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Twilight of the Gods: Page 976
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Gunther: (#101/#19 vari [is there any #171 or #156?]) How dare you touch Gutrune’s inheritance, (#156a:) shameless son of an elf (:#101/#19 vari; :#156a)!

 

Hagen: (drawing his sword: #51:) The elf’s inheritance his son now demands!

 

(He rushes upon Gunther; the latter defends himself; they fight. The vassals throw themselves between them. Hagen strikes Gunther dead.)

 

Hagen: (#19 vari:; #45>>:) Give me the ring! (#5 or #170a?: He reaches towards Siegfried’s hand, which raises itself threateningly #57. Gutrune has cried out in terror as Gunther falls. All remain transfixed with horror.)

Gunther (like King Marke in Tristan and Isolde, who blames Melot for informing him of the truth which destroyed his trust in Tristan, the sole source of all of Marke’s honor) blames Hagen as the true betrayer, since Hagen exposed the truth about Siegfried, and Gunther would rather have remained ignorant of it, since all that Gunther honors and worships was provided solely by Siegfried, who enabled Gunther’s and Gutrune’s self-deception. Gunther would rather have enjoyed the false consolations provided by the artist-hero Siegfried than the objective truth and the power it can bring, which Hagen offered, but now it is too late. We are reminded of Wotan who, when Erda told him the full price he would have to pay if he did not yield the Ring to the Giants, that he would have to acknowledge the truth that the gods are predestined to destruction, relinquished the Ring, in order to fall back on his consoling illusions. But, as far as Gunther is concerned, Siegfried’s true nature has been exposed, and Gunther only has the Ring’s power to fall back on as a basis for life, the open admission that self-interest rules the world, so he challenges Hagen for the right to exercise this objective power.

Hagen defends his right to wreak vengeance on Siegfried for breaking his oath to both Gunther (#159 – the Oath of Atonement) and Bruennhilde (#173 – the oath that Siegfried swore, that he preserved Bruennhilde’s virginity while taking possession of her for Gunther). Of course, Siegfried, like Oedipus, was wholly unconscious that he was breaking any oath: he thought he was acting in good faith. Hagen declares he’s acquired the sacred right of conquest, and demands the Ring on dead Siegfried’s finger. Gunther challenges Hagen’s right to it, since Gunther considers it the widow Gutrune’s – his sister’s – inheritance. In a fight which recalls the first fight over the Ring, between the giant Fafner and his brother Fasolt in R.4, the claims of egoism similarly prompt Gunther and Hagen to fight over the Ring. Gunther, in his rage, stoops to calling his half-brother Hagen the “shameless son of an elf,” bringing an element of class and/or race into the dispute. To #51, Hagen claims the elf’s (Alberich’s) inheritance, and strikes Gunther dead. Hagen, accompanied by a #19 variant and #45, shouts “Give me the Ring!” He reaches towards Siegfried’s hand to take it, but Siegfried’s arm rises threateningly to the tune of #57, the Sword Motif (the motif of Wotan’s Grand idea of redemption through the restoration of lost innocence, the return to

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