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Their co-existence in the world of heroic legend is a process known as synchronization Synchronisierung that is common in many oral traditions. It nevertheless still retains Theoderic's historical opponent Odoacer , seemingly showing that Odoacer was the original opponent. It is also possible that the author of the Hildebrandslied altered the report in the oral saga by replacing the unhistorical Emenrich with the historical Odoacer.

He was famous for killing his relatives, moreover, and so his attempts to kill his kinsman Dietrich make sense in the logic of the oral tradition. Additionally, Dietrich has a number of features that have been "mythologized" from Theoderic. In the early eleventh-century Waldere he is an enemy of giants , [14] and in later Middle High German texts he also fights against dwarfs , and wild men.

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It is possible that this tradition comes from ecclesiastical criticism of the Arian Theoderic, whose soul, Gregory the Great reports, was dropped into Mount Etna as punishment for his persecution of orthodox Christians. Another notable tradition, first reported in the world chronicle of Otto of Freising , is that Theoderic rode to hell on an infernal horse while still alive. It is unclear whether these negative traditions are the invention of the Church or whether they are a demonization of an earlier apotheosis of the heretical Theoderic.

None of the surviving heroic material demonizes Dietrich in this way, however, and presents a generally positive view of the hero.

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Another minor difference between Theoderic and Dietrich is that Theoderic's capital was at Ravenna , whereas Dietrich's is at Bern Verona. This may suggest Longobardic influence, as Verona was the Longobardic capital for a time, while Ravenna was under the control of the Byzantines. The non-academic researcher Heinz Ritter-Schaumburg has proposed an alternative explanation to the differences between Dietrich and Theoderic: In doing so, Ritter-Schaumburg relies on the Old Swedish version of the Thidrekssaga, believing that it is a translation of a lost German chronicle, rather than a translation of the Old Norwegian Thidrekssaga as is generally held by scholars.

The Old Swedish Thidrekssaga, which Ritter-Schaumburg calls the Svava , would be the only historical attestation of a series of persons who later became figures in Germanic heroic poetry; Dietrich would then later have been confused with Theoderic the Great. The mention of Theoderic among other heroes and gods of Norse mythology may have been inspired by a no longer extant statue of an unknown emperor assumed to be Theoderic sitting on his horse in Ravenna , which was moved in A.

This statue was very famous and portrayed Theoderic with his shield hanging across his left shoulder, and his lance extended in his right hand: Dietrich's earliest mention in Germany is the Hildebrandslied , recorded around In this, Hadubrand recounts the story of his father Hildebrand's flight eastwards in the company of Dietrich, to escape the enmity of Odoacer this character would later become his uncle Ermanaric.


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Hildebrand reveals that he has lived in exile for 30 years. Hildebrand has an arm ring given to him by the unnamed King of the Huns , and is taken to be an "old Hun" by Hadubrand. The obliqueness of the references to the Dietrich legend, which is just the background to Hildebrand's story, indicates an audience thoroughly familiar with the material. In this work Dietrich's enemy is the historically correct Odoacer though in fact Theoderic the Great was never exiled by Odoacer , indicating that the figure of Ermanaric belongs to a later development of the legend.

The Waldere makes mention of Dietrich's liberation from the captivity of giants by Witige Widia , for which Dietrich rewarded Witige with a sword. This liberation forms the plot of the later fantastical poem Virginal and is mentioned in the historical poem Alpharts Tod. Widsith mentions him among a number of other Gothic heroes, including Witige, Heime, the Harlungen and Ermanaric, and in connection with a battle with Attila's Huns. However, the exact relationship between the figures is not explained. There he appears in the exile situation at Etzel 's court that forms the basis for the historical Dietrich poems see below.

In the Klage , Dietrich returns from exile to his kingdom of Italy; the poem also alludes to the events described in the later Rabenschlacht. The Middle High German Dietrich poems are usually divided into two categories: The former concern the story of Dietrich's fights against Ermenrich and exile at Etzel's court, whereas in the latter he battles against various mythological creatures. This latter group is often called "aventiurehaft" in German, referring to its similarity to courtly romance.

All four postdate Dietrich's appearance in the Nibelungenlied. The majority of preserved narratives about Dietrich are fantastical in nature, involving battles against mythical beings and other heroes. They are generally regarded as containing newer material than the historical poems, though, as the Old English Waldere's references show, Dietrich was already associated with monsters at an early date. Different exemplars of the fantastical poems often show a huge degree of variation from each other Germ.

King Diderik and the fight between the Lion and Dragon and other ballads

Fassungsdivergenz , a trait not found in the historical poems. Most fantastical poems have at least two versions containing substantial differences in the narrative, including inserting or removing entire episodes or altering the motivation of characters, etc. Haferland nevertheless believes thattThe poems were likely composed as written texts, and thus periodically new versions were written down.

The majority of the fantastical poems can be said to follow two basic narrative schemes, in some cases combining them: Almost all the poems about Dietrich are written in stanzas.


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  • Melodies for some of the stanzaic forms have survived, and they were probably meant to be sung. These poems are Dietrichs Flucht , Dietrich und Wenezlan , most versions of Laurin , and some versions of the Wunderer. Much of the poem Alphart's Tod is written in the same stanza as the Nibelungenlied: The last line adds a fourth foot after the caesura.

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    Unlike the Nibelungenlied- stanza, all four lines in the "Hildebrandston" are of the same length: Both types of stanza rhyme in couplets. Four of the fantastical poems, the Eckenlied , Virginal , the Sigenot , and Goldemar are written in a complex rhyming stanza known as the "Berner Ton. Further information on the metrical forms of the stanzaic poems, including examples, can be found on the pages for the individual poems.

    Dietrich goes into exile at Etzel's court.

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    There he receives Etzel's support for three further campaigns. In each one, he defeats Ermenrich, yet is nevertheless unable to retake his kingdom. In Die Rabenschlacht the battle of Ravenna , Dietrich begins a new campaign to reconquer Italy, bringing his young brother Diether and the young sons of Etzel with him. All Listings filter applied. Condition see all Condition.

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