Bruennhilde (#159 vari on frag) You he betrayed, (#159 vari on frag) and me have you all betrayed! (#159 vari on frag) If I had my due, (#159 vari on frag) all the blood in the world (#159 vari on frag) (#164:) could never make good your guilt (:#164)! But (#167:) his death (#149:) will serve me for all (:#167; :#149): (#167:) may Siegfried fall to atone for himself and you!
Hagen: (turning to Gunther) May he fall – (secretively) for your good [“Heil”]! (#19 vari >>:) Tremendous power will then be yours if you win from him the ring (:#19 vari) (#37:) that death alone would wrest from him (:#37).
Gunther: (softly: #150 vari:) Bruennhilde’s ring (:#150 vari)?
Hagen: The Nibelung’s band. (#161 end frag)
Gunther: (sighing deeply) Must this be Siegfried’s end?
Hagen: (#170/#164:) His death will serve us all (:#170/#164).
Bruennhilde sets Siegfried, Wotan’s hoped for savior and redeemer, up as a sacrifice to atone for humanity’s (Wotan’s) collective guilt in betraying her (and her secrets), for it was Wotan’s sin against all that was, is, and will be, the objective world which is Erda’s knowledge, mankind’s religious sin of world-denial and pessimism, to which Siegfried the artist-hero unwittingly fell heir in taking possession of Alberich’s Ring and Tarnhelm for Wotan’s sake, and taking possession of Bruennhilde, the repository for Wotan’s hoard of runes, his unspoken secret which he confessed to her in V.2.2. The parallel between the sacrifice of Siegfried the redeemer, and Christ’s crucifixion, has long been noted, and Wagner himself compared Siegfried with Christ. Siegfried has betrayed Bruennhilde because it was inevitable in the course of history that what had formerly been unconscious (Bruennhilde) would become conscious, and, as Alberich predicted in R.3, eventually Wotan’s own heroes would serve Alberich in bringing his hoard (now embodied solely in Alberich’s Ring) from the silent depths to the light of day and overthrow the gods (overthrow religious belief and its secular heir, inspired art, the love the artist-hero Siegfried and his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration Bruennhilde share). Siegfried is now to atone for his unwitting and involuntary perpetuation of Wotan’s sin of world-renunciation in his inspired art (in this a pure fool like Parsifal), i.e., in Wagner’s revolutionary music-drama, the "Ring," in a manner which has something in common with Oedipus, the hero who didn’t know who he was and who sinned unconsciously.
Hagen advertises to Gunther (modern man, Wagner’s audience) the virtue of replacing man’s age-old, futile attempt to posit mankind’s transcendent value in religious faith, in the ethic of altruistic self-sacrifice, and in unconsciously inspired art, with the bald-faced quest for objective power over both man and nature, which is represented by possession of Alberich’s Ring. As we hear in the motifs which accompany Hagen, the Ring Motif #19 and the “Loveless Motif” #37, the only price for this will be the renunciation of love, i.e., the acceptance of selfishness, of egoism and power-lust, as the sole source of value, the sole truth, and the renunciation of man's bid for transcendent value.
To confirm the identity of Wotan’s hoard of runes with not only Alberich’s hoard of treasure, but specifically with Alberich’s Ring, we hear motif #150 as Gunther speaks of “Bruennhilde’s Ring.”
Siegfried: My sword once splintered a spear: (#19/#3 vari = (#@: c or d?:) primeval law’s eternal rope – (:#19/#3 vari = (#@: c or d?) (#3 vari = (#@: c or d?:) though they wove (#19 vari:) wild curses into its strands (:#3 vari = (#@: c or d?); :#19 vari) – (#92) Nothung will hew from the hands of the Norns! (#109; #48 vari) A dragon once warned me against the curse (#37:) but it did not teach me fear (:#37); - (He looks at the ring. #59a) (#20ab vari: [Dunning identified this previously as #17]) Though the ring were to win me the world’s inheritance, (#174a:) for the sake of love’s favours [“Minne Gunst”] (#174c:) I’d gladly forego it; (#175:) I’ll give it to you if you grant me your favours (:#174c; :#175). But since you threaten both life and limb – (#52>>:) though it were not worth a whit (:#52) – the ring you’ll never wrest from me! (#45) For life and limb – (#19 vari:) lo: thus (He picks up a clod of earth from the ground, holds it above his head and with the final words throws it behind him.) do I fling it far away from me! (#175)
Siegfried proves here that he has inherited Wotan’s ideal, the ethic that life would not be worth living if man’s primary and most powerful motive is the egoistic fear of death and the self-preservation instinct: he tells the Rhinedaughters that if they try to appeal to this motive in persuading him to give them his Ring, he’d rather be dead than succumb to it. However, Wotan in his confession to Bruennhilde acknowledged that all that Wotan undertook, including his futile quest for redemption from Alberich’s curse, was loathsome, and Siegfried is Wotan reborn minus consciousness of his true identity, which is why Siegfried is fearless in the face of that very truth which, if it becomes conscious for him, if he remembers it, will kill him.
The Rhinedaughters: (#175:) Come, sisters! Flee from the fool [“Thoren”] (:#175)! Wise and strong as he weens himself, the hero is hoppled and blind. (In wild agitation they swim close to the shore in widening circles.) (#174a vari:) Oaths he swore (#174b) (#174a vari:) and doesn’t heed them (:#174a vari); (more violent movement. #175) (#174a:) runes he knows (#174b) (#174a:) and cannot read them (:#174a).
Flosshilde, then Woglinde: (#149/#174a>>:) A most hallowed gift [“Gut”] was granted to him –
All Three: (#176 [a back reference to the Rhinedaughters’ remark above: “Wise and strong as he weens himself, the hero is hoppled and blind”] that he has cast it away he doesn’t know (:#176).
Flosshilde: (#176 vari:) The ring alone
Wellgunde: which will deal him death –
All Three: the circlet alone he wishes to keep (:#175; :#176 vari)! (#19 vari) (#19 vari/#175 >>>> Fare well, Siegfried! A proud-hearted woman will be your heir today, you wretch: she’ll give us a fairer hearing (:#19/#175). (#174a) (#174a:) To her! To her! To her (:#174a)!
Siegfried is a fool, is hoppled and blind precisely because Bruennhilde knows for him what he doesn’t know, his true identity, corrupt, guilty past, and fate. Because Siegfried is unconscious of the knowledge which Wotan imparted to her and which she in turn imparted subliminally to Siegfried, the Rhinedaughters note that “Oaths he swore and doesn’t heed them; runes he knows and cannot read them.” When they tell him that “A most hallowed gift was granted to him - that he’s cast it away he doesn’t know,” we hear in succession Motif #149, which is the motival symbol for Bruennhilde’s status as his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, the purpose of whose love is to inspire him to undertake new adventures of artistic creation, and a motif introduced at the beginning of T.3.1 as a symbol for the fact that Siegfried has lost his way, Motif #176 (i.e., lost his gift of Bruennhilde’s unconscious artistic inspiration, by unwittingly giving his artistic muse away to his audience, Gunther), a motif whose embryo was first heard in S.2.3 in relation to the Woodbird’s eventual revelation to him that the sleeping Bruennhilde will wake for him: the Woodbird of music shows him the way to her, his unconscious mind.
Hagen: (catching sight of Siegfried: #103 frags:) At last we found where you fled (:#103 frags)?
Siegfried: Come below! (#174a:) It’s cool and refreshing here (:#174a)!
There is more here than meets the eye. Allegorically, Siegfried has fled to the Rhine River, i.e., to the symbol of redemption from Alberich’s Ring curse, the curse of consciousness. Bruennhilde’s love, her unconscious inspiration of his redemptive art, had been Siegfried’s surrogate for redeeming the world from Alberich’s Ring Curse by restoring it to the Rhinedaughters who would dissolve it and its curse in the Rhine’s waters, restoring its preconscious status as Rhinegold. This is what is cool and refreshing.
(The vassals all arrive on the cliff top and, together with Hagen and Gunther, descend into the valley: #103; #171; #103; #174a/#103; #103)
Hagen: Let’s rest here and prepare the meal. (The spoils of the hunt are placed in a pile.) Put down the bag and hand round the wineskins!
(#103: [developed] Wineskins and drinking horns are produced. All settle down. #126a inversion [repeated, and strongly marked!!!])
The symbolism of this powerful statement of Motif #126a, Fafner’s version of the Giants’ Motif, is that since Wotan has now, in despairing knowledge that Siegfried’s and Bruenhilde’s loving union (now betrayed), Siegfried’s creation of redemptive works of art, can no longer redeem the gods or at least their heritage from Alberich’s Curse on his Ring, renounced his bid for transcendent value by no longer eating Freia’s golden apples of sorrowless youth eternal (we learned this from Waltraute in T.1.3), the Giants, though dead, are now symbolically, figuratively returning to stake their claim to Freia, and therefore to bring about the twilight of the gods, through Siegfried’s betrayal of his muse Bruennhilde, and his betrayal of her unspoken secret to the light of day.
Siegfried: (#154:) I’m thirsty (:#154)!
((#@: e or f) = #174c inversion: [#Motif of Remembrance: Dunning previously described this as #139])
Hagen: Siegfried, I’ve heard it said you can understand (:#174c inversion = (#@: e or f?) (#128b:) the language of bird-song: can it be true (:#128b)? (#128b frag)
Siegfried: It’s long since I’ve heeded their warbling.
Wagner deliberately recalls here Christ’s remark on the cross that he is thirsty, though in this instance Siegfried is thirsty to recall who he really is, since his long repressed memory is rising to consciousness in accordance with the Ring curse, the curse of consciousness. We know this because as he says this Hagen’s Potion Motif #154 sounds, and it was Hagen’s potion which wiped Siegfried’s memory clean, and another potion, also expressed by #154, which will soon restore his memory. We hear a new motif, The Motif of Remembrance (which Dr. Allen Dunning did not list as a separate motif because at different times he equated it with Motif #139, the motif which expressed Bruennhilde’s waking for Siegfried in S.3.3, or as an inversion of a segment of the Rhinedaughters’ New Lament for their lost gold, Motif #174c). But it is clearly a distinct motif and should be included in our numbered list. Here it is associated with Hagen’s prompting Siegfried to tell everyone present, the artist-hero Siegfried’s audience, how he came to grasp the meaning of the Woodbird’s song, i.e., how Wagner came to grasp the historical significance of Western classical music as a refuge for dying religious faith, a refuge for our foundational religious origin and destiny myth.
(He seizes the drinking-horn and turns to Gunther with it. He drinks and offers the horn to Gunther. #174a vari; #171 vari)
Siegfried: (#171 vari:) Drink, Gunther, drink! To you your brother brings it (:#171 vari)
(Gunther looks into the horn with horror. #159/#150)
Gunther: (dully: #159:) You’ve mixed it insipid and pale (:#159): (#159/#150) (even more subdued: #170a/#164:) your blood alone is in it (:#170a/#164)! (#174a vari)
Siegfried: (laughing: #160 vari:) So mix it with your own (:#160 vari)!
(He pours wine from Gunther’s horn into his own so that it overflows. #171)
Siegfried: (#111 vari: [heard during the bloodbrotherhood oath when Siegfried and Gunther sang “… happy and free … ,” i.e. “froh und frei,” evoking the god Froh and his sister Freia]) Mixed, it’s overflowed (:#111 vari): to mother earth [“Mutter Erde”] (#156a/#33b:) let it bring refreshment :#156a/#33b)! (#35 vari/#33b)
Gunther, clearly starting to regret his conspiracy with Hagen and Bruennhilde to murder Siegfried, has a premonition of Siegfried’s death looking into the drink Siegfried mixed for Gunther, as we hear not only the Oath of Atonement Motif #159, which is derived from Hunding’s Honor Motif #68 from V.1.2, but more importantly Motif #150 (standing for the hoard of Wotan’s runes which Bruennhilde imparted to Siegfried, leaving him, however, untaught), and Motif #164, the motif which represents Wotan’s ultimate recognition that Siegfried was no more the free hero who would redeem the gods, than was Siegmund, a motif which also expresses Bruennhilde’s bitter acknowledgment that the love she shared with Siegfried was the final installment of Wotan’s punishment of her for living for love in the face of his acknowledgment of its futility.
The cup of drink which figuratively contains Siegfried’s blood, the blood of mankind’s sacrifice of Siegfried in atonement to Erda for Wotan’s sin against her, her knowledge of all that was, is, and will be, Siegfried now pours onto the ground, saying “… to mother earth [Erda] let it bring refreshment, as we hear both Motif #111 in the version associated with Siegfried’s and Gunther’s oath of bloodbrotherhood (the part which verbally referenced the goddess of divine love and immortality, Freia, and her brother Froh, and which motivally referenced Siegfried’ mission, his assumption that he owed nothing to Mime, Wotan’s head, and was free to leave Mime behind as he went out into the world to fulfill his destiny), and Gutrune’s Motif #156 (recalling presumably Siegfried’s drinking of Hagen’s original potion of love and forgetfulness).
Gunther: (with a deep sigh: #35 vari/#33b:) You overjoyous hero (:#35/#33b)! (#42 vari/#33b)
Siegfried: (quietly to Hagen: #42 vari/#33b:) Is Bruennhilde making him brood (:#42 vari/#33b)? (#42 vari/#33b)
Hagen: (quietly to Siegfried) If only he understood her [“Verstuend er sie so gut”] (#@: e or f? orch: [#Motif of Remembrance: Dunning identified this as #139, which is associated in T.1.2 with Siegfried making a toast to his love for, and remembrance of, Bruennhilde, just before drinking Hagen’s potion, which makes Siegfried forget Bruennhilde, and also with the inversion of a #174b vari]) as you do the singing of birds (:#174b vari (:#@: e or f orch?)!
Wagner is now ensuring that as Siegfried’s memory of his true identity rises from unconsciousness to consciousness, we also hear this in the motival genealogy, because we now hear Loge’s Motif #35 in conjunction with not only one of Loge’s other motifs, #33b, but also with the Tarnhelm Motif #42, which is a variant of Loge’s Motif #35, as is Hagen’s Potion Motif #154, as Gunther, perhaps unwittingly, accuses Siegfried of tragic hubris in being an overjoyous hero (just as Wotan accused Siegfried in S.3.2 of being “too exalted by far.”). Siegfried’s hubris is the direct product of Wotan’s original sin against all that was, is, and will be, the real, objective world, which Alberich’s curse on his Ring was meant to punish. For Siegfried the secular, mortal artist-hero is heir to Loge’s archetypal, primal human gift of artistic self-deception, which is what lured Wotan (mankind) to create the gods and their domain Valhalla, in a collective dream, in the first place.
Siegfried, significantly, asks Hagen quietly if Bruennhilde is making Gunther brood, to which Hagen answers, accompanied by the #Motif of Remembrance, “If only he understood her as you do the singing of birds!” In this way Wagner dramatizes the equivalence of Bruennhilde, Siegfried’s muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, and the Woodbird’s song, which Siegfried alone can interpret conceptually, because Siegfried, alone among men, as an unconsciously inspired artist-hero, has access to mankind’s collective unconscious, and will now make what formerly was unconscious, conscious, will reveal what should have remained concealed. Siegfried will now, under the influence of Hagen’s second potion, of remembrance (the antidote to his first potion of love and forgetfulness, though both share the same motif #154), figuratively fulfill Alberich’s prophecy in R.3 that Wotan’s own heroes would serve him, and that Alberich’s hoard (of knowledge) would rise from the silent depths to day and destroy the gods.
Siegfried: (#174a vari:) Since I’ve heard women (#129b:) singing, I’ve quite forgotten those songsters (:#174a vari; :#129b).
Hagen: Yet once, you knew what they said?
((#@: e or f?) = #Motif of Remembrance” orch [which is either #174b vari, or #139, the latter heard just after #134 as Siegfried was making a toast to his love for, and remembrance of, Bruennhilde, just before drinking Hagen’s love-and-forgetfulness potion in T.1.2])
Siegfried: (turning animatedly to Gunther) Hey! Gunther, woebegone man! (#152 vari) (#41 vari:) If you’ll thank me for it, I’ll sing you tales about my boyhood days [“jungen Tagen” (:#41 vari). (#41 vari)
Gunther: (#41 vari:) I’d like to hear them (:#41 vari).
General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung
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