formal opening “Ich hörte berichten” is intended to show the historical
and hence authentic nature of the happenings. Even though some part of
the poem is missing, it probably began with those words.
inquiry was normal in a combat of this sort. He wishes to know whether
he is fighting a worthy opponent.
is probably to be identified with Odoacer or Ottovacar (434?-493 A.D.)
who deposed the last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, in the West in
476 and made himself viceroy of the Byzantine emperor and ruler of Italy.
He became increasingly independent and between 489 and 493 his power was
destroyed by Theodoric the Ostrogoth (Dietrich; cf. Thidreksaga), himself
acting as the representative of Byzantium. It will be observed that the
situation in the Hildebrandslied, and indeed in all the poems in
which Dietrich is involved, is the exact reverse of history. Neither
Odoacer nor Theodoric was ever connnected with Attila, who died in 453.
The Ostrogoths were, however, subject to the Huns from 370 to 453, and
thus such a tradition could have arisen. Theodoric was in fact a
hostage at Byzantium as a boy—a far cry from the court of the Huns.
Gott,” i.e. powerful god, which is certainly not, as some critics think,
a proof of Christian influence.
protective piece of mail around throat and neck; here it is used
in the sense of armor.