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An eye for an eye
on 12 May 2007
This very sad heroic epic tells the story of how `countless warriors met their doom' after the wrangling of two women.
Its themes are of all times: love, hate, sorrow, pride, jealousy, the `first night', greed, honor, friendship, loyalty, treason, power, strength, courage, kinship, revenge. Standing above the multitude is its immortal hero Siegfried.
Its roots are certainly not Christian (`you should be carrying swords, not roses; wearing good, bright helmets, not gem-encrusted chaplets'). On the other hand, it is a painful illustration that the law of the talion (`an eye for an eye; tooth for a tooth') leads to complete annihilation.
The translator A. T. Hatto (`licence is for poets, not translators') opted for a prose version, whereby, of course, the strophic nature of the original is lost. However, the result is still remarkable. I highly recommend this translation for those who cannot read a modern strophic version of the German original.
By the way, A.T. Hatto's notes are superb.
A must read for all those interested in world literature.