Dec 26, 2012

Fall 1979: The Northern Thing: German Gods, Heroes, and Dragons

During my sophomore year at Augustana College, I spent a quarter abroad in Regensburg, Germany, and registered for a class in German Myths and Legends, mainly because my other choices were  The Political Economy of Modern Germany and German History since 1945.  I was skeptical. Ancient Greece, India, and the Pacific were tropical, tailor-made for revealing togas or loincloths, but surely there would be minimal beefcake and even less bonding among the Medieval Germans.

In fact, there was a lot of beefcake.  When Siegfried sets out to slay the dragon Fafnir in The Nibelungenlied, he traditionally strips down to his bare skin, as Uwe Beyer does in this 1966 version that we watched in German class (bodybuilder Samson Burke does not strip down).

In 2011, Charles S. Stewart crafted this nude figurine based on an old art deco design.

But no bonding, unless you count triangulations:

The Nibelungenlied feature soap-opera love triangles between Siegfried, his wife Gudrun, and his true love Brunhilde.  Meanwhile, Alberich the Dwarf tries to woo the Rhine Maids, but they reject him,so he steals their gold.

Tristan und Isolde is about the love triangle between the Knight Tristan, King Marke, and Isolde.