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The Valkyrie: Page 322
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Wotan: [[ #79: ]] the same old storm, the same old strife (:#79)! (#?: [possibly a forward reference?]) but here I must make a stand (:#?).

 

(#53 in free vari or translation; #5; #64 or #80 embryo?: the closer she comes, the more she moderates her pace and at last places herself with dignity before Wotan)

The exciting prelude to V.2.1 introduces what is certainly the most popular and famous of the Ring Motifs, the “Valkyrie Motif,” #77, heard later as a major component of the “Ride of the Valkyries,” the prelude to V.3.1. It is one of a family of motifs stemming from #53’s last three notes. #53 was introduced by Erda in R.4 as she proclaimed herself the mother of all, who knows all that was, is, and will be, and that everything which exists, passes away. #77, representing Bruennhilde and her other eight Valkyrie-sisters, is based on #53 presumably because the Valkyries are the warrior-daughters born to Erda through Wotan, whose sole purpose as angel-like muses of death is to inspire warriors to martyrdom so the Valkyries can gather them in Valhalla, restored to life, to help Wotan forestall Alberich’s threat to capture Valhalla and enslave the gods. This prophecy of a twilight of the gods was first broached by Erda accompanied by both #53 and #54. Other motifs of this heroic family include #71, which conveys the tragic fate of the Waelsung race, #88, associated with the fated doom which Valkyries bring to their chosen heroes, #92, the motif belonging to the fearless hero Siegfried, the last of the Waelsungs, #95, a compound motif comprised of #88 and #92, and possibly #152. All of these motifs express Wotan’s hope for a restoration of the innocence both he and Alberich have lost.

We also hear for the first time the Valkyrie war-cry, #78, sung by Bruennhilde. #78 will also feature prominently in the famous prelude to V.3.1, known popularly as “The Ride of the Valkyries,” the most popular and well-known orchestral passage of the Ring. Unlike #77, which is integrated conceptually into the Ring and accrues a storehouse of meaning, #78 is primarily descriptive and rarely heard.

Wotan tells Bruennhilde to give the Waelsung hero Siegmund, his son, victory, rather than death. In the past, Wotan’s heroes chosen for martyrdom and service in Valhalla to fight for good (the heaven Valhalla) against evil (Alberich’s hell Nibelheim), so to speak, in the end of times, were inspired by his nine Valkyrie daughters, including Bruennhilde, to martyr themselves in battle.

Both Wotan’s chosen heroes and Wotan’s daughters by Erda are of course ultimately inspired, unwittingly, by Wotan’s fear of Erda’s prophecy of the twilight of the gods. In fact, it was Wotan’s fear of the inevitable victory by Alberich which Erda foretold which compelled Wotan to seek knowledge from Erda through sexual union in the first place: this fear was the seed which effectively gave birth to the Valkyries. These heroes we may take for religious martyrs and for other culture-heroes who, deluded by the promises and/or heritage of religious illusion, produced a cultural legacy which had its greatest effect only after their death, a cultural inheritance which has effectively perpetuated the love or reverence which man feels toward the gods and towards the ethics founded on religious belief. But now, ethics and art and science are liberating themselves from religious belief, the protection of the gods, and Siegmund, Wotan’s moral/ethical hero, the

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