Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 621
Siegfried (ZEEG-freed), a prince of Niderland whose heroic achievements include the winning of the great treasure hoard of the Nibelung. Having bathed in the blood of a dragon he slew, Siegfried is invulnerable except for a spot between his shoulders where a linden leaf had fallen. He goes to Burgundy and there wins Kriemhild as his wife. Later, he is treacherously killed by a Burgundian knight.
Kriemhild (KREEM-hihlt), the beautiful sister of the king of Burgundy. She marries Siegfried and is subsequently tricked into revealing the secret of his vulnerability. After a long period of widowhood and mourning, she becomes the wife of the king of the Huns. Still seeking vengeance for Siegfried’s death, she invites the whole Burgundian court to Hunland. In the final bloody combat, all the Burgundians are killed, and Kriemhild herself is slain by her husband’s order.
Gunther (GEWN-tehr), king of Burgundy. He promises that Siegfried shall marry Kriemhild in return for aiding him in winning Brunhild. With Siegfried’s aid, Gunther overcomes Brunhild in her required feats of skill and strength. After the double wedding, Siegfried is again needed to impersonate Gunther in subduing Brunhild, who has determined never to let Gunther share her bed. Gunther is killed in the final bloodbath in Hunland.
Brunhild (BREWN-hihlt), the daughter of Wotan, won by Gunther with Siegfried’s help. Wishing to see Siegfried again, she plans a hunting party to which he and Kriemhild are invited. A great rivalry develops between the women; Kriemhild takes revenge by telling Brunhild the true story of her wedding night. Though Gunther and Siegfried settle the quarrel to their own satisfaction, it becomes a source of trouble among Gunther’s brothers.
Hagen (HAH-gehn), a retainer of the Burgundians and a crafty and troublemaking knight. It is he who slays Siegfried. Hoping to get the Nibelungen treasure, now Kriemhild’s, for himself, he orders it dropped into the Rhine. He is slain by Kriemhild herself, and with him dies the secret of the treasure’s hiding place.
Gernot (GEHR-noht) and
Giselher (GEE-seh-lehr), brothers of Kriemhild and Gunther. Convinced by Hagen that Siegfried has stained the honor of their house, they plot with Hagen to kill him. Later, they fall victim to Brunhild’s revenge.
Etzel (EHT-tsehl), also known as Attila, king of the Huns, Kriemhild’s second husband.
Ortlieb (OHRT-leeb), Kriemhild’s small son. Etzel gives him to the Burgundians as a hostage, and he is killed by Hagen when the fighting begins.
Dankwart (DHANK-vahrt), the brother of Hagen. He too is killed in Hunland.
Sir Dietrich (DEE-trihkh), a knight who warns the Burgundians that Kriemhild still plots vengeance. As a result, they refuse to give up their weapons.
Sir Bloedel (BLEW-dehl), a knight who comes to Dankwart’s quarters demanding vengeance for Kriemhild. He is killed by Dankwart, and thus the final bloody combat begins.
Iring (IH-rihng), one of Kriemhild’s heroes.
Hildebrand (HEEL-deh-brahnd), a retainer of Etzel. At a sign from Etzel, he ends Kriemhild’s life.
Hunold (HEW-nohlt), a Burgundian hero.
Queen Uta (EW-tah), the mother of Kriemhild.
King Siegmund (ZEEG-mewnt), the father of Siegfried.
Queen Sieglind (ZEEG-lihnt, the mother of Siegfried.
Ludger (LEWT-gehr), king of the Saxons. After spending a year in the Burgundian court, Siegfried aids Gunther in overcoming the Saxons. In the celebrations that follow, Ludger sees Kriemhild for the first time.
Gelfrat (GEHL-fraht), a Burgundian slain by Dankwart in a quarrel at the start of the journey to Hunland. This and other evil omens are ignored.
Albric (AHL -brihk), a dwarf from...
(The entire section contains 2542 words.)
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