Idea and History / Sagas > Gudrun
Gudrun greeting her brothers.
Mural in the Upper Hall,
Wilhelm Hauschild, 1883/84
Photo: K. u. W. Kienberger, Lechbruck
Gudrun, in mourning, lives quietly with her sister Thora and works on a tapestry illustrating the heroic deeds of her ancestors. She is wooed by three kings including Atli (Attila), king of the Huns, whom Gudrun is pressed into marrying by her mother. Atli is less interested in Gudrun than in the Nibelungen treasure, as this passed to her family with the death of Sigurd. The treasure also involves ownership of the ring with its fatal curse, which is soon to take effect again.
King Atli invites Gudrun's brothers Gunnar and Högni to his court. Suspecting what he intends to do, however, they first sink the treasure in the Rhine. The Huns attack their guests, killing Högni by cutting out his heart and throwing Gunnar bound into the snake tower. Gudrun holds a funeral repast in honour of her brothers. In revenge for the treacherous murder of her brothers she kills two sons from her marriage with Atli. She serves mead mixed with their blood in their skulls and gives her husband their roasted hearts to eat, telling him afterwards. She then stabs him to death in his sleep and with a torch sets fire to the hall in which the followers of the Hun king are sleeping. She leaps into the sea to end her life but is borne on the waves to the castle of King Jonakur on the opposite coast, and becomes his wife.
This is not yet the end of the legend. The murders and disasters continue until the whole Nibelungen race is wiped out.