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Twilight of the Gods: Page 793
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Siegfried retorts with contempt (accompanied by Mime’s Conspiracy Motif #117 and the “Servitude” variant of #5, also associated with Mime) that he’d almost forgotten the hoard since he little values its barren worth. We recall that Siegfried left the dead Mime alongside Fafner to guard the Hoard since Mime had longed for it so much. Siegfried describes how he left it unused inside a cave where a dragon used to guard it. But then Hagen asks whether Siegfried truly took nothing of the treasure, and Siegfried admits, first, that he took a helmet (the Tarnhelm), not knowing its power. Siegfried does not lie when he says he does not know its power because, though the Woodbird taught him its power, it taught him subliminally, musically, which is why Siegfried had already forgotten what the Woodbird told him of the Tarnhelm’s wonders by the time he emerged from Fafner’s cave with it. The same is true of what the Woodbird told Siegfried of the Ring’s use. {{ There is what sounds very like a reference to some motival material associated with the Rhinedaughters when Siegfried says he does not know the metalwork piece’s power, perhaps hints of #13, #15, and/or #16. If this can be confirmed, it simply recalls to us that several Rhinedaughter motifs accompanied Siegfried as he emerged from Fafner’s cave with Ring and Tarnhelm in hand, saying he did not understand their use, yet took them because of the Woodbird’s good advice to do so. }} I have noted previously that Siegfried will figuratively restore Alberich’s Ring to the Rhinedaughters by having Bruennhilde, his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, keep it safe.

Hagen informs Siegfried that the Tarnhelm serves to transform one to any shape one chooses, and to go to the furthest [“fernsten”] spot instantly. This, again, is a poetic description of the human imagination, and specifically of the Wagnerian “Wonder,” Wagner’s substitution of the bliss of musical feeling for religious faith and its existential fear.

Hagen asks if Siegfried took nothing else, and Siegfried acknowledges he took a Ring. To Hagen’s question whether Siegfried is keeping the Ring safe, Siegfried says (accompanied by #150, the motif representing Wotan’s Hoard of knowledge Bruennhilde holds for Siegfried) a glorious woman is keeping it safe. There is an awkwardness in the text here which can cause some confusion. Evidently Gunther must not have heard this part of Siegfried’s dialogue with Hagen, because had he done so, he would not display any of the confusion he does in T.2.4-5 about whether Siegfried, during his abduction of Bruennhilde, stole her Ring from her, since one would expect Gunther would logically draw the conclusion that the glorious woman to whom Siegfried now alludes is one and the same with that Bruennhilde who, in T.2.3-4, will accuse Siegfried not only of stealing her Ring, but of coercing sexual favors from her. After all, Siegfried has suddenly found himself in T.2.4 in possession of his Ring, which he asserts he took from a Serpent he killed long ago, but which he had not been wearing until after he had abducted Bruennhilde for Gunther and returned to Gibichung Hall. Gunther does not make the connection at that time, and we can only conclude either that Wagner intended that Gunther should be presumed not to have overheard this part of Siegfried’s conversation with Hagen, or that Wagner was merely clumsy in working out the dramatic mechanics of his greatest artwork on this point.

There is another potential source of confusion here. I have identified Wotan’s Hoard of knowledge - which he obtained both through that figurative sexual union with Erda (Mother Nature), the purpose of which Wotan said in R.4 was to gain knowledge from her, and by wandering over the earth (Erde, or Erda) in quest of knowledge – with the Hoard of treasure Alberich and his Nibelung’s have mined in the bowels of the earth [“Erde Nabelnest,” i.e., Erda’s navel-nest or umbilical nest] thanks to the Ring’s power. I construed Alberich’s Hoard and Wotan’s Hoard as

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