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Tannhauser: A mediaeval German legend which relates how a minstrel and knight of that name, passing by the Herselber, or Hill of Venus, entered therein in answer to a call, and remained there with the enchantress, living an unholy life. After a time he grew weary of sin, and longing to return to clean living, he forswore the worship of Venus and left her. He then made a pilgrimage to Rome, to ask pardon of the Pope, but when he was told by Urban IV., himself that the papal staff would as soon blossom as such a sinner as Tannhauser be forgiven, he returned to Venus. Three days later, the Pope’s staff did actually blossom, and he sent messengers into every country to find the despairing minstrel, but to no purpose, Tannhauser had disappeared. The story has a mythological basis which has been laid over by medieval Christian thought, and the original hero of which has been displaced by a more modern personage, just as the Venus of the existing legend is the mythological Venus only in name. She is really the Lady Holda, a German earth – goddess. Tannhauser was a “minnesinger ” or love – minstrel of the middle of the thirteenth century. He was very popular among the rainnesingers of that time and the restless and intemperate life he led probably marked him out as the hero of such a legend as has been recounted. He was the author of many ballads of considerable excellence, which are published in the second part of the ” Minnesinger ” (Von der Hagen, Leipsic, 1838) and in the sixth volume of Haupt’s Zeitschrift fur deutsches Altheytum. The most authentic version of this legend is given in Uhland’s Alte hoch weid niedeydeutsche Volkslieder (Stuttgart 1845).

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