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only asylum open to him, the Venusberg. But lo! three days after he had gone, Urban discovered that his pastoral staff had put forth buds, and had burst into flower. Then he sent messengers after Tanhäuser, and they reached the Hörsel vale to hear that a wayworn man, with haggard brow and bowed head, had just entered the Hörselloch. Since then the Tanhäuser has not been seen'.
Such is the sad yet beautiful story of Tanhäuser. It is a very ancient myth Christianized, a widespread tradition localized. Originally heathen, it has been transformed, and has acquired new beauty by an infusion of Christianity. Scattered over Europe, it exists in various forms, but in none so graceful as that attached to the Hörselberg. There are, however, other Venusbergs in Germany: as, for instance, in Swabia, near Waldsee; another near Ufhausen, at no great distance from Freiburg (the same story is told of this Venusberg as of the Hörselberg); in Saxony there is a Venusberg not far from Wolkenstein. Paracelsus speaks of a Venusberg in Italy, referring to that in which Æneas Sylvius (Ep. 16) says Venus or a Sibyl
| Pretorius, Blocksberg, Leipzig, 1668. Grimm, Deutsche Sagen, Berlin, 1866, I. p. 214. Bechstein, Thuringische Märchenschatz, 1835.
resides, occupying a cavern, and assuming once a week the form of a serpent. Geiler v. Keysersperg, a quaint old preacher of the fifteenth century, speaks of the witches assembling on the Venus berg, but does not say where it is.
The story, either in prose or verse, has often been printed. Some of the earliest editions are the following :
"Das Lied von den Danhewser." Nürnberg, without date; the same, Nürnberg, 1515.—“Das Lyedt v. d. Thanheuser.” Leyptzk, 1520.-—"Das Lied v. d. Danheüser,” reprinted by Bechstein, 1835.—“Das Lied vom edlen Tanheuser, Mons Veneris.” Frankfort, 1614; Leipzig, 1668.—"Twe lede volgen Dat erste vam Danhüsser." Without date.-" Van heer Danielken.” Tantwerpen, 1544. -A Danish version in "Nyerup, Danske Viser," No. VIII.
Let us now see some of the forms which this remarkable myth assumed in other countries. Every popular tale has its root, a root which may be traced among different countries, and though the accidents of the story may vary, yet the substance remains unaltered. It has been said that the common people never invent new story-radicals any more than we invent new word-roots, and this is perfectly true. The same story-root remains, but it is varied according to the temperament of the narrator or the exigencies of localization. The story-root of the Venusberg is this :
The underground folk seek union with human
beings. a. A man is enticed into their abode, where he
unites with a woman of the underground
B. He desires to revisit the earth, and escapes. y. He returns again to the region below.
Now there is scarcely a collection of folk-lore which does not contain a story founded on this root. It appears in every branch of the Aryan family, and examples might be quoted from Modern Greek, Albanian, Neapolitan, French, German, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, Icelandic, Scotch, Welsh, and other collections of popular tales. I have only space to mention some.
There is a Norse Tháttr of a certain Helgi Thorir's son, which is, in its present form, a production of the fourteenth century. Helgi and his brother Thorstein went a cruise to Finnmark, or Lapland. They reached a ness, and found the land covered with forest. Helgi explored this
forest, and lighted suddenly on a party of red. dressed women riding upon red horses. These ladies were beautiful and of Troll race. One surpassed the others in beauty, and she was their mistress. They erected a tent and prepared a feast. Helgi observed that all their vessels were of silver and gold. The lady, who named herself Ingibjorg, advanced towards the Norseman, and invited him to live with her. He feasted and lived with the Trolls for three days, and then returned to his ship, bringing with him two chests of silver and gold, which Ingibjorg had given him. He had been forbidden to mention where he had been and with whom, so he told no one whence he had obtained the chests. The ships sailed, and he returned home.
One winter's night Helgi was fetched away from home, in the midst of a furious storm, by two mysterious horsemen, and no one was able to ascertain for many years what had become of him, till the prayers of the king, Olaf, obtained his release, and then he was restored to his father and brother, but he was thenceforth blind. All the time of his absence he had been with the red-vested lady in her mysterious abode of Glæsisvellir.
The Scotch story of Thomas of Ercildoune is the same story. Thomas met with a strange lady, of elfin race, beneath Eildon Tree, who led him into the underground land, where he remained with her for seven years. He then returned to earth, still, however, remaining bound to come to his royal mistress whenever she should summon him. : Accordingly, while Thomas was making merry with his friends in the Tower of Ercildoune, a person came running in, and told, with marks of fear and astonishment, that a hart and a hind had left the neighbouring forest, and were parading the street of the village. Thomas instantly arose, left his house, and followed the animals into the forest, from which he never returned. According to popular belief, he still “drees his weird" in Fairy Land, and is one day expected to revisit earth. (Scott, “Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.") Compare with this the ancient ballad of Tamlane.
Debes relates that “it happened a good while since, when the burghers of Bergen had the commerce of the Faroe Isles, that there was a man in Serraade, called Jonas Soideman, who was kept by the spirits in a mountain during the space of seven years, and at length came out, but lived afterwards in great distress and fear, lest they should again take him away; wherefore people were