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The Valkyrie: Page 313
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Sieglinde: But Wolfe, you said, was your father?

 

Siegmund: A wolf to fearful foxes! (#20a?:; #20d voc?:) But he whose eye once flashed as proudly as yours, fair woman, flashes now (:#20a?; :#20d voc?) – Waelse was his name.

 

Sieglinde: (beside herself) If Waelse’s your father and if you’re a Waelsung; if he thrust the sword in the tree for you – then let me name you as I love you: Siegmund – thus do I call you!

As Sieglinde’s remembrance of her past life with Siegmund gradually wakens, the exquisite and mysterious motif #76, capturing the pathos of remembrance of things past, comes into play, in relation to the metaphor of seeing her likeness reflected in a brook, as now she sees her image reflected in Siegmund. Sieglinde experienced this reflection also when, having heard her voice echo in the woods, she now hears it echoing again in Siegmund’s voice. #75 acquires enhanced meaning by its association here with Siegmund’s proclamation that he will take his name from Sieglinde. We are reminded that Bruennhilde will bestow on Siegfried his name, though his blood mother is Sieglinde.

It is well known that one of Wagner’s key sources for this scene was the similar scene in the second drama (The Libation Bearers) of one of his favorite Greek tragedies, Aeschylus’s trilogy the Oresteia, in which Orestes returns to his homeland, disguised, in order to exact vengeance on his mother Clytemnestra for murdering his father Agamemnon. For when they meet Iphigeneia does not at first recognize her long-lost brother Orestes. One must keep in mind that Clytemnestra’s murder of Agamemnon to avenge his sacrifice of their daughter Iphigeneia so that the gods would give the Greeks fair weather to reach the shores of Troy (to embark on the Trojan War), undoubtedly was a key influence on Wagner’s dramatization of Wotan’s seeming intent to sacrifice his niece (the goddess of love and immortality) Freia to the Giants as payment for their building of Valhalla, another item of received wisdom in Wagner scholarship. This murder occurs in the first drama (Agamemnon) of Aeschylus’s trilogy, the Oresteia.

By comparing notes, of course, Siegmund and Sieglinde eventually realize they are twin brother and sister, long separated, the children of Waelse, and thus Waelsungs. However, neither of the children ever realize that their father Waelse is actually Wotan disguised as a mortal man.

[V.1.3: D]

Siegmund now acknowledges and accepts his destiny, to live for love and, if necessary, to die for it, as he manfully extracts Waelse’s sword, which he names Nothung (“Needful”), from Hunding’s house-ash, and declares himself husband to his sister Sieglinde, so that the blood of the Waelsungs may thrive:

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