Nibelungenlied-A Review


Nibelungenlied-A Review

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Nibelungenlied-A Review


The “Nibelungenlied” stands as one of the most renowned and significant works in medieval German literature of the traditional genre. This epic poem, often referred to as the “Song of the Nibelungs,” offers readers a captivating glimpse into the world of heroic legends, ancient battles, and intricate relationships. Composed in the 12th century, the “Nibelungenlied” narrates the saga of the Burgundian and Nibelung families, blending history, mythology, and human emotions in a spellbinding narrative.


The poem is divided into two main parts. The first part introduces us to the court of the Burgundian king, Gunther, and his sister Kriemhild. It centers around the marriage of Kriemhild to Siegfried, a prince known for his strength and his possession of a cloak of invisibility after slaying the dragon Fafnir. Yet, betrayals and misunderstandings sow the seeds of tragedy, leading to Siegfried’s eventual murder.

The second part delves deeper into the tragedy as Kriemhild marries Etzel (Attila the Hun), seeking vengeance for her husband’s death. With a thirst for retribution, she invites her brothers and Hagen, a cunning warrior, to the court. Jealousy, greed, and power struggles culminate in a gruesome climax, resulting in the downfall of the Burgundians and the tragic demise of Kriemhild.


Revenge and Vengeance: The central theme of the “Nibelungenlied” revolves around Kriemhild’s quest for vengeance. Her unwavering desire to avenge Siegfried’s death drives the narrative forward and leads to the tragic events that unfold.

Heroism and Honor: The concept of heroism is deeply embedded in the poem. Siegfried’s bravery, Kriemhild’s resilience, and Hagen’s cunning reflect the complex interplay of honor and loyalty within a medieval warrior society.

Betrayal and Trust: Betrayal is a recurring motif, driving much of the narrative’s conflict. The betrayals, both subtle and overt, test the limits of trust among characters, highlighting the fragile nature of human relationships.

Fatalism and Destiny: Throughout the poem, there’s a sense of inevitability in the characters’ actions. The notion of destiny weaves through their choices and decisions, leading to tragic outcomes that cannot be avoided.

Narrative Style and Structure:

The “Nibelungenlied” employs a straightforward narrative style, using rhyming couplets to convey its story. It follows a linear chronology, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the unfolding events. The poem’s structure enables a balance between action-packed scenes of battle and emotionally charged moments of introspection and dialogue.


The characters in the “Nibelungenlied” are multi-dimensional and emblematic of medieval heroic ideals. Siegfried embodies physical prowess, while Kriemhild represents emotional depth. Hagen stands as the cunning and treacherous antagonist, and the various supporting characters contribute to the intricate tapestry of motivations and conflicts.


The “Nibelungenlied” has left an indelible mark on literature and culture. Its influence can be seen in later works like Wagner’s operatic cycle “Der Ring des Nibelungen.” The poem’s exploration of human emotions, complex relationships, and moral dilemmas remains relevant and resonant to this day.


In the “Nibelungenlied,” readers are transported to a world where heroism clashes with betrayal, vengeance grapples with honor, and destiny weaves its threads through the lives of legendary characters. This epic poem stands as a testament to the enduring power of storytelling, capturing the essence of medieval Germanic culture and its timeless exploration of the human condition. 0 0 0.

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N.B. The article originally belongs to the book entitled ‘The Reviews of Epic Literature Around the World Vol-II‘ by Menonim Menonimus.


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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.


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