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The Rhinegold: Page 286
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seeking in his confession to her in V.2.2. Only a mortal hero (a secular artist-hero), freed from the gods’ law (the stranglehold of religious faith), can redeem the gods (man’s religious illusions) from destruction at the hands of truth (Alberich’s curse). Just as Loge has redeemed the gods temporarily from both Alberich’s threat and the Giants’ threat by employing his cunning to steal Alberich’s Ring, Tarnhelm, and Hoard of Treasure, so that the gods can redeem Freia from the Giants’ claim, so Siegfried, the last of Wotan’s Waelsung heroes, will keep Alberich from regaining his lost Ring power, by taking possession of the Ring after killing its guardian Fafner. The underlying equivalence of these two incidents is implicit in the fact that both Alberich and Fafner transform themselves into a serpent (or dragon), accompanied by the serpent Motif #48, prior to the respective thefts of the Ring by Wotan and Loge, and Siegfried.

 Loge’s expression of ironical amusement at the gods’ expense - noting that though they think themselves immortal they are in fact hurrying toward their end, and that therefore he’s almost ashamed to share in their doings - pretty much describes what is at stake in the unwitting involvement of the Waelsung heroes Siegmund and Siegfried in the gods’ fate. Though Wotan will look to both Siegmund and Siegfried to redeem the gods from Alberich’s curse on the Ring (the curse of consciousness, man’s irresolvable existential dilemma), these two Waelsung heroes will do what they do wholly oblivious to the gods and their concerns, and often in open rebellion against the gods’ laws. The reason for this is that the Waelsung heroes will be the unwitting agents of man’s (Wotan’s) fear of the truth and dependence on self-deceit. And religious man’s dependence on the illusion of transcendent value (including immortality), represented by Valhalla and its soul, Freia, will eventually burn itself up in Loge’s own fire, as he himself gleefully predicts here. As unwitting agents of the self-deception represented by the gods in Valhalla, the Waelsung heroes ultimately will be subject to the same fated doom as the gods themselves, and all will accordingly suffer the consequences of Alberich’s curse on his Ring. This is the basis of the Ring tragedy. And as I pointed out before, Siegfried will fulfill the predictions made by Alberich regarding Loge and Wotan’s heroes, that Loge will eventually betray the gods he serves and bring them down, and that Alberich will in the end turn Wotan’s own heroes against him. Though the Waelsung heroes will act instinctively and spontaneously, unconscious of the true role they are playing in preserving Valhalla from Alberich’s threat, Loge, who remains always fully ironically conscious of the role he plays in helping man deceive himself, remains the heroes’ hidden conscience and archetype.

[R.4: R]

Just when Wotan and the gods think they have put all their problems behind them and can now enter their refuge from terror and dismay, Valhalla, the Rhinedaughters cry up from the Rhine below to set a check to the gods’ hubris, with their haunting lament for the lost Rhinegold and indictment of the gods, which introduces the last of the musical motifs presented in The Rhinegold: #59abc:

 

Rhinedaughters: (from the depths of the valley, invisible: [[ #59a: ]]) Rhinegold! Rhinegold! Guileless gold (:#59a)! How clear and bright you shone on us so sweetly! [[ #59b: ]] For you, bright toy, we now lament (:#59b)! [[ #59c: ]] Give us the gold, O give us the guileless gold back again (:#59c)! (#3 harps; #4 horns:)

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