 1200 between Passau and Vienna, perhaps in Traismauer where the toponymical concentration attains its peak, the Icelander Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda (1220/1230), the heroic songs contained in the Icelandic manuscript called ‘Codex Regius’ (c. 1270), the Norwegian Saga of Thidrek (late 13th century), the Norse Saga of the Völsungs (late 13th century) and the Swedish Chronicle of Didrik, a quite faithful translation of the Saga of Thidrek (c. 1450). These texts relate two different versions. The continental version is represented by the Song of the Nibelungs, the Saga of Thidrek and the Chronicle of Didrik, the insular version by the three other texts. Only the second one is provided with a pagan background telling how Sigurd found a treasure which had been stolen from the dwarf Andvari by the gods Odin and Loki. In the Song of the Nibelungs, Siegfried obtains his gold from the two quarrelling human kings and the dragon fight is never described, only hinted to twice.
The Main Versions
The Song of the Nibelungs is a German epic in about 2300 four-line stanzas preserved in more than 30 manuscripts. It is telling the story about Kriemhild, the princess from Worms on the Upper Rhine. She falls in love with Siegfried, the almost invulnerable prince from Xanten on the Lower Rhine, and they marry happily. In order to protect him, she reveals his weak point to her brother’s servant Hagen but this is a trap. Siegfried is soon killed by Hagen near a spring during a hunt. In order to avenge this murder, Kriemhild marries Etzel, the mighty king of the Huns, and invites her brothers and Hagen to a feast. This is also a trap and all guests are soon killed. Hagen, the last survivor, is decapitated by Kriemhild herself with Siegfried’s sword. For this, she is cut into pieces, but obtains her avenge. She dies for love, but also causes death. Does love justify such avenge? That is the question. The poem is considered by many Germans to be their national song (see: Wikipedia ).
Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241) was a poet and politician from Western Iceland. He is best known as the author of the Prose Edda, a kind of manual for poets. Part one is a treaty of mythology, part two contains a chapter about the Sigurd legend close to both Scandinavian iconography and the Song of the Nibelungs. Snorri is generally supposed to have used old oral poems written down later in full extent in the ‘Codex Regius’ (see: Wikipedia ).
The ‘Codex Regius’ a an incomplete Icelandic manuscript of 45 vellum leaves discovered in 1643 and sent as a present to the Danish king, therefore its current Latin name. The first leaves contain poems about the Norse Gods, the following leaves poems about Sigurd and the legend related to him. Eight leaves are lost. They told the story about Sigurd’s marriage with Gudrun and his death. The manuscript was given back to Iceland in 1971 (see: Wikipedia ).
The Saga of Thidrek is a Norse work, probably written in Norway. It is a huge compilation of German stories about Dietrich of Bern (i.e. Verona), a figure modelled on the historical Ostrogothic King Theodoric the Great (454-526). His Norse name is “Þiðrek”. Large sections of the saga are much closer to the Songs of the Nibelungs than to the Icelandic texts, but the description of the dragon fight originates from Scandinavia. A Norwegian parchment of the saga was translated into Swedish in Stockholm about 1450. This version is known as the Chronicle of Didrik (see: Wikipedia ).
Introduction: The Dragon Fight
The dragon fight and its origin are thoroughly described by Snorri: The farmer (Norse búandi) Hreidmar had three sons, Otter, Regin and Fafnir. Otter was killed by Loki who had to give Hreidmar a huge amount of gold in compensation for this murder. Afterwards, the farmer was killed by his son Fafnir who transformed himself into a dragon and lay down on the treasure in a place called the Gnita-heath. Hoping to vanquish his treacherous brother, Regin became a smith and adopted Odin’s descendant Sigurd. He forged the sword Gram and Sigurd killed the treasure owner, cut out his heart and began to roast it. During the cooking, he burned his finger, put it into his mouth and suddenly understood the language of the birds. In two stanzas, two nuthatches warned him with their song against the deceitful smith. Therefore, Sigurd killed his stepfather and then rode away with the gold on his horse Grani. He soon found a Valkyrie sleeping for some unknown reason in a house on the top of a mountain. She was wearing an armor (Norse brynja). According to Snorri, that is why she was called Brynhild.
Part I: The Dragon Slayer’s Death
In the Song of the Nibelungs, she is an Icelandic queen living in a castle called Isenstein (‘rock of iron’) and her name is Brunhild (or Brünhild). She has nothing to do with paganism, she is just extremely strong and submits all her suitors to three athletic tests: stone throwing, javelin throwing and long jumping. Her German name is not necessarily related to her armor (German brünne), but rather to the spring (German brunne) where Siegfried is later to be killed. The spring is closely related to the queen’s name at the first mention of the future crime which is explicitly initiated by Brunhild according to the poet. In the manuscripts, her name is mainly written without umlaut:
Guenther und Hagene / di recken vil balt(manuscript B, stanzas 913-914)
lobten mit intrwen / ein pirsen in den walt
mit ir scharffen geren / si wolden jagen swin
bern und wisende / waz moe hte chuners gesin
Da mit reit ouch Sifrit / in herlichem site
maniger hande spise / furte man in mite
zeinem chlaten brunnen / verlos er sit den lip
daz het geraten Prunnhilt / des kunich Guntheres wip
“Gunther and Hagen, the passing bold knights, faithlessly let cry a-hunting in the woods, that with sharp spears they would hunt boars and bears and bison. What might be braver? With them rode Siegfried in lordly guise; many kinds of victual did they take along. At a cool spring he later lost his life, the which Brunhild, King Gunther’s wife, had counseled.” (translation D. B. Shumway 1909)
In the German poem, the queen is thus more a “spring killer” than an “armored warrior”. This interpretation is confirmed by the location of the spring on a strange island (German wert). The place of the crime strongly recalls the queen’s insular kingdom.
In Snorri’s version, Sigurd wakes up the Valkyrie, but apparently he does not fall in love with her, because immediately he rides away and arrives in a new kingdom. He marries the princess Gudrun and helps his fearful brother-in-law Gunnar conquer Brynhild by riding at his place through a fire-wall. In the following night, Sigurd places his sword between himself and the Valkyrie and does not take her virginity, only in the morning a ring. In exchange, he gives her another one. In the German poem, he makes himself invisible with a magic cap during the three suitor tests and helps his future brother-in-law Gunther, king of the Burgundians in Worms. After the wedding, he helps Gunther once again by tying the recalcitrant Icelandic amazon onto her bridal bed, but without deflowering her either. He only takes her ring and her belt. There is no second ring in the German version.
In all texts, the theft of the ring leads to confusion and a quarrel between two women. In the Song of the Nibelungs, Brunhild is publicly humiliated by her sister-in-law Kriemhild in front of a cathedral, her Eddic look-alike Brynhild by Gudrun during a private bath in a river. To avenge this offence, Brynhild decides to have Sigurd killed by her husband and his brothers. Her double Brunhild hatches a similar complot, but the German poet never gives us any clear explanation about her implication in the murder. The fact that Siegfried bends down to drink from the insular spring after Gunther just suggests that he is about to sleep with the insular queen in the very moment when he is killed by Gunther’s faithful servant Hagen. In other words, Brunhild seems to accomplish her avenge by seducing her brother-in-law and by attracting him into a trap in which she uses her own body as a bait (for this new interpretation see the article « Der lautlose Weg zur Walküre: von Nibelungenlied zu Prosaedda », pp. 143-144, cf. bibliography below).
Part II: The Avenge
This is Part I of the legend. In Part II, the dragon slayer’s widow marries again. In the Song of the Nibelungs, her second husband is Etzel. He is ruling the Huns somewhere on the territory of modern Hungary. Snorri just calls him Atli without explaining where he is living and what people he is ruling. Etzel is obviously a literary portrait of King Attila (†453) (see Wikipedia ) from late antiquity. This historical ruler was contemporaneous with the Burgundian king Gundicharius (†436) (see Wikipedia ), the model for Gunther, but not with the Frankish queen Brunichildis (†613) (see Wikipedia ), the model for Brunhild, at least for her name, her title and her character. The two women are both perfidious queens, Brunichildis according to the chronicles, Brunhild according to the German poet. Atli, Gunnar and Brynhild could also be identified with Attila, Gundicharius and Brunichildis, but they are much more different from these historical figures than their doubles in the German poem. Gunnar is no Burgundian and does not rule a Rhenish kingdom as Gundicharius did. Brynhild is no queen and is by no means depicted as a mean traitor. In the Prose Edda, she is a lovely and sympathetic goddess without any national background.
In the continental version, Kriemhild persuades her second husband Etzel to invite her brothers and her arch-enemy Hagen. Finally, all the guests are killed at the Hunnic court. Gunther is decapitated in a prison on the order of his vindictive sister, but the execution takes place backstage short time before Kriemhild’s last confrontation with Hagen and is not described. In the final scene, the heroin decapitates the last surviving guest herself and uses Siegfried’s sword. The moment when she draws her first beloved husband’s weapon to kill Hagen inspired a German illustrator about 1440.
FIG. 1. Kriemhild kills Hagen with Siegfried’s sword
(Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, mgf 855, fol. 158v)
In Snorri’s version, Gudrun is not even mentioned between the deceitful invitation and her brothers Gunnar and Högni’s deaths. Without her complicity, the gold-greedy Atli invites his brothers-in-law himself and has them killed in the opposite order. First, Högni’s heart is dramatically cut out while he is still alive; then Gunnar is thrown into a snake pit with his hands bound. In this situation, he tries in vain to pacify the poisonous beasts by playing a harp with his feet.
The Norwegian Carvings
This very same scene is depicted on the last of seven wood carvings realized about 1200 in Norway and originally placed on the doorway of the former stave church in Hylestad (see exact location on a map ). This building was demolished in the 17th century, but the carvings were saved and are now on display at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo.
FIG. 2. Scene 7: Gunnar playing the harp with his feet in the snake pit
Another carving depicts the killing of a dragon and is very close to the carving on the rock.
FIG. 3. Scene 3: A dragon is stabbed from beneath by a warrior
The animals are exactly the same on the Norwegian doorway, on the Swedish rock and in the Icelandic Prose Edda: one horse and two birds.
FIG. 4. Scene 6: Two birds on a tree next to a loaded horse
FIG. 5. Schematic representation of the Ramsund carving: (1) a man burns his finger while roasting a heart, (2) two birds on a tree, (3) a man is decapitated next to a hammer, (4) a horse is bound to a tree, (5) a dragon is killed with a sword from beneath, (6) unknown quadruped
There is no doubt firstly that the rock carving, the church carving and Snorri’s text are closely related to each other, secondly that the iconography in both cases is older than the Icelandic prose. That is the main reason why Snorri is generally supposed to have retold a very old oral legend originating at least from the beginning of the 11th century.
The Problem of Transmission
Nowhere in Germany, Austria, Switzerland or Italy, we find any iconographical representation of the legend until the 15th century and we do not possess any sure evidence that a similar dragon fight ever existed there before 1200. Nevertheless, the legend is still believed to have survived orally from the 5th century until the recording of the Song of the Nibelungs on parchment. This theory supposes more than 700 years of hypothetical orality which has left no visible trace anywhere in southern Europe. The Swedish rock carving is thus supposed to be the oldest evidence of a German legend from late antiquity.
In fact, the genetic issue can be explained without any orality. This scriptural explanation is based on intertextuality and the postulate that is impossible to preserve memory orally for such a long time. If a story is not recorded by means of letters, it is rapidly lost and cannot be transmitted from generation to generation.
The Theory of Oral Transmission
At the beginning of the 19th century, German scholars like August Wilhelm Schlegel and Wilhelm Grimm tried to resolve the Gordian knot about the Nibelungs and developed the first scientific theories about the relationships between the texts and the iconography. These scholars were representatives of the Romantic school and believed firmly in orality and unlearned people’s capacity in composing sophisticated poetry and in memorizing it. However, they never explained how the legend was physically transmitted from a person to another. Without theorizing on this problem, they imagined that stories and poems were simply told from mouth to mouth and so to say “walked” on their own legs from country to country. For this hypothetical transmission, German scholars often use the verb wandern, a Romantic term still evocating walks through untouched, unpolluted nature far from civilization, scholarship and books.
According to this Romantic theory, a pagan legend was born in the heart of Germany in late antiquity. It was kept down by the Christian church and thus never recorded in the south until 1200. In order to avoid censorship, the author of the Song of the Nibelungs changed the pagan matter into a Christian poem and spoiled the original story. His text was considered to be unfaithful and contaminated by contemporaneous Christian philosophy. Schlegel, Grimm and other German scholars thought that the original paganism had survived only in Scandinavia and that the Codex Regius from the late 13th century was a faithful record of oral pagan poetry from the 8th and 9th centuries. The Swedish carver who worked for Sigrid about 1030 apparently knew some of these poems and so did the Norwegian carver about 1200, some two centuries after the general introduction of Christianism in Scandinavia. Snorri just epitomized the same poems in prose on Iceland and reproduced two arbitrary stanzas from the collection recorded in the Codex Regius. This manuscript contains more than 700 stanzas relating the Nibelung legend and originally contained even more before the loss of eight leaves. As to the Saga of Thidrek and its Swedish daughter, the Chronicle of Didrek, they mainly originated from lost oral or written poems brought to Scandinavia from Northern Germany where the legend is not recorded until the 15th century. The first physical trace of the legend in Northern Germany is a short mention of the carnival play about “the hell and lady Kremold” performed in 1438 in Lübeck, but the play itself is not conserved. The absence of manuscripts and recordings in this part of Europe did and does not disturb the supporters of the Romantic theory because it postulates invisible orality anywhere and at any time.
The Theory of Visual Transmission
According to rational philology based on empiricism and analyses of observable manuscripts and iconography instead of speculations about lost poems, the legend was created about 1200 by a single human brain, the one who imagined the Song of the Nibelungs on the territory of modern Austria. Neither the Ramsund rock nor the Norwegian doorway has anything to do with a quarrel between two jealous women and this episode is a fundamental element of the written legend. We must thus conclude that the carvings are allegorical Christian representations of the victory of Good over Evil. The victorious dragon slayer is anonymous on the iconography, but we know his name from an early Scandinavian account. About 1155, the Icelandic monk Nikulas went to Rome on pilgrimage and described his journey. Near Mayence, he saw the “Gnita-heath where Sigurd killed Fafnir” (Gnitaheidr er Sigurdr va at Fabni, ed. Werlauff 1821, p. 16 ). In Luni in Northern Italy, the monk later saw the “snake pit Gunnar was thrown into” (ormgard er Gunnar var i settr, ed. Werlauff 1821, p. 20 ). This account gives us the names of the two male figures fighting for Good against the evil dragon on the Norwegian doorway. The winner is called Sigurd, the looser Gunnar. These names are associated with victory (Norse sigr) and fight (Norse gunnr). The Swedish and Norwegian iconography may have approximatively the same signification as the most famous dragon fight in the Middle Ages and even today: Saint George’s victory that took place in Libya in the 4th century according to later hagiography (see Wikipedia ). This legend was brought to Western Europe by the crusaders in the early 12th century. The most illustrious medieval Scandinavian representation is probably the sculpture in Stockholm (see Wikipedia ).
FIG. 6. Bernt Notke (?), Saint George and the Dragon, 1489 (Storkyrkan, Stockholm)
The man who is transpierced by Sigurd with a sword on the Norwegian doorway seems to be decapitated on the Swedish rock. Nikulas does not mention him, but Snorri calls him Regin. That was the usual name for the ancient pagan gods. From a Christian point of view, these gods were the allies of Evil, thus symbolical brothers of the dragon. That is why the Christian fighter Sigurd kills the man after the dragon. If we should give him a name, it could be Thor because of the hammer next to the beheaded corpse or even Odin, for this god was apparently accompanied by two birds, not only in Snorri’s Prose Edda, but also on much more ancient iconography, for instance on the Vendel Helmet.
FIG. 7. Vendel Helmet, 7th century (found in Uppland, Sweden)
This Swedish helmet shows us a casketed warrior accompanied by two birds. The written sources only partly confirm this number. In the Prose Edda, Odin is accompanied by two ravens which are generally thought to be the same as those on the helmet. These ravens may be the same as the two birds on the tree on the Ramsund carving. According to Snorri, the warning birds are nuthatches, but it is impossible to see if this species was actually meant to be depicted on the rock. The birds on the doorway are more elaborated and look more like passerines then their Swedish doubles. Anyway, Snorri must have known this type of Christian iconography: a dragon fight, the roasted heart, the killing of the dragon’s human-like defender and also the harp play in the snake pit. Except for the dragon fight, nothing of all this is told in the Song of the Nibelungs. That means that Snorri must have combined the German poem with the Scandinavian iconography to forge a new story without any clear reference to the historical events in late antiquity.
This Icelandic poet was proud of his country and transformed his fellow-citizen, the evil queen Brunhild, into a nice goddess. He told the dragon fight according to iconography and added several new details. Compared to the heroic poems in the Codex Regius and to the Saga of the Völsungs, Snorri’s short version is still quite close to the outline of the German epic. Some elements are adapted to Icelandic architecture, culture, climate and nature. Brunhild’s Icelandic castle with 86 towers is just a normal house in the Prose Edda, but it is placed on a mountain. The two queens Brunhild and Kriemhild quarrel in front of a cathedral. Snorri transforms this magnificent building into a river. In Southern Europe, queens would never have taken a private bath in open nature. In the Songs of the Nibelungs, Siegfried is killed during a hunt in a forest. In the Icelandic version, Sigurd is killed in his bed and there is only one tree left in the Prose Edda, the one on which the nuthatches are sitting. The Icelandic prologue about the origin of the treasure begins next to a typical Icelandic waterfall with salmons. Only the otter cannot originate from Snorri’s island. It may be a remembrance from his visit to Norway where this animal still lives. Moreover, the prologue is populated with peasants and a smith who all possess great power over gods and kings. Such an abnormal social situation would be unconceivable in the aristocratic world described in the Song of the Nibelungs. This poem scarcely mentions any other figures than upper class people. Even the fire-wall on the rocky mountain recalls an Icelandic volcano in eruption. The peaceful Alpine mountains do not spit any fire.
Snorri went to Norway in 1218 and stayed for two years on the continent. His exact itinerary is unknown, but it is sure that he accosted at Bergen and spent the first winter in Tönsberg 100 km southsouthwest of Oslo. Then he continued to Gautland in Sweden, reached Skara near the Lake Vänern, returned to the coast along the Göta Elf river, sailed to Trondheim and ended his long trip in Bergen (for more details see Lee M. Hollander 2009, p. xiii ). He did not reach the Lake Mälaren and Eastern Sweden. Thus, he never saw the Ramsund carving, but he could have admired the carvings in the Hylestad church on his way to Tönsberg. His description of Sigurd’s dragon fight and Gunnar’s death in the snake pit may have been inspired by this magnificent Norwegian iconography.
No manuscript of the Song of the Nibelungs has ever been recorded in Scandinavia, but no manuscript of Chrétien de Troyes’s Chevalier au lion or Thomas’s Tristan either, and these French novels were both translated into Norse on behalf of King Haakon Haakonsson who ruled Norway from 1217 to 1264. Tristram’s saga was written by the monk Robert as early as 1226. That means that the royal library in Bergen was probably already filled with modern literature from Southern Europe when Snorri was there. At the end of the 13th century, the Saga of Thidrek seems to have been compiled in the same town from German manuscripts preserved in this royal library.
Snorri did not epitomize any Norse poem. Those preserved in the Codex Regius were not written yet. One important detail proves this fact. In Fafnir’s Song, Sigurd is warned by seven different nuthatches (see H. A. Below’s English translation from 1923, p. 380 -382). Only the first two stanzas are also found in Snorri’s text. In the Saga of the Völsungs, there are six birds, in the Saga of Thidrek only two. The iconography proves that this was the original number. That means that the poems in the Codex Regius cannot be Snorri’s source. On the contrary, his short prose account was amplified and changed into a series of separate poems by some unknown Icelander, perhaps by Snorri himself. The number of birds also means that the dragon fight in the Saga of Thidrek stems directly from the Prose Edda. The Norwegian author mainly used the Song of the Nibelungs for his prose compilation, but completed it with the dragon story borrowed from Snorri.
To sum up these conclusions, the Swedish rock carving does not depict any pagan scenery, but a Christian fight which was widely spread all over Scandinavia and also represented about 1200 on the doorway in the Hylestad church. This iconography must have been the direct inspiration for Snorri and through him the indirect source for Richard Wagner and all modern adaptations of the legend. And the story about female quarrel and female avenge has nothing to do with this iconography. This part of the legend, in fact its central element, was first imagined by some Austrian on the edge of the Danube. Probably at the same time, a church was raised and carved in Hylestad about another dragon fight than the one which made Siegfried partly invulnerable because of a lime leaf stuck between his shoulder blades during his bath in the dragon’s blood. Like the dragon slayer on the Norwegian doorway, Snorri’s hero is not naked, but certainly wearing an armor. Contrarily to Siegfried, Sigurd never obtains any thick skin like the post-homerian Achill.
Traditional Model of Textual Genealogy
- Postulate :
- oral preservation of stories is possible for centuries
- Consequence :
- the texts record old orality and add little new matter
- 5th-7th centuries : historical events
- 7th-12th centuries : oral German poems based on historical events
- 8th-12th centuries : oral Scandinavian poems
- 10th : Waltharius based on oral German poems
- 11th-12th centuries : Scandinavian iconography based on local oral poems
- c. 1200 : Song of the Nibelungs based on oral German poems
- c. 1220 : Prose Edda based on oral Scandinavian poems
- c. 1270 : ‘Codex Regius’ faithful record of old oral Scandinavian poems
- 1250/1300 : Saga of Thidrek mainly based on oral German accounts
Alternative Model of Textual Genealogy
- Postulate :
- oral preservation of stories is impossible for centuries
- Consequence :
- the texts are based on visual sources but add much new matter
- 5th-7th centuries : historical events
- 5th-12th centuries : Latin chronicles based on historical events
- 10th : Waltharius based on Latin chronicles
- 11th-12th centuries : Scandinavian iconography based on the Bible and hagiography
- c. 1200 : Song of the Nibelungs based on the Waltharius and Latin chronicles
- c. 1220 : Prose Edda based on the Song of the Nibelungs and Scandinavian iconography
- c. 1270 : ‘Codex Regius’ based on the Prose Edda
- 1250/1300 : Saga of Thidrek based on the Song of the Nibelungs and the Prose Edda
▪ The Nibelung legend: Gottfried-Portal (referring to new scholarship)
▪ The Ramsund carving: Wikipedia (referring to traditional scholarship)
▪ The Hylestad carvings: Wikipedia (referring to traditional scholarship)
Publications with the new interpretation of the Ramsund carving and the Nibelung legend:
- Mourir dedans ou dehors, voilà la question. Quelques réflexions sur la légende des Nibelungen, in : Etudes Médievales 9-10 (2008), pp. 30-41
- Wie Melusine den Drachen der Nibelungensage verdrängte, in : Fabula 50 (2009), pp. 227-246
- La mythologie de Snorri : renaissance ou création poétique ?, in : Mythes et mythologies, actes du colloque international des 6, 7 et 8 mars 2008 à Amiens, ed. Danielle Buschinger, Amiens 2009, pp. 1-13
- Der lautlose Weg zur Walküre: von Nibelungenlied zu Prosaedda, in : Brathair 9/1 (2009), pp. 129-158 [online as PDF file]
- Der Hürnen Seyfrid, ein frühneuzeitliches Rezeptionszeugnis der Nibelungensage, in : Die Bedeutung der Rezeptionsliteratur für Bildung und Kultur der Frühen Neuzeit (1400–1750) III, ed. P. A. et Barbara Lafond, Bern et al. 2015, pp. 39-90
Enligt den vanliga förklaringen är det en episod ur Völsungasagan där Sigurd har ur en grop dräpt draken Fafner och lastat hans guld på sin häst, Grane. Sigurd har skurit ut drakens hjärta, stekt det, bränt sig och när han stoppar fingret i munnen förstår han fåglarnas språk. De berättar att smeden Regin, Sigurds fosterfar och Fafners bror, tänker döda honom och därför mister Regin huvudet, ligger där intill hammare, städ, blåsbälg och tång.
Snorri Sturluson beskriver 1220/30 historien och det ses som ett bevis för att hur Sigurd sedan möter Brynhild och tar en ring. Sigurd gifter sig med Gudrun, Brynhild med Gudruns bror Gunnar, kvinnorna grälar både om ringen och om ett bälte. Till slut kastas Gunnar med bundna händer i en ormgrop och hans spelar harpa med fötterna för att lugna ormarna. Just den scenen har funnits i en norsk stavkyrka på Hylestad från omkring 1200.
I språkbandet runt ristningen säger runorna: Sigrid, Alariks mor, Orms dotter, gjorde denna bro för Holmgeirs själ, far till Sigröd, hennes make. Den har daterats till omkring 1030 och Peter Andersen menar att Sigrid måste ha varit kristen.
Peter Andersen nämner sex medeltida skriftliga källor för legenden om drakdödaren.
I Nibelungensången från omkring 1200 berättas den lite annorlunda med tonvikt på kvinnornas roller. Han nämner historiska personer från 400-talet som förebilder. Att historien bevarats och vandrat i muntlig tradition under århundraden betvivlar han som anser sig arbeta med rationell filologi, som bygger på bevarade bilder och texter. Ristningen anses vara det äldsta exemplet på en mycket gammal berättelse. Peter Andersen menar att det är den kristna tanken om det goda som besegrar det onda som illustreras och jämför med den medeltida sägnen om S:t Göran och draken.
Peter Andersen påpekar att Snorri Sturluson inte sett ristningen vid Ramsundet, men att han kan ha sett den norska stavkyrkan. Snorres text kom att forma Richard Wagners Ring des Nibelungen och andra senare berättelser.
SAMMANFATTNING av Nanna Hermansson
Kommentarer eller frågor på artikel ?