The Nibelungenlied

by

Anonymous

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The Nibelungenlied: Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Once they have safely attained the other shore, Hagen reveals the water-fairies’ prophecy. Hagen warns everyone to arm themselves, since he did kill the ferryman and thus has acquired some enemies on the journey. Distressed, the men decide to appoint Volker as their guide through hostile country.
Hagen reveals the full story about the ferryman and the danger they’re in, which obviously doesn’t boost the men’s spirits. Since they have no option but to proceed, they prepare for attack, setting the tone for the rest of their ordeal.
Themes
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Fate and Action Theme Icon
Gelpfrat, a lord of Bavaria, and his brother, the margrave Else, hear about the killing of the ferryman, and soon the Burgundians are under attack. Hagen explains he was acting in self-defense and is willing to make amends, but soon he and Gelpfrat are locked in fierce combat. The Burgundians just barely escape with their lives. Since the skirmish occurred after dark at the rear of the party, Gunther doesn’t learn of it until the next morning and is dismayed to have missed the fighting.
Again, this clash, fueled by the Bavarians’ desire for vengeance, offers a preview of the more catastrophic violence to come. Gunther considers it a stain on his kingly honor to have been left out of the fray.
Themes
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
After this episode, the Burgundians pass peacefully through Passau and reach the frontier of Rüdiger’s domain. There they find a sleeping knight named Eckewart, whose sword Hagen takes. When Eckewart awakes, he is terribly ashamed to discover his negligence, but Hagen takes pity on him and returns the sword. Eckewart thanks him, but warns him that people in Hungary hate him for killing Siegfried. Hagen dismisses this and sends Eckewart as messenger to Rüdiger. Rüdiger is glad to learn of the Burgundians’ approach.
This brief episode shows that Hagen, for all his fierceness, does care for honor, because he doesn’t allow the negligent knight to be shamed. He also learns that his murderous reputation has far preceded him, but this warning is of little consequence to him now.
Themes
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon