Pied Piper of Hamelin In medieval German legend, a magician who rid Hamelin of a rat plague in 1284. The Pied Piper appeared dressed in multicolored clothes and offered to rid the city of the rats for a fee. The town fathers agreed, and the Pied Piper began playing his pipe. Rats came swarming out of their holes and began to follow the magician to the Weser River, where they were drowned. When he tried to collect his fee, the town fathers Phoenix
refused to pay it, so the Pied Piper began to play his pipe again. This time children came out and followed him to Mount Poppen, where they vanished. There have been many attempts to relate this loss of children to a historic event, including the Children’s Crusade, but the most likely source seems to be that of Bishop Bruno of Olmütz sending emissaries to Lower Saxony in the 13th century to recruit families to colonize his Bohemian diocese. The motif of driving out creatures is repeated in Saint Patrick’s driving the snakes out of Ireland. The legend was used by Robert Browning in The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante