The Nibelungenlied

by

Anonymous

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Dietrich Character Analysis

Dietrich is the Lord of the Goths who lives in exile in Etzel’s court. He is one of the only characters who seems aware of the long-term effects of people’s actions and who ultimately rises above the cascade of violence at Kriemhild’s festival. As soon as the party from Burgundy arrives, he rides out to warn them that Kriemhild still grieves Siegfried’s death and harbors ill intentions toward her kinsmen. The next day, when Kriemhild appeals to him directly, he outright refuses to take part in her dishonorable scheme. After the fighting begins in earnest, he helps Kriemhild, Etzel, and Rüdiger temporarily escape the fray. Horrified when he later hears that Rüdiger has been slain, he sends Hildebrand, Wolfhart, and his men to investigate, but orders them not to fight. After most of his men are killed, he faces Gunther and Hagen and tries to persuade them to surrender themselves, but is forced to fight both, wounds them, and turns them over to Kriemhild. He appeals to Kriemhild to spare the warriors’ lives, but to no avail. With Etzel and Hildebrand, he is one of the only characters to remain alive at the story’s end.

Dietrich Quotes in The Nibelungenlied

The The Nibelungenlied quotes below are all either spoken by Dietrich or refer to Dietrich. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Idealized and Deviant Womanhood Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Nibelungenlied published in 1969.
Chapter 28 Quotes

“Alas,” cried lady Kriemhild, “why will my brother and Hagen not let their shields be placed in safety? Someone must have warned them! If I knew who it was he would surely die!”

“It was I that warned the illustrious kings of Burgundy and their vassal, fearless Hagen,” replied King Dietrich angrily. “Now come on, you she-devil, you must not let me go unpunished!”

Related Characters: Kriemhild (speaker), Dietrich (speaker), Hagen
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Nibelungenlied LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Nibelungenlied PDF

Dietrich Character Timeline in The Nibelungenlied

The timeline below shows where the character Dietrich appears in The Nibelungenlied. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 22
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
Finally, King Etzel appears, accompanied by Lord Dietrich and his comrades. He joyfully approaches Kriemhild and greets her with a kiss. After a... (full context)
Chapter 28
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
When the Burgundians arrive in Hungary, Lord Dietrich learns of their approach and is sorry to hear it, but he rides out to... (full context)
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Gunther, Gernot, and Dietrich withdraw to discuss Kriemhild’s state of mind in private. Dietrich reveals that he hears Kriemhild... (full context)
Idealized and Deviant Womanhood Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
...others refuse to let their weapons be stowed, and when Kriemhild is enraged by this, Dietrich quickly admits that he has warned them of her ill intentions—even calling Kriemhild a “she-devil.”... (full context)
Chapter 31
Idealized and Deviant Womanhood Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
Everyone retreats to the palace for a feast. Kriemhild beseeches Dietrich for help, but he refuses to participate in her plot against her kinsmen, arguing that... (full context)
Chapter 33
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
...so they enter the fray themselves. In the midst of the bloodshed, Kriemhild appeals to Dietrich to help her escape. He promises to try, although he has never seen so many... (full context)
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
The warriors allow Dietrich safe-conduct to leave the scene of the fight along with Etzel, Kriemhild, and Rüdiger. Once... (full context)
Chapter 38
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Dietrich is horrified to learn of Rüdiger’s death, deeming it “terrible vengeance and a diabolical mockery... (full context)
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Meanwhile, the mortally wounded Hildebrand staggers back to Dietrich, who is grieved to have the news of Rüdiger’s death confirmed, and utterly shaken to... (full context)
Chapter 39
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Hildebrand helps Dietrich put on his armor, and they approach the two Burgundians. Dietrich asks Gunther why he... (full context)
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Dietrich asks Gunther to surrender himself and Hagen, and Dietrich will ensure they are kindly treated.... (full context)
Idealized and Deviant Womanhood Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
At long last, Kriemhild is happy. She has Hagen locked in a dungeon. Dietrich says that Hagen should be allowed to live and make amends to her. Meanwhile, Gunther,... (full context)
Idealized and Deviant Womanhood Theme Icon
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Fate and Action Theme Icon
Overlooking the bodies of all the doomed, Dietrich and Etzel weep for their kinsmen and vassals. The festival has ended in sorrow, “as... (full context)