Siegfried and the Dragon Fafnir
Who better to create a dragon-slaying story to entertain the ages than the bold bards of
When you read the story of Siegfried and the dragon Fafnir, you will have no doubt that J.R.R. Tolkien really digested this epic.
Siegfried, the hero of the 13th century epic poem "The Nibelungenlied" that also later inspired Richard Wagner's famous operas, was a mighty warrior worthy of the favor of the Gods. Although strong and brave, Siegfried was aided in the task of slaying the dragon Fafnir by the scheming dwarf Regin.
Desirous of fame, Siegfried is convinced by Regin to go the wasteland of Gnitahead and kill the dragon Fafnir. Regin even takes the broken pieces of Gram, the sword of Siegfried's father, and reforges it so that Siegfried will have a weapon potent enough for dragon slaying. Having thus armed his hunter, Regin accompanies Siegfried to Gnitahead and promises to support and advise him during the battle with the dragon.
Although suspicious of Regin, Siegfried remains motivated to go on the dangerous quest. He travels with Regin, who is of an ancient race of dwarves that dwell in subterranean kingdoms and live for thousands of years. Fafnir also happens to be of dwarven origin. Long ago, he was the son of a dwarf king. Covetous of his father's treasure, Fafnir murdered him and took the treasure to Gnitahead to guard it. Sick with greed and sin, Fafnir was gradually transformed into a beastly dragon.
When Siegfried and Regin arrive at Fafnir's cave, they hide until the dragon leaves to drink water from a stream. Regin then tells Siegfried to dig a pit on the dragon's path and cover it with branches. He is to hide in the pit until the dragon walks over him. The clever plan of Regin works, and Siegfried is able to thrust his sword Gram upward into the vulnerable underbelly of Fafnir as the dragon walks over him.
Regin is thrilled and along with the treasure he also wants to claim the magic of Fafnir because Fafnir was his brother and he has long desired to take the wealth and power of his corrupted brother. Regin, who seems to have a limitless capacity for bossing around the hero Siegfried, tells Siegfried to cut out the dragon's heart and roast it.
Siegfried complies but, as he is roasting Fafnir's heart, he licks his fingers and a portion of the dragon's magic is instantly transferred into him. He is now gifted with the ability to understand the speech of animals. The chatter of birds becomes words for Siegfried and he listens as they gossip about Regin's plan to murder him. Incensed by the treachery of the dwarf, Siegfried promptly cuts off the dwarf's head with Gram. Although doubly victorious, Siegfried has also acquired the curse of Fafnir.
"Dragons: A Natural History." 1995. Dr. Karl Shuker.
. Pages 46-47.
"Sigurd." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigurd
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