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Siegfried: Page 463
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Mime: Fafner, the grim-hearted dragon, dwells in the gloomy wood; (#48:) with the weight of his fearsome bulk (:#48) he watches over the Nibelung hoard there. (#48; #101; #57 frag) To Siegfried’s childlike strength (#48) Fafner would no doubt fall (#57 frag). (#101?; #19) The Nibelung’s ring he’d win for me. (#57?) One sword alone befits the deed (#57) and only Nothung serves my grudge [“Neid”], (#57?) if Siegfried wields it with fell intent: ((#@: b) = #20b/#33b frag) [[ #102: ]] yet I cannot forge it, Nothung, the sword (:#102)!

 

(He has readjusted the sword and continues hammering it in a mood of profound ill-humour. #41)

 

Mime: Punishing torment! Toil without purpose! (#5/#41) The finest sword that ever I forged will never serve for that single deed! (#41:) I fumble and hammer away because the boy demands it; he bends and snaps it in two yet chides if I don’t forge it for him! (He drops the hammer.)

Mime has asserted that Nothung alone - which Mime himself can’t re-forge - could serve Siegfried as a weapon to kill Fafner, so that Mime can exploit Siegfried’s heroism to gain the Nibelung’s Ring. During his meditation we have heard the compound motif (#@: B) = #20b/#33b (a fragment), generally known as “The Arrogance of Power Motif,” which was first heard in R.3 as Loge was making a pretence of being awestruck by Alberich’s potential for world-domination. In other words, this motif bespeaks Loge’s mockery of man’s quest for power, be it Alberich’s or Wotan’s. The first definitive version of the new motif #102 is introduced here, which I have noted is virtually identical in melodic outline to the first seven-note segment of #158, which will in T.1.2 be heard in conjunction with the blood-brotherhood oath which Siegfried and Gunther swear. But at its introduction it expresses the quintessence of the notion that the vast majority of people, the so-called vulgar mass (which is what Mime actually represents), are by nature incapable of original or truly idealistic thought, but grounded instead only in the pursuit of practical advantage. And they are generally hostile to more intellectually and emotionally developed human beings. This is why Mime is incapable of that inspiration required to re-forge Nothung, whose motif #57ab contains the original, pre-fallen Nature arpeggio with which the Ring began. As Mime notes, it is Siegfried’s childlike strength (his pre-fallen innocence) which alone will kill the serpent Fafner, who in a sense represents the Fall, the Fall which was the consequence of the birth of reflective consciousness.

Mime’s true nature is well described by Wagner’s following critique, previously cited, of established society’s primary concern, the self-preservation instinct, which according to Wagner lames all spiritual impulse in favor of egoistic pursuits:

“The crime and the curse of our social intercourse have lain in this: that the mere physical maintenance of life has been till now the one object of our care, -- a real care that has devoured our souls and bodies and well nigh lamed each spiritual impulse. This Care has made man weak and slavish … ; a thrall of commerce, ever ready to give up the last vestige of freedom of his Will, so

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