Ortnit - Encyclopedia

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ORTNIT, or Otnit, German hero of romance, was originally Hertnit or Hartnit, the elder of two brothers known as the Hartungs, who correspond in German mythology to the Dioscuri. His seat was at Holmgard (Novgorod), according to the Thidrekssaga (chapter 45), and he was related to the Russian saga heroes. Later on his city of Holmgard became Garda, and in ordinary German legend he ruled in Lombardy. Hartnit won his bride, a Valkyrie, by hard fighting against the giant Isungs, but was killed in a later fight by a dragon. His younger brother, Hardheri (replaced in later German legend by Wolfdietrich), avenged Ortnit by killing the dragon, and then married his brother's widow. Ortnit's wooing was corrupted by the popular interest in the crusades to an Oriental Brautfahrtsaga, bearing a very close resemblance to the French romance of Huon of Bordeaux. 'Both heroes receive similar assistance from Alberich (Oberon), who supplanted the Russian Ilya as Ortnit's epic father in middle high German romance. Neumann maintained that the Russian Ortnit and the Lombard king were originally two different persons, and that the incoherence of the tale is due to the welding of the two legends into one.

See editions of the Heldenbuch and one of Ortnit and Wolfdietrich by Dr. J. L. Edlen von Lindhausen (Tubingen, 1906); articles in the Zeitschrift fiir deutsches Altertum by K. Mullenhoff (xii. pp. 344-354, 1865; xiii. pp. 185-192, 1867), by J. Seemuller (xxvi. 201-211, 1882), and by E. H. Meyer (xxxviii. pp. 85-87, 1894), and in Germania by F. Neumann (vol. xxvii. pp. 191-219, Vienna, 1882). See also the literature dealing with Huon of Bordeaux.

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