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the Franks first submitted to the Huns. Hagen and Walter grew up together, sworn brothers in war: Walter and Hildegund are plighted lovers from their childhood. Hagen escapes; and, later, Walter and Hildegund flee togeher, after a feast in which the Huns are left helpless :
“Heroas validos plantis titubare videres.”
Attila's headache the next morning is well described. The fugitives took plenty of treasure with them, golden rings, the usual heroic form of wealth—and made their way to the Rhine at Worms. There they were discovered by Gunther; for Walter, who had a fishing-rod with him, caught more than was wanted for the pot, and gave some to the ferryman, who in turn made a present to the king's cook: so Gunther came to hear of the stranger and the lady along with him, and the rings. “My father's treasure returning from the Huns,” cried Gunther; and “he took the table with his foot” (mensam pede percutit) like other excited heroes. Gunther set out to find Walter, though Hagen tried to dissuade him, “mindful of the old covenant and the former companion.” Then comes the great fight in the Vosges, the Wasgenstein of later accounts, with Walter, in his camp among the rocks, a natural stronghold only approached by a narrow way- the right place for an epic battle. Hagen would not go against Walter. At the end of the day, when Walter had killed all his men, and only Gunther and Hagen were left, Gunther tried to stir up Hagen against his old friend; but Hagen refused, and they
withdrew. Walter and Hildegund remained in their fortress, taking turns to watch, Hildegund singing to keep herself awake. In the morning, as they were moving away, the Franks returned, and the attack was renewed. After all three chieftains had been wounded, peace was made. Walter and Hildegund reigned long in Aquitaine, but their later triumphs belong to another story. The poem ends with an apology for the writer's youth. Ekkehard's similes are hardly as striking as those of Ermoldus, but they are often good: the host of Attila, a forest of iron, gleaming like the sun on the morning Sea:“Ferrea sylva micat, totos rutilando per agros, Haud aliter primo quam pulsans aquora mane Pulcher in extremis renitet Sol partibus orbis.” It is as a story of adventure that Waltharius is notable. There is no fumbling about the composition; everything is in its place, and clearly seen. The author, or his original, knew how his people behaved. Their rudeness is little disguised, their motives are not elaborate, but (one is thrown back to the old formula) there is Nature in their story. One example of it is the conduct of Walter at night, after the battle, when he first builds his fence and then looks to his fallen enemies, placing the severed heads by the bodies, and praying for them toward the east with his sword drawn in his hand, like a good knight. Then he goes out to catch and hobble the horses left behind by Gunther. The fence for the night encampment was regular, as is shown in the wanderings of P
Sturm the missionary in the forest before he settled at Fulda. The business with the horses is thoroughly practical, and would have been approved (perhaps before the religious ceremony) by Ulysses or Grettir equally. But the respect for the slain enemy is not a new thing, nor purely Christian. As Grimm points out, Arrow Odd after the fight in Samsey buries Angantyr and his brothers. Other Icelandic references might be easily multiplied, and compared with the chivalrous romances where the true knight gives housel to his enemy after mortally wounding him.
About the same date as Waltharius appears the Ecbasis Captivi,2 one of the forerunners of Reynard
Ecbasis the Fox, inasmuch as it is a satirical story
Captivi. with the beasts as actors: it was written by a monk of Toul. A hundred years later came the fragments of the curious romance of Ruodlieb,3 very
hard to arrange and explain: the story of Ruodlieb.
an adventurer, like many another in the tales of chivalry. The verse, like that of the Ecbasis, is leonine hexameter; German words are found in it:
(The Lady speaks.)
Graminis et florum quantum sit, dic et honorum.” There is a pretty scene with a dwarf or elf, true of word, as those wights always are; and this, with the name of King Ruotlieb, has been found again in the Eckenlied of the German Heldenbuch. More remarkable are the anticipations of the French romantic school-e.g., the elaborate descriptions of works of art are such as were fashionable with French poets in the next century.
1 The passage is quoted by Ebert, ii. 105, from Eigil's Life of Sturm. 2 Ed. Grimm and Schmeller, Lat. Ged., 1838. 3 Ed. Grimm and Schmeller, ibid. ; ed. Seiler, 1882.
The Comic literature of Germany has never had much credit from other nations, though they have been Modus Liebinc: ready to live on it without acknowledgModus Florum. ment, borrowing Till Owlglas and other jesters. In the Middle Ages, Germany is ahead of France in a kind which is reckoned peculiarly French; the earliest fabliaux are in German Latin, with Swabians for comic heroes,—the story of the SnowChild, and the other, How the Swabian made the King say 'That's a story. These are written to well-known tunes, which give them their titles, Modus Liebinc and Modus Florum. They are good enough: the former one, with considerable elegance in phrasing, tells a story fit for the Decameron ; the other, with less ambition, gives one of the well-known popular tales — a monstrous lie rewarded with the hand of the king's daughter. The malice of the Snow-Child is something different from anything in vernacular literature till the time of Boccaccio and Chaucer; the learned language and the rather difficult verse perhaps helping to refine the mischief of the story. It is self-conscious, amused at its own craft: a different thing from the ingenuous simplicity of the French “merry tales," not to speak of the churlish heaviness of the worst among them.
THERE is extant a considerable body of poetry in the old Germanic tongues, especially in Icelandic and AngloSaxon. In addition, there are many historical facts on which to base conjectures about what has been lost,and that much has been lost is certain. The measures taken by Charlemagne and Alfred to preserve the Frankish and the English poetry were frustrated by the prejudices and the negligence of their successors. It is by chance only that anything has been preserved. The Anglo-Saxon poems and the “Elder Edda” have come through fire. We know the hair-breadth escapes of the text of Beowulf, of Finnesburh, and of the Lay of Maldon; and there is nothing fanciful in believing that