The Nibelungenlied

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Rüdiger Character Analysis

Rüdiger is the margrave and lord of Pöchlarn, Austria. A vassal of Etzel’s, Rüdiger volunteers to act as envoy when Etzel decides to ask the widowed Kriemhild to marry him. Rüdiger is renowned for his open-handed hospitality, generous gifts, and kindness to strangers. When the Burgundians visit his lands en route to Hungary, he allows his daughter to become engaged to Giselher. He escorts the men of Burgundy to Kriemhild’s festival and is thereby honor-bound to the foreigners—a tie that catches him in a terrible dilemma when Kriemhild, to whom he is vassal, begs him to fight for her against Hagen. Despairing at his loss of integrity, he finally fights the Burgundians, and he and Gernot slay one another simultaneously, to the lamentations of all involved.

Rüdiger Quotes in The Nibelungenlied

The The Nibelungenlied quotes below are all either spoken by Rüdiger or refer to Rüdiger . 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 37 Quotes

The noble Margrave stood there in despair. “Alas,” cried that most faithful knight from the depths of his anguish, “that I have lived to know this, Godforsaken man that I am! I must sacrifice all the esteem, the integrity, and breeding that by the grace of God were mine! Ah, God in Heaven, that death does not avert this from me! Whichever course I leave in order to follow the other, I shall have acted basely and infamously - and if I refrain from both, they will all upbraid me! May He that summoned me to life afford me counsel!”

Related Characters: Rüdiger (speaker)
Page Number: 267
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Nibelungenlied LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Nibelungenlied PDF

Rüdiger Character Timeline in The Nibelungenlied

The timeline below shows where the character Rüdiger appears in The Nibelungenlied. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 20
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
Rüdiger of Pöchlarn, who has known the Queen and her brothers since childhood, offers to go... (full context)
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
Rüdiger and his entourage stop in Pöchlarn on the way, staying with Rüdiger’s wife Gotelind and... (full context)
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
...have to come from outlandish parts for him not to recognize them at once. When Rüdiger and his companions ride into court, Hagen quickly identifies him, and they go to meet... (full context)
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
...was once a hostage in Etzel’s court, and that they must always seek to repay Rüdiger for his kindness to Burgundy. When Gunther asks after Etzel’s wellbeing, Rüdiger explains that he... (full context)
Idealized and Deviant Womanhood Theme Icon
...to encourage her to assent to the marriage. Kriemhild refuses, though she agrees to see Rüdiger. Still dressed in her widow’s clothes, she receives him the following day in tears. After... (full context)
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
Fate and Action Theme Icon
When Rüdiger meets with Kriemhild again the following day, she is persistent in her refusals. However, in... (full context)
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
...been robbed of her fortune by Hagen. Aloud, she voices her concerns about Etzel’s heathenism. Rüdiger assures her that Etzel has many Christian warriors, and besides, perhaps she will influence him... (full context)
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
Finally, Kriemhild consents to marry Etzel. Rüdiger urges her to prepare for the journey to Hungary at once. When Kriemhild plans to... (full context)
Chapter 21
Idealized and Deviant Womanhood Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Giselher and Gernot accompany Kriemhild as far as the Danube before tearfully taking their leave. Rüdiger’s party then passes through Bavaria. In the town of Passau, many people come out to... (full context)
Chapter 22
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
...a kiss. After a brief jousting display, the couple retires to a pavilion, chaperoned by Rüdiger. The next day, they all journey to Vienna, where the wedding is celebrated. Kriemhild gives... (full context)
Chapter 26
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... (full context)
Chapter 27
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
Fate and Action Theme Icon
Rüdiger and his men ride out to greet the Burgundians, welcoming them with warm promises of... (full context)
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
Fate and Action Theme Icon
The Burgundians are prevailed upon to stay in Pöchlarn for four days, however much they protest—Rüdiger’s hospitality is too formidable to resist. Before they continue on their way to Etzel’s country,... (full context)
Chapter 33
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
...allow Dietrich safe-conduct to leave the scene of the fight along with Etzel, Kriemhild, and Rüdiger. Once outside the hall, Etzel laments that Volker’s “lays grate on the ear,” and that... (full context)
Chapter 37
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
When Rüdiger comes to court and sees the tremendous carnage inflicted on both sides, he weeps from... (full context)
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
Rüdiger laments that he would naturally oppose the foreigners, except that he has acted as their... (full context)
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
Etzel joins his wife, Kriemhild, in entreating Rüdiger on their knees. Rüdiger declares himself a “godforsaken man,” crying, “I must sacrifice all the... (full context)
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
Finally, Rüdiger agrees to discharge his oath to Kriemhild and attack his friends against his will. He... (full context)
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
Gunther and his men try to appeal to Rüdiger, mentioning his wonderful gifts and hospitality in the past. Gernot laments having to fight Rüdiger... (full context)
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
Hospitality, Gifts, and Exchange Theme Icon
Rüdiger proceeds to fight boldly, until at last Gernot, seeing many of his vassals cut down... (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 of all that is right.” He... (full context)
Civilization vs. Barbarism Theme Icon
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
When Hildebrand and his men confirm the truth about Rüdiger’s death, they weep. Hildebrand wishes to bear the Margrave’s body away. Volker refuses to hand... (full context)
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
...mortally wounded Hildebrand staggers back to Dietrich, who is grieved to have the news of Rüdiger’s death confirmed, and utterly shaken to hear that all his men have been killed in... (full context)
Chapter 39
Honor vs. Vengeance Theme Icon
...adds that they were trying to spite Etzel, not Dietrich, with their refusal to surrender Rüdiger’s body. (full context)