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Friday, October 16, 2015



The name of "Il Monte di Venere" and "La Grotta di Venere" Venusberg, and the points of similarity between that palace of perpetual delights and the allegorical "Court of Love" ("La Corte di Cupido") make it necessary to say something of the relations of the story of Danhuser (from Danhusen) to the subject of the present discussion.

The points of similarity are these:

-- the gorgeous hall; the abundance of means of sensual enjoyment; the throngs of fair women.

-- the Goddess (indeed Mother) of Love as presiding personage.

-- a tragic hero (Rinaldo, Orlando, Danhuser) gaining admission to all this.

On the other hand, let it be noted the following:

In the Danhuser story there is no conscious allegory whatever.

In the Danhuser story there is no feudal figure employed.

The hero Danhuser is seduced into taking part in the revels, whereas in the Court of Love poems he is usually a candidate whose admission is a matter of more or less uncertainty.

Beyond the name VENERE and the fact that her attractions are those of sensual love, there is no trace of the classical in the legendary goddess.

This becomes more apparent if we strip the legend of its more modern accretions.

The story of Tannhauser as it is most familiar to-day in the music-drama of Riccardo Wagner (Bologna, 1872) is a combination of several elements originally quite distinct.

Two of these might at first sight seem to emphasize the relation between the legend and the Court of Love, viz. the Wartburg poetic contest, and the name of the minnesinger Tannhauser ("the thirteenth member of a knightly circle of twelve").

But the Wartburg -- "Burg" means mountain -- so, the toponym refers to MORE than the castle itself -- it also refers to the valley surrounding it -- contest, though going back to a thirteenth-century poem on ENRICO d'Ofter Dingen (and Wagner is careful in never having other characters referring to Tannhauser as Tannhauser, but as ENRICO) was not associated with our story before the present century.

The connection with the name Tannhauser is older, though still comparatively late.

A poem by Hermann von Sachsenheim (d. 1458) represents Tannhauser as the husband of Venus.

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