The Myth of the Birth of the Hero: A Psychological Interpretation of Mythology

By Otto Rank; F. Robbins et al. | Go to book overview
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vessel, which she carefully closed again and placed beside her ( Rassmann). Count Hartvin was conquered in the fight, and in falling kicked the glass vessel, so that it fell into the river. When the queen saw this she swooned, and died soon afterwards. Hermann went home, told the king everything, and was banished from the country. The glass vessel meantime drifted down stream to the sea, and it was not long before the tide turned. Then the vessel floated on to a rocky cliff, and the water ran off so that the place where the vessel was was perfectly dry. The boy inside had grown somewhat, and when the vessel struck the rock, it broke, and the child began to cry. [ Rassmann] The boy's wailing was heard by a doe, which seized him with her lips, and carried him to her litter, where she nursed him together with her young. After the child had lived twelve months in the den of the doe, he had grown to the height and strength of other boys four years of age. One day he ran into the forest, where dwelt the wise and siklfull smith, Mimirwho had lived for nine years in childless wedlock. He saw the boy, who was followed by the faithful doe, took him to his home, and resolved to bring him up as his own son. He gave him the name of Siegfried. In Mimir's home, Siegfried soon attained an enormous stature and strength, but his wilfulness caused Mimir to get rid of him. He sent the youth into the forest, where it had been arranged that the dragon Regin, Mimir's brother, was to kill him. But Siegfried conquers the dragon, and kills Mimir. He then proceeds to Brynhild, who names his parents to him.

Similarly to the early history of Siegfried, an Austrasiatic saga tells of the birth and youth of Wolfdietrich.55 His mother is likewise accused of unfaithfulness, and intercourse with the devil, by a vassal whom she has repulsed, and who speaks evil of her to the returning king, Hugdietrich of Constantinople.56

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55
Compare: Deutsches Heldenbuch, Part III, Vol. I (Berlin, 1871), edited by Amelung and Jaenicke, which also contains the second version (B) of the Wolfdietrich saga.
56
The motive of calumniation of the wife by a rejected suitor, in combination with the exposure and nursing by an animal (doe), forms the

-54-

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